Help protect our right to clean, safe food

35 Comments

Hey folks, just a quick one today, I’ve got some actual “writing” in queue and will have that out soon.

But today I want to share a story of folks doing the right thing, growing food in a sustainable manner, creating community and a hedge against economic ups and downs. And these folks are fighting for their existence. Their assailant?

Our very own government.

Please read this post Amber put over at her blog, I’ll wait for ya. Farm-to-table dinner raids and government attacks on small farmers – AKA why we need the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Locally-grown cherry tomatoes at the Charlottesville, Va. farmers market

Locally-grown cherry tomatoes at the Charlottesville, Va. farmers market

If you are like me, you took a long time to read the blog post, and digest the video. Much, much longer than it should have taken. The reason it took me so long is because I was: at the edge of tears, angered enough to cause a bar fight, and scared enough to wrap it all up and head to some country where it’s more wild-west than USDA regulations.

But the time to run is not at hand. Yet. We still have a chance in all this. What we are facing is a governmental structure that says it is here to “protect us” (in this case the USDA inspection of food) but is in fact concerned only with expanding it’s power and cutting us off from any hope of self sufficiency or a food network that is not under the thumb of the FDA, USDA and affiliated stooges. This is not conspiracy theory, tin-foil hat stuff. This is federal agents with body-armor and weaponry appropriate for room clearing in Afghanistan, taking down family farms offering raw milk and fresh vegetables.

Luckily we are not alone in all this, forward thinking people enacted a legal protection fund, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. These folks have been fighting for things like raw milk and traditionally cured meats for a long time. Their work is gearing up because we are actually WINNING. We are making CSAs and other non-traditional food distribution networks a viable option and the government is not happy.

We will be working closely with these folks and other people in this fight in the months and years to come. I just wanted to make this story better known, and to begin drawing a line in the sand. The only way we will win this, and protect our right to clean, safe food, is if we fight together.

What you can do to help

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms

Right now, they’re holding their annual fundraiser. Today is the final day that donors can receive select gifts –  a Weston A Price Foundation Tee-shirt, a copy of the book Folks, This Ain’t Normalthe film Farmageddon, and a limited edition lithograph of Early Haymaking in the Ozarks.

For a donation of $250, you can attend a farm-to-table event at Joel Salatin’s legendary Polyface Farm. Joel is a dynamite guy, and doing tons to promote the local food and sustainable agriculture movement. We interviewed Joel about responsible farming and clean eating in a five-part interview series here, if you want to learn more about him.

Consider joining the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund as a consumer member, or please donate during this fundraiser. Even a small donation can go a long way into making sure our rights to clean food are protected.

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  1. Jim Rendek
    August 31, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I kicked in a small donation. I believe in the cause and respect Robb.

  2. Valai
    August 31, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Here is the Health District’s comment form:
    http://www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/forms/comments.php

    Not sure what the health inspector’s contact information is (Mary Oakes), or her boss’s.

  3. Kerri O
    August 31, 2012 at 8:03 am

    We are attempting to grow most of our own food. So far we’ve stopped short of selling anything because I have to admit I’m a little afraid of all this mess.

  4. Betsy
    August 31, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Thanks for the reminder – I renewed my annual pledge. I also just paid my dues for my share of our local buying group’s membership. So I’m a member twice over.

  5. Rose
    August 31, 2012 at 8:44 am

    There’s a dearth of information here to make an informed opinion.

    Why wasn’t the beef stamped USDA inspected?

    A reasonable inference would be that the rancher who provided the beef didn’t send these animals to any certified commercial slaughterhouse.

    If so, then there was no way to prove that: the animals were healthy, were humanely slaughtered, or that the beef was processed in a sanitary setting.

    I support community agriculture and participate in a CSA. I buy meat thru them and it is stamped USDA Inspected. Now, it was heartbreaking what happened to Laura. She was clearly the victim here. Tho I’m not prepared to demonize the health inspector without first getting a full accounting from the rancher.

    Also, a CSA event is not a private function. It is a public, promotional event for her business. So a health inspector would have a roll to play.

    • Robb Wolf
      August 31, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Rose-
      I;d be inclined to agree were it not for the fact USDA inspection “guarantees” little. We do not see E-coli outbreaks in CSA’s. On the FDA side, how many drugs have they released as safe (phenphen?) only to pull later? How many experimental drugs might save the lives of the terminally ill but they are blocked due to the FDA. I’m not suggesting anarchy, but I have precious little faith in these “systems”.

      • Ronald Kragnes
        August 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm

        Robb,

        I fully support what you and this fund are doing. I believe she was caught off guard by the health inspector and probably didn’t think there would be a problem.

        However, she should have told them to leave and if they didn’t then they were trespassing. If they didn’t leave then she could have the cops come and remove them. People have many rights, they just need to exercise them, especially against an abusive authority like this.

        Thoughts?

