Raw Milk and Food Freedom

Certain portions of the news and the blogotwittersphere (that's what we're calling it now, right?) are still going crazy over the raid at Rawesome in Venice, CA yesterday.
Photo from LA Weekly

Mostly, the outrage is coming from raw milk/raw food devotees who feel, with some justification, that they are being persecuted for choosing to drink raw milk. But here in Ohio, raw milk is strictly illegal, so it isn't really a personal issue for me. I would drink raw milk if I could get it, but I can't and so I drink the best milk I can get and I'm happy with that.

You don't have to drink raw milk, or even approve of it, to get involved in food freedom issues like this one, though.

At the end of the day, when we talk about raw milk, or organic food, or local grassfed meat, or CSAs, or farmers markets, we are talking about the same thing: personal choice and food freedom.

If the continued refusal by our government to control GMOs, improve food labeling, and put a muzzle on Cargill and Monsanto has taught me one thing, it's that the FDA and USDA are no longer basing their policies on the best interests of Americans.

While preaching about the dangers of unregulated food, the American government is allowing and even subsidizing foods that are packed full of pesticides, synthetic chemicals, preservatives, allergens, and phytoestrogens. When the USDA started allowing CAFOs, that stamp of approval on a cut of meat stopped meaning something. When the FDA started targeting small-scale organic farmers, they stopped advocating for true food safety.

I am not saying I want a totally unregulated system. As long as there are large-scale corporations involved in the manufacture of food, there has to be regulation. Nor am I saying that every small-scale farm is a good farm. Small farmers can be just as cruel, unsanitary, and dangerous as CAFOs in their own way.

But I want a choice. I want the right to run the risk. I want to buy meat and eggs and milk and produce from a farmer down the road, if I--and I is really the crucial word here--decide that it is the best decision to do so. I think long and hard about my food choices, and I simply don't believe that anybody out there cares more than I do about what my family eats.

So is it about raw milk or not raw milk? Sure, on the surface. But what it's really about is food freedom and civil liberties. It's about free commerce and trade.

And protesting outside of a courthouse in Los Angeles is fine. If I could be there today, I probably would be. But the real goal here shouldn't be just a protest, or a statement about a single farmer or organization. All the energy and anger that people are feeling need to be directed constructively.

What does that mean?

It's time to start talking. It's time to start lobbying. It's time to start changing laws so that we can keep the food freedom we have, and get back what we've already lost.

This blog post has been linked to Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade.


  1. I discovered raw milk just recently, purchased fresh from the farmer. OMG I have never had milk so unbelievably delicious! It is amazing to me just how much flavor you get from processing, plastic and refrigeration that just doesn't exist in milk's natural state when stored in a glass jar. It is no wonder the FDA is so against it. If anyone could experience the ambrosia of fresh unprocessed milk, the big corps would be out of business!

  2. I'm so with your closing statement. Been thinking about it for some time now. Here's the kicker tho-- what to do? Sounds silly, doesn't it, that I've not even the slightest idea where to start, when I want to scream that the UDSA does nothing for MONTHS and MONTHS while contaminated, deadly ground turkey (only the latest scare) goes unchecked, but harasses and raids farmers and co-ops time and time again when there isn't even a victim to be had. Time to start a local movement teaching folks how to advocate for themselves, talking to their local leaders? You betcha.

  3. @Anonymous: I think the first thing to do is start making sure our own lives set an example for our friends and neighbors and that we're encouraging people we actually know to change their lifestyle and start voting with their dollars.

    I think bloggers and social networking are also a big part of it. I think one of the biggest problems we have is that we haven't got an easy, simple alternative to offer. If you want to stop eating conventional food, you need to do a lot of research, learn a lot of new skills (potentially), and spend a lot of extra money.

    I have started choosing the topics on Scrimpalicious specifically to start building up a body of resources that offer education and alternatives for people who have no idea where to start in terms of changing their own lifestyle.

    The more mainstream the real food/food freedom idea is socially, the easier it will be to get our opinions heard on a national level.



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