“We will not comply!”

That was the rallying cry from Raw Milk Freedom Riders leader Liz Reitzig and 200 participants at the Minneapolis demonstration Monday in support of Alvin Schlangen.

Alvin Schlangen, speaking with Liz Reitzig, hopes his supporters are taking his t-shirt message to heart. That was also the message when I visited the home of one of the moms targeted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for warnings of possible criminal action for allowing the home to be used as a drop site for farmer Michael Hartmann. The talk there was of anticipating possible actions by the MDA, and making sure, whatever the agency comes up with, not to comply. (You can be sure the agency has its lawyers and police advisers hard at work at figuring out options for trying to force compliance.)

And it was the message some of Organic Pastures’ customers have been giving to overly aggressive public health inspectors after the inspectors have telephoned customers seeking to confiscate milk subject to recall. Mark McAfee describes some of the troubling follow-up activity by public health inspectors with his customers.

It is a message that more and more Americans will need to become familiar with if they are going to protect their right to decide which foods do and don’t go into their bodies. It is a right the government and its corporate backers are moving ever more aggressively to take from us. And each time they don’t encounter serious resistance, they make sure to push harder the next time to expand their message of intimidation.

In Minnesota, the MDA a couple years back singled out one individual for serving as a drop point for farm products. Now, having judged the resistance to that operation to have been minimal, the MDA is going after nine or ten individuals.

In California, the Department of Food and Agriculture’s May 10 press release announcing a recall of OPDC milk, stated, “Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any Organic Pastures products of these types remaining in their refrigerators…”

The key word there is “urged,” as in “encouraged” or “advised.” Yet the health department inspectors seems to be acting as if consumers are “ordered” or “required” to dispose of their milk.

The especially troublesome aspect is that these people, whether at MDA or CDFA or local health departments, see such activity as noble work. In their minds, each bottle of milk they grab from a consumer may prevent an illness, no matter how far-fetched the reality. In their fear-mongering view of the world, any notion of individual privacy and rights is subverted to this supposedly grand task.

The really scary part is that each such effort to forcibly interfere with people’s personal and private lives represents an expansion of the State’s police powers. The notion of public health inspectors, or agriculture inspectors, acting as police agents with the authority to arbitrarily confiscate people’s food is so outrageous as to be almost laughable. But it is happening.

What is encouraging in both Minnesota and California is that consumers are beginning to resist. The decision by Dori Copperthite, as described by Mark McAfee following my previous post, to give a health inspector the heave-ho, and get her video camera ready for another visit, is inspiring.  As Michael Badnarik, the Texas constitutional expert and former Libertarian Party candidate for President, said at the Food Rights Workshop on Sunday, “We have to get rid of the idea that defiance is not allowed…Defiance is the key to freedom.”

Badnarik acknowledged that defiance isn’t easy for most of us, who have been conditioned to obey all orders coming from authority figures like police and agents. “We outnumber the government,” he said. “What we lack is the emotional willingness to act.”

The affronts to our food rights will continue to occur more frequently and on a more widespread basis unless we take to heart Badnarik’s sage advice, and Liz Reitzig’s refrain, “We will not comply!” There’s nothing radical in this advice—it was the basis of the founding of this country, of taking it back from tyrants who used the same kind of bullying tactics we are seeing in Minnesota and California…and much worse.

Michael Schmidt describes well in a post on The Bovine the dilemma that will confront ever more of us as the government campaign continues inevitably to intensify: “We have different approaches in the movement; the ones who are targeted and stand by what they are doing, and those who operate out of the public eye with the hope to not be the target. At some point, every one will have to face the music to either stand by their beliefs or their fear.”