Category Archives: Food

They are Rounding Up the Raw Milk Drinkers

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January 25, 2018     By Bernadette Barber 

Twin bills in the Virginia legislature, SB 962 by Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26) and HB 825 by Del. Barry Knight (R-81) are the first steps in destroying the very farm operations that allow people to access cream line raw milk ( farm fresh, unpasteurized, unhomogenized).

In the 1950’s it was common to purchase raw milk in VA. Over the course of time, industrialization forced smaller dairies out of the countryside. By the 70’s and 80’s people were missing that good old real milk. They sought it out and by default, since by then outright purchase was illegal, they found that it was not illegal to drink milk from your own cow. So it began, cow shares and herd shares sprang up in Virginia.

People chose raw milk for a myriad of reasons, taste, healthfulness and ability to know the farmer who milks the cow are three major ones.

To understand the gravity of the situation, one must understand the power hungry milk processors at the state level and the national level. They have well paid lobbyists. The lowly dairy farmer him or herself does not make a fortune on milking cows. They might make a dollar a gallon- (it is measured by weight not volume). On the other hand the processors, who manufacture the creams, yogurts, butters, flavored milks, cheeses and more are making a fortune. Sometimes the margins are so slim on items they constantly must create new items to appeal to the masses. Over the course of time competing industries have interfered with profit margins. Enter protein and power beverages, designer teas, gatorade, coconut milk, almond milk, designer juices and more. They all command attention at the grocery store and the dairy industry is losing the customer base it once had.

Citing USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Data from 2012 to 2016, annual conventional milk sales declined by 8%, (that’s 4 billion pounds) and organic milk sales increased by 20%. The decrease in fluid milk sales transfers to an annual decline of $1.7 billion dollars as reported by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

So there it is, the bottom line. Fluid milk sales is a mult-billion dollar trade. And they don’t want to share. So in come the RINO republicans and industry advocates, Barry Knight and Mark Obenshain to kill off a small thriving community of cow-sharing- organic-raw-milk drinkers and farmers.

Do yourself a lovely favor this day, consider acquiring some raw cream for your coffee. And do some online research. In one search use the word CAFO and in another use the words cow share. See which model you would like to use for your personal food consumption. And ask yourself why Knight and Obenshain want to destroy small farm operations.

If you have more time, please call Del. Knight 804-698-1081 and Sen. Obenshain 804-698-7526 and ask them to withdraw the bills.  Because they are both on the Agriculture Committees, they do represent ALL Virginians in that aspect, please don’t let the gatekeeper deny your voice.   It will help some small farmers.

