Liberty Commentary

The Regime’s War on Food

by William N. Grigg, ProLibertate

Many thousands of years ago, two men came across a dairy cow, a beast neither had previously beheld.
One of them, seeking to impress the other, pointed to the creature’s udder and declared: “You see those things dangling from the underside of that animal? Well, I’m going to squeeze one of them and drink whatever comes out of it!”
According to the late and much-missed George Carlin, that nameless daredevil was the bravest man who ever lived. He was also exceptionally fortunate, since he was able to consume raw milk, and even extol its nutritional benefits, without running the risk of imprisonment.

“I drink raw milk, sold illegally on the underground black market,” admits organic farmer and polymath Joel F. Salatin in the foreword to David Gumpert’s book The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle over Food Rights. “I grew up on raw milk, from our own Guernsey cows that our family hand-milked twice a day. We made yogurt, ice cream, butter and cottage cheese. All through high school in the early 1970s, I sold our homemade yogurt, butter, buttermilk, and cottage cheese at the curb market on Saturday mornings.”

Udder nonsense: The FDA considers this a death dispenser.

This was possible only because our rulers — who plunder our earnings to subsidize production of government-approved toxinssuch as high fructose corn syrup, and don’t hesitate to confer the “safe foods” label on Twinkies and other hydrogenated wads of incremental death  — hadn’t yet decided to protect us from the scourge of unprocessed natural foods, such as raw milk.

That oversight has since been corrected. As a result, explains Salatin, home dairy producers like the family in which he grew up are forbidden to sell their products at a contemporary farmer’s market.

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the Regime is conducting a low-grade war against producers and consumers of raw milk — a campaign that bears an undeniable family resemblance to the murderous, decades-long farce called the War on Drugs. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that a government presuming to dictate to us what mood-altering substances we can consume would likewise presume to tell us what foods we can eat and offer to others.

The federal Food and Drug Administration, working through a multi-state network ofsycophants, is treating the private distribution of raw milk as a species of criminal conspiracy. Borrowing a tactic employed in the War on Drugs, the Feds are seeking to extort the cooperation of some consumers to work as informants.

Wisconsin resident and raw milk consumer Max Kane was targeted for that treatment, but refused to submit.  As a result, Kane may wind up in prison for the supposed offense of drinking raw milk and sharing it with others.

As a child, Kane was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a gastrointestinal disorder that left him chronically weak, malnourished, and — as he put it — “wasting away.”

At his adult height of 5’11”, Kane weighed 110 pounds. After conventional medical treatment availed nothing, Kane sought an answer in nutrition; he found one in a diet of raw foods, including raw, unpasteurized milk.

Kane insists that raw milk and dairy products helped him attain the vibrant health he displayed to good advantage by staging a 40-day bicycle across the continental U.S. During that odyssey, Kane consumed only the dairy products supplied by farmers belonging to a nation-wide network of raw milk producers.

According to raw milk proponents, pasteurization destroys not only harmful pathogens, but also beneficial bacteria needed to maintain a healthy balance of gastrointestinal flora (a subject about which I acquired some hard-won knowledge about a year ago). Homogenization further denatures milk, depriving it of vital alkalizing minerals that can bind with toxins and remove them from the body.

There are trade-offs involved whether one chooses to consume milk in its raw or pasteurized/homogenized form. Furthermore, there are some accomplished health and fitness experts — among them the legendary nonagenarian stud Jack LaLane — who insist that human beings have no business consuming dairy products at all.

Apart from the paternalistic assumptions favored by our self-appointed bureaucratic custodians, there’s no reason to believe that individuals are incapable of making healthy decisions for themselves. As Kane points out, his case is a dispute over property rights in the most elemental terms. “My body is my private property,” he explains. “Nobody gets to say what I eat except me.”

Although the government that afflicts Wisconsin insists it is “illegal” to sell raw milk, the law contains no impediment to direct sale of milk by farmers to consumers. Kane, who founded the Raw Milk Party, lives with his wife and young children in Viroqua, a town of roughly 4400 people that prides itself on its organic farming and farmer’s markets. He belongs to a “cow share” co-op, whose members receive raw milk in exchange for paying a portion of the upkeep of the animals.

Like similar private ventures across the country, Kane’s co-op is a subscription-based arrangement, which means that it deals with members, not customers. Kane sells his raw milk to another membership-based food club in Chicago called Belle’s Lunchbox. In late 2008, Kane’s club came under scrutiny by both federal regulators and Wisconsin’s Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) following a conveniently anonymous complaint from an Illinois resident supposedly took ill after consuming unpasteurized milk.

Georgia raw milk farmers were forced to destroy their inventory.

