A Site to Help

So, very recently, the Estrella Family Creamery (a family run creamery in Montesano, Washington that produces some world-class and highly beloved cheese) had all their product seized by the FDA, essentially in an attempt to put them out of business. See here and here for some perspective and further information.

This site has been set up to aid the Estrella family (personal friends of mine), especially by setting up a fund for their economic support. I’m working with some other folks to get this up and running, but I would welcome help to get this moving.

FDA Nukes Estrella Family Creamery


14 responses to “A Site to Help

  1. Kelli, I’m Doreen’s friend and assistant. I put together the blog for Morningland. How can I help? Email me directly at henwhisperer @ gmail (dot) com just as soon as you can.

  2. Looks great. Sharon, the original story is here , not the Bovine http://wholefoodusa.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/fda-shutdown-award-winning-artisan-raw-cheese-producer/ I hope you will change it

  3. Hi,

    I would like to donate money to help, but do not want to set up a paypal account. Is there another way to donate?

    Thank you.


  4. Honestly, Stefanie, I think you can send a check to me or to Sharon. We can put your funds into the account. If you’re comfortable with that, let me know and we can make it work. My email is timprussic @ gmail (dot) com
    Thanks, Stefanie!

  5. Here is the link for the Pledgie for the Estrella’s.

    Please, after you donate, collect the badge and put it on your websites, blogs, forums, lists, etc. Spread the word!

    Grace and peace,

  6. Please address the food poisoning concerns. I am very concerned that they would shut you down without probable cause. Thanks

  7. Thoughts on illegal seizures of property–and other implications.
    First I am sorry to hear about what happened last month at the creamery!!

    The word “alleged” is often used in relation to organized crime around the world. It is difficult to prove connections from one activity to another, difficult to prove where it might be linked to government, and difficult to dare implicating specific organizations or individuals to specific activity.

    In Chicago, however, dairy products came under some forms of “external” price pressuring in the 1990s. Prices for butter nearly tripled overnight. In less than 2 years’ time, it went from 75 cents to over 3 dollars per pound. Cheese followed. Then milk.

    A careful Internet search will reveal dairy companies in the US and Canada with “alleged” connections to organized crime. Monopolizing and price fixing are the underpinnings of money laundering. Foul play is also a tool to take competition out–especially if a takeover is less interesting. Anti-trust laws that used to protect consumers around the world have been abolished by the government because conservative Americans have been persuaded that anti-trust is anti-America and diminishes free-market opportunity. Sadly, the opposite becomes true in practice and politicians, and many citizens have been fooled into believing that a hands-off economy with no regulations is a good thing.

    The reality is that the regulations are all in the wrong places. General recommendations for health and safety in the food industry are good, but if someone becomes sick from a piece of cheese at a SMALL facility, that person can choose whether to buy cheese there again. The market decides.

    The US federal government should instead be using the wasted time and money from the FDA actions against small production houses to go after illegal price fixing and monopolies in the food industry. Inspections of restaurants and local producers should be left to local municipalities–and the customers.

    Estrella family—you have been winning gold medals for some really good cheese. Perhaps some of your competitors feel the heat!

  8. I wonder if “Big’ also wrote to the egg producers in the same manner?

  9. Listeria is a very serious concern. This was the second time that the creamery had been cited for having contaminated products. The FDA has the right to confiscate everything, because this wasn’t a one time offense. It is their job to protect the American people (regardless of whether it is 1 or 1 million people who eat Estrella Family cheeses) from listeria. If EFC cannot be trusted to clean up their act after one warning, how can they be trusted to not have contamination in other cheeses? FDA did the right thing.

  10. Kristina, thanks for the input. The listeria was VERY contained. The hard-cheese caves are well removed from any listeria. Do you really think that the FDA was right to order a TOTAL recall? It’s akin to cutting off your leg because of an infection that’s isolated to your toe. Is that “the right thing”?

