Tag Archives: Food Freedom

The Freedom to Buy and Sell Raw Milk — a great overview of the war on food freedom

open quoteThe 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 glories. Day after day, articles and news bits appear in the mainstream media, full of fear mongering and panic-producing propaganda in regard to the safety of raw milk.

A July 2011 article on Dairyherd.com has some interesting survey results on comparative raw-milk regulations on a state-by-state basis. To summarize, 30 states allow consumers to transact with raw-milk producers while 20 states prohibit that act of freedom. And don’t forget that federal laws prevent the sale of any raw milk over state lines. The federal government’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 United States allow the sale of raw milk on the farm where it was produced, while four of those thirteen allow only “incidental occurrences,” with that being 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. 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.

Four of those 13 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, 11 states allow raw milk to be sold in retail stores outside of the farm.

. . . .

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 states the following: “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 that are hostile to food choice are about

– seizing power, which benefits federal and local governments and provides justification for their continued growth through the looting of taxpayers;
– eliminating the competition for the rent-seeking corporate state, meaning the big business–big government alliance;
– displaying the omnipotent power of the enforcement state (militarized police and federal/state agencies); and
– 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 FDA is, in desperation, trying to influence consumers against raw milk. Even so, sales of raw milk keep increasing and new consumers come into the market. Since the FDA does not have the power to regulate intrastate commerce, it is up to the states to regulate raw milk. The FDA’s job, then, is to apply pressure on states to restrict or ban the sale of raw milk.

The fear mongering over the dangers of raw milk is rooted in government–special interest propaganda with no basis in facts or science. In the interest of alarming the populace, the prohibition campaign has portrayed the decision to drink raw milk as a public danger rather than a personal choice. In response, Ted Beals, MD, delivered a presentation at the Third International Raw Milk Symposium in Bloomington, Minnesota, in May 2011, where he delivered these remarks:

From the perspective of a national public health professional looking at an estimated total of 48 million foodborne illnesses each year; or from the perspective of a healthcare professional looking at a total of 90,771 (data from Healthy People 20204) confirmed bacterial foodborne infections each year (about 0.2 percent), there is no rational justification to focus national attention on raw milk, which may be associated with an average of 42 illnesses maximum among the more than nine million people (about 0.0005 percent) who have chosen to drink milk in its fresh unprocessed form.

Using this average of 42 illnesses per year, we can show, using government figures, that you are about 35,000 times more likely to become ill from other foods than you are from raw milk.

close quote (Read more)

The Labelling on my Yogurt

In some states it is illegal to label your milk rBGH free. rBGH is a hormone which is occasionally linked to illness immediately before the scientist conducting the study decides to retire.

On my “Liberte” brand yogurt it says “rBGH free: Milk produced without the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin.”

This is immediately followed by: “No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBGH treated and non rBGH treated cows.”

I’m certain that food and chemical companies are so effective at using regulation to strangle competition that someone could go to jail for selling this yogurt without that last note about the safety of rBGH.

I urge my leftist friends to be careful when they call for regulation. They’ll usually get it.

Farmers Defend Right to Protect Themselves From Monsanto Patents

open quoteNew York – August 11, 2011 – The 83 family farmers, small and family owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed filed papers in federal court today defending their right to seek legal protection from the threat of being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) represents the plaintiffs in the suit, titled Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA), et al. v. Monsanto and pending in the Southern District of New York. Today’s filings respond to a motion filed by Monsanto in mid-July to have the case dismissed. In support of the plantiffs’ right to bring the case, 12 agricultural organizations also filed a friend-of-the-court amici brief.

“Rather than give a straight forward answer on whether they would sue our clients for patent infringement if they are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed, Monsanto has instead chosen to try to deny our clients the right to receive legal protection from the courts,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director. “Today’s filings include sworn statements by several of the plaintiffs themselves explaining to the court how the risk of contamination by transgenic seed is real and why they cannot trust Monsanto to not use an occurrence of contamination as a basis to accuse them of patent infringement.”

