Jeff Ackerman: Can we have our milk and drink it, too?

Recent government raids on a Southern California organic food co-op and, closer to home, on a little restaurant for not having its paperwork in order, begged this million-dollar question: When did our government first begin to hate freedom?

We are no longer the land of the free, ladies and gentlemen. Not unless you have a permit, stamp or legislative approval.

And more and more of our freedoms are being stripped away every single day, (our state Legislature passed more than 700 new laws last year and our Congress introduced 10,000 bills before its members finally headed off to junkets in the Bahamas and beyond).

Last week I went to see a documentary called “Farmageddon,” which convinced me that our government has declared war on this sustainability movement. The last thing Uncle Sam wants today is a society able to think and act for itself. He’d rather have us clamped firmly on his teat and as far away from a goat or cow’s udder as he can keep us.

If we start drinking milk straight from a goat or cow — like our ancestors did before us — what would happen to the food industry, or the federal Food and Drug Agency that controls it?

Our government regulators would have us believe that they are only thinking of what’s best for us, suggesting that we are all too stupid to make those decisions on our own. If that’s true, how do they explain the explosive growth in cancer, autism and other diseases among people who have been eating and drinking FDA-approved goods their entire lives?

Do you really think the FDA cares more about you than it does the pharmaceutical and major food companies that keep it in business?

If raw milk was so bad for us, how did our species make it this far? What’s next? Are we going to homogenize and pasteurize mother’s milk?

Somewhere in the middle of my notebook from last week’s documentary reads: “I am an adult, not a ward of the state.”

If I want to drink raw milk, let me. If you don’t like it, don’t drink it.

And it works both ways, folks. If someone wants to eat a bucket of fast food fries and two Whoppers, have at it. We don’t need Michelle Obama, or any other federal or state employee telling us what to eat. In fact, I’ll make a deal with Michelle: Don’t tell me what to eat and I won’t tell her husband what to smoke.

Thomas Jefferson might have seen this coming when he wrote: “If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”

In his book titled, “The Raw Milk Revolution,” David Gumpert writes: “The only reason the right to food choice was not guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is because the Founders of America could not have envisioned a day when selling a glass of raw milk or homemade pickles to a neighbor would be outlawed.”

Tell that to the government goons who were caught on company security cameras walking through aisles of organic honey and yogurt with their guns drawn earlier this month. The Venice Beach raw food co-op is called Rawesome, a private club whose members seem smart enough to know the risks and rewards associated with the food and milk they have chosen to buy and put into their own bodies.

After confiscating an estimated $70,000 worth of raw, organic produce and dairy products, state regulators charged the proprietor with illegally making, improperly labeling and illegally selling raw milk products. Two farmers who supplied him were also charged.

The co-op argues that it is a club, not a store. Its members pay an annual fee, which allows them to purchase raw milk and honey to cover the cost of production. Members, they say, also sign waivers to signal that they understand the risks of consuming raw milk.

Unfortunately, a system like that does not compute with government regulators who believe that everything must be regulated and that there is no such thing as free will or educated choices.

The film begs the question: Who is poisoning us? If people have a right to eat or smoke something bad for them, they ought to have a right to eat or smoke something they think is good for them.

Our small farmers cannot compete under the same government rules and regulations as the large corporate farms. They would spend all day just doing paperwork. And they see a lot of hypocrisy in the application of those rules and regulations.

“If we have to disclose the risks associated with raw milk, why don’t the chemical farmers have to disclose which chemicals went into their production process?” they wonder.

Most of the small farmers grow food and milk cows and goats to feed their families, friends and neighbors. This country was once a nation of farmers, and that’s the way we operated. The upside to this down economy is this sustainability movement, which is encouraging us to return to the days when we fed ourselves, our families and our neighbors with food and milk we grew and raised with our own two hands.

If our government sees that as a threat to its own survival — and I believe it does — then we’d better all wake up before it’s too late.

To learn more, check out the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund at www.farmtoconsumer.org, or call 703-208-3276. You may also be interested in the Gold Country Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (www.WestonAPrice.org) or Shan Kendall at 530-478-5628.

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,jackerman@theunion.com, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.

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