Farmageddon – A Rant and a Giveaway

We began hearing about the raids by the FDA and USDA on small farmers, co-ops and buying clubs that sell fresh, whole foods – particularly raw milk and raw milk cheeses – more than a year ago when Morningland Dairy in Missouri was railroaded by government officials and forced to recall raw milk cheeses they’d sold, and destroy their remaining inventory (over $50,000 worth, if memory serves).   Events seemed to come to a head last year in late summer and fall – Rawesome Foods, a natural foods co-op in Venice California, made national news when it was raided and it’s raw milk and raw milk products were seized and destroyed, followed quickly by Michael Schmidt, the Ontario dairy farmer who also made national news when he was arrested, fined nearly $10,000 and proceeded to go on a hunger strike.  His crime?  Selling raw milk to consenting adults.  Adults who knew full well what the were buying and consuming, and the risks that come with it.

Sales of raw milk are regulated by individual states, but the FDA prohibits interstate sales – in fact, it is illegal to buy raw milk in one state and bring it to another state for your personal consumption.

In 2010, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the FDA.  The case was filed in an Iowa district court and summarily dismissed.  In 2011, FTCLDF argued on behalf of a Wisconsin farm in front of a judge on who proclaimed that

no, [people] do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume foods of their choice

Yes, you read that correctly.  For what it’s worth, Judge Patrick J. Fiedler is no longer a judge; he is now an attorney for a law firm that has defended Monsanto in court.  Nope, no conflict of interest here.

Farmageddon is a small-budget documentary made by Kristin Canty, a woman who began giving her son raw milk in hopes that it would help her son’s health issues.  She claims that not only did it help – she claims it cured them.  And like many who seek whole, fresh foods for their families, Ms. Canty found out in a hurry that seeking and obtaining are often two completely different things.

I’m not going to go into whether or not Ms. Canty’s claims about raw milk are authentic or not and frankly, neither does she; it’s not the point of the film.  The point of the film is that our fundamental rights – to grow, sell, obtain and consume the foods of our choice – are increasingly at risk.  In a country where we adults can purchase and consume items with everything but a skull and crossbones on the labels, the federal government is making it difficult, even impossible, to drink milk straight from the cow even in states where it is legal.

The film talks to many small farmers (yes, including Joel Salatin; I’m beginning to believe you can’t make a documentary about the slow food movement without interviewing the man), and the stories they tell are chilling and frightening – SWAT-like raids where farmers and their children are held for hours while armed FDA agents ransack their home and confiscates their records, equipment, animals and goods.  One scene documents a dairy truck full of raw milk being taken to a co-op for sale being pulled over to the side of the road by, again, armed FDA agents who then force the driver and other vehicle occupants to pour all of it on the ground.  Another farmer tells about how their entire herd of dairy sheep were seized and destroyed, even though government officials admitted the animals were perfectly healthy.

By the end of the film, I was quite incensed.

Famageddon has its problems, of course – Ms. Canty should have found anyone else to narrate the darn thing; her droning monotone is a little hard to take at times.  And, as one review pointed out, it can’t quite decide what it wants to be – is an exposé of the abuse of power by the government?  Is it a consumer advocacy film?  You’re never really certain, although the message of the movie is quite clear:  government agencies are harassing, haranguing and attempting to muscle small family farms out of business on the behalf of large-scale, industrial agriculture.

Despite the film’s flaws, I recommend it heartily to anyone who is concerned about the source of their food and their right to obtain and consume it.  I recommend it even more heartily to those who don’t give a hoot.  At any rate, we have an extra copy on our hands, thanks to a buy-one-get-another-half-price deal.

Today I’m giving that extra copy away.  All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me why you’d like to have it.

I’m going to be perfectly honest here – who is picked will be completely subjective;  the winner will be the person who leaves me the comment I find most compelling.  You have until Friday, May 5 – comments will close at 11:59 p.m. that day, and I’ll announce the winner on the following Tuesday.

Have a lovely weekend, y’all.  Now go eat something you or someone you know has grown or raised.

While you still can.

15 thoughts on “Farmageddon – A Rant and a Giveaway”

  1. This is a very disturbing film. It is a blatant violation individual farmers’ rights by an over-reaching tyrannical government that has been corrupted by Big Ag.

    As in the recent case of the Dept of Natural Resources in Michigan forcing farmers to kill their pigs if their ears are too big or they have stripes. Really, we fought through the civil rights era and now we are discriminating against PIGS?? “All pigs are created equal, some more than others”. But the DNR and the Michigan Pork Producers Association (funded by CAFO farmers, meat packers and slaughter houses) both claim that farmers are killing off their lively hood “voluntarily”. Sorry, but when you raid a farm or coop with guns drawn it is not voluntarily. When the FDA comes on your land and forces you to pour out your milk or kill your livestock it is at the point of a gun whether they are drawn or not.

