Archive for the 'Milk' Category

Common Sense Can Keep Santa Healthy

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Attention, all parents and well-meaning children: Santa is a very old man. With senescence comes a weakened immune system, meaning that he is a member of a high-risk category of food-borne illnesses. Please, let’s not have a repeat of what happened last year! Here are a few tips to help keep Santa healthy:

  • Wash your hands!  Kids are germ factories (yes, even you!)  Don’t share your germs with Santa.  Wash your hands before making his plate of cookies.
  • Milk should not be left at room temperature.  It’s a well-known fact that Santa doesn’t come until everybody in the house is asleep, which with excitement running high on Christmas eve, could take a while.  Therefore, if you opt to leave milk for Santa, leave it for him over an ice bath to help keep it cold until the old man arrives.
  • Consider leaving an alternate snack for Santa.  After all, with so many houses to visit, there’s a limit to how many cookies and how much milk Santa can consume.  Perhaps you could leave him something to go?  Consider a bottle of a nice ale that Santa could crack open and enjoy on Christmas morning after all of his rounds are completed; or maybe a sandwich wrapped in wax paper that he could eat during one of his long commutes over a body of water (the Pacific Ocean, in particular, tends to be a bit boring for him, and he could really use something to do while he crosses it).
  • If you do decide to make him a sandwich, keep in mind not to use perishable ingredients that could sprout unhealthy levels of bacteria while you’re asleep/ before he eats it.  Peanut butter and jelly, for instance, would be a good choice; cream cheese and lox would not be.

If you have any questions about whether your plan for Santa is going to be safe for his weakened immune system, consult your local department of health.  They have trained epidemiologists on staff who can answer any of your questions.

I Won’t Be There, But Maybe Others Are Interested

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Hi, I’m writing to you from the Adult School of Montclair and I’m hoping you can help spread the word about an upcoming lecture we are hosting on the raw milk movement. Sadly, registration for this program is currently low and we may need to cancel if we don’t get more sign-ups. We’d really appreciate if you could give us a mention on your blog and if you happen to be in the area, we hope you can join us.


Jonathan Hayter


I’m not sure you really want my publicity–after doing exhaustive research on raw milk including tasting, farm visits, and a visit to the Turner dairy, plus a heck of a lot of reading, I came to the conclusion that it’s just not safe for city-dwellers who are importing it long distances to drink, especially if they won’t be using it quite quickly.  Even if bacterial counts are low on purchase, the milk is  a fertile breeding ground for pathogens, the most insidious of which is listeria, which is virtually omnipresent.

Not only that, but the claims made by the raw milk advocates tend to be a bit outlandish, especially when they gather the credible (enzymes that are killed in the pasteurization process aid in digestion of milk, thereby making raw milk something that even the lactose intolerant can tolerate, eg) with the incredible (it cures everything that a snake oil salesman says his product can cure) and the outlandish (pasteurization proponents, they claim, rely on outdated studies; whereas pasteurization proponents that I have read cite studies from as recently as the late 1990s, perhaps more recent, whereas the Weston A Price people rely on studies from the 1920s-1930s and even cite a list of doctors who lived in an era when the sun was believed to revolve around the earth as “leading medical authorities of their day” who advocated drinking raw milk (I might point out that pasteurization didn’t exist in their day for them to be able to differentiate between pasteurized and raw milk; in addition to which there have been remarkable advancements in medical technology in the intervening years since they kicked the bucket.  Read more of my thoughts on the topic by browsing my milk category.

Nevertheless, I am an advocate for folks getting all the information they can for themselves and reaching their own conclusions, so here are the details of the lecture:

Slow Food for Thought: Raw Milk
Monday, 7-8:30pm, November 3 @ George Inness Annex, Montclair High
School, Chestnut St & Park St., Montclair NJ 07042

Join a champion of raw milk who will demonstrate the happy fact that raw
milk tastes better. Learn why it is better for your health and better
for the planet. Taste flavorful foods prepared with milk from grass-fed

Presented by Kirti Rahi, chef/owner of Piquant Bread Bar & Grill, New
Brunswick, NJ. Tara Bowers, Director of the grassroots group Foodshed

Registration is available online at

Any epidemiologists out there who want to go and provide the speaker (and audience) with their educated vantage point would have my blessing (though probably not Mr. Hayter’s).

Where Giant Eagle Milk Comes From

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Around the time I visited Turner Dairy, I noticed an announcement from Giant Eagle that all milk sold under their brand name was sourced from farmers who certify that they do not use rBGH (aka rBST) in their milk production—which is fantastic; anyone who has read descriptions of the udder sores and infections that cows given the hormone suffer must realize that there is a price to be paid for the 10% increased milk production the hormone causes. While the FDA says that there is no significant difference between milk from cows given the hormones and milk from cows not given the hormones, I’d disagree—even if the two substances appear the same in laboratory tests, the comfort and well-being f the animal providing the milk is of definite concern to me.

I also like to buy my foodstuffs from as local of a source as possible, which led me to ask, where does Giant Eagle milk come from? I finally heard back about where Giant Eagle milk comes from: Dean Dairy. I got a phone call from Annie at Dean, who reported that the processing plant for the milk is in Sharpsville, PA; and that 85-90% of it comes from farms in Pennsylvania, with the balance being sourced from Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. She says that there is no difference between milk sold under the Giant Eagle label and the milk sold under the Dean label—Dean just acts as the provider for Giant Eagle’s store brand.


