This week’s list


As America’s food system consolidates, many dairy farms adapt intensive farming practices that confine livestock and use synthetic hormones like rBST to artificially increase milk production. The impact of these economies of scale also has adverse effects on water quality while increasing the production of methane, a major source of air pollution created by domesticated ruminants like cows.
Some family farms resist these conventional dairy practices. They don’t use rBST or other growth hormones and often raise their dairy cows on pasture. They also adhere to ethical treatment practices and even upcycle manure, transforming it into fertilizer and biofuel. These dairy farmers are responsible stewards of their lands and vital figures in the rebuilding of sustainable local food systems.


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Bovine Somatotropin (rBST or rBSH) is an injectable growth hormone that was created with biotechnology to artificially increase milk production in dairy cows.


“Low level doses of antibiotics used for extended periods of time on otherwise healthy livestock, mainly to increase their weight gain.”-Nicolette Niman of BN Ranch


“Based on demonstrable and measurable outcomes that impact an animal’s welfare in terms of its overall well-being, it’s access to clean water and pasture, the health of it’s environment, the feed it consumes, and the animals day to day care from birth to death.”-Andrew Gunther of Animal Welfare Approved


A concentrated animal feeding operation is an AFO that is defined by the number and type of animals confined, and/or is designated by the EPA to be a significant contributor to surface water pollution.


Methane from cow waste is a greenhouse gas and one of the largest single forms of air pollution in California. It’s literally heating up the planet. A methane digester converts cow’s methane waste into a useful fuel to power machinery on a farm, reducing energy costs.


Oysters and Cows, Together Forever on the Tomales Bay

By Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery

cows_tomales_petaluma_road-X2Gurgle, gurgle, moo, moo. These are the sounds of oysters and cows living together in harmony with nature. These sounds, along with the squawking of sea gulls, the barking of sea lions and the howling of coyotes, signal a healthy ecosystem that folds agriculture into wild lands.

In the early days of the environmental movement, efforts were made to remove humans from the landscape as a way of preserving the natural environment. On the Tomales Bay, we have moved past this theory. Along the eastern shore of the bay, where dairying has been a way of life for over 150 years and oyster farming was practiced by the Miwok Indians before Europeans settled here, agreements were made between oyster farmers and dairy ranchers to work together to keep the bay waters clean.

CowgirlCreameryIMG_3721-LIt hasn’t always been this way. In the 1990’s oyster farmers were in distress because manure from the dairy pastures was emptying into the bay after rainfall. The runoff endangered the health of the oysters and because of food safety regulations, harvesting had to be suspended for five days after the rain stopped. Instead of fighting, the oyster farmers and the dairy ranchers sat together and talked. With the help of university agricultural advisors and county representatives, agreements were made. The dairy ranchers received grants from the Resource Conservation District to restore riparian corridors along the creek beds, which helped to filter water before it entered the bay. The ranchers were encouraged to build holding ponds for cow manure so that it could be controlled and used as fertilizer during the dry months. These actions improved habitat for wild animals and birds, made the pastures thrive and filtered water that emptied into the bay. Meanwhile, the oyster farmers were busy building holding tanks so that they could harvest their oysters before rainfall, thereby insuring a revenue stream after the rains. Federal and state agencies, as well as the oyster farmers who depend on clean water for their livelihood, closely monitor water quality on the bay. This collaborative effort between government, farmers and environmental groups has helped to make the area a thriving sustainable agricultural hub. Collaboration is the key to environmental stewardship.

Sue-Conley-thumbnailSue Conley is the co-founder of Cowgirl Creamery with her dear friend Peggy Smith. Cowgirl Creamery makes small batch organic artisan cheese while providing an important link between small-scale cheesemakers and urban consumers.

