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Sharing the Loss: Embracing a New Agricultural Paradigm

August 27, 2015

By Jeff Schreiber

Three Sisters CSA boxesAs many who read our newsletter know, the philosophy of community supported agriculture (CSA) is a favorite topic of mine. So it was with great interest that I recently heard a different take on the idea while listening to a farming-related podcast. In this episode of the excellent Farmer-to-Farmer podcast, host Chris Blanchard discussed the core values of CSA with Dan Kaplan, the long-time manager of Brookfield Farm in Amherst, MA – one of the first CSAs in the US. Kaplan stressed the often-heard notion that CSAs are about consumers and producers sharing risk. But then he took it further: CSA, like no other farming model, is also about consumers and producers sharing loss.

Whoa – that’s a crazy notion. Why would people want to pay money to experience loss? Kaplan explained: Modern life – modern American life especially – is about avoiding loss at all costs. We don’t want to know about it, and our culture hides it well. Death, for instance, is not typically a topic of substantive conversation in our media. And the marketplace is adept at covering it up; consider the overflowing abundance of the shelves at the local grocery store.

But on a farm – and in the natural world generally – there is loss. Guaranteed. And often this loss comes after you’ve put a lot of work into something, like when a blight kills the tomato plants you’ve nurtured for months. Or when a predator kills the chickens that were just about to start laying eggs. Such losses are nowhere to be seen in the bounty of the grocery store, a fake bounty in reality propped up by such externalities as fossil fuels, the exploitation of people’s labor, and much else.

So, CSA (or, more directly, growing your own food) can be a way to have an experience of loss, to have an experience of the reality of the natural world. That’s much different from the very controlled experience of the marketplace.

Control. To some, that notion may be the very definition of agriculture: we control the natural world to produce the things we need to survive. In the marketplace, if you don’t make it, it’s because you don’t control nature well enough. Such an impulse perhaps wasn’t such a big deal before we started using fossil fuels. But now? Well, just look around….

Perhaps it’s time for a new agricultural paradigm, one that replaces the rigid impulse of control and dominion with a more fluid impulse of expecting change, of anticipating – maybe even celebrating – loss. Perhaps if we worked with nature, rather than against it, our farms and communities might look quite different than they do now. Maybe, in the absence of relationships based on control, there might be room for relationships based on trust.

Three Sisters Jeff and KellyCan you experience this new paradigm through a CSA newsletter? Perhaps a little. But, if you’re able, it would be much better if you actually came out to the farm and experienced it with us firsthand. Visit the farm a couple times each season. Help us plant or weed a certain crop. Come back later and you’ll see that some part of that crop probably didn’t make it; it died for some reason or another. It might even be the part that you lovingly tended to while you were here. Does that mean your work was for nothing? Shall you throw in the towel, go back to buying your food from the grocery store?

No. Easing up on control and embracing change does not mean inaction. You keep weeding, keep cultivating, keep nurturing. You continue to strive – earnestly, sincerely, with humility – with no attachment to the outcome, with no attempt to control, knowing that some of what you do will not yield results, that there will be loss. And that’s OK, because then you know it’s real, that it is alive. The more alive something is, the less can it be controlled. And maybe, by trusting the wisdom of living nature, we might also then experience real abundance and bounty.

These are lessons that many a 21st century American could stand to learn, farmers included. CSA offers one way to begin to experience them.


Farmers Jeff Schreiber and Kelly Kiefer met while working at Wellspring, a Milwaukee-area farm-based educational organization. In 2011 they started Three Sisters Community Farm on Kelly’s family’s land.

Originally printed in the August 2015 Three Sisters CSA newsletter.

