By Greg Breining
Photos by Steve Henke
Mpls. St.Paul Magazine
More than 10 years ago, Rae Lynn Sandvig began a “journey” to remedy fatigue, weakness, and foggy thinking—owing, by her own diagnosis, to toxins in her body. “I can tell you what my conjecturing is, but it’s not fact,” she acknowledges. But if her evidence was thin, her desperation was manifest. “There was a point where I, as a mother, was unable to maintain all the activities I needed to in order to keep my family running.”
Her search resulted in a bountiful harvest. “My journey has led me to eat whole foods. Foods that are dense, that are not processed, that still contain probiotic bacteria, enzymes, and good fats. I’m going to put it this way, because this is who I am: I want to eat foods that are as close to foods as God intended them to be made.”
She had local farmers deliver fresh produce to her Bloomington driveway, where a klatch of up to 40 neighbors and community members divided the goods. “You make friendships,” says Sandvig. “It’s all about community and relationships.”
Within the collection was “raw” milk, still alive with nutrients, enzymes, and the natural bacteria pasteurization would have killed off. Because of the potential for milk-borne illness, Sandvig says, “I sought out a farmer where I could look into his farming practices, his philosophies. And I found a farmer whose cows graze on pasture, whose cows get sunshine and exercise. They are loved and taken care of, and the process by which the milk leaves the udder and goes into the bulk tank is totally enclosed.”
With her new diet, she felt stronger. The veil of fogginess lifted. Her husband, Greg, tolerated dairy for the first time in years.
Last summer, the driveway harvest and many friendships came to a crashing end. Eight illnesses from E. coli 0157:H7 had been traced to the milk of Sandvig’s south-central Minnesota dairy farmer, Michael Hartmann. Though neither the Sandvigs nor (to their knowledge) any of the buying circle fell ill, the infection sent four people to the hospital.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture ordered Hartmann to stop selling until he cleaned up his dairy. Agents seized products at his farm. In June, agriculture agents and local police showed up at the Sandvigs’ home with a search warrant to take products and ask questions about Rae Lynn’s role in the buyers’ group. “They tried to skew it so it looked like I was running a retail operation out of my garage.” She insists she made no money off the sales.
Read more at Mpls. St.Paul Magazine