|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.