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May 20, 2011

Barre Town Passes Food Sovereignty Measure

Food-milk1_0 The urbanesque Barre Town may seem an unlikely epicenter for a "food sovereignty" movement, but at last week's town meeting, residents quietly threw down the gauntlet for agricultural self-determination.

By a vote of 673 to 200, town voters passed a measure to "reject federal decrees, statutes, regulations, or corporate practices that threaten our basic human right to save seed, grow, process, consume, and exchange food and farm products within the State of Vermont." Barre City voted in a similar measure during its meeting earlier this spring, issuing the opening salvos in the battle for food system deregulation in Vermont.

The growing food sovereignty movement is a pushback by farmers, environmentalists and others against legal impingements on how they grow, purchase and consume food. It labors under the assumption that state and federal laws that prohibit turning raw milk into cheese, for instance, or slaughtering an animal for a neighbor, or even saving seeds that may have mingled with genetically modified crops, are sculpted more for a factory-farming culture than for one based on small farms and homesteaders.

Earlier this spring, the tiny town of Sedgwick, Me. (pop. 1000 or so), passed the first such measure in the country, albeit one with more powerful language: Voters unanimously rejected all outside regulation of food by explicitly protecting the rights of town residents to "produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing."  Sedgwick residents can now waive liability when purchasing "unregulated" food -- such as raw milk or farm-slaughtered chickens — from their neighbors. Penobscot and Blue Hill soon followed suit, but state-level bills supporting those measures died in committee earlier this month.

The version that passed in both Barres is gentler in reach but no less significant, according to Barre resident Jessica Bernier. Bernier, head of the Vermont Coalition for Food Sovereignty, helped get the measure on the ballot in both places. "Food prices are skyrocketing. Most of our food comes from outside Vermont, and I don't know a lot of people whose wages are keeping up with inflation," she says. "As food becomes a much bigger issue, the best way for all of us to ensure we have food is to be very thoughtful and supportive of the food system."

Vermont's banning of raw-cheesemaking classes no doubt fueled this fire, as did the Monsanto Corporation's threat to sue farmers whose crops mingle with their patented GM seeds. But now that Governor Shumlin has signed the Dairy Class Bill into law -- allowing the classes to proceed again -- what other forms might food sovereignty take?  

The term seems nebulous. Kelly Loftus, the public information officer for the Vermont's Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, had to go online to look up the measure; it's still too new to have made reverberations at the state level.

Locals such as Barre Town resident Melissa Dunk-Nolan seem more familiar with its contours. Dunk-Nolan's "yes" vote last week was an affirmation of her right to purchase the food she wants, when she wants, from whom she wants. "How we get our food shouldn't be dictated by big government and corporations that squeeze out the little guy," she says. Citing the sticky issues surrounding raw milk, she advocates for "different regulations based on scale."

For now, the measures here and in Maine seem largely symbolic and anticipatory of what may come down the pike. Whether they end up having any legislative bite-back is still to be seen. At the least, Bernier hopes the vote jumpstarts a dialogue. "We'll hopefully get a conversation going in Barre about our ag policy in this state, and the importance of preserving seed," she says. "It's hard to say how it's going to unfold."


Because of the potential for bacterial contamination, raw milk and products made from it can make you sick and even dead. Therefore they are illegal. Makes sense?
Consider that you make potato or egg salad, leave it on the picnic table too long and it can make you sick, even dead. Why isn't the Federal Government making potato salad illegal?

Baylen Linnekin writes about a totally insane (and armed!) raid on an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania who dared provide raw milk and other dairy products to willing and knowing DC-area customers. The details of the raid are disturbing and so is the rationale against the purchase of the stuff in question:

Linnekin is the founder and director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit that is dedicated to defining and enlarging culinary freedom, the (radical!) notion that eaters and chefs should be free to use whatever ingredients they want in the act of cooking and chowing. Check out Keep Food Legal here.

And in Missouri the USDA is bringing down the big hammer on some folks for selling more than $500 worth of rabbits in a year. Yup, a $4 million fine is staring them in the face.

So for how many thousands of years have these "Raw milk products" been killing humans? Apparently the bacteria are not very effective as mankind is about to overpopulate this planet, so the argument that raw milk and cheese makes people severely ill and even kills them is so much propaganda I cannot believe that anyone outside of the corporations would make such a stupid statement or even believe it. Just another example of the "Nanny State" taking over, let people make their own decisions based on facts NOT propaganda.

I agree that laws limiting the sale of raw milk are too strict.

However, as we push against these laws, we do need to keep some perspective of why they were established, many decades ago.

I remember discussing this issue with my father (then in his 60's) and my grandfather (then in his late 90's). Both men were dairy farmers. They understood that under the wrong circumstances, drinking raw milk could be dangerous. And they understood that pasteurization protected their customers and, in turn, their livelihood. They couldn’t believe that the government would consider the widespread sale of raw milk because they believed that it would be dangerous.

They also understood that raw milk was really, really good. So good that they wouldn't use anything other than raw milk in their own kitchens. I was a teenager before I drank pasteurized milk - and it took me a long time to get accustomed to the flavor of it.

Over the past 50 years, we have seen TB outbreaks on Vermont dairy farms. I've seen neighbors forced to put down their entire herds as a result. Pasteurization protected the consumers in these cases. It also protected the local milk 'brand'.

Yes, consumption of raw milk has killed people. And it can be dangerous. And we need to be careful of how we handle it. There should be some sensible government regulations that protect consumers and producers. That's different from a total prohibition. As I said, raw milk is really, really tasty -- and it's healthier. And if it’s handled properly and the heard is healthy, then it is safe to drink.

There needs to be some balance on this.

Dr. Lanctot debunks pasteurization in her book, "The Medical Mafia," She concludes that pasteurization is simply a quick fix allowing large cartels to profit from the sales of milk. (while disadvantaging smaller family farmers)

Pasteurization destroys milk’s intrinsic germicidal properties, not to mention healthy enzymes. She goes on to state that 50% of milks calcium is unusable, as the body cannot assimilate it after pasteurization.

Instead of relying on safe, sterile handling procedures of raw milk, we’ve incorporated this quick fix, which might or might not work, but certainly helps the cartels profit.

microbes in raw milk can cause severe illness

if there is research to the opposite please cite it


Here's the deal,

raw milk is bad for you, besides being extraordinary high in fat, yes....there are pathogens in it that can cause disease. Serious disease, especially during pregnancy and/or infancy. That's a simple fact.

A second fact is in this country we have the freedom of liberty guaranteed to us. If you want to drink have at it. If you get sick and die, so be it. Less of the stupid genes being passed around.

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