In these days of creeping tyranny – some would say galloping tyranny – whenever freedom wins a battle, it’s time for a celebration.
So pour yourself a champagne glass full of healthful, delicious, GMO-free raw milk, and raise a toast to Vernon Hershberger, who was just acquitted by a jury on three of four counts of “foodcrime.”
Hershberger can now return to his farm and continue producing healthy food for his neighbors. The jury’s verdict sent an unmistakeable message: When a farmer like Hershberger wants to run a cooperative food club, and provide his neighbors with raw milk and other non-Monsanto, farm-grown foods without a retail license, he is acting within his legitimate rights. In other words, both raw milk and direct-to-consumer food clubs have been effectively legalized in Wisconsin.
Hershberger was only convicted on one of four counts: Violating the holding order placed on his products after he was raided by the food gestapo. Since the jury effectively ruled that the raid itself was unjustified, and since Hershberger is a peaceable man with a reputation for community service, it seems unlikely that Judge Reynolds will impose anything close to the maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $10,000 fine.
As the 2008 Libertarian candidate for Congress in Hershberger’s district, and a member of his food club, I have a personal interest in this case. I would like to see western Wisconsin’s Driftless Zone, which is roughly contiguous with its 3rd Congressional District, become the launching pad for a global renaissance of small organic farms, natural foods including raw dairy products, direct farm-to-consumer distribution arrangements, wide-scale hemp production, and a revolt against frankenfoods, GMOs, and dangerous technologies in general – including all genetic engineering technology, which ought to be put under a five-century moratorium and reconsidered only after humanity gets its act together.*
I would like to see western Wisconsin ban GMOs immediately, and then move toward becoming an organic-farming-only zone. I would like to see dozens or hundreds more buyers’ clubs selling healthy food directly to consumers – including raw milk. (Once you’ve tasted raw, “living” milk, and noticed how much easier it digests, you’ll never want to drink dead milk again.)
The food freedom movement, and its new hero Vernon Hershberger, could play a key role in catalyzing these changes.
The food freedom movement, unlike some branches of the freedom movement, is an easy PR sell. One reason: Real food tastes so much better than fake food. Another: You feel better, and have fewer health problems when you eat it. And: Food itself is a convivial, non-threatening topic. (Non-threatening until the corporations start toxifying it, anyway.)
Guns can be scary. Unconstitutional drone strikes and presidential death panel killings-without-trial are scary. Even mind-altering drugs can be scary – take a look at a habitual meth user if you doubt this.
But natural, healthy, delicious food is an easy topic for people to get together and agree on.
God bless Vernon Hershberger, the farmer who decided to fight back. And God bless the whole food freedom movement. May it flower into something vastly bigger.
*Note: “Pro-freedom” people who support genetic engineering as a “free choice” activity are extremely shortsighted. As Bill McKibben explains in his book Enough, genetic technologies, especially germ-line genetic engineering, will inevitably put an end to all forms of freedom, and destroy humanity within a few generations, if they are allowed to continue.