The milk was traced to farms in Wisconsin, and the federal anti-raw milk gestapo — already working with state counterparts in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin to crack down on the distribution of raw milk and other natural foods — dispatched functionaries to test for brucella and other pathogens.

Unfortunately for them, the tests proved negative, so they were deprived of a vital propaganda tool.

“I hope I don’t come to resent making this statement,” wrote Wisconsin veterinary commissar Roger Ehlenfeldt in a December 19, 2008 e-mail to his comrades, “but the Brucellosis issue may have been the simplest part of this problem and could have been a pretty good lever to use to push the raw milk issue.” ( Emphasis added.)

Mark this well: The chief concern expressed here was not for the health and well-being of the public, but rather regret over the loss of an opportunity to exploit suffering in order to restrict the freedom of others.

Deprived of that “lever,” the federal food fascisti attempted to pressure Kane into informing on others involved in the “criminal” purveyance of pure milk.

Despite the fact that Kane has never been accused of a crime, he confronts the possibility of criminal contempt charges for his refusal to provide names, addresses, and other information about people who belong to his raw milk club.

Last June 18, Kane was summoned by Wisconsin State assistant Attorney General Philip Ferris to offer a deposition. Kane, who has always represented himself in court, wisely refused to answer any questions until and unless his constitutionally protected rights were explicitly recognized by Ferris. For his part, Ferris adamantly refused even to admit on record that he had sworn an oath to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions — a refusal that is tacit admission that his oath was an act of public perjury.

Ferris, thoroughly out-lawyered by an amateur, got nothing. Kane responded to the subpoena by challenging the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s anti-raw milk statutes. This prompted the State of Wisconsin to escalate its assault by using the threat of criminal contempt charges in an attempt to extort Kane’s cooperation. The term “extortion” is the only suitable one to describe what’s happening here, since nobody has ever signed a criminal complaint against Kane or any of his associates.  Despite that fact, the Wisconsin AG’s office filed a motion to have Kane designated a “threat to the public” and imprisoned while his appeal proceeded through the courts.

In an April 19 hearing, Vernon County Judge Michael Rosborough denied the state’s vindictive motion to imprison the 32-year-old farmer and granted Kane sufficient time to collect transcripts and prepare for his appeal.

The standoff in Wisconsin represents just one front in the Regime’s war against people who produce and consume raw milk. David Gumpert (author of The Raw Milk Revolutionoffers a rundown of some other recent outrages.

“[In early June], agents of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, escorted by police and also bearing search warrants, raided and shut down Traditional Foods Warehouse, a popular food club in Minneapolis specializing in locally-produced foods,” writes Gumpert. “They also raided two farms suspected of illegally selling raw milk. And in a national first among such raids, agents searched a private home and made off with computers; the family’s offense appears to have been that it allowed one of the raw dairy farmers to park in its driveway to distribute raw milk to area residents who had ordered it.”

In California, Gumpert relates, a mob of 20 armed tax-feeders — including personnel from two sheriff’s offices, the LA County District Attorney’s office, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture — descended on Sharon Palmer’s Ventura County farm. Palmer has endured three assaults of this kind over the past 18 months, apparently as a result of a technical error in the labeling of goat’s milk.

Actor George Lopez with raw milk farmer Mark McAfee

On the same day, government goons laid siege to Rawsome Foods, a Venice, California food club that offers a variety of unprocessed dairy products. The marauders made off with a large haul of raw honey and dairy products beforeshuttering the private club for failure to obtain a health permit.

To his considerable credit, Rawsomeowner Aajonus Vonderplanitz — who has endured in-person harassment by the FBI and FDA — re-opened his club just hours after the government-licensed vandals had wrecked it.

These raids — and scores of others like them — are part of a coordinated campaign by the Federal Government to arrest “the spread of private food groups that have sprung up around the country in recent years — food clubs and buying groups to provide specialized local products that are generally unavailable in groceries, like grass-fed meats, pastured [not pasteurized] eggs, fermented foods, and, in some cases, raw dairy products,” observes Gumpert. “Because they are private and limited to consumers who sign up for membership, these groups generally avoid obtaining retail and public health licensed required of retailers that sell to the general public.”

All of this is dictated by the basic totalitarian formula: Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. Private food clubs, like every other association, simply have to be brought under state control, or destroyed in a fit of coercive benevolence.

We also shouldn’t underestimate the Regime’s irrepressible hostility toward any enterprise that promotes self-sufficiency: Witness the premonitory rumblings of a new Federal jihad against the precious metals industry.

As the Greater Depression deepens and large-scale retail distribution networks collapse, Americans will increasingly rely on locally produced foods — an ironically beneficial side effect of the economic meltdown. In the fact that the Regime has chosen, in this economic environment, to mount a persecution campaign against independent local food producers we find eloquent testimony of its incurable malevolence.