For more information on the issue and to get involved,  please view and join 

Thanks for all your help,

Bernadette Barber



Liberty Is Risky

Liberty is risky.  When you let people make their own decisions and self-determine what they eat, decisions can be quite subjective.  You even risk making bad decisions or allowing scofflaws to sell snake oil.
But is the answer government oversight on every decision?  Does regulating every morsel of food insure its safety? Certainly not, as the number of food-borne illnesses and recalls attest. The truth is that a perfect system does not exist. Offering more freedom is risky, but so is complete governmental control. Government experts marched together telling the populace to eat trans-fats and carbs. The official USDA food pyramid probably did more to destroy America’s health than any other single official act.
Subjecting all food to bureaucratic intervention between producer and buyer simply insures that all food must please bureaucrats. That’s an important reality. Government regulators are subject to the same nature as anyone else. Politics, power, and prestige afflict all people, regardless of where they work.
Pleasing bureaucrats requires pleasing cultural orthodoxy. What happens when the orthodoxy is wrong?  The heretics are burned at the stake nonetheless. Today, many of us dare to question the orthodoxy du jour.
Here is a sampling of today’s orthodoxy:
1.  Chemicals are safe; compost is unsafe.
2.  Mono-speciation is safe; multi-speciation is unsafe.
3.  Sterile is safe; biologically active is unsafe.
4.  People should not visit farms; people bring diseases.
5.  My body belongs to the state; self-determination is unsafe.
6.  People can’t be trusted;  people in government can be trusted.
7.  Local food can’t feed the world; we need concentrated animal feeding operations.
8.  Sick animals are merely pharmaceutically disadvantaged;  the terrain theory is nuts.
9.  Food should be cheap; expensive food is elitist.
10.  People are too stupid to make food decisions; bureaucrats must make all food decisions.
On it goes, but you see the drift. The orthodoxy is palpable and clear. But what do you do with nonconformists? Do you burn them at the stake? Or is it not indicative of a liberty-oriented, person-respecting, diversity-loving culture to let the heretics practice on themselves, to innovate?
Those who suggest that allowing food to be grown and sold without governmental intervention
will plague society with poor food and sick people have no basis for the assertion.  Today, those of us who want to produce for our neighborhoods do so with a plethora of knowledge and infrastructure unavailable to our ancestors. Microscopes, stainless steel, indoor plumbing, on-demand hot water, soap, and refrigeration were science fiction in our great-grandparents’ days.
The Virginia Farm Food Freedom Act, known as HB1290, leverages this knowledge and savvy to a futuristic place of innovative food. Rather than being stuck in outdated orthodoxy, freeing food and farm entrepreneurs to access their neighbors with heresy food like raw milk, home-made beef stew, and microwavable shepherd’s pie identifies Virginia as a place that embraces liberty and the future.
The future is always scary. Would you rather go there with several heretics, or securely wrapped
in the protection of today’s orthodoxy? Many of us would choose the heretics, knowing from history that these folks understand thought and practice freedom. When you’re facing uncertain times, you usually want someone willing to think creatively, not someone stuck on forms, licenses, and an archaic orthodoxy.
So let’s join hands and push the Food Farm Freedom Act forward in the upcoming General Assembly. Let’s dare to dream about a food system that embraces innovation.  Today’s orthodoxy will give us more of the same: cancer, Type II diabetes, obesity, autism, and food allergies.  How about something different? Your heretic farmers who fertilize with compost, make cheese in their kitchens, and build immune systems rather than using drugs are ready to take us into tomorrow’s solutions. Get on the freedom train.

Joel Salatin is a Farmer, Author, and a Local Foods Advocate. He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia. You can learn more about him and his farm on their website:

Our Segment on Fox & Friends

By Matthew French –

Video link below

On Sunday morning Bernadette Barber was on Fox & Friends Weekend to talk about the Virginia Food Freedom Act (HB 1290) and she took a sweet potato pie with her. She has done a great job representing the idea and spirit of the legislation.

One of the great comments she made was that this bill was not just for farmers.

“This is not just for farmers, this is for everyone in Virginia. People that live in apartments, in cities, in the suburbs; whatever you can make in your kitchen that your neighbors and family and friends would like to purchase, as long as you have that label on there it’s a legal sale. This will revolutionize the food scape in Virginia.”

I believe this is an aspect of the bill that needs to be made more well known. Folks who are living in the innercity and struggling to make ends meet could add to their income by preparing home cooked meals for sale. And who knows, they could end up with their own cooking show on T.V. Don’t laugh, it has happened before.

You can watch the full two and half minute video by clicking below. I hope you will share this video with your friends. We need to pass the Virginia Food Freedom Act and to do that we need as many people to see this as possible.

Question: Are you ready to see this bill signed by the Governor?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 


Matthew French is a farmer in southwest Virginia. He and his family operate their 200 year old farm where they raise pastured poultry, free-range pigs, grass-fed lamb and a variety of vegetables. You can find more from him at

GMO’s Roasting on an Open Fire…

By Dwayne McIntyre

For the past few days, I have caught wind of a Washington Post article circulating around the social media circles.  Its title, Unearthed: Thanks to science we may see the rebirth of the American Chestnut. Its subheading, “Scientists are breeding a blight resistant variety, and its everything other GMOs aren’t.”  I have seen a lot

By wwarby

By wwarby

of excitement from fellow farmers, naturalists and normally anti-GMO advocates expressing their pleasure for such good news, and as the article articulates, there is such a romantic idea of bringing back the great American chestnut.

