Let’s Get Our Facts Straight Before We Accuse Mark McAfee of a Serious Crime

When I traveled to Oak Knoll Ayrshires Farm in Foxboro, MA, yesterday to pick up some milk, I was feeling a little frustrated. Not only did I have to travel a half hour each way, on a day when I had many other things to do, but I wouldn’t be able to get all the grass-fed milk I wanted.

Thanks to the article I wrote in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine a few weeks ago, dairy farmer Terri Lawton has picked up lots of new customers. Good news for her. Tough news for some of her existing customers like me.

Now, if I want her grass-fed milk (rather than the dairy’s “traditional” raw milk, which is also fed hay and grass, but also some non-organic feed), I have to reserve it weeks ahead. The good news, though, is that I can feel confident Terri isn’t substituting product from some other farm, or mixing in “traditional” milk with the grass-fed, to meet the rapidly rising demand. She’s letting her customers know the situation, and they have to adjust.

I bring up this experience because of the discussion on my previous posting concerning the Amanda Rose blog item about Mark McAfee, and his responses following her posting. There is clearly a problem emerging in the raw milk market, along with other farm-to-consumer markets, like grass-fed beef, naturally raised pork, eggs, etc.

We all assume farmers are legally selling us what they say they are selling. We assume they are raising the food they are selling. Sometimes, though, they are not “legal,” as Blair notes in her comment. And sometimes, it appears, when demand soars ahead of supply, they are selling products not produced on their farms, as Mark has admitted happened at Organic Pastures.

But let’s get something straight. Using two non-OPDC products (cream and colostrum) at various times doesn’t mean all the dairy products he sold during September 2006 came from another dairy, and that that explains why no E.coli 0157:H7 was found by inspectors at Organic Pastures Dairy Co. This is a huge accusation. Amanda doesn’t make it directly, but she strongly implies it, and The Ethicurean, which I highly respect as a journalistic food site, gets that point as well, when it states that Amanda (whom it identifies as “an Ethicurean team member”) “…confirms rumors that one possible reason that state investigators’ tests never could link Organic Pastures Dairy conclusively to the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak of 2006 was because it wasn’t OP’s milk…even if it was under its label.”

Whatever Mark did wrong, and he may well have done wrong by selling products from other farms under his label, he doesn’t deserve what Amanda and Ethicurean are dishing out, for two reasons.

First, Amanda’s article represents a serious violation of basic journalistic protocol (she is presenting herself as a journalist), since she failed to confront Mark with her allegations before publishing her story. This is the same sort of thing I have castigated other news media for doing in reporting on state allegations of pathogens in raw milk at dairies around the country. If her allegations weren’t so serious, I wouldn’t raise this point, but they are serious, very serious. He deserves that. The lowest accused criminal deserves that. They may choose not to answer, or to say no comment, but they deserve to be confronted with the allegations.

Mark in fact responds to many of Amanda’s points in the comments section of her blog. Unfortunately, those comments lose their impact by not being included in the original piece, and by being interspersed with Amanda’s unrelenting accusations.

Second, there is a serious flaw in Amanda’s logic. Unless Mark actually did substitute some other dairy’s milk entirely for his own—which Amanda hasn’t even begun to prove and which I find unfathomable—then at worst he was selling dairy products from two (or more) dairies in September 2006, when six children became ill. What that really suggests is that it wasn’t raw dairy products that made the children ill after all, since all the E.coli 0157:H7 evidence found in five of the children was of the same genetic composition. Unless two or more widely separated dairies had the same E.coli 0157:H7, which seems highly improbable.

As further evidence of my doubts about Amanda’s journalistic prowess, I should respond to her opening paragraph, in which she says, “I worked on California’s AB1735 campaign back in October and have the last remaining gallon of milk from the 2006 recall of Organic Pastures milk for E. coli 0157:H7. I tried to mail the milk to David Gumpert at The Complete Patient, but he thought that the existence of the milk brought too much attention to the issue of pathogens in raw milk…”

Here’s what I said in an email to Amanda when she inquired last January about mailing that milk to me: “I appreciate the thought, I really do. But I’m just wondering—per your request here—what do I do with it? I’m really thinking out loud. I guess I might want to write something about it, but I sense the whole business with the illnesses has been overdone compared with other food poisoning illnesses. I probably don’t want to drink it, because if I wouldn’t feed it to children, then I probably wouldn’t want to feed it to adults, either. I guess it’s something of a bizarre momento, but what meaning does it really have—to you or to me, or to anyone? Help me out here.”

