The Failure of Raw Milk Prohibition

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by Karen De Coster: The
Death and Resurrection of BarbaricMusic



The August
3, 2011 shakedown
of the Rawesome food cooperative
in Venice, California, in spite
of the tragic outcome, has produced one positive result. The ruthless
raid on the part of miscellaneous government agencies has sparked
a wave of unprecedented discord over the question — How can government
dictate what we choose to eat when we each have unique standards
for good nutrition?

This federalista
blitzkrieg came at a time when raw milk alarmism had reached an
all-time high. The folks who wish to banish raw milk can't leave
the issue alone, and instead they have ramped up a cacophonous crusade
against one of nature's natural glories. Day after day, articles
and news bits appear in the mainstream media, full of fear mongering
and panic-producing propaganda in regards to the safety of raw milk.

A July 2011
article on
has some interesting
survey results on comparative raw milk
regulations on a state-by-state basis. To summarize, thirty states
allow consumers to transact with raw milk producers while twenty
states prohibit that act of freedom. And don't forget that federal
laws prevent the sale of any raw milk over state lines. The fed's
response to the good white stuff moving over state lines is to
send in armed soldiers in full battle gear
to seize and destroy.

Thirteen mini-regimes
across the U.S. allow the sale of raw milk on the farm where it
was produced, while four of those thirteen allow only "incidental
occurrences," which, of course, cannot be defined. After all,
it is the use of arbitrary laws with a host of potential interpretations
that enables the feds to conduct their criminal operations that
consist of seizing product and regulating small producers out of
business. Incidental occurrences is defined as "occasional
sales, not as a regular course of business; no advertising."
Surely, the feds can interpret "occasional" and "regular"
and "advertising" in a whole host of capricious ways.

Four of those
thirteen states only allow raw goat milk while Kentucky and Rhode
Island — now get this — require a prescription from a physician!
Of course, you can interpret that to mean raw milk must be
medicinal (ask Moms who remedy their child's allergies with raw
milk), but then again, there's no such thing as a Big Milk Pharma
that exists as a corporate arm of the state to keep its products
available for the masses. Lastly, eleven states allow raw milk to
be sold in retail stores outside of the farm.

Several of
the states that allow the sale of raw milk for human consumption
have various twists and turns in their laws that make it very difficult
to get the milk from the farm to the consumer. This essentially
limits, or in some cases prevents, the sale of the product. However,
imaginative entrepreneurs whose businesses are stifled by the government's
totalitarian decrees have conceived the idea of herd shares, and
this allows folks to jump through aboveboard hoops to buy a "piece"
of a herd and get their raw milk. Though this is a costly administrative
burden for both buyer and seller, any time that people can conjure
up visionary ways to skirt the laws of the regime, freedom has taken
a small step forward.

Rawesome was
a private, voluntary cooperative of consenting members who took
responsibility for any potential risks. Rawesome members even
signed waivers before becoming a food club member. With all
of the agencies involved (USDA, FDA, LA County Sheriff, CDC) over
a period of a year, this jihad came at great expense to taxpayers.
The LA Weekly described
it this way

The official
word from the DA's office is that Stewart, Palmer & Bloch
were arrested on criminal conspiracy charges stemming from the
alleged illegal production and sale of unpasteurized goat milk,
goat cheese, yogurt and kefir. The arrests are the result of a
yearlong sting. The 13-count complaint alleges that an undercover
agent received goat milk, stored in a cooler in the back of Healthy
Family Farms van, in the parking lot of a grocery store. While
it's legal to manufacture and sell unpasteurized dairy products
in California, licenses and permits are required. Rawesome may
have violated regulations by selling raw dairy products to non-members.

Here is a
link to the 21-page complaint
. Among the many charges against
owner James Stewart is one that immediately stands out: entering
into private leasing arrangements with consumers. This charge is
still fuzzy, and I am sure the feds can produce a whole book of

In a recent
edition of The Atlantic, an article was published that does
a solid job of covering
the Rawesome food club raid and its
aftermath. The Atlantic writer, Ari LeVaux, compares the Rawesome
raid by Federal and local agencies to the contamination of 36 million
pounds of Cargill ground turkey (one tally is 77 known ill people,
1 dead). Rawesome was raided, trashed, and shut down, and meanwhile,
Cargill executives were analyzing the costs of a recall vs. the
potential for negative publicity from the tainted meat so they could
voluntarily decide whether or not to recall the product.

LeVaux went
on to say that food freedom in America is vanishing. A quote from
the end of the article: "This is the state of food freedom
in America today: It's being sacrificed in the name of food safety."
But this is not about safety. These raids against about (1)
seizing power, which benefits federal and local governments and
provides justification for their continued growth through the looting
of taxpayers, (2) eliminating the competition for the rent-seeking
corporate state, meaning the big business-big government alliance,
(3) displaying the omnipotent power of the enforcement state (militarized
police and federal/state agencies), and (4) affirming rejection
of any individual's right to self-ownership, and thus making the
case that we are subjects to be ruled, including our behaviors and
personal lifestyle choices. The apostles of safety – assorted lawyers,
corporate interests, meddlesome consumers, and other misguided safety
advocates — have joined the government's campaign against raw milk
to promote their own special interests and opinions. There is no
tyranny of good intentions here.

Another analysis
I have not heard mentioned is that this raid was, in fact, a test
case for the new powers granted to the FDA under the Food Safety
Modernization Act. Yet, when I wrote about this totalitarian decree
just one year ago (see #1
and #2
), I received emails from many folks stating that my concern
was embellished and misplaced. Yet this regulatory food bill has
opened the doors for federal intrusion at the most basic level of
choosing one's food. Food freedomist author and blogger Dave Gumpert
this interesting comment
on his blog:

I'm beginning
to wonder: Is the cruelty of depriving your population of essential
foods a war crime? If there were a real war going on, with guns
firing, it could be. A United Nations panel has accused
the Sri Lanka military of war crimes for denying food to civilians
in a war zone.

We're certainly
edging closer to war here, as guns have been drawn in the war
on Rawesome (see photo above). For now, the answer to government
attacks on food distribution is to go underground, avoid fixed
locations like the Rawesome outlet in Venice, CA. In the meantime,
perhaps we should be gathering names for possible war crimes actions
against those guilty of this basest of crimes — stealing the people's

Rawesome had
been raided previously, in 2010, and here is a very telling — and
almost pathetically comical — video of cops barging into the organic-natural
food store with guns drawn during the 2010 raid.

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