Food and Liberty

There is no generalized right to bodily and physical health. -FDA
People do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish. -FDA

Photo courtesy of the University of Florida

So last night, Ron Paul gave a speech and answered a few questions here at UF, and I went. A libertarian, he spoke a lot about the importance of liberty, and in the context of today’s world, how the disappearance of our liberties are causing many problems.

He talked a bit on the subject of how we can’t control what we put into our bodies, and said with irony that soon enough the government will restrict the growing of hemp and the sale of raw milk (the irony being that they already do). Given that he also spoke about a person’s decision to do drugs, he probably does not think that raw milk has its virtues.

That aside, he brought up a good point, whether or not he knew it: our food liberties are under attack. Not just raw milk. Farmers at farmers markets will tell you the difficulty they have with government regulations: they’re one-size-fits-all. Milk and eggs can’t be sold in Florida as human food unless the farmer pays thousands of dollars for licenses and other fees…needless to say most of them can’t afford this. And one of the reasons meat is so expensive at these markets is the fees the farmer must pay to have it inspected.

Ok, so what? So it’s a little difficult to sell some things as a small farmer. Well the truth is, government policy for the past few decades has been directed at eliminating small farms altogether, in favor of huge, factory farms. New laws, with clever, innocent-sounding names, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act, continuously add new regulations and requirements by which farmers must abide. For large farms, with tons of employees to do the paperwork, these regulations don’t matter much. For small, family farms, these regulations make it much more difficult to keep things going. The Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law by Obama in 2011, is one example of these new laws. With the pretext of preventing foodborne illnesses, most people saw this act positively. Though what this act really does is give the FDA unconstitutional control over small farms and adds thousands of new regulations for them. Read more about silly regulations here.

Some small farmers face even worse problems. A documentary entitled Farmageddon brings light to a dark situation: some small farmers, guilty of nothing but providing food to interested buyers, have been shut down by authorities, sometimes with SWAT teams on the scene to intimidate and bully these farmers. Here’s a note from the director:

When my son Charlie was four years old, he had horrible allergies and asthma. Doctors said he was allergic to “the world”. Charlie was allergic to animals, flowers trees, grass and dust. He was always sniffing and had excess fluid in his ears, causing a hearing loss. Our life was full of many drugs, epipens, asthma inhalers, beds wrapped in plastic, and Hepa filters. We could not have pets, carpets or even curtains.Drugs were not helping, and had many side effects. I did some research and learned that some people found their allergies subsided when they consumed raw milk directly from grass fed cows. This is because unpasteurized milk contains healthy bacteria and enzymes that are missing in so many of the foods consumed today. I cautiously gave my son the raw milk, and his allergies and asthma eventually diminished until he was fully cured. Charlie is now fifteen. He is six feet tall, an amazing athlete, and doesn’t even sniffle.The effects of raw milk on my son, inspired me to make an effort to introduce healthier foods into our diets, We decided that we didn’t want to eat factory farmed foods tainted by antibiotics, steroids, and genetically modified grains. We tried to get as much food as possible from smaller, grass fed and organic farms. I joined a food co-op, an agreement to share the resources needed to get milk, meats, vegetables and eggs from local farms and have them delivered close to us. This arrangement has worked well for our family.

One day I heard about a raid that occurred at a food co-op in Ohio. Armed agents, by order of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, entered a private home and held eight children and their parents at gunpoint for six hours, while they ransacked their house, took their personal food, food from their co-op, and their cell phones. I then learned that there were more farms and co-ops that had been raided for simply providing the foods that the members wanted to eat. This hit me hard.

Henry Kissinger once said that if you control the food, you control the people, and this is very true. I don’t know about you, but I can’t do much without food in my stomach. With much of the food supply in the US controlled by the FDA, the USDA, or the Monsanto Corporation (many of the same people work for all of these organizations), we are very much at their mercy. And the government is cracking down hard on small farmers, diminishing what little control the people still have left. Ron Paul, in his speech, discussed many of the liberties Americans should be fighting to retain or get back, but none of those liberties, none of our freedoms, are important if we do not have the liberty to eat how we want. If we don’t have control of our food supply, we are slaves to those who do (but I’m sure your outdoor cat comes back because, despite his dependence on the cat chow you provide, he loves you).

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One thought on “Food and Liberty

  1. I wanted to go to this speech, so I really appreciate this post. And I think you’ve done a great job in shedding some light on such a scary issue. I’d never thought of this before, the idea that we aren’t completely free to make our own dietary choices. It’s a shame that small farmers suffer at the hands of big business.

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