I only go on at such length about our exchange, which is pretty minor in the context of this situation, to show that what I said was misrepresented–I turned down the old recalled raw milk Amanda was offering me for a number of reasons, including the fact that there had been a huge amount of discussion about the accusations against OPDC—not the same as “the existence of the milk brought too much attention to the issue of pathogens in raw milk…”

There’s a lot of discussion to be had about the appropriateness of what Mark did in substituting products. But it’s a different discussion than suggesting he was guilty of a massive fraud that made six children sick. I don’t even want to begin to characterize the nature of that accusation.

Leave a Reply

25 Comments on "Let’s Get Our Facts Straight Before We Accuse Mark McAfee of a Serious Crime"

Amanda Rose
April 23, 2008

The Amanda Rose Fact Checker
An item-by-item check

(1) Amanda accused Mark of outsourcing all of the recalled products.

Not true. Youre hearing what you want to hear, David. I dont know about the Ethicurean, but a lot of folks use the term milk loosely. I do not use it loosely because I realize that here in California it is illegal to outsource product to bottle as raw milk. See (3) below.

(2) Mark responded to Amanda’s concerns in her blog comments and they should have been included in the original post.

I should do a rewrite with Marks comments so I could poke them with a stick. David, for the most part, Mark did not state facts in the comment section of my blog. The Vander Eyk story is priceless. If you all would like, I could do a special picture essay on the Vander Eyk heifer program.

For the record, I have been telling Mark for months that he needs to go public with his outsourcing. He has never seen it as a problem.

(3) There is a serious flaw in Amandas logic, states David. E. coli from a second dairy could only have caused the outbreak if the outsource dairy produced *all* recalled products.

David you missed my bottling argument entirely. Outsourcing introduces new avenues of contamination. Cross-contamination could have occurred at bottling with the bug coming from either one of the dairies.

(4) Amanda unfairly pokes David with a stick.

Probably guilty as charged.

(5) OP is guilty of massive fraud that made six children sick.

I have never said this either. Outsourcing a nutritional supplement is legal here. Outsourcing milk would not be but I certainly have not argued that milk was outsourced (see 3 above). The problem in my mind is that the dairy and just about everyone on this blog run around saying that the lack of a matching pathogen *proves* the contamination couldnt have come from OP products. There are reasons why that argument is a bad one but a striking one in this context is that not all cows were tested. I certainly dont know if any of this behavior is fraudulent but you do know from my argument that I find it unethical. The labels claim 100% pasture and the product safety claims state that it is the pasture-based feed that makes the product safe. The colostrum came from a confinement system.

David Get some sleep and look at the facts like a journalist. I am not a journalist but I understand you guys do things like check facts. After you do that, you might realize that its not *my* integrity thats the core issue here.


Amanda Rose
April 23, 2008

I just re-read Mark’s first comment on my post and I can see one reason why David is so incensed: the bulk tank issue.

I saw the bulk tanks bringing product in October. I know they were bringing in product because Mark engaged me in a discussion during the arrival of one. He told me that he was outsourcing to meet the butter demand. I assumed he was also using the milk for kefir and cheese. He has made it clear that he doesn’t outsource milk.

In Mark’s post on my blog, he says that the tanker was removing skim milk. I let it go the other day when he made the comment. I didn’t want to turn it into a he-said-she-said sort of deal. The only "evidence" I have is my own testimony.

But as a journalist, David, what would you do in this situation? If you saw it with your own eyes and it was confirmed at the time would you not still believe it to be true?

Just to clarify, these tanks were in 2007, not 2006.

My whole point is that we need to know where the products are coming from.


April 23, 2008


It’s sad that your farmer doesn’t protect the customers that allowed the growth of her business. It’s wrong that new customers should get preference over existing ones. It’s not the system we use….last one ‘in’, first one to be shorted. Our waiting list is long.

Outsourcing puts answering the demand in front of controlling the quality of the product. It’s better to be more concerned about whats in the jug, than how many you can load on the truck today.(and please don’t get me started on the meaningless of USDA Organic certification).

Seems to me that this movement, and the people that are leading it, are focused too much on the end. While it is nice to get raw milk products into as many people as possible, doing ‘anything’ to make that happen isn’t smart. We need to start paying more attention to the how.

It’s easy to get caught up in the miracle that is raw milk. Throw in the prices that it can demand (what does it cost to overnight a gallon) and perspectives can easily become opaque.