Soulful Reflections

August 3, 2015

By Sally Voris, White Rose Farm

For the last five years of her husband’s life, my neighbor sat next to him reading as he dozed in his recliner. He had been a feisty, skilled farmer. Now he barely spoke. The last Christmas he was alive, she made him his favorite cake: fresh apple cake with black walnuts. He ate one piece. Perhaps she knew on some level that he was dying. That January, he had heart surgery. He died 16 days later.

white rose farm - cow and calfI relate that image to my work on the farm this year. I am attending to the health of a loved one: the farm. I focus on keeping its rhythms going in the midst of chaotic weather. I remember how my father’s vital signs became erratic as he approached death with Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, he could no longer regulate his own temperature. He died the next morning.

Imagine the farm as a living organism, said Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic agriculture. The farmer brings the farm to life and orchestrates how animals and plants work together in harmony.

white rose farm - chicken in flowersWhen I came to the farm eleven years ago, the land had been rented for years. I worked hard to improve the soil. I fixed fences, repaired buildings, and planted trees, flowers, and herbs. I tended animals. I sold produce, meat, and eggs. I kept the words beauty, bounty, and balance as touchstones for my work. Two years ago, the farm’s energy changed; it began to feel whole, to have its own unique presence, its own soul. Visitors felt it; I did too. Now this farm is one in a worldwide network of biodynamic farms that promotes a connection between forces of Heaven and Earth as erratic weather buffets the world.

This year, we have had sudden, strong storms, driving rain, and circling tornado-style winds. May was dry and hot; June the rainiest month on record. Storms came unexpectedly; predicted storms dissipated before they arrived.

In his book, Climate: Soul of the Earth, Dennis Klocek notes that the Greeks found the concepts of wind, breath, soul, air, vapor, and vital principle all had an underlying commonality—they were all related. During the Middle Ages, he writes, the human soul was known as the “air body.” Likewise, the air, or atmosphere, was considered the soul body of the Earth. World-class gardener Alan Chadwick spoke of the importance of air in maintaining health in humans and plants.

white rose farm- geese and buildingI check the weather channel often. In June, the forecasters predicted one severe storm after another. They did not reference the soul of the Earth, nor have I heard anyone connect weather as an expression of the Earth’s soul with our own soul development. As I have worked in my garden this year, I have wondered: could they be related? What is the essential commonality?

“Nature…surely takes our breath away; old breath, stale breath, leaving us full of fresh Air. Life is curved, moves in swirls. Wind and Water borne. We are children of Earth’s Weather,” writes Skye ann louise Taylor in her book, A Monk in the Beehive.

white rose farm - sally with pigsPerhaps we now can take some responsibility for the soul of the Earth. I am now tending the garden and the animals to maintain the farm’s dynamic life force. I am working harder and getting less produce, but what is more important than the underlying rhythm of life itself​​? What are we without wind, breath, soul, air, vapor, and vitality? Other farmers are using hydroponics, greenhouses, and hoop houses to grow food under controlled conditions. They are growing food that feeds us physically. I now know that our souls are nourished when we grow and eat food that has a vital connection with the flow of energy into and out of the Earth.

Are we connecting with the life force that sustains the natural world? What can we do to right the imbalances that we have created in our culture and in our world? We must find our own soulful answers. Perhaps it is as simple as connecting with some aspect of Nature every day—a bird, a tree, a flower, vital food.

As we do our own soul’s work, we may restore our climate: the soul of the Earth.


Sally Voris farms at White Rose Farm in Taneytown, MD. Sally combines gardening, storytelling and writing, teaching and organizing. She has been recognized regionally and nationally for work sharing the stories of her home community of Elkridge and the Patapsco Valley. Sally completed a year-long part-time training program in biodynamic agriculture at The Pfeiffer Center in New York in 2008, and the farm was recognized as a mentor farm for the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Training Program (NABDAP) in 2010.

The photos are from the May 2015 Chesapeake BioDynamic Network meeting at her farm, courtesy of Ingrid Cowan Hess.