It is now virtually impossible for a U.S. farmer to grow crops of their choosing (corn, soybeans, canola, etc.) and remain GMO-free because of the numerous biological and human means by which seeds can spread. close quote (Read more from osgata.org)

Victims of Government: The FDA’s War Against Products of Nature

I think the FDA kills more people than the U.S. Army, though it might be a toss-up.

In a nutshell: Drug companies modify progesterone so that they can patent it. Synthetic progesterone kills and hurts many many women who are trying to prevent cancer. They then attempt to criminalize natural progesterone. You can still buy it, but there are severe restrictions on labeling and marketing — you can’t call it progesterone, even though that’s what it is.

National Institute of Health halted a study of synthetic progesterone because too many women were dying.

Food Pyramid [Triangle] replaced by MyPlate for $2,000,000

open quote

“I challenge you: Name for me a single government program which has accomplished its intended objectives, rather than the opposite… which has not done more harm than good.” ~Milton Friedman

Has anybody noticed kids are getting fat as fuck?… So why’s the Government retiring the Food Pyramid? Well… first of all, only the fucking government would create a pyramid just to use it as a triangle. It’s a perfect metaphor for everything they do. Secondly, that food triangle has been teaching kids for the last 20 years to basically eat the exact opposite of the Atkins Diet. Eat five servings of carbs for every one of protein?… Goddamnit.

So the Government taught kids to spend their childhood carbo-loading and sitting at a desk 8 hours a day (throw in some beer and a nap, and that’s literally how sumo wrestlers pack on the pounds). Right about now supporters of big government are screaming “Ridiculous! Sure the food pyramid was wrong, but kids are fat because they ignored it and ate fast food.” So the only reason the program wasn’t more harmful was… because it was so ineffective? Well, that sounds like the perfect rationale for doubling down and spending $2 million creating “MyPlate.”

Did the First Lady just bullshit you?… Yep. Nobody can possibly find that fucking $2 million embarrassment of a logo “useful.” Why?… Clearly it’s only useful for people having trouble grasping the fundamental concepts of the food/plate relationship (“Put my food on a plate, you say?… Preposterous!”); unfortunately whatever traumatic brain injury left them in such a state, also made them incapable of learning from diagrams… It’s a catch 22.

Now for the interactive portion of our program: A Time Trial. While introducing MyPlate Michelle Obama actually said “Parents don’t have the time to measure out exactly three ounces of chicken or to look up how much rice or broccoli is in a serving. That has confounded me as a parent for a very long time. I still don’t know how much protein comes in X number of ounces.”close quote (Read more from absolutedespotism.com)

I like how they discuss obesity as a national security issue. Our job is to be fit an healthy “iron youth” so that we can fight wars for our politicians. Makes me to want to run for my life — to McDonald’s.

Feds going after the Amish selling unpasteurized milk

open quoteApparently the Feds set up an elaborate sting operation to catch Amish Farmers selling raw (unpasteurized) milk to customers. A practice that is legal in 10-12 other states. While we still have real criminals and crime rings to catch and put an end to, I don’t think it is too much to ask to ask the FBI set up sting operations on mob bosses instead of the Amish.

There are arguments to both sides of the story. Both are dumb. One is right.

The argument against is that unpasteurized milk isn’t safe to drink and therefore should be illegal to purchase.

The argument for is that unpasteurized milk is healthier for you because it still has “good” bacteria and also tastes better.

They are both dumb arguments. First off, drinking unpasteurized milk should not be said to be dangerous, but more risky than drinking pasteurized milk. Eating shards of glass is dangerous. There is no benefit and almost certain danger. Not wearing a seatbelt is risky, but in and of itself, not dangerous.

