Image credit: Markarthu
Christine has discussed the risks and benefits of raw milk before. And with Senate Bill 510 potentially putting raw milk in danger, and with armed police reportedly swooping on organic coops in Ohio, the battle over if and how food regulations designed for an industrial system should be applied to small farmers is only likely to get hotter. Now, making the rounds on YouTube, is another video of milk being confiscated in Minnesota. And it highlights just how mad citizens can get when their right to take personal responsibility for their food choices is restricted. The footage below takes place in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and shows a raid by the Department of Agriculture (DOA) (which many onlookers seem to argue is pronounced "duh"...) and the Minnetonka police when farmer Roger Hartmann tried to distribute his raw milk to residents of the town. Apparently Hartmann's delivery truck was blocked in by DOA vehicles from 7am until 1pm, when a tow truck arrived and hauled both the truck and the milk to downtown St Paul.
Just how we manage the balance between food regulations and health risks, and the very real need to protect the public's right to choose, is a tricky one. As John argued in Raw Milk, Public Health Standards, and Personal Responsibility, there is a world of difference between small-scale operations where consumers are buying from farmers whose practices they know and trust, and the potential for a larger-scale market for raw milk, and the inevitable industrialization and ramping up of production that that would entail. Maybe raw milk should be restricted to member-only sales?
While I understand the public's anger at being blocked from making their own choices, I must also admit that I do not envy the job of the authorities in this regard. But it seems fair to say that with massive e-coli outbreaks linked to industrial agriculture, and massive salmonella egg recalls focusing on industrial chicken farms, it seems pretty logical that a small-scale, distributed farm network will at least result in better containment of any problems, if not less incidences of poisoning in the first place.
More on Raw Milk, Food Regulation and Public Health
Raw Milk, Public Health Standards, and Personal Responsibility
Are Local Eggs Less of a Salmonella Risk?
The Risks and Benefits of Raw Milk
Does Senate Bill 510 Put Raw Milk in Danger?