Deepening Children’s Connection to Nature at Angelic Organics Learning Center

June 22, 2015

By Erin Schneider

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air is softer and the morning more fragrant than ever again. — Elizabeth Lawrence

This May I had the good fortune to accompany the third grade class from Prairie Hill Waldorf School on an overnight farm trip to Angelic Organics Learning Center in Caledonia, IL. The trip was the culmination of a year spent expanding their knowledge of the earth and the role that plants, animals, and humans serve on it. Throughout the year, third graders participated in daily chores, cared for a flock of chickens and collected their eggs, studied and built models of traditional shelters from around the world, built raised garden beds using hand tools, and planted a vegetable garden. Through these hands-on, experiential lessons, the children gained knowledge beyond that which is learned in books, deepening their connection to nature that leads to a greater sense of stewardship toward the earth.

Gardens

Group camping area with outdoor kitchen, composting toilets, and raised garden beds

caring for the chickens

Evening chicken chores

When we arrived at Angelic Organics, we were warmly welcomed and guided to a beautiful group camping area nestled among large oak trees and views of scenic pastures where cows grazed in the distance. After working together to set up camp, the children were give a bit of free time to explore the area, check out the composting toilets, and sneak a peek at the family of goats in a nearby barn.

meeting the goats

Learning about the goats and how to care for them

Once settled in, our two highly skilled farm educators introduced us to the working farm, shared the farm rules with us, and provided an organized overview of our stay. Over the two days, students (broken into groups) prepared and cooked meals for the group, worked together to clean up after meals, weeded and prepared raised garden beds and planted seeds, shoveled and hauled manure for compost, completed animal chores for the resident chickens, goats, pigs, and cattle, milked goats, and made goat milk ice cream. As both a parent and a teacher, it was impressive to watch the children give their full hearts over to the tasks at hand — they were completely absorbed in their good work. I watched as groups of children cooperatively solved problems, divided up tasks, and worked effectively as a team.

KitchenSign

The organized and thoughtful schedule allowed children to participate in multiple farm chores

enjoying ice cream

Making goat milk ice cream

In addition to participating in farm chores and tasks, students were given an opportunity to tour the farm and follow the journey of a seed — from when it is first planted in the greenhouse to the planting of vegetable starts out in the rich soil of the farm fields. It was a wonderful opportunity for the children to see the work that goes into growing vegetables.

Barn

A wonderful setting to cultivate a child’s connection to the earth

Beyond the deeper appreciation and gained knowledge of how our food is produced was the ability of students to participate in the cyclical nature of the overall farm ecosystem. From participating in the nitrogen cycle through the use of the composting toilets, to shoveling manure to create compost that will someday be used on the gardens, the children experienced firsthand how the different processes and organisms work together to create a healthy farm and healthy food. Being absorbed in the beautiful farm setting, paired with skilled and caring farm educators, provided a rich learning experience that I’m certain will remain with the children for the rest of their lives.


ErinSchneider-WiscErin Schneider holds Scholarship Fund and Education and Online Groups roles with the Biodynamic Association. She has a BS in geology and a BS in secondary science education. After graduation from college she moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where she spent eight years teaching high school geology, astronomy, environmental science, and integrated science. After returning to Wisconsin with her family, she began her MS in environmental education and interpretation through UW Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources. In addition to her background in science education, Erin is also a simplicity parenting coach. She is a mother of three children and in her free time she enjoys reading, camping, hiking, and playing in nature with her husband and children.

A Group of Passionate and Committed Citizens

June 16, 2015

The Society for Biodynamic Farming and Gardening in Ontario’s Response to the Provincial Neonicotinoid Regulation Process

By Karen Davis-Brown

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

bee on sunflowerIn November 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) posted a discussion paper regarding limiting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in the province, as one approach to supporting pollinator health. This paper presented and examined recent scientific findings related to this issue, and proposed “an aspirational target of 80 per cent reduction in acres planted with NNI-treated corn and soybean seed by the year 2017.” The news of this courageous and hopefully trend-setting goal spread throughout the organic and biodynamic communities, including the membership of the Society for Biodynamic Farming and Gardening in Ontario.

