"When can we expect to see your milk again at the grocers?" Judith Withers of Escondido, CA, wrote to Organic Pastures Dairy Co. yesterday. "We really miss it."
Mark McAfee, founder of Organic Pastures, finally can provide a definitive answer to Judith and approximately 3,000 others who have emailed the raw milk dairy expressing support and seeking information on when they can again purchase their favorite product. Organic Pastures appears to have jumped through its final hoop in a long string of hoops with approval of its second and final milk sample by the Fresno County Health Department.
The trucks have begun rolling, and Organic Pastures’ raw milk should begin showing up on grocers’ shelves beginning tomorrow (Saturday) morning, says McAfee. The dairy’s milk is carried by about 300 stores around the state, most of them health food stores, though a few chains like Whole Foods have begun to carry it as well.
Since it began producing raw milk in 2001, Organic Pastures’ sales have grown 30% to 35% annually, and now total about $5.5 million a year. McAfee thinks sales could increase even more, given all the public exposure Organic Pastures has received over the last few weeks, during which, he says, "thousands of product and environmental samples, including 600 manure samples," have been taken and examined by federal, state, and county health and agriculture authorities. It was all part of a vain effort to link Organic Pastures with four cases of E.coli sickness. No E.coli was discovered and the children have recovered. McAfee thinks the children may well have been sickened by contaminated spinach from California, which led to nearly 200 people around the country being poisoned, and two deaths.
Now that he’s gone through his "regulatory hell," McAfee figures he may about to benefit from "a perfect marketing storm"–that is, the dairy’s exoneration by regulators together with huge amounts of publicity, all helping feed what he calls "the raw foods revolution." He’s also shown that a small business can stand up to big government…and win.
Though he’s won this round, it’s safe to say that the government’s persecution of raw milk producers isn’t over. McAfee knows this, which is why he’s planning ongoing political mobilization to press the case for raw milk. More to come, for sure.