In this society where more is better, it’s hard to see why less is more (but it truly is).

Repeat after me "know your farmer…..know your farmer…..know your farmer….."

April 23, 2008

Amanda: I, for one, am really tired of the righteous "mama bear" vibe on this blog. We are all someone’s children, and when our children grow to be adults, we don’t care any less about them.

"Thank you for marketing that same product to my young son as a health food" is certainly a stupid comment. I doubt a child would even be reading food labels without strong inducement. The product was marketed to YOU, the most likely buyer. Please stop being intellectually lazy and take heed to milk farmer’s advice above.

Bob Hayles
April 23, 2008

This issue regarding Amanda Rose’s allegations make me have to comment on a couple of things that are pertinant, without addressing their validity.

First, this shows the importance of something I preach over and over…know your farmer. It would be almost impossible for a farmer, whose customers were also friends and regular visitors to his farm, to outsource some products and not acknowledge it.

Also, it is much harder to look a customer/friend in the eye and lie to them when asked about farming practices, animal care, etc., than it is to slap a lable containing a lie (100% Grass Fed) on a bottle that will pass through a distribution network before hitting a retail shelf.

My biggest fear, and strong motovational factor, regarding "bad" milk is not that it will bring the authorities down on me if I make someone sick, or that a lawsuit over bad milk might cost me the farm. No, what makes me work my rear off to produce a good product is the knowledge that if I don’t, I may be walking down Main Street in Jasper one day and have a parent walk up to me and ask, "Why did you not take better care to produce a healthy product, Bob? My little Jimmy (or Susie) is in the hospital because you lied to me about what you sold me."

THAT’S motivation…not protecting "stuff" legally. What prevents occasions like that is the relationships one builds when you KNOW YOUR FARMER.

This brings us to my second thought on what David has posted regarding the goings-on in California over the last week.

Everyone seems to see this as a victory for raw dairy, while I see it as a victory for large raw operations like McAffee’s, but a devastating defeat for the small raw dairy like mine and hundreds of others. I must strongly disagree with Mark’s assesment that what seems to be coming down the pike in Californis is doable and good for the small producer, on several levels.

First, the HACCP (Hazzard Anaylsis and Critical Control Point) program that CA Sen Dean Florenz proposes, and Mark embraces, may work fine for an operation the size of his, and may actually be appropriate if you are wholesaling a product for retail sale outside of your control, but it fails miserably for the truly small dairy, and it fails on two levels.

First, it is an overburdensome mandate for a truly small dairy…one that, like me, milks 10-20 animals. The associated recordkeeping alone would be a nightmare, and the actual implementation would so burden most folks that it would cause them to give up.

Second, and, to me, more important to the small direst farmer to consumer producer, is the fact that a HACCP program that would be acceptable to regulators would totally discount a large part of the "know your farmer" philosophy.

Under an acceptable HACCP plan, my customers could come to the farm, stop at the farm gate, get their product, and drive off. Whoopee.

No more could Lynda bring her six kids, who love the goats, to roam the goat pen, playing with the girls (who love the extra attention), and whose two year old loves the doggie kisses she gets from my LARGE Anatolian Shepherd livestock guard dog, giggling all the while.

No longer could I post a message to my customer email list, "Hey folks…want free milk? I want to go to the Gaither Gospel concert in Atlanta next month. Who want’s to come learn to milk the girls for a day, and come do the evening milking on concert day? You can have what you milk." Nope…HACCP wouldn’t allow that. No folks not "properly" trained allowed.

Nope…no more allowing children’s groups to come learn that milk and eggs don’t come from a dairy case at Kroger’s…they come from ANIMALS on a FARM…oh, my!

Finally, my problem with what Mark is willing to go along with is that it is processed based, not results based, which is unfair and almost impossible to do as a small producer.

If a process that is acceptable to regulators is dealing with millions of gallons of milk a year as Mark’s operation produces, process based standards may work fine for an operation like his…but would have devastating effects on someone producing a hundred or so gallons a week, as I do.

A process based standard requires certain equipment…EXPENSIVE equipment. Here in GA, where they would never give you a raw milk lisence, even though the law says it is possible, the minimum investment to set up an operation that meets their process standards, not counting land and livestock and operating costs, using used equipment, etc, is 100K. The break even point for me would be milking 100 goats twice a day. No thanks…20-25 is more my speed.