Ontario is a large, diverse province in every way — culturally, geographically, agriculturally — and the biodynamic community reflects that diversity. Getting together in person is challenging, and we depend a great deal on email, phone, and our monthly newsletter. Fortunately, our community has also been encouraged and supported by the Society leadership to share their unique experiences and perspectives with each other across the miles. These precedents for strong communication and ownership came into play in the community’s response to OMAFRA’s process.

Some members tracked the process of the regulation and kept the rest of us informed via emails. Reports on the process were (and continue to be) published in the newsletter every month. But in the few weeks before the deadline for public comment on the discussion paper, something very special happened that took the Society’s work to a new level.

It started with one member asking the Board, “What should we, as individuals, write that represents our shared viewpoint?” A flurry of emails across the province, and even Quebec and the U.S., took that question seriously: “How do we best convey our concerns and support regarding neonic pesticides and pollinator health, as a community, in public comment to a governmental body?” Over the next few days, ideas and feelings and phrasing flew across the miles, for negotiation, comment, fine-tuning. Demeter USA and Canada were both consulted regarding their current guidelines. Differences were discussed and negotiated in a camaraderie and collegiality that could only come from a strong foundation of respect and shared pragmatic idealism. Many members submitted individual comments, and both the Society board and Demeter Canada submitted official statements of their stands.

In April of this year, Society Board President Chris Boettcher and his wife Gabi (a crucial and active member of the Society in her own right) attended a large banquet put on by the Organic Council of Ontario, where the OMAFRA Minister was the keynote speaker. He spoke knowledgeably and articulately regarding many issues, including the pending neonics regulation. To the group, and to Chris and Gabi personally, he expressed his gratitude for the comments that had been submitted, saying that they had a substantive effect on the subsequent work of the Ministry on the regulations.

On June 9th, the following was included in a press release by the Ontario government:

On July 1, 2015, new regulatory requirements for the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds in Ontario will come into effect and be phased in over a period of time. The requirements will support the province’s target to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 per cent by 2017 and are focused on ensuring that neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds are used only when there is a demonstrated pest problem. Reducing neonicotinoid use in these two crops presents the greatest opportunity to decrease pollinator exposure to the neurotoxic insecticide.

This decision makes the Ontario government a continental leader for what we hope can only be a trend in the rest of Canada and the U.S. In this case, a group of passionate and committed citizens did, indeed, change the world, in working together in support of their shared understanding of agricultural and environmental health.

Chanticleer: A Memoir of Light and Love

May 13, 2015

An Excerpt

By Marney Jane Blair

chanticleer coverI hold yellow and maroon seeds. I planted their parent plants six months earlier. Now that the green bean plants have created the pods for their young, the plants will wither and die.

By Halloween, all the annuals will die and leave their offspring to survive the cold winter. I love to hold the fruits of our labors. Running my hands through the barrels of corn and sorghum seed stored in our barn, I travel back in time to the early spring. Lisa and I planted all this season’s plants by hand, each seed cupped gently in our palms.

We planted three acres this year. For the corn and beans, we use a wooden stamp to make a diamond pattern in the bed. We place each seed in a divot in the moist soil, crawling next to each other on our hands and knees as we move down the row pushing the seeds into the warm bed. Our meandering conversation warms the seeds as they move from our palms to the soil. After placing each seed in the divot, we gently cover it with a mound of dirt.

Hands are the real tools of a farmer. These tools are sensitive and can serve as a conduit between the farmer’s will and the object she is touching. Sorghum and sesame twirl in the fingers as they cascade into their furrows. Squash seeds need a thumb to press them into a mound. The flax, an oily seed, requires a certain fling of the finger to set it free. If she cares to,
a farmer can move love for that object through her hands.

