In Minnesota a jury has decided that a man distributing raw (unpasteurized) milk from organic farmers to members of a food club isn’t a criminal:
Schlangen, an organic egg farmer, doesn’t produce milk himself but operates a private club called Freedom Farms Co-op with roughly 130 members who buy various farm products, including raw milk. Schlangen picks up milk products from an Amish farm and delivers them to members who lease the cows.
Raw milk is unpasteurized, meaning it hasn’t been heat-treated to kill pathogens. Under Minnesota law, it can be sold directly to consumers only on the farm where it’s produced.
During closing arguments, Schlangen’s attorney, Nathan Hansen, argued that Schlangen was not operating a business, rather a private food club, and that no one got sick from the raw milk.
Assistant Minneapolis City Attorney Michelle Doffing-Baynes said food safety laws are in place to prevent people from getting sick.
This is an interesting commentary on the role of government in our lives. It’s one thing for the government to promote best practices for food safety, and to warn consumers of food dangers, but in a case where people are aware of the dangers of a certain food and choose to consume it anyway, what right does the government have to tell them they can’t?
Think of the smoking issue, or the obesity issue. At this point in time, the American public is well aware of the dangers of smoking and eating junk food. We know it’s not healthy. If some of us choose to smoke or eat junk food anyway, what right does the government have to restrict our choices?
It is one thing to inform the public about risks. It is quite another to stop people from making choices because the government has decided the choice in question is too risky. Our government, on all sorts of issues, has crossed that line.