Any politician or regulator worth his previous year’s pension credits knows how to take a minor incident, or even create an incident out of nothing, so as to rile up the masses and divert them from their real problems.
Russian and Polish politicians were experts in the 1700s and 1800s of blaming a Jew for a theft or other minor crime, and inciting pogroms in which hundreds or thousands would be killed in murderous rampages. In the U.S. South of the 1800s and early 1900s, a black might be accused of being less than “respectful,” setting up lynchings of the accused, and others, by crazed throngs.
With today’s more educated and Internet-informed populace, the politicians and regulators have to be more sophisticated in how they handle their incitements and power grabs. But it is increasingly clear that we are all witness to cases of incitement and power grabs in the crackdown on raw milk. They are happening in seeming slow motion, over a number of years, but there’s no denying the ever-more-abusive and intensive nature of what’s happening. They shouldn’t be a surprise, since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in its goody-goody “Healthy People 2020”–its top health-related goals for the next ten years–has made #9 under “food safety” to “increase the number of states that have prohibited sale or distribution of unpasteurized dairy products.”
Once the fraud is entirely clear to everyone, it will be too late to bring back the dairies intimidated or otherwise forced out of the raw milk business. By that time, the agriculture and food safety types will be smug in their satisfaction that they’ve come down hard on people they detest to begin with, and denied availability to everyone else who seeks the health benefits of unprocessed foods. (Yes, we can all make our own kombucha, but there’s no way many of us can handle having a cow or goat; even if we want one, zoning rules and other technicalities will prevent that.)
The latest outrage is taking place in Minnesota. There, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is on what can only be described as a rampage. The current newsletter of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has details, in an article by its president, Pete Kennedy, of the shutdown of the Traditional Foods Warehouse, a private distributor of locally-produced foods to members, and the execution of a search warrant on a Minneapolis-area family whose only crime seems to be that it allowed farmer Michael Hartmann to park his truck and distribute milk to buyers.
And now we learn that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture goons searched a second raw dairy–one not linked to any illnesses. According to a report from Minnesota Public Radio, the agents were acting on information they obtained from the search of Traditional Foods Warehouse. What a bunch of Sherlock Holmes types! Now that they’ve got names of producers of nutrient-dense foods, who knows where their undercover investigations might lead. What a perverted way to earn a pension–harass struggling farms and put the owners out of business. And what fun adventures it must be to tell your children about all the good you are doing when you come home each evening.
Michael Hartmann’s dairy is likely the source of the E.coli 0157:H7 that sickened eight people. But that doesn’t justify a wholesale crackdown…unless you were just looking for an excuse to carry one out, and trying to create a climate of fear and anger toward farmers.
The corporate media, not surprisingly, are fanning the flames. Consider this start to an editorial in the Minneapolis StarTribune: “There’s a dangerous sense of superiority shared by Minnesotans who buy raw milk and serve it to their families. They don’t go to supermarkets like regular people…(They) refer to supermarket milk as ‘dead milk…’ “
I can remember when elites in the South worried about blacks’ sense of superiority. Only they used the word “uppity” to get their point across.
We’ve seen this movie before, and I chronicle much of it in The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Struggle Over Food Rigts. We saw it in Ohio in 2006, when the authorities used a few illnesses attributed (but never proved) to raw dairy owner Carol Schmitmeyer. She eventually put a stop to the craziness by getting a state judge to rule in her favor. Michigan tried the same tactic in its “sting operation” against Richard Hebron in late 2006, but authorities eventually pulled back in the face of popular opposition, and evidence the illnesses that sparked the crackdown came from pasteurized milk.
In Wisconsin, authorities used some illnesses at the Zinniker farm to give them an excuse to launch their ongoing crackdown. They, too, are being slowed by growing popular opposition and now civil disobedience by farmer Vernon Hershberger. In Massachusetts, authorities have used mere wishful thinking about illnesses to hand out cease-and-desist orders to owners of buying clubs, and threaten the economic viability of raw dairy farms…and spark strong resistance from consumers.
Will Minnesota consumers stand up and resist the outrages now taking place? Or will they be moved by corporate representatives like the Minneapolis StarTribune?
A couple of weeks ago, the Minnesota Department of Health said it respected food rights. It’s clear now, those were just empty phrases. The words that count are coming from the CDC and the FDA, and the actions that count are coming from their lackeys in Minnesota and other states.