Sunday, September 13, 2015

Worth Mooing About

For the 1st time since mid-1990s Mitchell Farm will host a dairy operation
Tregaverne will keep 14 cows and 40 goats at the 340 North East Street location

Thanks to a unanimous vote of the Board of Health the sale of raw milk is now legal in the town of Amherst, but will come under state oversight.  In addition the board also voted to allow pasteurization of milk at a newly proposed micro creamery, Tregaverne.

Health Director Julie Federman, although not overly keen on the idea of raw milk, did tell the board that Massachusetts has  "robust" oversight of anything milk related.  

 Ronnie Wagner (far left), Shannon Rice-Nichols (immediate left)

And the owner of the proposed creamery, Shannon Rice-Nichols, a trained micro biologist, told the Board she would test the milk weekly and the (closed) herd of 14 cows twice per year.  The milk would also be free of glyphosate/GMO and come packaged in 100% recyclable containers.

Rice-Nichols has an extensive agricultural background having been involved with 38 creamery operations previously, to which  BOH member Julie Marcus replied, "Your credentials are the kind we want in our town."

She plans to use the Community Supported Agricultural model so all milk sales have to occur on site and signs conspicuously displayed informing consumers about the potential hazards of raw milk (Coliform, E. Coli, Salmonella, etc).

In addition every batch will be recorded, so if any problems do occur and a recall is needed it will be easy to trace the whereabouts of the milk.  

Tregaverne will be a Massachusetts B Corporation with expected annual sales in the $300,000 range with some of the proceeds donated to a local social service agency, SafePassage.  The business is expected to employ a half-dozen part time employees and pay them a fair hourly wage.

In addition to raw milk the operation will also produce other "cultured products" aka, cheese under the "Ferment This!" label.  Tregaverne will be a R&D scale micro-creamery so as to experiment with recipes.  As such batch sizes will be capped at 1,000 liters. 

" Ferment This" label:  painting by Arapawa Island goat named "Mouse"

Ideally Rice-Nichols would like to open the new creamery before the snow falls.   

local consumers will now get more choice with their dairy products, the town gets another badly needed addition to the commercial tax base, while historic structures get put to good reuse.  

A winning trifecta indeed.

11 comments:

Timothy Atteridge said...

I think we are getting a raw deal!

Anonymous said...

Haha - and some raw deals are good deals - hope they do well (and make some yogurt and other fresh dairy products too)!

- Your Friend

Anonymous said...

What kimd of data did the voard of health use to make the decision for us that raw milk is ok? What kind of data did they preciously use to decide for us that raw milk used to be not ok? The good part is that locals no longer need to smuggle raw milk into Amherst from NH the way they were, unless the local milk is not as good, but now in stead of smugglimg, it is importing.

Is there any data on the effectiveness of the BOH, seems like they flop like fish, 180 degrees.






Dr. Ed said...

As one who knows how things aren't always refrigerated when en route to stores, how supermarkets leave cases of milk out in the sun and other fun things, not to mention various things about tanker trucks -- I think this is a good thing.

If the cows are isolated and tested, and the milk refrigerated, and kept that way, then there aren't going to be any problems.

Dr. Ed said...

Of course when someone purchases said raw milk and leaves it in his/her/its car trunk for a few hours in the hot sun and then.... Well.....

Walter Graff said...

Another myth created by the CDC and FDA because large-scale milk processors aren't as clean and safe as small raw farming. There is absolutely nothing wrong with raw milk and as an article recently stated you are 35,000 times more likely to get an illness from anything but raw milk. In Europe it's even distributed in vending machines and the bodies aren't piling up. While I choose not to consume cow milk, raw milk is far better for you and your health than any pasteurized milk. It goes down with the myth to refrigerate eggs. Only reason it's done here is that there is no law for Salmonella vaccination in chickens and so to play it safe they say refrigerate your eggs. Again no bodies are piling up because of folks who don't refrigerate their eggs.

On another note, I'd also never support Safe Passages.

Dr. Ed said...

Walter, refrigerating eggs maintains flavor over time. And memory is that it is the RAW, not unrefrigerated, egg that is the vector to humans...

It's also more than just vaccination -- Salmonella comes from somewhere, hens who have it caught it somehow, from somewhere. Ever see the conditions that eggs have been produced under since the 1960's or so -- crowded buildings that you can't even stand up in, lights on 24/7 to keep them laying, poor sanitation, etc -- these are the things which helps spread stuff...

(I prefer eggs from free-range hens fed lobster shells. Those make lovely eggs with red yolks...)

Agree with you on Safe Passages -- if the Board of Health were ethical, they shouldn't ask whom business owners donate to (if anyone) -- it's also rather stupid on their part because someone else, whom they don't want to approve, could argue that they were rejected because they wanted to donate to the NRA.

Walter Graff said...


Ed, refrigerating eggs changes the taste over time. An egg shell is porous thing that allows moisture and other molecules in and out of the chamber so an exposed egg sitting around in the fridge with a thousand good and not-so-good smells will come out as a different egg than the one you put in.

I just explained to you why it is suggested to refrigerate eggs. The thought is it slows the growth of salmonella but most eggs are safe of it anyway, even the worst ones you can find. Eggs naturally have sulfur compounds in the white so home grown eggs are very safe from most bad bugs for some time refrigerated or not as are store bought. Eggs are not refrigerated in Europe and no one is dying. Then again all chickens must be inoculated there. Not here.

As for your "free range" thought, the government does not set definitions or requirements for egg carton labels meaning they can say eggs from Ed's ass and no one can say a thing. A bird can be locked in a hen house all its life with it's beak cut off never seeing daylight but from a dirty window and be considered free range or cage free. Just like labeling of olive oil, there is no regulation so it can be low grade canola oil in the bottle and still be called olive oil and most bottles labelled 'virgin' aren't. Don't have to be as there isn't any regulation. Then again if you put olive oil in a bottle I would not buy it as light makes olive oil go rancid much faster as does air and heat.

Walter Graff said...

I wasn't referring to Safe Passages because of donations but the organization itself.

Anonymous said...

Hooey. I've been drinking cow milk for 70 years. Not once have I had a problem. Not once has any of my doctors advised me to stop. Don't be afraid. They Want you to be afraid. Incidentally, whole milk is already 96% fat free. Not that fats are bad for you either.

Dr. Ed said...

Walter, salmonella is a bacteria which grows inside of YOU which is why it is called food "poisoning" instead of food "intoxication."

Beyond a certain point, each way, it really doesn't matter how many salmonella bacteria are inside you as the problem is that they start multiplying inside you and you aren't refrigerated....

As to "free range" eggs, I'm talking about what is, not what is written on a label, and as to the labeling of Olive Oil, I tend to look at what the brand name is.