Archive for May, 2011

Have you heard of Soda Free Sundays yet? It’s a community-wide challenge to skip soda and other sugar-loaded beverages one day per week, now through early June. I quite literally can’t remember the last time I drank soda, but I took the pledge anyway and am passing the message on. Whether you drink soda or not, I hope you’ll sign on and spread the word.

Why pledge to go soda-free once a week if I’m already soda-free? There are a few reasons.

1. Heightened awareness.

I generally notice the extensive presence of soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks, but somehow signing on to Soda Free Sundays made these drinks stand out in my visual field more than ever. I notice ironic or ironically-placed beverage advertising, like this sign over a small grocery in Seattle:

We should notice this stuff. Soda vending machines with giant Coke ads. Energy drinks next to school supplies. Soda at youth athletic events. None of this is coincidental. If you haven’t read Mike Jacobson’s article on Coke’s 125th anniversary yet, you should. He quotes from from Coca-Cola’s chilling ten-year vision statement: “We are creating new strategies that are winning over a massive new generation of teens to drive growth of Trademark Coca-Cola.” Soda is a significant contributor to obesity and diabetes, and adolescents drink a lot of soda. Is this really something Coke should brag about?

2. Reinforcing and spreading the message.

It’s one thing to say “I don’t want to drink sodas because they’re bad for me,” and quite another to look at sugar-loaded beverages as a community problem, a public health problem, rather than just an individual issue. Think about cigarettes and tobacco companies a second. There was a stretch of time between the realization that cigarettes are unsafe and the point by which society began limiting tobacco companies’ power and advertising abilities. Individual decisions are important, but signing on to a larger effort means signing on to the goal that we should reduce detrimental beverages as a society, and that we would like to start looking at the beverage industry the same way we look at tobacco companies.

3. An excuse to make up tasty and/or bizarre carbonated beverages.

Who needs a can of soda? Here’s the fun part. Once you discover that you can add carbonated water/seltzer to virtually any other beverage or flavor, the ideas start popping up. Here are a few:

Strawberry-rhubarb soda

Hands down, this was my favorite, and it was seasonal and so easy. In a pot, place (per serving) half a stalk of chopped rhubarb and a handful of frozen or ripe berries. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn down slightly, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Pour through a strainer into a glass. Cool, via refrigerator or freezer. Pour in carbonated water and stir. A great color and delicious.

Vanilla sort-of egg cream

Being originally from New York, I understand the recipe I’m about to give is blasphemous. A drink called an “egg cream” as we know it has neither egg nor cream. It is traditionally made from syrup (chocolate or vanilla, and most of which contains high fructose corn syrup these days), milk, and seltzer. No egg, no cream.

So… I broke most of those rules. (Note: this one includes raw egg.) I beat the yolk of a clean, farm-fresh pasture egg in the bottom of a glass with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then I added a quarter cup of half-and-half (Organic Valley is selling pasture-sourced half-and-half!). Finally, I added seltzer and stirred. It was incredibly delicious.

Weird mixtures

I also tried, for the hell of it, a soda made from the juice of half a blood orange, a teaspoon of rosewater, and a handful of basil. It was unusual, but I liked it.

Make up your own! Try lemon and/or lime beverages, ripe fruit as it comes into season (or you take from your freezer), cucumber, and spices.

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There’s a lot going on and much catching up to do. Three things first!


Raw Milk Symposium

If you’re near Bloomington, Minnesota this Saturday, May 7th 2011, don’t miss the first annual Raw Milk Symposium! There’s more information at http://RawMilkSymposium.org. Looking over the agenda, they do a nice job of balancing policy with nutrition and practical information. I wish I could be there!


Thoughts on the Raw Milk Movement

One of the things I find most interesting about the raw milk movement is how really politically diverse we are. It’s so diverse, in fact, that I think some of us sometimes run the risk of alienating each other, partly because we’re used to working on different sides of very polarizing issues, but also because we use some really politically different arguments to advocate for access to safe, grass-fed raw milk. There’s a libertarian edge to some of the movement, and while libertarianism (“government shouldn’t get involved” philosophy) passionately inspires some, it also strongly alienates others. And there’s not just diversity within the movement: when it comes to raw milk, some of us disagree with others in our political camps or even in our professional fields.

What do we do?

I’m personally very liberal and admit being put off by much of libertarian ideology in other areas. But I’m really, really inspired by the potential for a diverse group of allies to work together on this movement. We’re stronger with a lot of different voices making a case together. Also, other political movements can learn from how we find common ground with each other. We don’t have to agree about guns, taxes, social programs, health care, or other issues. Perhaps finding common ground on even one issue as small as raw milk will make us realize that finding common ground is really the best way to start building coalitions with each other and even, sometimes, learning or being open to unexpected ideas.

