Eating is something we do so naturally, so routinely, we tend not to think all that much about it. We make choices–white or dark meat chicken, almond butter or peanut butter, apple or pear, broccoli or chard–nearly unconsciously, so plentiful is the food.

Buying it was once also pretty natural. We bought our foods directly from farmers, or from small specialty outlets, or traveling peddlers. Whatever local farms produced, that’s what was available. If you wanted to deal with a particular farmer, you did it. Your “contract” was a handshake. Nothing about legal precedents or complicated theories of private ownership or dealing with “licenses”.

Vernon Hershberger with his family at a rally outside the Sauk County Courthouse last August. The idea that our own government would sabotage our food supply seems ridiculous. So each time it happens, we want to shrug it off as an aberration, an example of an over-zealous regulator, regulations run amok. We can’t accept that this is, in actuality, government policy, and the new normal.

When you come down to it, the persecution of Vernon Hershberger is, at its most fundamental, a sabotaging of the food supply. Same with what happened to Dan Allgyer.  Same with what is happening to herdshares in California. 

Sorry to be a little rambling, but I wonder, are the U.S. and Canada the first ostensibly free nations of modern times to disrupt their populations’ food supplies by preventing ordinary citizens from obtaining basic food like milk, beef, eggs, and chicken?

Put another way, when did we lose the right to contract directly with producers for our food? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it happened in 1906. I was rummaging through some recent legal documents, and even though I had seen this statement before,  it stood out anew as I was trying to make sense out of the Hershbherger situation. It’s from the federal court suit filed by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund against the FDA…the FDA’s denial that we have a right to the foods of our choice:

“Comprehensive federal regulation of the food supply has been in effect at least since Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906… Thus, plaintiffs’ claim to a fundamental privacy interest in obtaining ‘foods of their own choice’ for themselves and their families is without merit.”

Sometimes I sense that people don’t fully comprehend the outrageousness of what is going on with these legal actions against food producers. They aren’t really worked up about it.

Vernon is setting an example for us all, not only because he is standing up, but because he is keeping the shape of the struggle so straightforward. It’s just about providing food to members of his community. What could be simpler?

That’s why the suggestions a couple people made following my previous post that his club members keep the farm running is an excellent one. Just keep the food coming for the members.

Will the enforcers come after those people? Will they try to shut down neighbors and friends running the farm? I wouldn’t be surprised if they do. No permit, no food.No permit exists for the food you want? Too bad. No food.

Will an attack on friends and neighbors be the final straw to truly outrage people? I don’t know.

Part of what is happening is that our rulers are testing us. They keep pushing harder. When we don’t react, they push yet harder. What is the breaking point? They clearly haven’t hit it yet.

At the demonstration for Vernon outside the courthouse on Friday, you’ll be treated to some throwbacks to a simpler time. Here’s a clue, from our Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

Yes, it’s the right of the people to get rid of a “destructive” government, and replace it.

As I understand it, there are just a few openings left for the Rights Workshop being held Thursday afternoon in Wisconsin. A new declaration, relating to food, will be unfurled in Baraboo on Friday. Be there, as history is made.

Whaddayaknow, here’s a version of the Vernon Hershberger tale in California. The story of the San Jose goat dairy shut down by California for running a herdshare. The TV report says there are 130 herdshares, and more than 600 farms “providing milk to neighbors.”

That debate at Harvard Law School about raw milk continues to attract attention. Well over 7,000 views of the debate, in just the one week it’s been on YouTube.