Citizen Action is Essential for Progress in Food Safety, Freedom of Choice
In September 2008, our famous California Governor vetoed the California Raw milk bill SB 201. He sent a letter to the State Senate which practically scolded the proponents of the bill for their “lobbying techniques, public relations campaign and legal maneuvering in the courts”. How dare the hoi polloi lobby and work to get the bill passed, was the not too subtle tone of the letter.
The letter went on to say that AB 1735 had been effective in keeping harmful products off the shelves. Now, only to the uninitiated, would this make sense. Raw milk insiders know that applying the same standards that sterilized milk must meet, to a pro-biotic product is discrimination, not food safety. The new tough standard against raw milk coliforms (which are benign, even healthful, bacteria) were intended to harm the raw dairy industry, not protect the public.
This week, I attended a hearing in Annapolis, where health officials fought against any form of making raw milk available in the state of Maryland. One of the arguments they used is this. In other states which have legal raw milk sales, health departments are seeking to restrict them. They cited, California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, in particular. Their logic was, Maryland would be going the wrong direction to get “more liberal” in this area.
Of course other states are trying to tighten up regulations on the raw milk industry, all these health departments answer to the FDA. It is actually stated federal policy to suppress raw milk, and the Feds are working through state health departments to do it. Overheard at the FDA last year, “Raw milk is our number one priority.” I kid you not. Can you say downer cows, spinach, peppers? Hellooo is anyone there? Raw milk, the least likely to make you sick of any food, is the top priority?
What I loved at the Health Committee hearing in Annapolis, was to see the politicians who did speak up, reference facts that challenged the health departments claims. More than one representative even pressed the panel to reach a compromise with the raw milk consumers, and farmers that wished to trade with them. The facts these delegates cited while grilling the bureaucrats were given to them by citizen lobbyists, who for three years have been knocking at the doors at the State House in Annapolis.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of the rabble. We are each uniquely qualified to speak our truth to the powers that be. In fact, now more than ever we need to do so.
I am sure that Ahh-nold didn’t write that haughty letter scolding his constituents, and implying they had no place in politics. It was probably some underling’s doing. Someone on his staff, who had only heard from the milk processor’s lobbyist, no doubt. If he had heard our side of the story, he may not have been so callous or demeaning, or so undemocratic. To this guy, there was only one side of the story–the one he was familiar with.
So, in your spare time, be a citizen rabble rouser! Attend lobby days. Call and write your elected officials, get to know their staff. Tell them what is on your mind. Remember, the staff really runs the show. They are the ones you need to convince of the rightness of your views. And you will be surprised at how accessible they are. That is what their job is, to listen to YOU!
We must tell the truth about where real food dangers come from, and baby, it ain’t raw milk.
By the way, coming soon, I will have two very interesting guest commentators on the blog to give you their take on the Food Safety Legislation currently before Congress. This is a very important time for you to be involved. So much is at stake.
If you live in California, please join CREMA, if in another state, join or start an Independent Consumers and Farmers Association. And by all means, join Weston A. Price Foundation. Each of these groups will keep you notified of legislation that you can weigh in on, so that your voice can join with others and be heard.
To read other Fight Back Friday ideas, visit the Food Renegade blog!