  11. i see you can only leave comments that are praising of the Estrellas, you sell to the public, you have to have the same standards as Darigold or whoever, period

  12. Mike, you’ve clearly not read very much on this blog. I’ll let all sorts of comments through, but I will not tolerate personal attacks or attacks on the Estrella family. Keep your comments to the point and I’ll happily let the be read, even if I disagree with them. Let me be VERY clear: if you make any more personal or family attacks, I’ll ban you from this blog. If you keep to the topic, I’m happy to have everyone read your comments.

    As to your notion of the same standards, period. That can be true or false in numerous ways. For example, can you imagine the FDA working with, say, Darigold and asking them to recall all their product because of a bacteria found in limited areas over the course of a handful of months? OF COURSE NOT. We have companies that have put products on the market that have killed people that have not got the absolute recall request from the FDA. Where’s your equity, there, Mike? If, on the other hand, you mean that both EFC and Darigold should produce safe products, of course I agree. Before you slam the EFC, try to understand how much they’re worked with the FDA (and even apart from the FDA) to make things right. The Estrellas’ work will be as difficult for anyone to emulate as it is easy for you to deride.

  13. According to what I just read about the food safety bill (SB510), that is now apparently dead, the FDA can only ask for voluntary recall – not mandatory. I may have misread something but one thing is certain the FDA goes after small fry rather than the big abusers. For example below – I read the owner operator of Hillendale was a big, maybe I should say huge, political contributor and here is what happened to the company that made hundreds and hundreds of people sick because of their unsanitary and inhumane methods.

    FDA Fails to Crack Down on Salmonella-Tainted Egg Producers

    This summer’s massive salmonella outbreak should have left the responsible parties with egg all over their faces. Yet almost as soon as sickened consumers got back on their feet, one of the offending producers is already pumping out more eggs while another continues to flagrantly break the rules. So much for a crackdown on unscrupulous egg producers.

    Just two short months after FDA inspectors found maggots, manure, and rodents at two major egg producers’ operations, one of them, Hillendale Farms, is already getting the green light to start selling eggs again. According to Food Safety News, FDA officials sent Hillendale a letter last week informing the producer it could begin marketing its eggs again. Hillendale supposedly made some FDA-recommended modifications to its operations, and inspectors found no evidence of salmonella in its hen houses. Two months, a couple recommendations, and a pleasant letter for sickening thousands of consumers? Sounds more like a pat on the back than a slap on the wrist.
    Secondly, we have been led to believe in this country that every bug (bacteria) is a bad bug and the only good bug is a dead bug. Totally false. If we just relax a bit and eat clean, unprocessed food we’ll find that the good bugs take care of the bad bugs and they do us a whole lot of good – like helping to produce vitamins we need, digesting our food so we can absorb the minerals and vitamins we need from it. We will never live in a bug free environment. But with good hygiene and technic we can be assured that the bugs we are exposed to will likely be our friends.

    It is outrageous that they have seized the products of this hard working farm family without one iota of proof that anyone ever got sick from their product. Will they tie our hands behind our backs next so we can’t put our dirty fingers in our mouths for fear it Might make us sick?

    We have not had the privilege of buying EFC cheese in our stores in Bellingham but are looking forward to the day – SOON – when we will.

    Our WAP chapter is behind you. We see a thriving creamery on the horizon!

  14. The people who patronize the University District Farmers Market come from that neighborhood: professors or medicine and biology, physicists, along with the odd home brew aficionado. People very well aware of what they are buying and eating.

    If the FDA thought what they were doing was right, why bring armed Marshalls to the party? There is much a government has the power to do, that it does not have the right to do.

    In 1972 Sec of Ag Earl Butz said the policy of the US govt is “get big or get out.” Look it up. The work of destroying small farmers is just about complete. Do you think the Estrella’s will want to pass on this lifestyle to their kids? Even if they wanted to, the inheritance tax, promoted by billionaires who hie their inheritances behind “charitable trusts” will wipe out the kids equity. Back to Kraft Velveeta!

    Not only do the Estrellas not have a slick PR firm to defend them, they do not have the countless government workers who post attacks on their position from govt agents.

    I argue we need no FDA (or ag dept.) Please see here.


    John Spiers

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