      • Garry
        August 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        Rose –

        “If so, then there was no way to prove that: the animals were healthy, were humanely slaughtered, or that the beef was processed in a sanitary setting.”

        Are you referring to a humane, healthy, sanitary feedlot? Complete with antibiotics, growth hormones, poor quality diet, totally abhorrent living conditions? Maybe you and the “health” inspector should spend a day at one, or if that’s too much for you, how about an hour downwind? You could verify for yourself what a healthy situation that is (it’s USDA approved after all!). While you are there you can try to figure out what citation to issue the people in this story. On your way home stop by Monsanto and try out their latest genetics experiment on yourself, because hey, the USDA approves of them too.

  6. OlderSista
    August 31, 2012 at 9:32 am

    No, Facebook can NOT have access to all my friends, are you insane?

    And, are the USDA nazis raiding Mrs. Obamas White House garden?? She’s suppossed to be so concerned with healthy eating for the countrys children….why isn’t she involved in exposing the USDA? She could always blame Bush for their ‘cowboy’ tactics.

    • Alison
      August 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

      I agree, that was the first thing that crossed my mind when I read this!, Michelle Obama all over foodnetwork, promoting growing your own fruits and veggies, while the government is closing down local farms, I am not going to give up growing and canning in order to feed my friends and family good food that hasn’t been genetically altered! But such is the arrogance of the government, they don’t think we are smart enough to do our own research.

  7. mlkrone
    August 31, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Wow, I really agree, this kind of got my blood boiling as I read Amber’s post. And that video was kind of heart wrenching to watch. I’m glad there are some avenues that can be utilized to protect these kinds of people cause I know I’ve seen (and I’m sure many here have) instances where even the FB-fucking-I has been involved in shutting down raw milk operations and having people arrested. But hey at least the government is trying to put pictures of dead babies and lung cancer victim’s on cigarettes… cuz that will stop people from smoking or inform them on something that they already know.

    But instead of getting all ranty and ravy about this stuff I had something I wanted to share that’s more on topic. I saw on the travel channel’s bizarre foods show these people that own a small camel farm and milk their camel every day and haven’t been able to sell it since they started their business a few yrs back because… milk is deemed unsafe if not homogenized to certain standards (might be using the wrong terminology).

    The farm owners said that camel milk is the closest thing to human breastmilk and that it is super nutrient dense. I was just wondering if anyone had heard of thins before and if they’ve looked into it’s validity? I’m sure raw camel milk isn’t bad… but honestly logic would have me thinking that the closest thing to human milk would be that of another primate?

    Sorry if this is the wrong venue for this, I don’t want to take away from the issue at hand. I see an opportunity to start making some changes, and the more we all participate and push for it, the easier (or at least more do-able) it may get.

  8. Stephanie
    August 31, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I think this is totally screwed up. Darn it, this does make me kinda feel like being libertarian. We just volunteered at our CSA farm’s dinner last weekend, which was cooked in the kitchen of our farmer. This could have been us! The regulations that are in place for food safety are there because we switched to commercialized, high-output, industrialized food systems which are inherently less safe and lead to all sort of shenanigans. I believe if you’re eating crap from a supermarket you need those regulations, actually, those regulations aren’t even good enough because people still die or get really sick from unsafe food all the time. But for those of us who buy local direct from a farmer these regulations shouldn’t apply. We didn’t have them BEFORE industrialization and we managed to eat local food just fine back then. My grandma slaughtered a chicken every day for her siblings to eat on her farm in Kansas and she’s 94 now! Look how dangerous local food is!

    But, because our governments are all owned by the people who donate to their campaigns, who want to keep this crap up because they make lots of money through industrial food systems, nothing is ever going to happen on this isues. Or on any issues that matter to any of us until we get private $ out of elections.

    Thanks for sharing Robb! I think spending lots of my hard earned money supporting my local farmers by buying their meat and produce is my way of contributing to the movement. If I had extra I would donate some also.

  9. 2sides
    August 31, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    there’s a comment at the end of the blog article stating that the event was advertised in the local paper, and was changed to a “private event” after the usda showed up. if that was the case, then it’s a bit different of a story. no less frustrating, but a bit less impinging on private freedoms than the article would have us believe.

  10. kiran
    August 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    If your selling to the public there should be the “burden of proof” that you are making people sick before you get shut down. Ok so you should have to submit to inspection from certifying authorities ( USDA/ORGANIC/”cage free[lol]” etc) that apply too, from a general public health perspective. But there should be some common sense open mindedness with this (sigh … maybe I’ll never evolve politically).

    Please rember that the presidency is largely cerimonial but your local reps are real… bottom up (and you though the food piramid (plate) was fucked)… please be realistic vote for what makes your local community prosper.

    If there was a “grain” of truth in it it’s … its probably gonna give you leaky gut.

  11. Joel
    August 31, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Its not a “Rite”- Grow your own food is! Its America, Stop expecting the government to take care of you! Do it yourself! This whole idea of rites and entitlements is idiotic, nobody owes you anything!