My wife’s hands are strong from years of hard labor, but they’re also sensitive like the artist she is. In the same day she can build a chicken coop and gently rub salve on my tired back. The skin on her right hand is scarred from burns endured as a young adult. Her hands, like her solid hips and shoulders, thick salt and pepper hair, and fearless eyes, project strength
and confidence.

photoLisa arrived on this land before I did. When she was a young adult, her father had taught her to target shoot on the site that our house now occupies. She knew the oak groves that fed the deer and wild turkeys. She knew the thick brush that lined the creekside. In her late thirties, she decided to make it her home. Lisa’s mother, passing on her inheritance to her daughters, provided the financing for what became a two-year project to build a house. Her brother-in-law provided the design, but Lisa provided the labor. A hard job for a man, an even harder job for a woman.

When I first stepped into her home several years later, I could see the loving craftswomanship. Even though we had met just a few months earlier, I knew that we would build our dreams together. I could sense that we would be each other’s muse, and that our hands would weave a magical tapestry of life.

Together we could see the beginnings of a farm.

* * *

“Look Marn, this would be a fantastic spot for the first growing area!” Lisa said, as we walked through the tall grasses and around a large outcropping of boulders. She had walked this field many times while she was building her house, and she had had her eye on it. She knew the types of plants that grew here and how the water moved during winter rain storms.

“Let’s stand here and see,” I replied. I listened to the wind move through the grass. We both knew that an open flat field with full sunlight and good drainage would be a good start for our row crops. I imagined the acre reflecting the primary green of corn and beans, the blue green of chickpeas, and the vibrant green of millet. I took the shovel I was carrying and plunged it into the moist soil at my feet. I set my right foot on and then my left. The shovel with my weight traveled at a slow, steady, satisfying rate. I flipped the clod of precious earth over. We let our knees touch the ground as we bent over the aromatic clod of loamy clay soil.

“That smells good,” Lisa sighed.

We looked at each other and smiled. We felt confident about the future but also humbled by the enormous responsibility we were taking on. The spader that my tractor would pull would forever alter this land we were standing on. We had a strong obligation to do right by nature. Mistakes were inevitable but integrity would be essential.

And this was how we built our farm. Each chicken coop, fence line, orchard, and milking barn built by our hands and celebrated as part of a living entity. A living, integrated farm. Some of the buildings are whimsical. Some of the fences meander, and the stanchions in the milking parlor curve to the shape of the cow’s neck.

We built our first fence out of manzanita, a scrub that grows throughout California. The woody part of the plant is dense and gnarled. The bark is smooth and apple red. Because not a single branch is straight, the fence undulates with the earth beneath it. What joy, what freedom to build such a fence! We were in heaven. The construction took us weeks. It was very unconventional, and the lack of convention set our imaginations bubbling with other ideas. What type of gate, we wondered, was worthy of such a fence?

The inspired answer was a fulcrum gate, a gate that doesn’t swing on hinges but rather moves effortlessly from one balanced point, the fulcrum. We constructed it from larger, thicker, and older manzanita. At the end of the gate is the counterweight. Angle iron that has been blacksmithed into a hook eye moves through a drilled hole on the large beam of the gate. Attached to the iron are whimsical, round clay figures. Together they supply the correct amount of equalizing weight for the gate. When one opens the gate, it feels light as a feather. But it also requires the gate opener to be present, for the gate can quickly get away from you. It needs and draws attention. The art is functional and animated.

* * *

marneyArt was always part of my life.

My mother Beverly was an artist. The hands that held me to her warm breasts, the thumbs that snapped together my clothes belonged to an exceptional artist. As a young child I watched her place the oil on her newly stretched canvas with long, confident strokes, moving color, form and feeling around the huge eight by fifteen foot space. She was pulling some visual scene from memory and sharing it with us. I watched in silence and awe.

