When my father visits, he enjoys slurping down raw oysters by the dozen. I assume he knows this habit is not without a minor chance of food poisoning. While I prefer my food cooked, I do wash it down with a few beers. That is also not without its health risks.
In fact, on any given day, I can go to the liquor store and purchase enough alcohol to stun or kill a herd of buffalo (actually, here in parts of South Carolina, some puritanical ordinances prohibit the purchase of alcohol on Sunday.) It is also worth noting that alcohol plays a role in over 10,000 deaths per year due to drunk driving.
Yet no one rushes to Washington to ban alcohol on the basis of the statistics alone. We tacitly accept these fatalities as the negative externalities of a free society. Yet this nation’s laws draw an extremely bizarre moral line. You can, for example, drink to your death, but not smoke pot (on which no one has ever overdosed), yet risk life and limb sky diving or driving a race car but not…sell raw milk?
Of course, as with all illegal behaviors, those who drink raw milk will continue to buy and sell it despite the activity’s criminal nature, and the Federal government will wage war against it.
And yes, there have been causalities.
Rainbow Acres knows exactly the extent to which the government will go. Federal Agents set up a yearlong sting operation, which included “aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases” targeting the farm over its trafficking of raw milk.
The same happened to Morning Land Farms in 2008, whose owners had a quarter of a million dollars of cheese seized by armed agents of the FDA. Even if his cheese tested negative for the presence of pathogens, said owner Joe Dixon, the FDA would not allow him to sell it.
A third raid occurred at Rawesome foods, a private market in California, in 2011. Owner James Stewart was arrested and held on a six figure bail (which seems no less than ridiculous). The Feds also dumped his stock—or from his perspective, poured out his livelihood—and emptied his fridges.
If you ever wondered why the FDA needed guns, well, that’s the reason: to shut down dairy farmers. Had I a desire to vomit, I would inquire about how much these operations cost the taxpayer. But Representative Thomas Massie’s raw milk bill will hopefully serve as an anti-emetic to those of us made dyspeptic by this senseless regulation. You should support the bill regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican.
Why? A real Conservative agrees that the government should play little to no role in what we ingest. Whether you enjoy raw milk, McDonalds or Beech-Nut tobacco, your decisions about your health are your own. And for the Progressive, who believes in the guardianship of the State, the government that criminalizes cheese-making cannot be taken seriously as a moral authority.
Marcus Flores writes about politics and philosophy on his blog PoliticallySuspect.com where this article first appeared. Follow him on Twitter here.