Could your food freedom be jeopardized if you deliberately follow the law?
Let’s play the “what if” game.
What if you’re unloading bags of groceries from your car? The kids are hungry, the door is locked, and as you fumble for the key you are greeted by a food inspector?
“Step aside,” he says. “I need to rifle through your purchases.“
What if you step out of your car on a nice, residential street? The kids are in the backseat. You’ve taken 10, maybe 12 steps, and your back is turned to your car (on a safe, residential road).
Two unknown vehicles pull up, stop, and six people tumble out. They wedge themselves between you and your vehicle, blocking your view of your children. One starts harassing you and then begins to take pictures of your children in the car!
This went down during a co-op food pick up in Southwest Austin, Texas on May 26th.
Would you panic at the rush of an unknown car with its passengers accosting you in a driveway? Would you be confused that a food inspector would even care the state of your legally purchased food?
The most contentious food item in America seems to be raw milk, don’t ask me why. If you inspect the farm yourself for hygienic practices, you’re fine. You’re far safer than you would be eating any of the brand names of processed foods you see on this recall list, many of whom are repeat offenders.
We have seen news story before of overzealous inspectors interfering with food freedom, sometimes accompanied by law enforcement, infringing upon the rights and legal activities of those making deliberate choices for their own health.
They Must Have Been Doing Something Illegal
This particular group of dangerous raw milk drinkers was so concerned about following the law, they penned a letter to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in 2013. They asked for clarification: is it okay for someone else to deliver their milk to them to save a trip?
Answer: Yes. The farm is not permitted to make deliveries but as long as it is someone not employed by the farm, no worries! Read the full response from Texas DSHS here.
The Raw Milk Shakedown
In the middle of someone’s front yard, the inspectors refused to let them take possession of their pre-purchased, legal milk. An inspector insisted that a mom show a driver’s license, with no legal authority. He bullied her by taking pictures of her car with the children inside.
Even the police officer would not have had the legal authority to insist upon a driver’s license. I found the Texas law that gave her the freedom to deny the request, since she was not “lawfully arrested.” If not lawfully arrested, detained, or believed to have been a witness to a criminal offense, then there is no crime in refusing an officer (aka “failure to identify) in the great state of Texas.
The Creepy Guy and the Accusation
I spoke to Judith McGeary, the Executive Director of Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. This nonprofit organization is assisting many of the parties being charged. She told me that Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund is helping out financially against this government overreach and with the now costly legal assistance.
Judith said that the details get weirder than even the original press release revealed. This all stemmed from an anonymous complaint. I have personally seen the original complaint documents. I agree with Judith’s assessment that this person knew the Health Department writing style and language; it was not the speech of a neighbor or concerned farmer.
The complainant accused the co-op of selling milk, which was false. Mr. Anonymous discovered the drop points off of someone’s social media post. He then drove to various houses used as co-op drop points and took pictures of these houses. Creepy Guy used that house information to find the names of the homeowners to name them in the accusations.
Yeah, the creepy guy pulling across the street and taking pictures of your house. This wasn’t a concerned citizen. This was an effort to bully and manipulate.
The farm conducted business according to the law.
The driver conducted a contracted service according to the law—above it, actually, since he used a refrigerated van not required by law.
And the co-op, in an effort to obey the law, sought and received permission from the same agency now bringing charges against them.
What if? What if this was your co-op, neighborhood, house, or car full of kids?
Action Steps If It Happens to You
Since the above article had just been written, Texas is at it again! This time, the cops left a domestic violence dispute mid-call to respond to a raw milk call.
Mind you, raw milk is legal in Texas. Domestic violence is not.
This most recent food rights violation had the fine people at Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund answering the question, “What if they show up at my legal drop site?”
Read about how to know and to defend your rights against unlawful actions by government agencies.