When I was growing up Mom would tell us the story of playing in the corral. While her brother Charles was happily occupied practicing his lasso on the calves, she lay with her head resting on a calf’s belly, her face turned to the warm Oklahoma sky. The calf’s steady breath lured her into a meditative muse. She watched the clouds move by and the dancing of the light between blue, gray, and white. She watched the dust sparkle in the bright sun. The scene dazzled her. It marked the beginning of a life of visual exploration.

Art was always part of this California farm as well. My mother passed the torch from her creative hand to mine. My canvas was the soil.


Marney Blair is a farmer. For the last fourteen years she has made a living from this land in Northern California. The bounty nourished her. Seven years ago she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a retinal eye disease that usually leads to blindness. The memoir takes the reader on a journey deep into nature. It is the light and color that radiates from the natural world that helps to heal her.

Generic cover image

Chanticleer

Marney Blair

$12.95

A Biodynamic Therapeutic Alliance

April 22, 2015

By Melissa Greer, D.O.

In medical school I learned very little about the role of nutrition in health. Much of what I did learn in conventional nutrition teachings I have found has little actual meaning in wellness. No one ever spoke in medical school about the role of the farmer in health or illness. As a medical student I was taught of the helping role of the physical therapist, the nurse, the masseuse, the diabetes educator… but no mention was made of the local farmer.

Yet the role of the farmer is an extraordinarily influential one on local community health. Farmers have the potential to be our frontline of wellbeing. As a physician my daily work focuses on the health of individuals. The farmer can, through biodynamics, act as a therapist for the collective human body of the community. We speak much in fact about the karma of the physician in his/her therapeutic work. What of the karma of the farmer? Certainly each local farmer reaches more people each year through his/her work on the earth, benefits or harms to the soil and water table, example of worldview in his/her relationship to the earth. This is the same for all farmers whether conventional, organic, or biodynamic. However, not all work therapeutically. What wonder it would be if they did.

“Bridging Biodynamic Agriculture and Anthroposophic Medicine” meetup at the 2014 Biodynamic Conference

This November a group of interested people met in Louisville at the North American Biodynamic Conference to look more closely at this relationship between healthcare and agriculture. Robert Karp, Matias Baker, Steven Johnson, D.O. and David Gershan, M.D. organized a “Bridging Biodynamic Agriculture and Anthroposophic Medicine” pre-conference workshop. The purpose of this meeting was to bring awareness to this health partnership as well as to consider how to move forward in local initiatives. A few closing themes discussed were:

  • Awareness of partnership: The need to recognize who our therapeutic partners are at home in our communities. The question was asked: If you work with your hands in the soil, who are your nearby partners in healthcare working in your community? If you are working in healthcare, who are the individuals working with the land in your community?
  • Study: Start conversations with these partners and establish regular studies on what this agrarian healthcare implies for our communities. It is recognized that sustaining initiatives in spiritual science need a foundation of study from which creative new impulses can spring.
  • Education: Consider the needs of each community and look for what initiatives can arise, such as education in the form of public talks/discussions, high school outreach, art exhibits, or new therapeutic approaches.
  • Economic considerations: Be open to discussions on our economic health. Consider also the long term earth benefits of land trusts and their future role in biodynamic agriculture.
  • Networking: Keep in touch with one another for encouragement, inspiration, and sharing initiative progress.

With conscious intent we are beginning to form a wellness alliance. Now this word “alliance” may conjure up images of formal agreements between nations in a time of war. And maybe that in some sense could apply to our work as well. But more than this, alliance means “union,” “a relationship in working together,” an active coming together in service to the world. We might do well just to go about our own work independently while touching the lives of those who come to us. However, we now recognize that we can locally co-create much more with a unified light.

I’d like to suggest that each reader of this article take close consideration of the above and listen to whether it lights your heart and will. With this light may we work together with the natural world to aid in building the spiritual body of man and earth.

1 Corithians 15: 46-49


“Bridging Biodynamic Agriculture and Anthroposophic Medicine” is one of three new online interest groups and learning communities hosted by the Biodynamic Association. Anyone who has experience in agriculture or medicine and is interested in exploring bridges between the two is invited to join this group and continue the conversation.