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Information Artwork Text

Local Book CoverTitle: Artisanal Vs. Mass Produced
Location: Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, California
Image Credit: Douglas Gayeton for the Lexicon of Sustainability
Found on Page 216 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

Artisan cheeses require the skilled use and manipulation of hand tools, which imparts unique qualities, more complex taste and variety. Making them also requires knowledge and skill in aging and ripening, qualities absent in mass-produced cheeses which utilize automated systems and tools to produce nearly uniform products.

Strauss organic milk + cream = Cowgirl Creamery’s “triple crème” cheese

1. Starter culture added
2. Microbial rennet added
3. Curd cut and separated from whey
4. Curd poured into cheese forms

1. Set morning cheese in brine (whey and salt) for five hours
2. Place on racks and store in warm drying room with good ventilation
3. Turned in first aging room (humid and warm)
4. Over next nine to eleven days rind forms (and fuzz) while cheese is continually turned
5. When fuzz develops the cheese is washed in a salt water brine bath to halt the growth of geothricum and penicillium while encouraging “brevi bacterium linens” (makes cheese stinky)
6. Place cheese in colder high humidity cave
7. Bacteria Linens, molds, and yeasts battle it out on rind
8. After 18-21 days cheese gets final wash
9. Best eaten at 30 days (60 for strong of heart)


“A Dairy Farm Transitions”


The Mauthe family tells the story of downsizing their dairy farm to sell direct to consumer while resurrecting the old Louisiana dairy farming tradition of producing Creole cream cheese.

Link: Kenny Mauthe talks about why he and his wife chose to transition their dairy farm.

Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.


Is Raw Milk Healthy?


Raw milk has wonderful health benefits including complete proteins that are easy to assimilate. In fact, all of the nutrition in raw milk is very easy for the body to assimilate, from beneficial fatty acids, to many vitamins and minerals. The problem with conventional milk is that it is pasteurized and homogenized, as well as the fact that it comes from sick and toxic factory farmed cows.

Link: In this Green Divas Foodie-Phile podcast, Green Diva Meg talks about why we should consider raw milk.

The Green Divas Show is a one-hour, weekly and interactive internet-based radio broadcast that inspires sustainable living from a guilt-free, low-stress perspective—making green information accessible to a broad audience using credible resources, humor and technology.


Find innovative ideas and facts from our interviews with Lexicon thought leaders.

Marie Audet of Blue Spruce Farm

Marie-Audet-ThumbnailMarie Audet and her family are at the forefront of dairy farming in Vermont. They operate a progressive, multi-generation farm with over 2,100 head. Blue Spruce Farm collects the methane gas from the farm ans is used to power generators that push enough electricity onto the grid for 300+ homes.
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“Industrial Livestock Production”


In order to maximize profits, industrial agriculture often trades the health of consumers and rural communities, as well as the nutritional quality of the product, for an economy of scale through consolidation and mechanization.

Link: Read about the hidden costs of industrial livestock production

GRACE Communications Foundation develops innovative strategies to increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current food, water and energy systems, and to promote a more sustainable future.


“The Terroir on Cheese”


Listen as Patrick Holden speaks to Bronwen Percival, Cheese Buyer for Neal’s Yard Dairy, and Diana Seysses about the science of cheese, and the relationship between food and place. Drawing on Patrick’s own experiences of creating a raw milk cheese on his organic dairy farm in West Wales, they discuss the importance of access to raw milk and the close parallels between cheese and wine.

Link: Cheese experts discuss the science of cheese, and the relationship between food and place.

Sustainable Food Trust is committed to facing challenges and exploring solutions for a food production system that causes the least possible harm to both humans and the environment. We are committed to the principles of “good science” and in sharing the findings of high quality research with as many people as possible.


Find innovative ideas and facts from our interviews with Lexicon thought leaders.

George Siemon, C.E.O. of Organic Valley

George-Siemon-ThumbnailGeorge Siemon is best known for his leadership in organizing farmers and building market support for organic agriculture. In 1988, Siemon joined a group of family farmers in Wisconsin to found the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP). More commonly known by its brands Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, the cooperative focuses on regional production and distribution, and contracting with local production plants. Organic Valley producers promote sustainability by farming without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or pesticides.

