In 1928 a young farmer named Melvin Eggers began making raw goat milk cheese from the milk produced on his small goat dairy. He called both his farm and business Briar Hills Dairy. Along with the delicious raw cheeses, Mr. Eggers also found that by carefully and gently drying the leftover whey he could preserve the unique mineral and electrolyte rich properties found in liquid whey.1 He referred to this nutritional whole food simply as WHey EXtract or WHEX.
WHEX played a major role in the health revolution taking place during the 1930’s when world renowned nutrition guru Dr. Bernard Jensen began taking and prescribing WHEX along with goat milk as ideal foods for his hundreds of thousands of patients. (Dr. Jensen continued to be one of the most vocal proponents of goat milk until his death in 2001 at the age of 92.) Melvin and his son Peter continued the family business into the mid 1980’s at which point both father and son made the decision to retire from farm life. Having come to this monumental decision, they were faced with the difficult task of finding someone who would carry on the legacy they had created and take over both the farm and business. It was at this time that they reached out to a young, aspiring, and dedicated farmer named Frank Stout.
Frank saw immense potential in goats, cheese, and other related goat milk products and also saw how many of his fellow farmers were selling their farms and animals to mega corporations, no longer able to compete in a market consumed by the mantra of “get big or get out.” January of 1985 came and with the promise of the new year Frank began the next saga in the life of Briar Hills Dairy. One of the first changes Frank made was changing the name of the company to Mt. Capra (capra is the Italian word for goat). For the next 20 years Frank produced award winning raw goat milk cheeses along with WHEX. His main avenue for connecting with customers was at the historic Pike Place Market where locals “in-the-know” would clamor after his much beloved goat milk products. After a brief legal dispute over the trade name of WHEX, the name was changed to Capra Mineral Whey and is made the same way today as it was in the 1920’s.
Frank always envisioned his company being passed down to his children should they so desire to be a part of the work he was doing. As a result of this vision, he took every opportunity to train and teach each of his four children the merits of hard work, wholesome food, compassionate animal husbandry, and smart business sense. In 2003 his first born son Joe, then only 19, decided to make Mt. Capra his career and future. Joe enrolled at Washington State University later that fall and completed a four year, bachelors of science degree, in Food Science and Human Nutrition. He then immediately began graduate-level work in Clinical Human Nutrition. While pursuing his masters of science degree, Joe also spent many hundreds of hours teaching elementary students in low income school districts, the importance of following a healthy whole food diet and also how to prepare meals from high quality ingredients on a limited budget.
During this time, Mt. Capra was continuing to grow in a booming economy. By 2003, the demand for whole food nutritional products like protein and colostrum was so great that Mt. Capra made the difficult decision to end the production of raw goat milk cheese entirely. In early 2012 more changes were on the horizon. Frank felt the call into the medical profession and enrolled in the prestigious Bastyr University in Seattle WA. He is currently studying there to become a doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. In his absence, both farm and processing facility are under the care of his son Joe who now lives on the farm with his wife Elizabeth and their five children.
Even after nearly a century of tumultuous times, Mt. Capra has kept the same values and vision that it was founded upon. We are still a small, family-run goat dairy operated by a father and son team, creating wholesome and nutritious products from one of nature’s greatest foods and thankfully some things will never change. ∆
- The leftover liquid whey (think of the nursery rhyme “curds and whey”) is actually not high in protein even though we are used to seeing the term whey protein. It is high in minerals and electrolytes which is what Melvin was capturing [↩]