SILVER SPRING, Maryland, November 2, 2011 – They escaped arrest. The “raw milk freedom riders” who illegally transported raw milk from a farm in Pennsylvania to FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland and then drank it and distributed it to a crowd rallied in support of their efforts got away with their crime.
As reported yesterday in this column, this group of raw milk activists planned the ride and rally to protest government restrictions on the sale of raw milk and the spending of taxpayer money to raid and bankrupt small family farms.
The rally began at noon as the swelling crowd gathered to hear speakers and await the arrival of the caravan, which, after celebrating its arrest-free arrival, gave out milk and cookies for all to enjoy.
In the crowd of 150 were raw milk supporters from Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Ohio and throughout the DC Metro area. Said Kimberly Hartke, publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation:
“The rally was celebratory, as the moms, with joy, took back their power and acted out their food sovereignty as citizens of a free country.”
Organizer Karine Bouis-Towe of the Farm Food Freedom Coalition read a statement from the Obama administration that said:
“Barack Obama and Joe Biden recognize that local and regional food systems are better for our environment and will support family-scale producers. They will emphasize the need for Americans to buy fresh and local.”
Activists would like to see that support extend to the government protecting the rights of small growers rather than conducting raids and enforcing policies that restrict the rights of consumers to choose what to eat. A spokeswoman from the office of Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) said Paul is introducing a bill in the U.S. Senate to lift the ban on interstate transportation of raw milk, a companion to HR 1830, introduced by his father, Ron Paul (R-Tx).
“This is a strange thing when you have this level of interference” Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms said. “Consumers should not be denied the right to eat natural foods our ancestors have eaten for hundreds of years. If people can choose to eat Twinkies and other products of the “food industrial complex,”
Salatin noted, consumers of raw milk should face no additional restrictions. He called the consumption of pasteurized milk an “a little abnormal experiment in the continuum of human history” compared to the long history of drinking raw milk, which he said would sustain health much longer.
Salatin and other speakers cited the high incidence of asthma in recent years as one effect of generations being raised on pasteurized milk.
Salatin and other speakers pointed out that no deaths have occurred from drinking raw milk in over three decades and that problems prior to that and prior to pasteurization were due to feeding and processing conditions, not to the milk itself. Grassfed cows do not face the same health risks as do cows that get ill from eating grain, often requiring medication.
Speaker Kristin Canty, director of the documentary Farmageddon, shared that raw milk healed her son when medication could not. When he was very young, her son had terrible allergies and was sick all the time until he began drinking raw milk. The boy is now a healthy, athletic, six-foot-tall 16-year-old needing no medication.
“I would think [the FDA] would want a dialogue, would be happy that people are cured,” she said. “I ask the FDA to help moms” and make sure that everyone has access to raw milk.
Rally attendee Rhonda Ings of Germantown, Maryland began drinking raw milk for additional calcium while pregnant with her son Eric, now 15 months old. No longer does she suffer from multiple colds that used to often turn into bronchitis. Ings is thrilled that she and her son are both thriving on a diet that includes raw milk.
The speakers presented arguments to counter FDA claims that there is no evidence that raw milk is safe or that it has health benefits.
“We need freedom to take risks,” said Salatin, arguing that it is not for the government to protect the rights of people to eat processed food but not fresh, raw food. He and others pointed out that the FDA itself lists pasteurized milk as the top food allergen.
One of the food riders credited raw milk with the health of his fifteen siblings and four children, and one rally sign proclaimed that those who wrote the Constitution drank raw milk.
Organizers hope their efforts to show support for food choice will result in policy changes and support rather than harassment of small farms. Organizer Liz Reitzig pronounced the rally a wonderful success. “We will keep up events like this until we, and our farmers, are decriminalized,” she said.
Jessica Claire Haney is a freelance writer, editor and tutor. Her writing has appeared in parenting publications and poetry journals. A former high school English teacher, Jessica is mother to a five-year-old son and a baby girl. She is passionate about holistic health and well-being and is a leader of a chapter of Holistic Moms Network.
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