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Scenic Cali?

So on Thursday Ryan and I started our road trip up the Cali coast for Carmel where a friend of Ryan’s was getting married on Clint Eastwood’s ranch.

While I’ve been to a few spots in Northern Cali, I’ve never taken a road trip up the coast and let me tell you…it was an eye-opener!

Along the way I kept rambling on to Ryan about two certain thoughts…one was about “cheat days” and the whole debate over them and whether they should even be called “cheat days” and the other was about our farming systems and the environment.

And while I’ll talk about cheat days tomorrow after my food hangover wears off, today I do want to talk about the nature of farming while the images from our drive are still fresh in my mind.

So I am a Midwest girl. And I grew up driving through farmland. Just about every tennis trip we took, my mom and I would drive through hours and hours of farmland.

Mostly I just thought it was boring. Super flat land with rows and rows of the same crop. Basically just corn as far as the eye could see.

There would be a few horses…Maybe some cattle…But mostly just CORN.

But anyway, my point is, I’ve seen lots of farmland before and never really given it a second thought…until now.

And I don’t know if it was all the cool and new scenery or the fact that I’m more conscious about where my food comes from now, but a lot of what I saw really made me question…

Ryan told me the scenery would be cool even though we would be driving through a lot of desert. He said we would also drive by the ocean, through some interesting scenery in the hills, through more forested areas and then finally on our way home…lots of farmland.

What I didn’t realize is that I was going to see everything right next to each other and at times, all at once. I saw ocean next to farm next to desert next to forest next to great huge hills.

I also didn’t expect to see wildfires right next to the road.

The hills were covered in smoke and there were fires all over...even right by the highway.

The hills were covered in smoke and there were fires all over…even right by the highway.

When I was younger, I remember learning that wildfires could be good and necessary for some ecosystems. But that wasn’t the case with all of the fires popping up around Southern Cali. These fires were damaging not only potentially to people’s property but also to the land and natural vegetation.

The fires made me shake my head in disbelief. I never thought I would see one.

As we drove on through a slightly flatter area a bit away from the ocean, we passed strawberry fields and blueberry farms.

And then as we entered back into a few more hills, we saw a whole bunch of cattle roaming the hillside….

I was like “AH!” Grass-fed, free range BEEF!

So right now if you are a vegetarian, you may want to tune out as I’m going to start my whole YAY for meat thing. Just giving you a heads up…

Anyway, I was excited to see the cattle roaming the hillside so close to our home especially since a local meat shop owner here had recently told me that the reason it was hard to get grass-fed beef is because we are so surrounded by desert terrain.

Here was proof that there actually was local grass-fed beef!!!

All those happy cows roaming and eating and enjoying the sun.

Look at those cows grazing!

Look at those cows grazing!

I was excited!

But then I turned to Ryan and said, “I wonder why there are so few. There could be whole herds roaming these hills!”

And I’m sure now if you are a vegetarian still reading you want to now tell me about all the bad things the animals we raise on farms do to our environment.

But don’t. Because pasture-raised animals don’t have the same impact on our environment that industrial farms’ conventionally raised animals do. Pasture-raised animals are actually GOOD for our environment. They actually help regulate the ecosystem and can help keep it way healthier than our freaking monocrop farming does…but I’m getting to that…

Anyway, I was excited to see the pasture-raised cows and just sad that I didn’t see more of them. There was a ton of hillside that could be grazed and as Ryan pointed out, “The areas where the cows seemed to have grazed look healthier!” (Which in fact they did…way more green on the hillside with cows!)

Maybe if we had more animals eating the grass and renewing the soil like they used to, we wouldn’t have as many devastating wildfires as we do now….Just a thought….

So sometime after seeing the cows and the wildfires, we stopped in San Luis Obispo. We met with a friend for a hike, which ended up turning into more a mile straight up climb…AH!…before heading out to dinner in town.

We were also super lucky in that there was a farmer’s market going on that night. And on top of produce and meat from a ton of local farms, there was a stand with RAW MILK!

A bad picture of the raw milk stand!

A bad picture of the raw milk stand!

It was the first time I’d seen a stand with raw milk since there is so much pressure by the government NOT to sell it…And it isn’t usually worth the headache for the farmers.

As cheesy (bad pun?) as it sounds, seeing that raw milk and pasture-raised cows really made my day.

I was like “YESSSSS! There is some hope for good, naturally raised and grown food here!”

After leaving San Luis Obispo, we began to move a bit more out of farmland as we wound through the hills by the ocean although I do swear we saw farmland with cattle roaming free and ZEBRAS…although I didn’t manage to snap a picture, but instead failed epically getting only a picture of my finger…

The view on our drive we beautiful and definitely different from anything I’d seen in the Midwest or even on the East Coast. And as I raved about the view, Ryan told me to just wait till we drove back home the less scenic way.