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Perennial Plate


The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. Chef and Activist, Daniel Klein and Filmmaker Mirra Fine are traveling the world exploring the wonders, complexities and stories behind the ever more connected global food system.

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The Perennial Plate fell in love with these Ohio dairy farmers. The family welcomes the filmmakers into their home and shares the experience of growing up on a dairy farm.


The Stoller family from Ohio.

Know Your Cheesemaker

By Tucker Taylor

When I met Soyoung Scanlan several years ago I was enthralled by her quiet, yet strong presence. Her passion for making amazing cheeses is apparent in every cheese that she produces. They are produced at a beautifully bucolic goat dairy in Sonoma County less than an hour north of San Francisco. I feel that it is true, great milk does comes from happy cows… or goats in this instance. These seem to be some of the happiest goats I have ever seen.

Here in Sonoma County we are fortunate enough to have a cheese trail. There are many passionate producers, just like Soyoung, of wonderful cheeses in the area. I love to get further out into the countryside and visit farms. But the American cheese trail is ever expanding as well. Jeffery Robert’s book “The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese” is a nice resource of artisan producers across the country.

Soyoung’s cheeses can be found at many of the best restaurants in the Bay Area and beyond as well as many local natural food stores. I admire her because she works with people whom she respects and who respect her as well, and she has earned such respect. For me, what adds to my enjoyment of these cheeses is my friendship with Soyoung. There is something deeply enriching about knowing who produces the food that you eat, or the wine or beer that you drink for that matter.

Tucker TaylorTucker Taylor is an expert in certified organic farming, specialty produce, and sustainability. Taylor strongly believes in soil cultivation—with a healthy dose of compost—as the key to a good harvest. He is now the first Director of Culinary Gardens for Jackson Family Wines, where he spearheads the cultivation of all the company’s gardens globally. Prior to joining the Kendall Jackson family, Tucker oversaw landscaping at every property of the world-renowned chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants (French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc), setting the standard for today’s farm-to-table fine dining. Follow him on Instagram @farmert.
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Information Artwork Text

Local Book CoverTitle: rBST Free
Location: Somewhere, America
Image Credit: Douglas Gayeton for the Lexicon of Sustainability
Found on Page 14 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

rBST= Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin

Also known as…
rBGH= Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone

Both rBST and rBGGH are terms used to describe a synthetic growth hormone which increases milk production in dairy cows.

The USA is the lone remaining country in the developed world which still permits the sale and use of rBST. A number of well-documented consequences of its use (ranging from increases in clinical mastitis to infertility in dairy cows exposed to the hormones) has led a host of nations to ban its use: Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and all 27 member countries of the European community.

IN 2012, THE 6TH CIRCUIT COURT RULED THAT IT’S LEGAL FOR MILK PRODUCERS TO LABEL THEIR MILK AS “rBST FREE”. Furthermore they said Ohio’s ban on dairy processors’ hormone-free claims violated their 1st amendment rights and was “more extensive then necessary to serve the state’s interest in preventing consumer deception”. The court also cited 3 reasons milk produced by rBST-treated cows is different: increased levels of IGF-1 hormone; period during each location with lower nutritional quality in milk; and increased somatic cell counts (i.e more pus in the milk).


Is Organic Dairy Really Worth it?


A recent study asks if organic milk is really better for you than conventional milk. You might be surprised by the results.

Link: Here’s your new excuse to buy organic ice cream

Delicious Living was the first magazine of its kind, and it remains ahead of its time—a lifestyle magazine that meets new millennium needs with centuries-old health solutions, combined with contemporary natural health care methods and modalities.

Recipe of the Week By Chef Ann Cooper

Chef-Ann-Cooper-thumbnailChef Ann Cooper is the Renegade Lunch Lady. She is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. She is also the founder of Food Family Farming Foundation.

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