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A Farm-To-Fork Fiasco

Imagine this. An over-zealous regulator shows up at a farm-to-fork dinner hosted by your favorite local farmer. But they’re not there to sample the exquisite cuisine highlighting some of the most natural, nutrient-dense, life-giving foods on the planet. No, they’re demanding that the food be destroyed while hungry, paying guests wait.

If you were that farmer, how would you respond? This is the story of Laura Bledsoe of Quail Hollow Farm. And, hopefully, it’s a lesson to all of us.

Laura is a law abiding citizen. She didn’t want to become the poster child of civil disobedience, so her first instinct when the government agent came knocking was simple: comply. Even though it hurt her heart to watch so much beautiful food get thrown in the trash, she did it.

Here’s her take on the events:

I can’t tell you how sick to my stomach I was watching that first dish of Mint Lamb Meatballs hit the bottom of the unsanitized trash can.

Here we were with guests who had paid in advance and had come from long distances away anticipating a wonderful dining experience, waiting for dinner while we were behind the kitchen curtain throwing it away! I know of the hours and labor that went into the preparation of that food.

We asked the inspector if we could save the food for a private family event that we were having the next day. (A personal family choice to use our own food.) We were denied and she was insulted that we would even consider endangering our families health. I assured her that I had complete faith and trust in Giovanni our chef and the food that was prepared, (obviously, or I wouldn’t be wanting to serve it to our guests).

I then asked if we couldn’t feed the food to our “public guests” or even to our private family, then at least let us feed it to our pigs. (I think it should be a criminal action to waste any resource of the land. Being dedicated to our organic farm, we are forever looking for good inputs into our compost and soil and good food that can be fed to our animals. The animals and compost pile always get our left over garden surplus and food. We truly are trying to be as sustainable as possible.)

Again, a call to Susan and another negative response.

Okay, so let me get this right.

So the food that was raised here on our farm and selected and gathered from familiar local sources, cooked and prepared with skill and love was even unfit to feed to my pigs!?!

Who gave them the right to tell me what I feed my animals?

Not only were we denied the use of the food for any purpose, to ensure that it truly was unfit for feed of any kind we were again threatened with police action if we did not only throw the food in the trash, but then to add insult to injury, we were ordered to pour bleach on it.

Now the food is also unfit for compost as I would be negligent to allow any little critters to nibble on it while it was composting and ingest that bleach resulting in a horrible death. Literally hundreds of pounds of food was good for nothing but adding to our ever increasing land fill!

If the story ended here, I’d be devastated. Thank goodness it didn’t! Laura continues:

At some point in all of this turmoil Monte reminded me that I had the emergency phone number for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) on our refrigerator. I put it there never really believing that I would ever have to use it. We became members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund several years ago as a protection for us, but mostly to add support to other farmers battling against the oppressive legal actions taken against the small farmers trying to produce good wholesome food without government intrusion.

The local, sustainable food battle is being waged all across America! May I mention that not one battle has been brought on because of any illness to the patrons of these farms! The battles are started by government officials swooping down on farms and farmers like SWAT teams confiscating not only the wholesome food items produced but even their farm equipment! Some of them actually wearing HAZMAT suits as if they were walking into a nuclear meltdown! I have personally listened to some of their heart wrenching stories and have continued to follow them through the FTCLDF’s updates.

Well, I made the call, told my story and within a short period of time received a phone call back from the FTCLDF’s General Counsel, Gary Cox. When told the story, he simply suggested that we apply our fundamental constitutional right to be protected against “unlawful search and seizure.” I simply had to ask Mary two questions. “Do you have a search warrant?” “Do you have an arrest warrant?”

With the answers being “No”, I politely and very simply asked her to leave our property. As simple as that! She had no alternative, no higher power, no choice whatsoever but to now comply with my desire. She left in a huff making a scene shouting that she was calling the police. She left no paperwork, no Cease and Desist order, no record of any kind that implicated us for one thing, (we had complied to all their orders) only empty threats and a couple of trash cans full of defiled food.

You want to know something? The story doesn’t end there. It gets better.

Read the whole thing here.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because it underscores several things: First, the constant over-reach of government authority when it comes to harassing small-scale, family farms; and second, the need for you to support the non-profit Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

It’s also why I’m donating $5 of each enrollment in my upcoming Beautiful Babies Online Course in nutrition for fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and baby’s first foods to the FTCLDF.

(photo by Quail Hollow Farm)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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16 Responses to A Farm-To-Fork Fiasco
  1. John Ewaschuk
    October 29, 2011 | 12:26 pm

    This makes me sick! Thank you for sharing. Big brother seems to be getting even bigger!

  2. Mark Cheney
    October 29, 2011 | 2:34 pm

    Thanks for posting this, as it has not been covered by local media. I’m now in the process of notifying them so people can see what our taxpayer dollars are paying for.

    • KristenM
      October 29, 2011 | 10:12 pm

      Thanks, Mark. That’s a good idea!

  3. Walter Jeffries
    October 29, 2011 | 2:47 pm

    The bleach would evaporate shortly leaving the materials fine for composting. This is not to excuse the government regulator’s over reaching but please understand the chemistry.

    This story is a prime example of what is wrong with government.

    Lastly, always document everything carefully. Have witnesses. Recored. Photograph. Ask for written proof. Don’t let them just mouth you to death.

  4. Betsy
    October 29, 2011 | 7:08 pm

    I belong to the FTCLDF twice, once on my own and once as a member of RealFoodSA, a buying group in San Antonio. I believe wholeheartedly in their mission. Thank goodness these farmers were also members! Stories like this just tick me off!

  5. Amy
    October 29, 2011 | 9:47 pm

    Here I was, thinking how awful it must be in other parts of the country, and this is in my county.

    • KristenM
      October 29, 2011 | 10:12 pm

      Oh, the irony!

  6. Christy
    October 29, 2011 | 10:08 pm

    I am dumbstruck – I am glad they had the presence of mind to call FTCLDF – the whole thing just blows my mind but when the lady had them pour bleach on the food I wanted to come through the computer and smack her. Not very ladylike on my part I know. Thanks for sharing this.

    • KristenM
      October 29, 2011 | 10:13 pm

      I know, right!? It was just so much overkill.

  7. Kelly the Kitchen Kop
    October 29, 2011 | 10:08 pm

    Kristen,
    Funny we were both outraged enough to post this after we got it this morning. None of us can be sure that something similar won’t happen to OUR farmers or OUR food, so I hope everyone who reads our posts will become members of the FTCLDF so we can all join together and make the madness stop.
    Kelly

    • KristenM
      October 29, 2011 | 10:13 pm

      AMEN!

  8. Stef
    October 29, 2011 | 10:59 pm

    I think at some point I would have gotten my gun out and told her to get the hell off my property. I would have saved that food. No one has the right to tell you what your animals can eat or what you your own self can/can’t eat. How ridiculous.
    P

  9. Leon @ Organically Thought
    October 31, 2011 | 8:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I have been aware of the Farm-to-consumer Foundation and the defense fund for a little while now. I am very happy to hear a story with the defense fun in action helping a farmer who deserves the help! I am going to make sure to join as a consumer or at least donate.

  10. Ilene S.
    November 9, 2011 | 11:15 pm

    I was told by a friend about this a few days ago. This is like being violated and it didnt even happen to me! I suspect this inspector has some personal issues that is greatly interfering with her ability to do the job she is being paid for. The job description for a health inspector does not include such ludicrus misuse of power and public funds. She should be fired for going off the deep end and harrassing private citizens. Not having ‘proper’ paperwork is just the beginning of the illegality of what she and her minions did.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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