On our way back home, we were going to drive through Salinas, which is a huge farming community. It most definitely reminded me more of the farmland in the Midwest even though it wasn’t endless corn.

As we drove through Salinas, the winds were terrible. Ryan then remarked that the winds were a problem when it came to organic farming and pesticides.

Driving through Salinas.

Driving through Salinas.

He said that most of the time organic farms and pesticide-using farms were right next to each other and that when the wind blew, the pesticides would be blown right on to the organic produce.

So much for thinking your organic produce was so much better huh?

Of course, if we didn’t promote monocrop farming, maybe we wouldn’t have the same insect and soil problems that we have now and wouldn’t need to use the pesticides…But then I forgot….It isn’t plant farming that is causing the environmental problems is it?

Anyway, even worse than the fact that our organic produce isn’t really organic, is the serious health problems created by pesticides for people within the community.

Ryan then started telling me about how the community has a whole bunch of health issues because of the pesticides.

I couldn’t believe it.

Like honestly, couldn’t believe it.

What the heck is wrong with us? For all we talk about “eating well” and “living a healthy lifestyle” we don’t seem to really care that we are using all this crap and following farming practices that will kill us.

Quality matters people.

Anyway, what was a very scenic drive really opened my eyes and made me look around and think.

I’ve driven through farmland before, but this is the first time I think I’ve ever really looked at it.


So this morning while we were drinking our coffee (one of the few mornings on which I attempted to make myself try to like coffee…it wasn’t successful..), Ryan put on Farmageddon.

I was curious to see the movie after all of the seizures of raw milk going on and the fact that California is one of the few states to still sell it in a few markets.

Raw milk cream...even better!

Raw milk cream…even better!

Honestly, what I saw in the movie was slightly depressing. SMALL farms were being raided and their raw milk products seized and destroyed.

The government was coming in and taking away the livelihoods of small, local farmers.

They claimed that these raw milk products were dangerous and contained bacteria that could make people ill. They claimed they were doing it for the good of people.

But why were they really doing it? Where these raw products really bad?

Why the government did it, I can only guess at. Was it to protect big business? Was it to keep people in line?

Who knows, but I can say it wasn’t because the products were actually dangerous.

Observational evidence suggests that raw milk may improve lactose tolerance, prevent the
development of asthma and allergies, and may be more digestible than pasteurized milk for
people who have difficulty digesting fat. Pasteurization decreases the content of iron, copper,
manganese, and iodine in milk, and may diminish the bioavailability of calcium and phosphorus.
It causes major losses of biological activity for vitamin C and folate, substantial losses for
vitamin B6, and may have similar effects for other vitamins. The available data for the
prevalence of foodborne illnesses associated with specific foods are extremely poor in quality
and rich in bias. Even taking these data at face value, however, raw milk may have the potential
to protect millions of people from asthma and prevent hundreds of asthma-related deaths without
causing major increases in the total burden of foodborne illness. (

Honestly we didn’t even start pasteurizing milk because it was dangerous in and of itself. We started pasteurizing it when we started keeping cows in crowded DIRTY pens and we started feeding them waste. Then their milk was blue and we added chalk to make it look new.

No wonder people started getting sick and we figured we should start pasteurizing it!

So it wasn’t the raw milk but all of the awful practices we had that made the milk dangerous….I guess I would understand why we wouldn’t allow raw milk from the cows on some of our big conventional farms since those cows are kept in disgusting conditions and fed crap, BUT I don’t understand how we can’t allow raw milk from naturally raised, grass-fed cows when it has benefits such as more vitamins and improved fat digestion.

Why? Why don’t we want to explore the healthiness of raw milk? Why do we just ban it WITHOUT doing any true studies?

Hmmm…maybe because we don’t want to actually change the problem, we just want to do a superficial fix. It is easier to just pasteurize milk than it is to make all of our farming practices better so that we don’t have to….

The good, the bad and the simply stupid

The Good

  • Vin Goat is a wonderful little shop that carries artisan and farmstead cheese and cupboard essentials. They also host lectures each weekend about their products. The other weekend Ryan’s parents went to a lecture by Anne Willan, a founder of a famous French cooking school among other culinary achievements. In her talk, Anne Willan supported the use of raw milk to make cheese (saying it made the cheese better!) AND talked about cooking with butter or lard NOT vegetable oil. All in all her lecture was apparently a Primal/Paleo eaters dream. Glad to know there are people out there supporting the consumption of raw milk and fat!
  • Here is a little preview of a jump rope video Ryan is helping me making for the Under Armour Challenge. It was also part of my “do something new” workout challenge for this weekend. I’m by no means an awesome jump rope-er so this was definitely a challenge! If you want to do your own jump rope slide and send it to me, I’ll add it to the video!
  • Coconut oil is about as close to a magical health pill as you get. Fat-a-phobs shy away from this oil because it contains saturated fat, but what they don’t realize is that the “saturated fat” in coconut oil is a form known as lauric acid, which has been proven to protect your heart by reducing total cholesterol and enhancing HDL cholesterol levels. Even Dr. Oz says so….WOW something he is right about!

