Big Cheese and Gov’t Inconsistency

First, read this article from the NY Times on how the government is conspicuously inconsistent with itself. Specifically, the Dept. of Agriculture (DoA) both warns the American public against eating too much cheese, while, at the same time, has been pushing a significant increase in the consumption of cheese.

Once that inconsistency is firmly in mind, do some thinking about how that situation comes to bear on this one. Dairy Management clearly has some vested interests in big cheese… anyone disagree? What (if any) are the connections between the DoA’s inconsistency and the FDA’s war on small, artisan cheese farmers? I’m no conspiracy boob, nor do I think that I’ve discovered anything in particular. Further, I’m not making any accusations. What I think is that this DoA inconsistency seems very interesting with the FDA’s war on small farms.

Anyone have any information that I don’t? Any thoughts on this?


Help Save a Farm!

Fundraising to Defend the Rights of Raw Milk Dairies and Raw Milk Consumers – by Kimberly Hartke

Kimberly is awesome! Please read her article and help us help the Estrellas.


  • Give $5 (or more, if you can) – $5 is not much to give and, if we can get the word out broadly enough, it will help the Estrellas TREMENDOUSLY!
  • Please ‘like’ this post and also share it on Facebook!
  • Also, as Kimberly mentioned, please add the Pledgie button for the Estrellas to your blog. See here for code.

Thanks for your help, friends!

A Reasonable Plea – Part 2

Here is just a brief word about the abuse of government power and a call for reform, coupled with a plea to help the Estrella Family Creamery.

I think that most citizens, if asked to articulate in what ways local government abuses power, would (rightly or wrongly) point to cases of domestic police action. We want to use that as an example. (First, we want to note that here at the EC blog, we love the police and are thankful for their service. May God bless our police officers and their families.) From time to time, even among the best organizations, there will be individuals who do not measure up to the excellence of the organization. For example, a particular police officer might use excessive and/or unwarranted force upon the citizenry. If this happens, is the citizenry right to be outraged and cry out for investigation? Most certainly. Here’s why: The United States of America is one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. American liberty and justice are rooted in law. The law is over the citizenry and the police. Indeed, all Americans are called to submit to the law. If there is a purported abuse, the powers that be are obliged to examine the alleged abuse and make sure that the law is honored and upheld. Isn’t this also the case with the agencies of the Federal government? Government agencies (like the FDA) are not above the law, are they?

Some of you older cheese-eaters will recall the abuses of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) back in the 60’s and 70’s. We contend that the current abuses of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are similar to those erstwhile abuses of the IRS. A great kudos, by the way, is due to the many internal reforms that have been instituted in the IRS over the past 30 years. The FDA is in need of similar sorts of internal reform. Neither private citizens nor government agencies are above the law. Further, even if the FDA has been lawful in their heavy-handed treatment of numerous private raw-milk dairies and farms, we would hope that common sense and decency would prevail. We would hope that clear communication between the FDA and the farms under investigation would be in place. We would hope that the FDA (along with the CDC and other appropriate agencies) would put a premium on educating the public regarding food-borne illnesses and bacteria and minimize scare tactics. The public doesn’t need to FEAR injurious bacteria. That does no good. People need to understand what these bacteria are and how they can avoid them. For example, people need to now that there are many types of listeria, and that it’s commonly in soil, dust, fertilizer and food: it is pervasive in our environment. Rather then bull them over and shut them down, we want the FDA more carefully to work with the farms it has recently and will be shutting down. The FDA should be overhauled to present a kinder, gentler approach to the taxpayers with whom it interacts. This would not weaken the effects of the FDA, but would, in fact, greatly strengthen them. We WANT to comply, for we WANT healthy food.

