Editor’s note: From time to time we will give space in Linda’s blog to the Furious Foodie. For reasons that will be obvious below, we cannot reveal the Furious Foodie’s identity, but once she starts up, she’s hard to quiet down. We can promise that her rants will be passionate and will step on some toes. But they’ll also be worth reading if you think about food, sourcing, and health. Ready? Here’s our first installment.
Food and freedom
by The Furious Foodie
You can spend your whole life quietly minding your own business, enjoying your family and friends and working to maintain whatever lifestyle you choose. You hope that your government, federal and local, your systems, your infrastructure are more or less fairly administered on your behalf. They are, after all, paid for by your tax dollars. You hope that a certain common sense and integrity will prevail regardless of your personal politics.
You’re brought up to believe that in this country you’re freer than in any others.
To focus on my own passion – food and cooking – you’re free to eat McDonalds every day, three times a day; you’re free to consume nothing but muesli; you’re free to feed yourself as you wish.
That includes the freedom to avoid processed food, to avoid high fructose corn syrup, to choose to buy fresh and local. And to support all those freedoms of choice, there have to be organic and local producers just as there have to be monumentally gigantic food corporations. Yet it seems quite clear that the giants of food production are applying inconceivably large sums of money and all their leverage to crush the small farmers, producers and markets who offer an alternative food supply.
Recently, in various parts of the country, small farmers and producers have been raided and prosecuted, for dubious violations of various food laws. A few weeks ago, twenty agents from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Ventura County Sheriff, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture raided Sharon Palmer’s farm, ostensibly because she sells cheese processed from raw milk. Rawsome Foods, in Venice, was similarly raided by officers who, guns in hand searched for unmarked jugs of raw milk. Perhaps they thought the microbes involved were armed.
In addition to anything else confiscated from the Palmer farm, the agents took the family computer – the third one the family has lost to such raids – prompting Sharon’s daughter to ask how she was now supposed to do her homework. Clearly, the interests of the industrialized dairy business trump homework and the domestic terrorism of raw milk – the target in most of these raids – must be stamped out.
These small businesses do not sell raw milk products publicly. Sales are confined to Community Supported Agriculture aficionados, and to private clubs.
Once upon a time, ‘private’ had some meaning. Apparently not in these days of government intrusion into classroom, bedroom and kitchen. Perhaps the same agents would be better employed intruding into a few boardrooms – notably those of the corporate farmers and milk producers who feel so threatened by anyone who doesn’t want to buy into their homogenized BS. Note that these ‘outlaws’ aren’t sabotaging Big Dairy. They’re simply offering an alternative. Choice.
Government, federal and local, does have a role to play in the protection of our best interests, though I’m always suspicious of anyone who claims to know my own interests better than I. I would also argue that it’s up to each and every one of us to take responsibility for our own well-being. But who, exactly – what organizations – are playing the government’s nursemaid role? It is no secret – in fact it’s incontrovertible – that government organizations like the EPA and the FDA are ‘influenced’ (to put it politely; others might say ‘subverted’) by lobbyists, by politicians and by scientists on someone’s personally interested payroll. Thus tomato ketchup becomes a vegetable and words and phrases like ‘organic’ and ‘free range’ are redefined beyond all commonsense.
Does it really make sense to target a raw mild producer in a society that permits and encourages (just look at the advertising expenditure) obesity-inducing junk foods and that, for all its posturing, tolerates smoking – a massive contributor to our health care costs?
Make no mistake, I support anyone’s right to overdose on saturated fats and to smoke themselves to an early grave. That’s freedom.
In my view, the dollars and time wasted on persecuting Rawsome, Sharon Palmer and their like would be far better spent investigating and pursuing the inefficiencies and corruptions of our bureaucratic systems of ‘food control.’
To the agents who conducted this raid, guns in hand, they say – and to their bosses – I have one question: whatever happened to your sense of fairness or proportion?
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