Let’s Do Something About the Lack of Well-Rounded Raw Milk Information

April 21, 2015

By David E. Gumpert

zinniker cows - 250I know I’m not the only supporter of food choice who is frustrated because much of the news in the mainstream media about raw milk seems to be negative and often inaccurate. I know I’m not the only one who is tired of complaining and wants to do something about it.

But do what? There is clearly a dearth of accurate information being presented by the media about raw milk. Many of the articles that are written are confusing and inaccurate.

For example, in December Time Magazine reported on a CDC study that said outbreaks involving raw milk had quadrupled over the most recent six years. “This Is One Health Trend You Don’t Want to Try,” headlined the Time article.

The Time report conveniently avoided explaining that outbreaks aren’t the same as illnesses, and that the CDC’s report had inexplicably neglected to include the number of annual illnesses in the data it disclosed. And rather than note that the CDC’s own report indicated that more than 80% of illnesses were of the mild variety, from Campylobacter, Time instead pointed readers to a CDC website where they could find “a raw milk horror story from a mother who fed it to her son, then saw him go into kidney failure and be placed on a ventilator.”

The December Time article was only the latest such questionable report on raw milk. For the last decade or more, we have seen deeply flawed reports from the CDC and FDA on raw milk illnesses and the supposed dangers of raw milk cheeses.

I don’t pretend to have a magic fix for the abundance of inaccurate information about raw milk, but I have developed an idea for beginning to counter the problem. My idea is two-fold:

  1. Counter misleading information with accurate information. In other words, package truthful and honest information about raw milk—the good, the bad, and the ugly—into an engaging format that people can quickly and easily absorb.
  2. Get lots of people who care about food accessibility to join in supporting the dissemination of this information, as a way to bypass the mainstream media.

I have been a journalist for more than 40 years, and thus have considerable experience communicating information. My idea has been simple: write a book that explains in clear non-inflammatory language the realities of what has been happening—the pros and cons of raw milk. Then, get that book into the hands of as many people as possible who are interested in learning more about raw milk.

In order to fulfill that last goal of getting the book out to as many interested people as possible, I decided to do something different—not go the conventional-commercial-publisher route, but instead publish the book myself. My reasoning was to be able to offer the book at a more reasonable price than commercial publishers are inclined to do. I also wanted to be able to donate proceeds to organizations that share the same goal. Most importantly, I wanted people who are as frustrated by the government-industry misinformation campaign as I am to help get the book out into the marketplace, directly to people who desperately want accurate and truthful information about raw milk.

Raw Milk Answers coverI recently completed writing the book, The Raw Milk Answer Book, and the initial response from a diverse group of reviewers, including farmers, researchers, academics, and medical people, has been very enthusiastic. Virginia farmer Joel Salatin said the book “churns out every answer to every conceivable question in the raw milk controversy,” and he called it “a must-read.”

Robert Karp, Co-Director Biodynamic Association said, “Being an idealistic, savvy, health-conscious consumer these days can be a lot of work. Thanks to David Gumpert, making the hard decision whether to include raw milk as part of your family’s diet just got a little easier. David has sorted through the data—good and bad, for and against—to create this thorough, balanced, easy-to-read guide to raw milk for the thoughtful consumer. I hope many people will find their way to this long overdue book!”

So how do we get the book’s important message out to the people who want it and need it? By offering it to individuals who care about getting accurate information about raw milk disseminated as widely as possible.

We have an opportunity to reverse the misinformation campaign. Let’s change things in this especially challenging area.


David E. Gumpert is author of The Raw Milk Answer Book, along with two previous books about food rights: The Raw Milk Revolution and Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights. He writes the popular blog, www.thecompletepatient.com, which has for years highlighted government harassment of raw dairy farmers and misinformation about raw milk.

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