What Would Jesus Do?
He Said to Peter, “Feed My Sheep”
Last year a nunnery on one of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State had several instances where their dairy’s pathogen tests came back positive. Being Catholic, I was quite excited to know that some nuns were running a small raw dairy. I tried to contact them, to see if they needed any help, but to no avail. Last week, another convent was in the news, this time in Connecticut. It appears that a group of cloistered nuns is not just running a dairy, but they have a small mixed use farm. The sisters of the Abbey of Regina Laudis grow flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs. In addition to their beekeeping, dairy and cheese-making operation they also raise other livestock: beef cattle, swine, sheep and oxen. And they do all this sustainable farming, while sending up prayers to heaven 24/7!
The state of Connecticut has recognized the Abbey as a “Dairy of Distinction.” Three of the sisters have doctorates in Animal and Plant Science and Microbiology. They grow most all of their own food, and sell some of the surplus. They must have been caught quite off guard, when the state who had honored them with distinction, now seeks to remove their product from retail shelves. So, apparently these nuns came out of the cloister to defend their dairy.
Repeatedly, I hear agriculture officials in the U.S. and Canada say that the raw dairy market is so small, that it is inconsequential. Meaning, we can sacrifice it and no one will miss it. How, pray tell, can we be both inconsequential and pose such a major health risk?
This same logic is being used by the Agricultural officials in Connecticut who are lobbying for a bill to ban retail raw dairy sales and increase labeling requirements. There are currently only 14 raw dairies in Connecticut, and they represent only 1/4 of 1% of the dairy market. So the Connecticut Dept. of Agriculture is taking the position that it doesn’t matter if they are hindered, crippled or shut down by new laws. Well, to those 13 family businesses and 1 convent, this is their livelihood. To place warning labels on their product, to raise their operating expenses and close down their distribution options is tantamount to legislating them out of business. And, this certainly matters to them.
The astonishing thing is, the government seems to feel that these sustainable farms are necessary casualties, and they seem to acknowledge that they are regulating them into oblivion. And, they are just fine with that. It would be different if these farms were doing harm to the community. But how does one go from Dairy of Distinction to Purveyor of a Public Danger overnight? Without just cause?
Perhaps the raw dairy farmers and consumers nationwide should file for discriminated minority status to end this off handed disregard for the livelihood of these farmers, and the households who depend on them for sustenance. And, in the case of the nuns, and people of faith let’s add religious discrimination. Does anyone know a good civil rights attorney? He would have around 500,000 raw dairy consumers and farmers to defend.
See the article about the nuns, here: