Thursday, October 15, 2009

Georgia Department of Agriculture Raids Unsubsidized Legal Market

Today, at Athens Locally Grown, "investigators" showed up and threatened Eric Wagoner about his sales of "raw milk". Hear tell, Eric was told "you know, you can't sell raw milk in Georgia". Horrors! Selling a commodity that people want! Not to mention that it was sold in South Carolina, not in Georgia. Crossing state lines to share legally pre-sold raw milk with people are willing and able to pay for is apparently a federal offense. Hmmmm, where is the free market in all of this? Fine, Georgia, bureaucrats, be more backwards than the government in South Carolina which allows the sale of raw milk. Do you want a prize for being more in the pocket of special interest than your more conservative cousin?

So, what is the problem you might ask? Well, raw milk has only been sustaining human populations since the neolithic. It's only been since the advent of industrial agriculture that we have really worried about killing off the bacteria in our milk through pasteurization. Of course, we can appreciate advances in sanitation, but confinement systems certainly do not offer that. If you can imagine(or have seen as I have) cows standing knee deep in shit, you might be really glad to know your milk it pasteurized. But, pastured cows don't live in those conditions, and tuberculosis and brucelosis are virtually non-existent in these systems. It's not difficult to imagine which lobby (um, milk processors who own expensive pasteurizing equipment and are few and far between, if you don't have a clue) is behind this excessive and inexplicable use of tax dollars to illegally harass the owner of a small, grass-roots and local market.

Approximately 0 percent of your tax dollars in the form of agricultural subsidies go to small scale dairies who pasture their cows and direct market raw milk,while 35% (to the tune of 2.8 billion dollars) goes to growing feed grains which go to your corn syrups and your beef cattle, which single handedly contribute to all the leading health problems in the United States, which include heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Approximately 3.2% of all subsidies go to peanut production (the lion's share in Georgia) and we all know how well the Department of Agriculture manages to keep pathogens, like salmonella, with their root in human and animal feces (and certainly not legumes like peanuts...) out of our food system. The self-importance of the "investigators" at our market today was hypocrisy at it's finest. Where were these people when children were dying from salmonella poisoning from eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches???!!!

No, they show up and harass the facilitator of a completely legal market selling a commodity people want earnestly to buy (for whatever crazy reason they might have). This country prides itself on the freedom of its markets, all the while it subsidizes dangerous commodities like beef and peanuts that actually kill people when they unknowingly and unwittingly consume those products. At least people who buy raw milk know the risk they are running. And take it willingly and apparently bravely, in the face of imminent death if we can believe the Georgia Department of Agriculture. If drinking milk fresh from the teat of a cow or a goat or sheep or horse or a camel or a llama killed people en masse, then the human species would be extinct by now. Let's not pretend that raw milk done right actually hurts people. I drank raw milk every day of my life, and I'm still here to talk about it.

Give me a break, GA DOA. We know what you're really about. You're in bed with milk processors who bottleneck our milk supply and control the price. Don't be so precious about protecting people. We know who you're protecting and we aren't going to buy their processed crap no matter how much you lie to us about health and safety. Give us a free market and let the consumers decide. Live up to your free market ideals already!

No comments: