"Feds shut down Amish farm for selling fresh milk." Aha, I thought, another example of the nanny state grown excessive, why don't they just leave the poor Amish farmer alone.
I started to move on past the headline, but some old memory from my past gave me pause. I read the article and essentially the headline is correct, but in the interest of complete accuracy, I would add two words--raw, unpasteurized.
What the Amish farmer is selling and what his upset customers want for their children is raw, unpasteurized milk.
That changed everything in my mind, and in this case, I think the FDA is doing what needs to be done.
In 1945, when I was ready to begin first grade, we lived in the little Middle Tennessee town of Watertown, pop. approximatel 800. Sometime in the summer before I was to begin school in the fall, I became ill. My head hurt, I sweated a lot, I ached all over, I had no appetite, and my fever fluctuated wildly, sometimes going up to 103-104F.
After a series of tests, x-rays (I seem to remember that they thought I might have TB), etc. in the nearby metropolis of Lebanon, I was diagnosed with Undulant Fever or Brucellosis which is caused by "ingestion of unsterilized milk" among other things. My aunt--we were living with her until Dad got out of the service--and my Mom frequently bought "fresh" (raw) milk from one of the neighbors up the street who had a few cows.
The disease can become chronic and did so in my case because it took awhile to diagnose. Undulant fever has also had some small but not insignificant effects on my health over the years which I'll not bore you with here.
I was treated with multiple injections of a mycin drug and bed rest. Bed rest for a six year old all through the rest of that summer and for the first 6 weeks of my first year of school was not a good thing. I did listen to a lot of radio during that time, even a WSM farm show called Noontime Neighbors which included daily agricultural reports on the prices of farm products, livestock, etc.
Right. I was bored. Even though I was a preschooler, I did read a lot, whatever my Mom could scrounge up for me. Comics mainly. But I remember that time vividly. The continuous aches and pains. The sweats. The fear in the beginning because we didn't know what it was. The cold hard XRay machine and medical table which looked like some hideous invention out of Flash Gordon. The daily injections. Watching the other kids walk up the street as they came home from school. Day after day. The boredom.
One of the farmer's angry customers said, "I can't believe in 2010 the federal government is raiding Amish farmers at gunpoint all over a basic human right to eat natural food." I guess most everything's a right in somebody's mind these days. But I'm unsure about the customer's use of the plural (farmers) and about the FDA coming in to the barn with guns drawn. I suppose when you're going up against Uncle Sam you also have the basic human right to exaggerate.
I think our food supply today is generally safe and that's due in no small part to the work of the FDA. I'm for small government. But there are some things a government should do. Ensuring the safety of the food supply is one of them.