  12. Joe Oggier
    August 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I’m sensing a rant and some strong emotions on the next episode of the Controversial Truth.

    A well deserved rant.

    Go get ‘em Robb. I’m behind you 100%. I just wish I could give more…

  13. Faith
    August 31, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks for posting, Robb. I grew up with parents who gardened (and canned), and bought GFB from my grandparents who still farmed. When we could no longer buy from them, the store bought meat was so bad our cats wouldn’t eat it. Fortunately, we found some excellent local farms. I’m always happy to see good farmers supported, even for legal funding that I wish they didn’t need.

  14. Carl
    September 1, 2012 at 3:58 am

    I’m stuck at OMG and, admittedly, dude tears. I remember this feeling when I watched 9/11 play out. The perspective and scale of this just hit me as, in fact, far greater than 9/11. Far, far greater. Every day I am literally surrounded by the casualties so the FDA and USDA terrorists.

    Just OMG and tears. Holy crap, this nation is under attack, and the terrorists all have emails ending in .gov.

    Thanks Robb. Dude, you changed my life once already on the health and fitness front. I think you just sent me into life change number 2.

  15. Lynn
    September 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Thanks Robb for bringing this very important issue to a lot of folks who had no idea of the many raids carried out not only on family farms, but also private buying clubs, drop-points for farm fresh foods, at events, anywhere seen fit by govt. agents who want to “protect” us from food not sanctioned by the USDA, FDA, county or state agency permits, certificates, licenses…
    I heard about this raid in NV as I was planning a Farm To Table event at a raw dairy/herd share farm last June. Yikes! What if this happened to us!?! We applied for a special event permit to pour liquor with the state liquor commission and had licensed adult servers handle the beer & wine. But what about the food? All the meats (not USDA inspected, but killed on the farm and locally cut & wrapped by perhaps the best mom & pop butcher shop I have ever worked with)and unprocessed dairy from the farm, vegetables donated from local growers, all prepared in the local high school’s culinary department kitchen by myself and a friend. Both of us cook professionally. We advertised heavily in the area, we sold tickets to the public. The sheriff knew what we were doing as he needed notifying of the pouring/special event permit. I have no idea if we broke any laws with the food we served, but probably so. What to do? Who to call and ask? Can I serve this pork? Can I serve this veal? Can we pour this raw milk to non-herd share members? One thing that made us feel safe: Pete Kennedy was one of our speakers, president of the Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Our attorney was also eating the food with us! I figure we were covered as best we could be. Please join the FTCLDF, and donate. Do it today. They work hard to protect both producer and consumer rights! What good is eating Paleo if there’s no Paleo food to eat?

  16. Peter McCuen
    September 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    TARFU = our Government.
    That video and post needs to go viral. Folks should rightly be pissed. Linking in my people, hope it helps the cause.

  17. John Calhoun
    September 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Not that I don’t have issues with the USDA…but the ‘bad guy’ (or girl, in this case apparently) was a LOCAL health inspector who only went to this event because it was ADVERTISED in a local Vegas newspaper. I doubt the USDA had any idea this farm even existed.

    Before you flame me, please understand I am a huge supporter of buying local and am truly disgusted with the state of the food economy in this country. I am on your side. However, in my opinion, it looks like there are some important elements (the event was open to the public by virtue of being advertised and it was only after the health inspector showed up that they wanted to call it a private event) to this story that are being ignored. The health inspector could no more ignore this event than if she discovered an unlicensed restaurant on the Vegas strip. The laws clearly need to be changed.

  18. SROGERS
    September 4, 2012 at 6:10 am

    This brings up a question for me… What about hunting for our own meat? Why are the hunting seasons so short? I’m in the Southeast & they say the animals (deer, rabbits, etc…) are diseased in the summer. What kinds of meat did our ancestors eat in the summer? Are the animals only safe in the winter? Or is this more crap we have been fed?

    • Nathan
      September 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Aim for common, medium sized NONGAME animals which have no bag limits or seasons (snake, coon, armadillo, possum, rabbit, etc). These were the actual staples of most foraging folks here in the south rather than big game.

      During the winter, animals weakened by disease may die quicker due to exposure to the elements and diminished availability of food. Disease carriers such as fleas and ticks also don’t do so well.

      It is a little safer to hunt in winter, but I hunt year-round. During the summer, I just wear gloves when skinning rabbits and make sure to cook them all the way through. Simple precautions and dozens of summer critters later, and I’ve never had tularemia, trichinosis or any other animal disease.

  19. Francis
    June 12, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Iv got a question in my mind… our donated money can really make a difference? People will keep on hunting in all seosons irrespective of quality and health of meat they are hunting also all vegan will keep admring green vegetable without knowing the nutritious value of food they are having..

  20. Jeanne
    November 18, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Today’s (Nov 18) NYT has an opinion piece about the new Farm Bill

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/the-insanity-of-our-food-policy/

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