Compassion and empathy make a good start, and that includes compassion and empathy for people we disagree with. I’m in public health, where a great deal of my colleagues are strongly opposed to raw milk, their view being that pasteurized milk is just as good, that pasteurization solved a public health crisis, and that any large-scale intervention to address a health problem is a good thing. I see where they’re coming from, but I also know how to respond to and reason with this perspective

Another good start: Choose our words carefully. If you’re working with a politically diverse movement or coalition, be aware of language that may fire up some in the political spectrum and alienate others. You can acknowledge this honestly, and you can use phrases that inspire/reach different people. Example: if you know you have liberal, conservative, and libertarian members of your coalition, and that each of those groups believes in your issue for a slightly different reason, take time to acknowledge the perspectives of all groups. First, listen to members of all groups and find out where they’re coming from. Then, come up with language together, something like, offhand, “Some see raw milk limitations as an invasion of privacy, some see it as a big-business threat to small farmers, and others are concerned that limitations on any healthy food end up disproportionately affecting the people who need healthy food the most.” Using only one of those arguments, instead of all three, could alienate some political sectors, whereas putting them together makes us see the intersections of our perspectives.

Your thoughts?


Estrella Farm Update

I got Kelli’s update a few weeks ago and totally overlooked sharing it. I’m sorry, Kelli! It’s up now. By the way, I talked to Kelli and Anthony about the CSA and it sounds pretty fantastic. And if I ate pork, I’d so buy their pork. – Debs

Spring/summer 2011 CSA    

Four months have passed since our cheese making operation was shut down by authorities, and we have finally come to the conclusion that it will not be possible to move forward in that same direction at this time. We never had any reported illness, we regularly tested for pathogens and we did our best to provide a safe product of the very highest quality. But the legal situation has made it all but impossible to continue.

We have decided to diversify on our farm with a vegetable CSA and to expand our milk fed and free range pork operation. Fortunately we have experience in these areas as well.

We miss our customers and hope to re-unite with many in this, our new endeavor. Hopefully cheese making will resume at some point, but for now it’s very important for us to not give up and to keep farming.

As challenging as everything has been, we’re encouraged by the outpouring of support we’ve received, and by the possibility of continuing to farm. We cannot let the interests of those who have a private agenda, and those who would curtail our liberties, take precedence over our right to farm, and choose what to eat.

We are eager to continue working the land, taking care of animals, and feeding people with the most nutritious and tasty foods possible. In short, making a difference in people’s lives, just as in cheese making.

Farm Offerings
In addition to the vegetable CSA shares, we plan to make the following available at CSA drop points:
*Eggs, free range and traditionally fed with non GMO grains, livestock kale, turnips, and mangel beets. (late summer 2011)
*USDA beef and milk fed pork

On the Farm
“Farmer for a Day” includes a full day (starting at 6:00 AM) of helping with everything taking place on the farm that day. May include milking cows and goats, feeding animals, collecting eggs, caring for rabbits and chicks, working in the gardens, assisting with home cheese making/ butter making, butchering, etc.
$100 per person per day, or $200 for a family of any size.

Shares Include
Full shares include $30.00 worth of vegetables per week. (We can’t use the word “organic” I am told unless we are certified organic, but I will say that we don’t/ have never used insecticides or chemical fertilizers on our farm.) Orders will be delivered to drop sites in and around Seattle. Expect a variety of seasonally available veggies per box. A June box could include spinach, radishes, snap peas, baby salad mix, arugula, baby beets, carrots, new potatoes and sunflower shoots. A late August box could include sweet corn, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, lettuces, edible flowers, berries, etc! November is the time for winter squashes, carrots, beets, turnips, Swiss chard, kale, cabbage, parsnips, and potatoes, along with the salad mixes. We will include recipes to use with veggies you may not have tried before, prepare to be surprised and find many new things you will love!

A few more things…
Drop points will be supplied with a substitution box for those desiring to exchange an item in their box. Please have someone pick up your share if you are unable to get to your drop point, sorry no refunds. Remember there are risks involved in farming, there are no guarantees when dealing with mother-nature, humans, and animals. We are committed to providing the best service possible and will do our best to “make it right” if we encounter any kind of disaster. Please address any questions or concerns with us as soon as possible so we can provide you with the best customer service possible, along with the best foods WA has to offer. We are honored and grateful to work with you.

Sign up Form
A limited number of shares will be available, please contact us prior to sending payment to confirm a drop point near you.

Sign up for:                          Price
__ 24 week Full Share       $720    feeds family of four, June-November
__24 week half share        $360   feeds two, June-November

Both options include FREE “Farmer for a Day” opportunity, for an individual or family, if paid in full by April 15th, 2011

Address  ______________________________________
Phone ______________________________________

Return to:
Anthony and Kelli Estrella
Estrella Family Creamery
659 Wynoochee Valley Rd.
Montesano, WA 98563


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