Raw Milk Farmer Bucks Regulatory Attempts

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 5,

On a quiet, 100-acre farm in Cumberland County, Mennonite farmer Mark Nolt, his wife and his 10 children have for three years operated a dairy whose best-selling product is one the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture considers contraband: raw milk.

Pennsylvania requires its raw milk producers to obtain a permit, but Mr. Nolt stopped applying for the permit in 2005 and has continued to sell raw milk and dairy products in the face of multiple citations, a court injunction and two raids that resulted in $50,000 of product and equipment being seized from his farm in Newville.

Raw milk has been a hot button topic in Southwestern Pennsylvania for at least a couple of years, and the advocates for access to raw milk are extremely vocal about their perceived right to get unpasteurized milk. They have also been somewhat militant in their insistence that it is the best choice for everyone.

I am willing to concede that there are enzymatic changes in milk as a result of pasteurization. I am not, however, willing to accept every piece of information distributed by the Weston A. Price Foundation (the main proponent of raw milk rights) as God’s honest truth.

In promoting the health benefits of raw milk and the consumption of high fat diets, they rely on photographic evidence reminiscent of eugenics and, whilst complaining that pasteurization advocates rely on studies from the 1930s, distribute pamphlets boasting that “Galen, Hippocrates, Pliny, Varro, Marcellus Empiris, Bacchis, and Antithimus, leading physicians of their day, all used raw milk in treatment of disease.” Well, we’ve had some remarkable discoveries since their day: including the fact that the earth revolves around the sun.


Turner Dairy, Pittsburgh, PA

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

It’s tough to believe how much technology goes into our milk.

Really, it shouldn’t be—we live in an age where we’re guaranteed to be able to get milk in any season, any weather, any size, prepackaged and waiting for us at the corner store. But to be in the processing plant at Turner Dairy as company President Chuck Turner, Jr. (grandson of company founder Charles G. Turner) pushes icons on a touch screen to demonstrate how the processing of any particular product can be maneuvered and controlled from a computerized screen, it’s a vivid reminder that we’re a few steps removed from the farm.

And quite honestly, I think when it comes to milk, that’s probably a good thing—especially if, as is the case with Turner’s milk, you know that the raw material came from a family farm within 67 miles of the processing plant in Penn Hills and was pasteurized, homogenized, packed, and shipped by a business that has been family-run since its inception in 1930.

Today, the business sits in a highly residential area of Penn Hills, though Mr. Turner is quick to point out which part of the community came first. “We didn’t decide to locate a dairy in a neighborhood—they decided to locate a neighborhood inside a dairy farm.” A painting on the wall of Turner’s conference room drives home the point: in the 1930’s, this was still the pastoral landscape we imagine when we think of a dairy farm.


Santa Sick; Warm Milk and Dirty Hands Implicated

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Public health authorities this morning have announced that Santa Claus, beloved semi-anonymous benefactor of millions of children, has fallen ill. Epidemiologists are focusing on milk left at room temperature and cookies left by children who failed to wash their hands as the likely culprits.

Mrs. Claus, reached via satellite phone at the North Pole, said, “I’ve been warning [Santa] for years not to eat all of the cookies and drink all of the milk left for him by all of the children all over the world, but he enjoys those treats so much, he just won’t listen to me.”

Santa, a rotund man of indeterminate age, may have been more susceptible to the pathogens as a result of being elderly and sleep-deprived. While December has always been a tough month for the jolly old elf, sources report that the past decade has been particularly tough. One elf, who spoke with reporters under the condition that he not be named said, “Kids today want much more than they used to. Whereas we used to be able to satisfy most demands via woodworking and occasional metallurgy, the modern child wants electronics. So we elves have been working around the clock for most of the year to fill orders for MP-3 players, cell phones, and the ilk. Santa’s been putting in his share of hours, too. I don’t know if he’s slept twelve hours over the past three weeks. I know I haven’t.”

Anita Andomyorussa, MD, the doctor overseeing Santa’s care, is quick to assure parents and children that leaving treats for Santa is still a goood thing to do, and that Santa highly prefers homemade cookies over store-bought. “Santa loves the care and attention that go into making Christmas cookies,” she said, “and from a gustatory standpoint he prefers cookies made with butter over those made with margarine. However,” she continued, “I highly advise that children wash their hands before putting out any treats for Santa. Also, as children’s bedtimes usually fall well before Santa arrives at people’s houses, it’s best if any milk left for Mr. Claus is cooled in a bowl of ice so that it stays within the safe holding range of under 45 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Santa, who is recuperating in an undisclosed location due to fears that revealing his whereabouts will unleash a flood of paparazzi and pilgrims upon the understaffed hospital that is overseeing Mr. Claus’s medical treatment, is said to have a good prognosis and is expected to fully recover.

Raw Milk

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

jesse - I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about the miracle health benefits of raw (unpasturized) milk. apparently it can cure eczema, asthma, and even hep c. I can’t get it in NJ (until I cultivate some black market raw milk farmers) so might be planning a raw milk pit stop on my next trip to albany and/or pgh.



All of my propoganda on raw milk comes from the same source as yours does, the folks at the Weston A. Price Foundation, who sponsor the Real Milk campaign. I gathered up some of their literature and attended a lecture they organized about the benefits of raw milk at the Pittsburgh “Farm to Table” conference on Saturday.

The organization is dedicated to propogating the beliefs of Weston A. Price, who, in the 1930s, “traveled to isolated parts of the globe to study the health of populations untouched by western civilization” and decided, based on his observations, that these civilizations enjoyed better health (namely dental) than most westerners and that their diet was the reason behind this situation.