For those who don’t already know, the American chestnut tree was a prolific timber and food tree up until the early 1900’s and was wiped out almost completely by a blight that came here on the more inferior Chinese chestnut tree we tried to introduce to our country.  All the chestnuts you eat today are from those trees from China.  The article cites 3-4 billion trees gone overnight, which is an apocalyptic tragedy comparable to that of the Truffula trees, so it’s easy to just guess how devastating this loss was.

Immediately it feels important to point out that the article is talking about GMO chestnut trees, more specifically chestnut genomes genetically modified with genes from wheat.  Sounds harmless, right?  At least it’s not spliced with toxic pesticides and herbicides.

The immediate curiosity that comes to mind is, are we against GMOs because they are unnatural and potentially dangerous in the long term, or is it just when its spliced with things foreign to our palette and the lack of any real long term research isn’t really as important when “it’s everything other GMOs aren’t? “

Regardless the writer of this article opens up with a great walk down memory lane of what it was like back when America reveled in the bounty of such a wonderful natural blessing of an innate food supply, like the chestnut, available to anyone and everyone.  I even have to agree, our fore generations had quite a blessed abundance from these trees.  The idea of having again “a readily available supply of high-quality, good-tasting food, growing out there in the woods contributing to a wholesome, healthful diet” makes me want to believe that this new Frankenstein genome will deliver. Can it? Will these scientists, the writer thinks we need to thank, deliver us this lost Promised Land once again?

First off it’s GMO, so the nutritional stats and romance with real actual chestnuts will not be what we’re going to get from the GMO version. I can’t name one GMO variety of anything that is nutritionally equal or superior to its real counterpart.  In fact, GMO foods are so synthetically grown (denser plots, sprayed toxins, liquid sewage fertilizer, etc.) they usually don’t carry any nutritional value at all. Sure we might see a lot of unaffordable furniture stores popping up everywhere with a lot of nice product putting ma and pa out of business, but cheap chestnuts from the store, probably in boxes in every aisle, might not be as romantic as pen and paper can delude.

Take corn for instance.  Genetically modified with the intent of saving a starving world with an abundance of good healthy food, yet almost immediately became the most subsidized, overabundant, nutritionally empty Franken food out there, in every aisle of the supermarket, in almost every box, driven by a profit model that has put virtually 75%, if not more, of all small farms out of business.  But don’t worry, as the article suggests, the chestnut trees will be different.  We will have our healthy utopia once again.

Its total naivety to think that designer GMO Chestnuts aren’t going to be exploited for profit, especially after explaining in great detail in the article how exquisite chestnut timber is and how one mature tree produces a half a ton of nuts. That sounds like an exact recipe for exploitation.  The timber and food markets will capitalize on its overabundant output levels which will launch demands for the trees way above the Johnny Appleseed levels of frolicking in the forests and repopulating the countryside so all the folks of the land can have their fill of free “healthy” food.   So easy we buy the dream, cast all our convictions aside, and pretend this new American wheatnut tree won’t come with a patent.

Honestly, the more I think about this article the more I think the American chestnut is the mascot for the great American Tragedy.

America was the great Promised Land loaded with a bounty of blessings, such as the innate food supply described in this article, and we wiped it out by means of the cheaper more inferior versions from China.  I suggest letting the American chestnut rest in peace and reflect upon its death for wisdom on how to change our industrial habits for the better and give rebirth to the great America that once was.  But that’s just me.

I suppose with Christmas right around the corner though it’s just the right time to believe in Monsanto Clause and sit around the fireplace roasting great cheer to his name.