The Bad

  • I like dried fruit as a treat on occasion. BUT you have to be very careful when purchasing dried fruit as many have added ingredients. Actually I was surprised by how many WEREN’T simply dried fruit when I was at Trader Joe’s. It actually is more difficult than you think to find pure dried fruit. Next time you buy dried fruit make sure you are getting exactly what you want! Read the ingredients list!
  • Just another reason to take medicine! NOT! Common painkillers tied to lower skin cancer risk! Ok but to get the benefit you must take these medicines in large quantities. BUT the large quantities have proven health risks. “The drugs have also been linked to an increased risk of kidney cancer and come with known bleeding risks.” So here we have an article telling our population to take painkillers to reduce their risk of skin cancer but we still don’t know if the benefits of taking large quantities of the medicine are worth the risks that have already been linked to the drugs…Hmmm…I think I’ll pass on the painkillers…
  • Every time I think Paleo/Primal is becoming more accepted I see stupid articles like this one on I can’t believe a dietitian claimed that the diet is not only low carb but also lacking in some vitamins and minerals. Uhm hello!?! When you stop wasting calories on grains, you eat more fruits and vegetables…So how can the diet be “lacking?” If it is lacking in vitamins and minerals, than what word do we use to describe the average American’s diet…Non-existant in vitamins and minerals!?! (Ok I know that doesn’t work…but hopefully you get my point.)

The Simply Stupid

  • Dennis, Ryan’s brother, sent this to him. Definitely a healthy breakfast…NOT!

The back of a Nutella jar.

Ok this isn’t simply stupid…It is actually awesome…

Protecting Big Business

Yesterday Ryan showed me an article that began:

The founder of the Organic Pastures business in California is reporting that government health officials have begun tracking down the names and addresses of natural-foods customers and showing up at their homes, demanding to confiscate any raw milk they might have.

Government officials have actually gone to people’s houses requesting people turn over the raw milk in their refrigerators.

NaturalNews quoted from one of McAfee’s reports:

“I received a phone call yesterday morning from a wonderful young gal, a 36-year-old mom out of LA County. She’s one of our UPS customers that we deliver overnight raw milk to her house. When the CDFA was in here the other day on our recall, they demanded to have all our delivery addresses for overnight UPS delivery. We screwed up and [inadvertently] gave it to them, they got it from one of our secretaries here. The LA County health department started calling her, six or seven times, demanding that she give up her raw milk from her own home to the health department.

She refused, then they showed up at her house and demanded that she give her raw milk to them. She was getting ready to call 911 for the sheriff’s department and have them removed from her front doorstep, and she was threatening to use her camera to take a picture of them and post it on Facebook for harassing her over her raw milk… The investigators left after she told them she was not going to give them the raw milk and to get the hell off her property.

This is what’s going on, it’s like food Nazis, it’s incredible what these people are doing, trying to collect food from people’s houses, that have not made them ill!

Then the San Diego health department called me up and said oh we want a list of all your buyer’s club members, and I said no… and they said we want all their addresses and their names, because we want to go to their homes. I said it ain’t happening, we aren’t going to give it to you.”

Is it just me or does anyone else find this whole story just a bit ridiculous?

Someone is going to come to my house and tell me what food I can and can’t consume!?! I don’t think so! I don’t go into people’s houses and stop them from eating their nasty freezer dinners or McDonalds!

The government is going to stop people from consuming PERFECT NATURAL RAW MILK, but not stop them from eating McDonalds!?! I mean I don’t really think the government has a right to control what we eat in either case.

And on top of that, how can the government put farmers on trial for supplying their communities with fresh, locally grown food!?!

“It is absolutely outrageous that during this time of economic crisis our state government is investigating and sending warning letters to mothers and putting farmers on trial who are helping provide communities with fresh foods. It is my right to contract privately with a farmer for the food of my choice just as it is the right of every American,” said Melinda Olson, a mother and recipient of one of the MDA’s warnings.

So what is going on here? Why is the government so against RAW milk?

The government claims that raw milk isn’t healthy – that you are at a great risk for disease. BUT there have actually been more incidents of disease from pasteurized milk!

Just take a look at this table about why you SHOULD go raw!

So if raw milk really is good for you, why would the government be trying to stop the sale of it?

Maybe because the government is more interested in protecting big business than it is in the health of the consumer!?!

What do you think?

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