Rather than process based, for direct farmer to consumer sales, why not results based criteria?

Let the state come pull a sample for testing whenever they wish, so long as they understand it will be a split sample…half for their lab, half for mine.

If my milk is dirty, shut me down. If it isn’t, go away and leave me alone. That simple.

How a farmer pruduces a good, clean product is immaterial. That he DOES produce a good clean product is critical.

HOW it happens is process based. That he does is results based. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if I filter my milk through dirty underwear, as long as the resulting product is clean. Milk, though filtered through a sterile filter but that tests as pathogen filled is still patogen filled, despite the correctness of the process (NO! I don’t use dirty underwear…I wash it first, heavy on the bleach…LOL).

In an earlier comment on a previous post, I referred to "smelling a Judas…enjoys his 30 pieces of silver" I was referring to Mark and his role in accepting this proposed solution by Sen Florenz.

I apologise Mark…that comment was uncalled for…but I don’t deny the sentiment that caused it. Your (and Florenz’s) proposed solution, does a fine job of taking care of you and a dairy like Claravale, but it hangs the truly small guy out to dry.

You enjoy the support of us "small guys", along with a lot of consumers, in that you are represented by the FTCLDF, which a lot of us are members of, and pay dues to. I don’t begrudge you that support…that is what the FTCLDF is for.

I DO begrudge you that support though, when, at the same time you accept the member support you strike a deal that undermines most of us "small fry"….

You want my support? Fine, you’ve had it. But don’t stab me in the back at the same time you accept it.

Bob Hayles
Thornberry Village Homestead’
Jasper, GA

Thornberry Village Homestead…a small goat dairy, owned by God, managed by Bob and Tyler.

Steve Atkinson
April 23, 2008

Bob, excellent post.

From your examples of customer interactions I would have to say your farm is spirit based rather than result based—the spirit of community: a community in which each customer is unique and irreplacable and has a voice. This is what a small farm can be and should be. Because this spirit cannot be duplicated in a large operation, and because all people have an innate longing to experence community, I believe small farms have an untapped potential, and farmers like you are leading the way.

Amanda Rose
April 24, 2008

Hi again everyone. I just wanted to say that living here in the California market with lots of friends buying the product, I felt a moral obligation to come out. I’ve come out and I don’t expect everyone to agree with my doing so or with elements of my argument. I am fine with that. We all have to choose our own paths and I’ve done what I needed to do in my case. I have actually spent months documenting what I wrote. I did that for my friends here in the market and for myself. What the community does with it is the community’s own decision. I am find-able by email should anyone have need.


April 24, 2008

Thank you Amanda This information is very useful.

April 24, 2008


Thank you for sharing what you have discovered about the operations at OPDC. I cant imagine how disheartening it was for you to discover you son drank colostrum bottled with the OP label (which actually came from the Vander Eyk Dairy) during the time of the 2006 E.coli outbreak involving children that consumed OP dairy products. I cant imagine how angry you must feel believing your son may have been at risk for contracting a pathogen because of this substandard product.

Your postulation is thought provoking. Is it possible that OP equipment was contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7 when bottling outsourced colostrum with OP labels?

Is the same equipment used for bottling colostrum and milk? Can anyone answer this question?

Mark McAffe seems so passionate about his message regarding raw milk safety. Why would he even bring a substandard product into his dairy and sell it as his own? He of all people knows how dangerous this practice could be for his customers safety.

April 24, 2008

Bob and Amanda,

After following these recent discussions, I understand at long last the question Bob H. posed twice on earlier poststhe one about small farming and direct sales to your customers. The Eureka moment happened after reading your comment below, which I found moving:

"My biggest fear, and strong motovational factor, regarding "bad" milk is not that it will bring the authorities down on me if I make someone sick, or that a lawsuit over bad milk might cost me the farm. No, what makes me work my rear off to produce a good product is the knowledge that if I don’t, I may be walking down Main Street in Jasper one day and have a parent walk up to me and ask, "Why did you not take better care to produce a healthy product, Bob? My little Jimmy (or Susie) is in the hospital because you lied to me about what you sold me."

That attitude and approach to food safety will (IMHO) do more than any government/industry/university/consultant’s HACCP plan on the planet whether your business farms 20 goats or processes many million of pounds of ground beef for school children.