Thus, we call on Dr. Margaret Hamburg (the current commissioner of the FDA) to begin public examinations into the conduct of her agents in the field. Dr. Hamburg (and her field agents) draws her pay from the public coffers. Thus, we think she’s morally obliged to investigate these topics, as the farms the FDA is destroying are paying the taxes that pay her salary. If Dr. Hamburg will not investigate, we call upon members of Congress to conduct hearings and investigations during the 2011 session into increasingly rampant acts of overtly aggressive enforcement by FDA field employees, especially when other strategies have not been attempted first. Specifically, the burden should be placed squarely upon the FDA to document its efforts at outcome-based communication and score-card based facilitation. As a tax-payer, I think this reasonable plea is not too much to ask. Do you?

Please stand with us, donate to the Estrellas (they really need it), and fight to right this abuse of power. Don’t wait to fight until it’s your goods that are being seized and your business that’s being destroyed. Fight now! Start by subscribing to this blog. Throughout the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll offer some more practical ways that you can help. But for now, please think and pray about donating to support the Estrella Family Creamery.

A Reasonable Plea – Part 1

November 10 – The Coast of Washington State – Part 1

Artisan cheeses, crafted in age-old tradition, reverberating deliciously across the palate – what a satisfying sensation! Such is life for cheese enthusiasts everywhere who have savored any of the award-winning cheeses from the Estrella Family Creamery.

However, if you’re visiting this site you’re probably aware of some stinky hubbub surrounding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) October 2010 actions toward the Estrella Family Creamery over the subject of a strain of bacteria known as listeria monocytogene. Even if you’re slightly squeamish about things legal or biologic, we invite you to please read further.

Have you ever heard a story about someone, repeated that story yourself, or possibly even made a decision based on the story, only to discover afterward that there was more to the story…and if only you’d known?! If you’re human and still have a pulse, you’re probably in the, “Been there, done that!” column. Ouch!

Winston Churchill is credited with saying, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Ca. 428 B.C., Euripides is credited with, “In case of dispute, never dare to judge until you’ve heard the other side.”  King Solomon the Wise, right around 935 B.C., wrote, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17).

Particularly in our close personal and workplace relationships, most of us learned the premise long ago: we can avoid potential egg-on-the-face embarrassment if we will but take the time to ask a few clarifying questions after the sometimes dubious messenger has authoritatively led us to believe we’ve just heard “all that can be known about the matter.” Oh, the pain of not being vigilant over our lips – and keyboards.

The central question here is, “Is there another side to the story I just heard?”

The same premise holds true for each of us as consumers as we navigate the outbreak world of e. coli, salmonella, and listeria – to name but three potential bacteria – in our food supply. Asking questions and seeking knowledge in this vein is particularly important when it is a small business (without a PR department) that’s been besmirched publicly. There is no crime when a small business owner cannot, with skillful and precise polish, strategically respond to issues which rise to the level of press releases, reporters, and bloggers the world over. Think about it: The business owner is busy doing whatever it is they have a passion for; they’re not equipped to or interested in handling a PR controversy.

Further, We the People elect legislators, who in turn create agencies to regulate this, that and the other aspect of our freedoms. If We the Regulated People don’t seek to hold these agencies in check to maintain our Constitutional freedoms, we will find the government agencies will run roughshod over them and we’ll lose them. Please take this as an encouragement to communicate your concerns with the Legislators that represent you.

One might reasonably conclude that the FDA’s actions towards the Estrella Family Creamery is just such a situation. If it is, there is certainly blame on both sides for failure to find better ways to communicate. But, we must ask which party has the multi-billion dollar tax-funded budget to educate and train its employees in the art of communication and de-escalation? On this point there is absolutely no doubt. And, while this website won’t rehash every detail, we urge Margaret Hamburg, M.D., the current commissioner for the FDA, to do a brief inquiry of her own regarding the behavior of FDA employees in the field. We are not making specific allegations herein. We’re just saying that as American taxpayers and voters we want fuller disclosure from the FDA and an examination into the heavy-handed tactics used in the field. We are not pleased, and we’ll make sure people know.

…to be continued.

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