You grow a garden; you expect to be able to harvest the food from that garden and eat it. You raise a cow; you expect to be able to milk that cow and consume the milk. You raise chickens; you expect to gather eggs and eat them. It’s uncomplicated, simple, a fundamental right. Perhaps you wouldn’t feel this way if you lived under some other form of government, but here, now, in America and other democratized countries, this is what you expect.
According to Wisconsin Judge Patrick J. Fiedler, you do not have a fundamental right to consume the food you grow or own or raise. The Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund, the pioneers in defending food sovereignty and freedom, recently argued before Judge Fiedler that you and I have a constitutional right to consume the foods of our choice. Judge Fiedler saw no merit to the argument and ruled against the FTCLDF. When they asked him to clarify his statement, these were his words:
“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;”
“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”
“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice…”
Talk about hammering a point home.
Sometimes I think I’ve woken up in a surreal alternate reality. I was raised in a patriotic glow where the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” was a well-defined, well-reasoned expectation. America is the “land of the free.” I do not think this means what I once thought it meant, particularly if we have no fundamental right to drink the milk from our own cows.
Constitutional law is not my thing, but perhaps it should be. That way I could develop a more cogent argument against the likes of Judge Fielder. As it is, I simply say, “But what of liberty? What of privacy? What of the right to do with my body and my property what I see fit, so long as I do no harm to others?”
How is it that I could have lived this long, and assumed that I had a right to eat the foods of my choosing?
I know how. It is our collective experience. In our day to day experience, we choose. In our day to day experience, we sow a garden and we harvest its fruit. In our day to day experience, we feed and milk our cows. In our day to day experience, we visit our local farms and buy foods from people we trust. In our day to day experience, we walk down the aisles of our grocery stores, and we choose. In our day to day experience, we open our pantry doors, let imaginary flavors roll over our tongues, and we choose.
We choose. We choose. We choose.
It’s like breathing. It is so common an experience, so personal, so much a part of our everyday existence, that I had (silly me!) come to assume that it was a fundamental right.
I certainly act like it is. And is that not, in the end, the measure of what is true? Is not truth that which matches our experience, that which is in accordance with reality?
If so, then food freedom and food sovereignty can’t be so casually stripped away, even by zealous judges.
(photo by jsewell)