US Agencies Issue Fatwa on Raw Products

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I have no kind words for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. They are, quite simply, a bunch of thugs working for big Central Valley agricultural interests who support their initiatives, enforcement actions and research. I’ve had first hand experience with their rudeness and lies when they sprayed our neighborhood with pesticides in a futile attempt to stop the Asian citrus psyllid. Now they are at it again, this time raiding raw dairy producers and sellers.

Now there are good arguments on both sides of the raw dairy safety debate (see this article at the Ethicurean for the other side) but I think that individuals should be able to make up their own minds. A recent article over at Grist “Raw Deal: Raids are increasing on farms and private food-supply clubs” has the lowdown on a couple of recent outrageous raids that involved not only the CDFA but an alphabet soup of government agencies, including the FBI and FDA who clearly need their priorities readjusted. Whatever happened to that war on terror? The raw dairy and honey raids profiled in the Grist article have one thing in common: government agencies around the US seem to be targeting private buyer’s clubs who distribute farm fresh raw products,

“They seem to stem from increasing concern at both the state and federal level about the spread of private food groups that have sprung up around the country in recent years — food clubs and buying groups to provide specialized local products that are generally unavailable in groceries, like grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, fermented foods, and, in some cases, raw dairy products. Because they are private and limited to consumers who sign up for membership, these groups generally avoid obtaining retail and public health licenses required of retailers that sell to the general public.”

Now that Michael Pollan and many others have turned attention to the miserable practices of mainstream agriculture the big guys are playing dirty. Read the rest of the Grist article for tips on what to do when they come knocking on your door. I’m not the paranoid type, but this is some scary stuff!

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  1. just for clarification – are you pissed because folks who want to eat raw milk are being harassed – or are you wierded out about the food buying groups? i belong to a raw milk co-op – it concerns me that i don’t harvest my own milk and thus don’t have total control over it, but i want to be eating raw milk so i take what i can get.

  2. Miranda,

    I hope it’s clear that I’m very angry that people who want to consume raw milk products (that includes me, by the way) are being harassed and that food buying groups are being raided. It all seems very un-American to me.

  3. Okay, sweet. Just wasn’t positive. Bothers me as well. I really wish that the organizations trying to ‘keep our food safe’ actually DID that, and that our raw foods could either be part of that safety bubble or managed in some other sort of way. Ideally i’ll be dairying my own raw milk in the next 5 years – but until then i want to have some sense of assurance that i won’t get nasty ill from the raw milk i’m currently purchasing. Seems like most things going on in america are rather unamerican of late.

  4. Here in Oregon the OLCC (the booze law folks) has reenacted an old law prohibiting basically any kind of sharing of home-brews.
    Yeah like anyone is going to pay that one any mind but still leave us alone,we know there could be some risks to raw milk ,home brewed booze or many other raw or homemade anything.

  5. You know, if there were enough money from the right people to run the right kinds of ads on TV that would change how people think about their food, change would happen. Industry only moves with profit- follow the money. Need to make the money go where we want it to go, and not have agribusinesses make it go where they want it to go. The only way to get this done is to organize.

  6. This nanny state BS is really getting out of hand. The state is only interested in big money and the way to do that is to enact all of these “safety” regulations that are based on nothing really. It seems nowadays the only way to really choose what you want to eat you have to raise it/grow it. For a lot of people that just isn’t feasible. And with all the new laws coming out I wouldn’t be surprised if the USDA or FDA start trying to regulate that as well.

  7. Stock up on canning supplies now; very soon, home canning will be illegal. The Food Safety Enhancement Act before Congress would allow the government to raid your kitchen without a warrant. Only processed, packaged, nutritionally-deficient foods will be allowed before too much longer, so those of us who care about raw milk and whole foods are going to become outlaws. It’s frightening.

  8. Kimberly,

    Thanks for the tip–the Food Safety Enhancement Act could indeed result in a nationwide ban on sales of raw milk. For more info see:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the bill would not apply to home canning if the food is not sold. It would apply to anyone canning and selling at a farmer’s market.

    The FSEA passed the house last year but has not yet passed the senate or been signed by the president.

  9. Thanks for the link to the discussion of raw milk. I tend to not be supportive of raw milk because of its safety concerns (although I have drunk it, and didn’t get sick or die), but the discussion on Ethicurean was one of the most balanced I have seen in the raw milk debate – and came from a raw milk advocate. Thanks for posting it.

  10. So is this a case of the big boys being afraid of the small businesses? I read the entire article and nothing eluded as to why the co-ops were raided. It all seemed like a witch hunt to me.

  11. Raw milk is dangerous, simple as that. While you may have a legitimate right to milk your own cow for your own use you do not have a right to give or sell it to someone else. I am very careful when I cut up raw chicken because of the risks. I do not consume raw eggs or products containing raw eggs. I take these steps because of the risk involved and that is exactly what is the problem with raw milk. Either you do not recognize this fact or you choose to ignore it. That’s fine with me but don’t expect the rest of the world to accept your head in the sand view on this.

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