    What amazed me about this movie is how calm these farmers were about this. I would be irate – I might even spill a cocktail on my laptop. But these folks are salt of the earth and were much more forgiving than I would be. Frankly to get me to pour out my milk, crop or kill my livestock you would HAVE to have a gun pointed at my head. If they came on my property and shut down my livelihood and threatened me and my family if we told anyone about the raid they would be buried in a shallow grave in the front yard. Except for their heads which would be on pikes lining my driveway to ward off other criminals.

    I agree that the narration might have been better, but it too contributed to the tone of calm in the face of unbelievable injustice.

    It’s time to dust off our tri-corner hats and grab our muskets. EVERYONE should see this, but be prepared to be upset by it.

  2. I wanna see it! I love how, even with our budget extremely tight, we have not gone back to the old “cheaper” way of eating, still doing organic wherever we can. 🙂
    (Still incensed about Kashi. I threw out about thirty dollars worth of Kashi labels a few evenings ago. Can we rant about more transparency too?)

  3. I haven’t watched this yet, I believe this is something that everyone should watch. I’m thankful for all this good info. that’s needs to be known…If it weren’t for the internet….I’d might still be in the dark like most people in this Country of ours. Do we Really live in a Country of the free ? I used to be one of those people that thought, “They wouldn’t sell it to us if it wasn’t Safe …Right!??? Pisses me off what the Food Corps. can get away with…But Hey! They’re making Billion’s of dollar’s Sugar laced Crap ‘They’ call food. Okay…Okay…I better stop now before I really go on a rant !

    IT Time we make a change for the better ! Hope Everyone get’s a chance to watch this ! We need more info. like this to get to people !

  4. I’d love to win a copy in hopes I could somehow talk my husband into sitting down and watching this with me. I transitioned to a Paleo lifestyle about a year and a half ago and I’ve never felt better, never maintained weight longer, and never felt more passionate about nutrition. We have a 4 year old who I’d go full Paleo with as well if I could get my husband on board, but he just generally thinks I’m a bit wacko and can be annoyed about some of the changes. My husband has severe eczema and some other health problems and eats processed crap constantly and I keep telling him how making some better food choices would offer relieve in many areas. I realize this movie wouldn’t be a miracle worker, but at least it’d be someone besides trying to get a point across. I feel silly for going so long being so uneducated and now I can’t seem to learn enough! Thanks for the opportunity!

    1. I’m not sure this is the movie to sway your husband. The best introduction to this is FatHead by Tom Naughton. You can watch it for free on Hulu here. Good luck! It really helps to get the whole household on board.

  5. Thank you for sharing this information with everyone. My local movie theater hosts a “Free Movie Monday”. They typically show movies about health and wellness. I would love to submit this to be shown to my community. I live in the dairy capitol of Georgia so I think this will hit home with a lot of residence. It infuriates me how hard the laws are on our local farmers.

  6. My mother grew up on a dairy farm drinking raw milk, along with her six siblings, all of whom have been healthy their entire lives.

    My grandparents grew up on dairy farms. My grandmother, alas, lived to be only 97 and had to go into a nursing home when she was only 95 after a lifetime of growing and canning most of her own produce, baking her own bread, attending 6:00 a.m. Mass most days, and walking to the post office afterwards to get her mail. That was after she had reared seven children and six foster children. If only she had had access to pasteurized milk! How long might she have lived! What might she have accomplished!

    My grandfather lived only to 81. Pasteurized milk might have mitigated the impact of his pack a day habit and his daily breakfast of bacon grease on toast.

    Thank God I drank raw milk only when I was visiting my grandparents for the occasional summer until I was 14, when they sold the farm and retired. I shudder to think how sick I would be now if I had had more of that poison.

  7. I grew up on a farm–we ate our animals and drank our milk. However, at that time, I was the biggest milk-hater around. The cream floating on the top made me gag and I would hide glasses of it around the house. I was such a twerp about it I would sit for an hour with my lower lip jutting out until I grudgingly slogged it down. Yuck. When mom now and then accidentally dropped the pitcher of milk in the kitchen and, since the floor canted slightly west, the hated white stuff oozed down to cozy up to the wall by the cook stove, I secretly cheered (while I ran out of the room.)

    I would give anything for that glass of creamy milk now. Not to mention the grass fed beef and piggies and garden veggies. Sigh. Frankly, I would give anything to be able to hug my mom again and apologize for my twerpiness. And thank my Dad for making such good food available. (I had no “beef” with the beef and piggies).

    Here is what I will do with that movie if you pass it to me. I live in a dairy-heavy agricultural area–bereft of any who will sell it raw. We have a festival every year ’cause this town is the “Milk Center of the World”. (Hyperbole much?) I also work in a library. I will use our meeting room with projector and screen and hold a public screening of this movie. I handle publicity for this library so I know where to send info to get people to see it. After that, I will donate the DVD to the library for public circulation. We do have a farmer’s market on it’s second year here. I can put fliers for the movie there too or even have a card-table.

    Looks like a plan to me.

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