GMO’s roasting on an open fire

Blood flow skipping all your toes

Your funeral dirge being sung by a choir

And folks all dressed in hospital clothes

Everyone has a prescription and a pharmacist

Helps to make the food digest

Tiny tots with their bellies full

Will find it hard to want real food


They know that Monsanto’s on his way

He’s loaded lots of trees and chestnuts on his sleigh

And every mother’s child is a guinea pig

To the Franken food giants who are raking it in


So I’m offering this simple phrase

If you want to live to ninety-two

Although it’ll never be told by the industry goons

“Health comes from real food”

Dwayne McIntyre is a small family farmer from Russell County Virginia who raises organic free ranged children with his wife Stacey. Together his family produces grass-fed beef and pastured poultry for sale at the Abingdon Farmers Market.  He is also the chairman of the Russell County Republican Party and is a strong advocate for Virginia Food Freedom.

The Sham of Shamrock Dairy, The Shame of VA Economic Development Partnership

by Bernadette Barber

The state of Virginia has brought an Arizona- based “family-owned” Dairy to Augusta County.  Shamrock Dairy is a 10,000 cow CAFO operation ( Cow Warehouse) in the desert of Arizona. It is indeed family owned, but how many family dairy farms do you know of that could build a 50 million dollar processing plant? Shamrock’s sham is that it perpetuates the image of what Americans perceive a family dairy might be- maybe a quaint independent operation with green fields, open space, cows contently chewing their cud in dappled sunshiney pastures?  Little children dashing about while siblings do farm chores?Shamrock-Dairy

No, a 10,000 cow dairy in the desert is neither natural nor sustainable.  It is an industrial  ( not familial) operation.  How many family members run day to day milking? Do they push a button, is it purely robotic?  An operation like that also eats alot of taxpayer subsidies. and produces food like substance, that is far inferior to real, raw, unpasteurized, unhomogenized locally purchased milk.

Unbeknownst to many Virginians, they unluckily footed the bill to bring Shamrock Dairy here. Virginia Economic Development Partnership gave both Augusta County and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership $250,000.00 to broker the deal with Shamrock Dairy. Governor McDonnell also gave to  Shamrock another $50,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Fund.    A bill creating that fund was introduced by both  Del. Steve Landes and Senator Bill Stanley and passed in 2012.  Its purpose was to  lure Big Agricultural  processing  operations to VA if they would use  atleast 30% of “Virginia Grown” product.  Shamrock is also eligible to recieve Road Access Funding from the Department of Transportation.    The Virginia Jobs Investment Program, will provide funding and will service the company’s training and re-training activities.  Shamrock has and will recieve much more than $300,000 from the Virginia taxpayer- who is denied the ability to process and sell their own dairy products.

The shame therein of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, whose purpose is to create jobs- is that they incentivize foreign or alien companies ( those not in VA) to build, with taxpayers money.  When they tout  “Virginia is open for Business”  they only mean big business, because the agricultural food processing field is so entrenched in red tape and fed tape-Virginia couldn’t even feed herself nutritiously if she wanted.  The fact is, Virginia does want to feed herself and keep the profits thereof. One only need to see the burgeoning presence of farmers markets, cow share operations, and food buying clubs.   The problem and shame of the VEDP is that it should be looking into allowing VA, herself, to create her own independent jobs by examining the costly burdensome regulations that prevent the opportunity. Legislators need to give farmers and families the freedom to process their own foods to sell direct to their neighbors and communities.  Small scale production is very safe. And for over 400 years up until less than 40 years ago, its what sustained her.

There are thousands of Virginians who would joyfully and safely run a family dairy and sell direct to their customers, if it were legal.  But Virginia state law does not allow for the direct sale of “raw” milk.  It must be sold to a licensed processor, such as Shamrock Dairy.

Next time you see “welcome news of  agricultural jobs creation”, know that it is a sham, because it is quite possible your tax dollars paid dearly for it, and a shame that legislators deny you the legal framework to create your own job, profiting from your own labor on the farm.