I don’t know what unpasteurized milk tastes like so I can’t attest to that. But science has shown no proven benefits of drinking raw milk. They’re making the wrong argument. The argument they should be making is, “it’s my money and his milk and by golly I’ll drink it!”close quote (Read more from alternativereason.com)

Government coersion behind GMO food proliferation

open quoteBut in this case, Wikileaks cables leaked information regarding global food policy as it relates to U.S. officials — in the highest levels of government — that involves a conspiracy with Monsanto to force the global sale and use of genetically-modified foods.

In 2007, then-U.S. ambassador to France Craig Stapleton conspired to retaliate against European countries for their anti-biotech policies. U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal the Bush administration formulated battle plans to extract revenge against Europe for refusing to use genetically modified seeds.

In the leaked cable, Stapleton writes: “Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [European] Commission…Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voice.”

Ambassador Stapleton goes on to write: “Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory,” he wrote.close quote (Read more from crisisboom.com)

Look through the food freedom category to see my views on GMO issues. Unlike the socialists, I’m against a government ban on GMOs. My goal is to expose how they hugely benefit from government privilege despite widespread safety concerns.

From Mises.org: The Socialism of AgriPatents

US considered trade war over French, EU GMO reluctance

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The US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops, newly released WikiLeaks cables show.

In response to moves by France to ban a Monsanto GM corn variety in late 2007, the ambassador, Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of former US president George Bush, asked Washington to penalise the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops.

close quote (Read more from emptywheel.firedoglake.com)

I should say a word about why I’m posting this, as it can be interpreted that the US was simply trying to remove harmful government regulation. GMOs have widespread government support from getting a pass from the FDA, to various laws forbidding GMO competitors from labeling their food GMO free, to government violence against farmers whose crops were infected in GMO pollen — against their wishes, no less.

I’m all for consumer choice, but so long as food approval remains a national government monopoly, we have to pay attention to how the choices of that monopoly are made. This heavy handed support of the US government is evidence of the political strength of GMO companies.

If I still have any socialist readers they probably sympathize with my criticism, but propose a powerful, chaste bureaucrat or politician to lead us to paradise.

Here are my proposals:

* Eliminate all government authority over food certification. Let private standards emerge.

* Consider GMO contamination to be pollution, and just a system of justice to punish the polluter.

* Let people label their food however they want, so long as they don’t commit fraud. Fraud is also a crime for the justice system.

A parable reflecting the common, unimaginative objections to privatizing education

People in the Soviet Union were standing in line for butter. After several hours, one of them said:

“This sucks. Why does government control food distribution?”

There were some nods of agreement, but the young man behind him, a Phd student, said “the free market is great for the rich, but what about the poor? Who would feed the poor?”

“Can you imagine a system in which food is only grown and sold for profit??? A system in which everything was about MONEY!” said another man. “How barbaric!”

“I can speak to this personally,” said a fourth man, a drunk who wobbled on his legs. “Every day of my life I eat from my government quota of food. If it wasn’t for the government, I would starve!”

“Yes, you’re right, the original dissenter agreed. Perhaps food is too important to be left to the free market.”

Commentary on Libertarian Environmentalism

A corresondence with a friend about to begin studying libertarianism:

You’re asking all the right questions about government’s role and environmentalism. I’m happy to share my perspective.

W.r.t. Global Warming, I’m personally skeptical. I think it’s going to go the way of many other government endorsed “scientific consensuses” of the previous century, like eugenics (50,000 American citizens were FORCIBLY sterilized), the consensus that black people’s brains were anatomically inferior, the coming ice age of the 1970s, the imminent over-population problem of the 1980s, and of course the fact that peak oil has been predicted since Standard Oil struck black gold in Texas.

Whenever there is a “scientific consensus” about a threat to humanity whose solution calls for the use of massive government power, be skeptical.

So, I’ll limit this discussion to pollution, conservation and water.

Pollution and conservation are best handled by private property. If you own woods and want to chop them down, no problem. If you, however pollute the ground water which contaminates your neighbor’s property, then there is a role for the justice system.

This is a philosophically different approach from the arbitrary regulations set by government.

