Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mad Minnesota moms to food police: We'll eat what we want

By Bob Unruh Moms in Minnesota are preparing to defy state dictates over when and how they can access food supplies for their families, with a rally scheduled Monday to coincide with the beginning of the trial of the manager of a farm buying club, according to the Farm Food Freedom Coalition.

WND previously has reported on disputes between farmers and consumers on one side and federal regulators on the other. They have involved the purchase by consumers of raw milk, the rights of consumers to access milk from their own cows, a radio program that offered natural products and a blogger who wrote about his battle with diabetes and was threatened with jail.

The newest development comes from the Farm Food Freedom Coalition, which is assembling a protest at the Minneapolis trial of Alvin Schlangen, a farm buying club manager.

The group said that mothers in the state who act as hosts for “drop sites” for farm buying club members now have been threatened with criminal charges.

The May 14 protest will be at 7 a.m. outside the Minneapolis courthouse where Schlangen’s trial is scheduled, officials said.

“At the rally supporters will sign a ‘Declaration of Food Independence’ and demonstrate non-compliance against what they deem ‘unjust’ regulations,” the organization announced.

Another supporting organization, the Raw Milk Freedom Riders, said that Schlangen founded the Freedom Farms Coop, which simply connects people with the foods of their choice from local producers.

“Over the past two years the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has illegally raided Alvin’s van, warehouse, and farm. The state has now brought four charges against Alvin related to food distribution; all are misdemeanors counts. If convicted, Alvin faces up to a year in jail and hefty fines … just for helping to connect consumers to the producers and foods of their choice.”

Organizers confirm that “several Minnesota mothers who organize community access to local fresh farm foods plan to risk criminal charges by openly and publicly defying warnings from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.”

“The MDA has threatened several mothers, conducted investigations against them and sent them warning letters that if they continue helping provide fresh food to their friends and neighbors, they will be subject to criminal charges and prosecution. The MDA alleges the mothers are violating food-handling regulations.”
Hundreds are expected to join the rally, organizers estimate.

“It is absolutely outrageous that during this time of economic crisis our state government is investigating and sending warning letters to mothers and putting farmers on trial who are helping provide communities with fresh foods. It is my right to contract privately with a farmer for the food of my choice just as it is the right of every American,” said Melinda Olson, a mother and recipient of one of the MDA’s warnings.

“The MDA’s harassment against mothers will not work. We plan to ignore this warning and continue operating as we are. MDA should not waste taxpayer money investigating, prosecuting and jailing peaceful farmers and mothers for helping their communities secure fresh foods. Our time to stand up against this tyranny is now!” she said.

Pete Kennedy of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, who tracks such issues nationally, said, “Nowhere in the country at this time is state action against food freedom and consumer choice more oppressive than in the state of Minnesota...” (continued)

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