This also makes me wonder whether the hotly debated OP pathogen (E. coli O157, Listeria, Campylobacter) issues are a harbinger for larger outbreaks as the sales and marketing continue to skyrocket (as Mark points out so many times in his media interviews). Often,the most definitive connections between an outbreak and a food product are made when there are 1000s of exposures and 100s of illnesses. I hope large outbreaks are not the way we ultimately answer the questions about raw milk risks in the 21st Century (yes, still believe there is a risk, especially if the farmer does not have the attitude expressed by Bob above).

From a public health standpoint–is this really Amandas elephant in the room: widespread commercial distribution of raw milk(legally; illegally–for ex., outsourcing; or sneaky–pet food) ?

Per Bob’s outstanding efforts to help me understand the concerns about regulations and impractical (ineffective?) requirements for small farmers, I have started to wonder if the real public health threat relates to a money-driven (and an almost religious/zealot) approach by some to distribution and marketing of raw milk.

Just some thoughts from a dumb government worker.


Bob Hayles
April 24, 2008

Well I’ll be danged…she isn’t Darth or Hillary after all. Now I gotta come up with another moniker for C2.

More later.


April 24, 2008

Bob…forgot to ask, did you pick-up the Saanens–they are a hardy, high-production breed with tons of personality IMHO, I think you will enjoy them. Let me know.

Amanda, I was tempted to say much more about your public post, but I think you said it all. You were very brave to go public with your research and opinions on this topic. I’m not a journalist and as such do not know the rules of public expression, But, thank you for sharing the information that you obviously spent much time gathering. Time will tell.

Also, I want to thank David G.for allowing this discussion. Regardless of the different opinions about raw milk, I am impressed and have respect for the fact that this moderator allows these open exchanges. In government, open discussion is rare and not necessarily determined by the person on the bottom of the food chain that comes out to inspect your farm/enforce regulations.


Central Valley Mom
April 24, 2008

Well, I only know of two raw milk dairies in CA. If it wasn’t bottled & sold in stores like Whole Foods, a lot of people in CA wouldn’t have access to it. In a perfect world, all states would have raw milk available so OP wouldn’t have to ship out of state pet food. O.P. wouldn’t have to bring in outside milk to meet demand. Unlike most people, I can drive out to the dairy & pick up a weeks worth of milk. And it’s not like a small farm. The herd is usually too far out to see & there’s no milking barn to tour. I paniced when I thought AB1735 would end my access to raw milk. I don’t know of any other suppliers. I would buy milk from another dairy if it was available, but most can’t afford to get set up that way. Let alone do the testing for pathogens & set up a HACCP. O.P. got milk from other dairies that weren’t pasture-fed? I don’t think they purposely passed off a "substandard product".They learned their lesson the hard way, especially if the illness causing products came from Vander Eyk dairy & they sold it as their own. That may be why Mark traveled down south to meet the families of the sick kids. Damage control & to try to reassure himself it wasn’t his doing. I’m glad OP is closing the herd so that isn’t a concern in the future. I assumed it was but I don’t feel like it was a breech of trust. I want raw milk, they have it. If my kids did get sick, Mark would see me in his sales office. He knows my face. So I know him, but what does that count for in the big picture. He’s an advocate for raw milk. He puts himself out there, takes the hits & harassment. And he basically has the corner market so he gets the profit too. Maybe he thinks the ends justify the means. He’s the one that is fighting off AB1735 in CA, with help from FTCDL & Clarevale. If he didn’t who would? If OP is profit driven at least it can survive the shut downs that they are subjected to & fight off anit-raw milk laws. I don’t expect integrity or honesty these days. I’ve become jaded. It’s just "business". And I just want my raw milk.

Steve Bemis
April 24, 2008

Regardless of the facts percolating in this teapot, Amanda has done this blog, and the larger discussion of raw milk in general, a tremendous disservice by failing to get all sides of the story reported to begin with. If malice were afoot in the reporting, it would be commonplace (proved all too often in politics) to get the misinformation, or the slanted story, or the poorly reported story, out there first and then let the details (truth) fall where they may. Certain news services do it all the time, and just sit back and watch the confusion bloom. All too often, what gets reported first, sticks (think WMD, whom many still think existed in a certain occupied country). Sadly, we are watching just that happen here. I’m not saying this to defend Mark McAfee. At this point, I don’t feel like I have enough facts to make a judgment. And at this rate, I may never have them.

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
April 24, 2008

"(NO! I don’t use dirty underwear…I wash it first, heavy on the bleach…LOL)."

Bob, Careful with that bleach, it’ll eat holes in your shorts…..

April 24, 2008

Amanda posted her findings on her own personal blog. This is not a journalistic publication. Mark McAfee has had no problem in the past posting on this blog. If there are facts to be corrected, he can choose to correct them anytime he wants.

I’m sure everyone is waiting for his side of the story. Let’s see is he has the courage to post.

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
April 24, 2008

As stated, I think a closed heard is best. I have mixed feelings about huge dairies/farms they seem to breed contamination, no matter how careful those running it are. Mark does post his bacteria counts and I would assume he would be receptive to talking to me or anyone else about his farm et al. Just as I believe the owners of Claravale would.

OP and Claravale are the only sources in Sacramento that I can get raw dairy from (not counting some cheeses). These two dairies are 3 or more hours away. Hopefully the quality will only continue to improve and all will be honest in their dealings. I have no wish to milk any cows.

Steve Bemis
April 24, 2008

CP – he has posted on her blog, in an attempt to state his side of the story, and it’s buried under the initial story. That’s my point.

April 24, 2008


I am sorry but I do not see it as buried. He admits that he purchased product from Vander Eyk and says that it was no secret and was open about this at all times. This is the first I have heard about it and wonder How Many of his customers knew about this at the time?

Steve Bemis
April 24, 2008

Lisa – you’ve read the additional postings, but CP apparently had not, and that’s simply my point. I’m not arguing the substance, because anyone who wants to dig hard enough can find the substance (although, there is a lot more sifting through the shards of opinion once the truth is fractured). It is very difficult once something is initially reported wrong or incompletely, to get the whole story out at a later point. The beauty of David’s blog is that he is scrupulously careful to get it right the first time (pro or con), or failing a clear story, he makes the uncertainty explicit so that dead-end conversations are minimized. We have all benefitted from that clarity of focus for going on two years now.

April 25, 2008

Steve.I reread what I wrote. It did appear that I didnt read what Mark McAfee posted at the end of Amandas story. I did read Marks rebuttal.

What I was referring to was Mark posting a comment on this blog. He has done so many times in the past and has corrected what he believes to be misinformation represented by the state of Californian officials.

He knows may raw milk advocates read this blog. If any facts need to be clarified or questions answered, he can make his statements here for all to read.

Only two facts need to be clarified:
1.Did he outsource colostrum in August/September of 2006? (He answered that question on Amandas blog. The answer was yes.

2.The 2nd question that needs to be answeredDoes he use the same equipment to bottle colostrum and raw milk? (This question was asked by curious). We have not received an answer to this question.

When I read Amandas story, I did not come away with the belief that Mark McAfee was outsourcing raw milk or that anything he was doing was illegal. Leading people to believe an outsourced product was produced at OPDC is unethical, but not illegal.

However, the cost may have been huge if this is the reason 6 children became in ill in September of 2006.

April 25, 2008

It looks to me like this story is being spun into Amanda doing something wrong. Bottom line is that I am buying a product from Organic Pastures Dairy, and that is what I am expecting to receive. Not find out after the fact that the product is coming from somewhere else.
I really didn’t have to dig that hard.

Bob Hayles
April 25, 2008

I must say that one thing I like about this post and followup comments is that it reinforces a BIG pointI make…KNOW YOUR FARMER!

Bob Hayles

April 25, 2008

In CA, only Grade A dairies can sell milk (raw or otherwise), which is why there are only 2 raw milk dairies in the state. There’s no such thing as a legal way for a mom-and-pop, 2-cow farm to sell milk unless they run a licensed, inspected Grade A dairy, which is more expensive to establish (to conform to the code of what’s required equipment and facilities) than many can afford. The giant fecal-factory dairies, where the cows usually stand around in a dirt lot knee-deep in manure, are perfectly fine in the eyes of the state, because they have the capital required to have a Grade A milking barn and facilities. However, as far as the state of CA is concerned, a small farm with a few well-loved, clean, healthy cows on pasture, that get milked by hand and the milk bottled in the farm’s kitchen, pose a grave threat to public health and are not allowed to sell their milk. This is why CA needs a law allowing farmers to sell the products of their farm directly to consumers, with a label stating the product is not inspected or approved by the state. It’s close to impossible to "know your farmer" in CA if you buy legal raw milk. There are some that operate below the radar, but they have to be very careful. Herdshares are starting to crop up, but very few and far between, and I doubt it will be long before the CDFA notices and starts to harass them.

May 2, 2008

So, why is Mark quiet here?
Bob, love your post!