* In this lecture, Stephen Kinsella mentions how California’s environmental law requires all gas companies to purchase a specific gadget, which, by the way, is patented by a politically connected California company. This means more expensive gas for everyone. Government controls are rife with corruption. Contrast this with the private-property approach — So long as you’re not polluting your neighbor, who cares what technology you use?

* Government controls also take an all-or-nothing approach. Either entrepreneurs are completely forbidden for turning vast stretches of resources into goods that you and I want, or the government leases the resources with far too few restrictions to a mining/logging/drilling company whose only goal is to extract as much as possible, as fast as possible.

Imagine if you and I owned a stretch of woods. Imagine all the innovations which we’d create negotiating with loggers, meeting their needs, but also maintaining the land for future use. Politicians don’t have this foresight. Perhaps we would make money from hikers, campers, hunters.

Another characteristic of government controls is that no matter how much lobbying happens, the government remains just a few pen strokes away from swinging from one extreme to the other.

The vast resources spent lobbying government about control of government-owned resources would be better spend, buying, owning and managing natural resources. Sadly, it’s illegal for people to buy / own very much land. Realize, also, that the environmental lobbies are extremely well-funded and powerful, and could realistically buy vast amounts of land for the purpose of conservation.

The method of privatization, of course, is an important and difficult issue, but in general, I think private property is a much better scheme for environmentalism than government regulation.

Have confidence that every human desire is a business opportunity, including the desire to preserve/enjoy nature. Maybe our privately owned woods can out-compete other privately owned woods for the business of hikers by preserving endangered species. What a great blurb this might be on our billboards. Private ownership creates a market-incentive to protect endangered species. This is in stark contrast with the government approach of punishment. If you do happen to own a little bit of woods and the government finds some endangered animal on it, you’re fucked, and the way people deal with this is to shoot, shovel and shut-up.

Water. I just read a great little book called “water for sale” which studies privatization of water distribution. (I’d be more interested in the more radically libertarian idea of private ownership of water, but this doesn’t really exist anywhere.) In any case, the short little books addresses all the common objections — how can we force the poor to pay for water???

It makes an exhaustive and brilliant case for privatization of water distribution. There are many places in the world where, after privatization, poor neighborhoods received potable water for the first time ever. It’s a great success story, which it’s critics have a hard time denying.

Expect a whole lot of socialist propaganda in your courses.

These issues are similar to food freedom issues, in that the socialists and I usually agree on the problem, but have exact opposite solutions.

For example, you can try to reduce the amount of Ecoli in beef by having the government do more — stricter laws, stricter enforcement, stricter regulation — that is the socialists’ solution.

Or you can reduce the amount of Ecoli in beef by having the government do less — end the MASSIVE subsidies of corn. Corn-fed cows have 3x the amount of ecoli as grass-fed. The latter is only done because government subsidy makes it economical.

Here‘s a review I wrote of a documentary about Monsanto.

(More on food freedom)

FDA won’t allow food to be labeled free of genetic modification: report

Again and again and again, it is evident that government regulation is designed by corporations to destroy competition. My many well-intentioned socialist friends would do well to study these myriad examples and stop advocating additional laws as a means of restraining corporate power. Instead, look to create additional freedoms. Legalize competition.

open quote‘Extra labeling only confuses the consumer,’ biotech spokesman says

That the Food and Drug Administration is opposed to labeling foods that are genetically modified is no surprise anymore, but a report in the Washington Post indicates the FDA won’t even allow food producers to label their foods as being free of genetic modification.

In reporting that the FDA will likely not require the labeling of genetically modified salmon if it approves the food product for consumption, the Post’s Lyndsey Layton notes that the federal agency “won’t let conventional food makers trumpet the fact that their products don’t contain genetically modified ingredients.”close quote (Read more from rawstory.com)

“the ‘substitution of political for economic power’ now so often demanded means necessarily the substitution of power from which there is no escape for a power which is always limited.” ~ F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom