My Great, Great Grandmother Lived to 119

Liberty Souvenirs
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sister72

An Immigrant’s Food Journey

by Irena Dunkley

I came to the USA at 20 on the belief that this country offers people the freedom to live their personal lives however they might please.  In the past 12 years, I have completed university, started my career, married, and now have two children.  But because of America’s dismal food supply and health care system, my husband and I have decided to leave this country within about two years.

Here is my story. . .
Beginning at the age of five, my parents and I helped my great-grandmother grow food.  We would get up at 4AM every Saturday morning, take a train to her village and walk almost three miles to her three-acre property.  Everyone in our family worked hard and everyone was very healthy.  We never saw any doctors, rarely got the flu, and had no allergies.  We had salad with every meal and fermented vegetables in the winter.  We thrived on raw cow and goat milk, homemade sour cream, cheese, eggs, raw honey and the vegetables we grew. It NEVER crossed my mind that these things would be hard to find or even illegal in a country known around the world for its freedoms.


Irena and Child

After my first trip to a supermarket, I immediately called my parents in Ukraine and told them about the amazing selection of foods in the stores and how you can buy anything you want any time of the year, day and night.  In six months, I had gained 20 pounds.  I panicked and figured that, if I eat everything fat free, then I won’t get any fatter and will lose weight. It only made things worse.  I joined a gym (Ukraine has no gyms) and began searching for local farmers who would sell me food.  I grew up on raw milk and never even heard of pasteurization or homogenization.  You can imagine my shock to find that it is ILLEGAL in Virginia to sell raw milk.  But eventually I found a farmer who was willing to sell me raw milk, if I brought my own glass jars and didn’t tell anyone.

Nutrition is everything for great heath. And it is really not at all complicated:  real food, plenty of sunshine and vitamin D3, cod liver oil, probiotics, no processed foods and no sugar.  If you eat real food, drink raw milk, and exercise, then you will never have to give your money to the doctor.  Investing in good nutrition is a much better way to stay healthy than having “good” medical insurance.

Thank God for the Weston A. Price Foundation and for people who still can think for themselves, see the truth, and create supportive communities of like-minded people.  I am proud to be a member of WAPF and glad I can still get real food for my family. But while I am thankful for everything I have here in US, I am afraid for my children’s future.

My great, great grandmother lived 119 years old and had 17 children.  My great grandmother lived till 90 years old.  She had all her teeth and never lost her 20/20 vision.  But what chance do my children have for a healthy life in this country?  And so, in two years, we will be moving out of the country in search for a better life and a place where government does a little less pretending and cares a little more about its people.

Irena Dunkley is a WAPF member.  She lives in Centerville Virginia and works home-based in real estate.


  1. Wow.  Leaving the country for freedom from crap food.  Amazing!

    I’d like to know whether her grandmother ate grains and if so, how did she prepare them.

    • Tina, I really don’t know how she prepared the grains but I can ask my mom and my grandmother to see if they know. I will get back to you if I find out.

  2. Wow.  Leaving the country for freedom from crap food.  Amazing!

    I’d like to know whether her grandmother ate grains and if so, how did she prepare them.

  3. Sharon Burress says:

    How can we get our political leaders to read this? Will everyone maybe forward it to their own state and fed politicians?

  4. Good for you, Irena.  Make the move.  You’ll be happier for it.  We certainly are. Corner shops filled with local, fresh, chemical-free produce, clean air and water, grass finished beef in the supermarkets – there’s a lot to be gained for you and your children.

    • Nlbroome says:

      Where do you live now?

    • Claudia Ritter says:

      Everyone’s question seems to be: where is this wonderful country you are in!? 😀

    • Mari, where do you live now?

      • Sorry everyone! I didn’t know anyone replied to my post. 🙂 I live in Uruguay, South America. A lovely little free, yet often overlooked nation.

        • I think, with absolutely no offense whatsoever to Meagan, that her sentiment is often the sentiment of Americans that have never lived outside of the US.  Believe it or not, many countries in the world have stable governments, stable economies, and offer their citizens far more day to day personal freedoms than the US does. 🙂  It’s a big world.  All anyone can do is determine what aspects of their life are of the greatest importance to them and find someplace that provides what they are seeking.

  5. I sure understand how you feel. What freedom do you have, when you cannot choose your food?

    The quality of most American food is a national disgrace. And it is very hard to feel free when you see the farm raids, GMOs, factory food, and the FDA ignoring CAFOs while devoting all its resources to prevent people from drinking raw milk.

    I love this country, but I see your point. I can only hope we can find a way to restore our food freedom.

    • Hi Stanley,

      You’ve stated: “I can only hope we can find a way to restore our food freedom.”

      Our answer: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. Every generation needs a new revolution. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government,” Thomas Jefferson.

      Our fight begins in Washington D.C.

      • Hi Erica,

        I think you are right. I spent a lot of time contacting my representatives and their staffs trying to get them not to pass the food slavery bill( inaccurately called “food safety” ), as did many others, but they all voted for it anyway. The FDA is already using this unconstitutional bill to persecute small farmers and deny them access to the courts. This  bill makes the FDA prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner(of farms), with no judicial review.

        We need to get people in congress who are not controlled by the soulless large industries, and who actually care about the constitution and our freedom.

        Jefferson had it right. He also said that we would have no freedom at all if we let the government tell us what to eat. He was right about that, too.

  6. Every country has it’s problems. Ours is with food. Other countries its the very basic government and policy. I think it’s important to realize how blessed we are to be living in America.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, this is so true! Hopefully we can educate our public to get back to
      real food, and our politicians about protecting our rights!

    • Meagan, I absolutely agree with you that every country has its problems. And I know it because I lived during Soviet Union, then in Independent Ukraine and have lived in US for the past 11 years. And I appreciate everything I have here in US, I have been able to build a pretty good life for myself and my family so far. But I have two small children now and it is my responsibility as a parent to make sure they are safe, healthy and happy. Unfortunately, food is not the only problem in America. I can go on and on about many other problems, but to name a few – medical system, Big Pharma cares only about big profits and not the health of the people, education in public schools is poor and higher education is so insanely expensive that you have to get in debt up to your ears with the student loans to get a good education… there are many problems that motivated my decision. But just the fact that I can’t easily chose to get the best food for my children or chose not to vaccinate them, or that my kids will most likely have to get student loans for education if we stay here – is enough for me to make a decision on another move.

      • I too can see this point. I am an American that has now moved to Norway. Not for the food, but for love. But before my move I was concerned that I would be loosing some of my freedom and rights. However, that has not been the case. I am taken care of medically by the government, I have to take 4 weeks paid vacation – mandatory country wide, we have a 37 hour work week, much local food, little fast food (though, sadly more is showing up), the Norwegians love there real butter on bread, fish or potatoes. 

        The real milk laws are similar to the States – it is illegal to sell in stores, but privately is ok. They are working hard to change this. Most towns (at least where I am in the south) have farmers markets at least weekly, my town has a 6 day a week on. The Norwegians also seem to prefer to walk or cycle then drive. I would not say that they are overly active, gyms are still fairly new here and it is not they we dont have overweight peoples. I just think that they still have more traditional values when it comes to health. Eat the fat, walk if you can, only take medication of any kind if it is 150% necessary, take your tran! (Cod Liver Oil) and take time off to relax. 

        I love my new life out of America, I only wish I could have the rest of my family here! 

        Irena, where are you looking to move?

        • I loved your description of life in Norway, Fonda.  How do you find the weather?

          • Well the weather is very different from what I am used too. It is the end of June and we are sitting at 20°C (68°F) today, while back home in Oklahoma it is 42°C (107°F). I live on the coast in Norway, so I deal with lots and lots of rain. But inland it is not as rainy, but can get colder. The capital though seems to have the warmest weather.. 

            I have been learning that it is true of the Norwegian saying, ‘There is no bad weather, only bad clothes’. I wanted to – no scratch that – I did ignore the concept my first few years here.  However, I now know that having 5 different coats is normal. And a great pair of snow boots really make a world of difference. 

            Thankfully with our vacation time that allows us to go somewhere warmer to feel like we got some ‘hot’ summer, however we do get enough here in my opinion. When you dont have air conditioning, 20-25°C is warm enough – you get the sun and warmth without the loads of sweat. 

            Over all I would say that I am rather happy with it, I just needed to update my wardrobe first. (I still need to learn to walk in the ice/snow)

          • That’s great stuff!  I’ve seen some movies set in Norway, but I only have friends in Sweden.  We live on the coast, too, but we left temperature extremes in Nebraska for a temperate climate here in Uruguay.  So I did the opposite.  I traded in my snow boots and winter coat for a rain jacket.  How do you do with Norwegian?

    • And every place where they’ve had bad government and policy, either the people do not have enough food, or the food they have is bad (if you don’t like the governmental system in the UK, for instance, remember, they had industrial food before we did here).  And do you really think it is all that great here anymore in regards to government and freedoms?  It is so weird to hear most conservatives and libertarians talk about this.  Because in one breath they will go on about how oppressive the government is, and in the next breath–especially around Independence Day or any of the military memorial holidays–they will crow about how wonderful it is to live here and how free they are.  But we aren’t free.  Not really.

    • I agree, but our blessings are being taken away by an oppressive government and the greedy corporations that control it. We are much less free than we used to be, and the government is continuing to pass laws that are taking more and more of our freedom away. 

      And it is not just laws, but powerful and oppressive government agencies who violate the law routinely, without consequence. The fourth amendment to our constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizures, but tell that to the blueshirts who infest our airports, or to the childsnatchers who will take children away because their parents did not poison them with vaccines. There are many other examples, unfortunately.

      • Hi Stanely Fisherman,

        Actually, it would probably be even more effective if we had another non-violent march to Washington D.C. like the one that was initiated during the 1960s for African Americans. Imagine if millions of Americans marched, drove, flew, etc. to the White House demanding their rights for free access to raw milk and other foods from sustainable farmers. Wouldn’t this massive demand for real food ultimately save our small farmers and our freedom to purchase nourishing foods as we please?

        If we allow the FDA and our state and local governments to continue to harass our small farmers, pretty soon there will be no more small farming. We must do our part now that we still have the freedom to fight for what we believe in. Who knows, maybe this very right may eventually be taken away from us, as well.

        “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. Every generation needs a new revolution. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government,” Thomas Jefferson.
        ?I think it is about time for a new revolution sweeping across the United States to save what’s left of small, sustainable farming. When shall we begin?

  7. you could get a farm and raise your own food and animals that is still LEGAL in the US

  8. Christy Kayser says:

    Wow, what a drastic step – my husband and I talk about it sometimes, but always in a hypothetical way. I hope you find what you are looking for!

  9. The Equalizer says:

    Irena;   Chile or Panama is two of the leading destinations out of America. Both have vibrant economies and welcome immigrants who can support themselves. I have researching this for a couple of years. Also, Simon Black, The Sovereign Man, highly recommends Chile. Best of luck to you

  10. Christiana says:

    Wow! This post makes me sad.  I’ve given up on getting any raw milk here in Oregon.  For one, it is illegal to sell/buy and therefore very difficult to access, and the few sources I have found either are an entire day’s drive away or cost so much that I simply cannot afford it as a poor college student. 

  11. What an interesting post! Irena’s experience saddens, but does not surprise me at all. I am still in high school, but plan to raise my children in another country when I have them. Beyond access to food (how lovely would it be to be able to buy raw butter in the grocery store–à la France, or be able to eat our at a restaurant without being paranoid that I’m poisoning myself,) I would like to have access to good health care, support for working mothers–reasonable maternity leave (hopefully a paternity leave for my husband as well,) time to vacation, and an assurance of a high-quality public education for my children. I just don’t see this happening in the US.

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