Last month, the mothers purchased raw milk from a farm in Pennsylvania and took it across the border to Maryland. From there, they traveled to the steps of the building housing FDA offices in Silver Spring, Md. and drank the milk.
The FDA bans transportation of unpasteurized raw milk across state lines. Government officials insist the unpasteurized milk poses a health risk because of its susceptibility to contamination from cow manure, a source of E. coli. In 1987, the feds implemented 21 CFR 1240.61(a), which provides that, “no person shall cause to be delivered into interstate commerce or shall sell, otherwise distribute, or hold for sale or other distribution after shipment in interstate commerce any milk or milk product in final package form for direct human consumption unless the product has been pasteurized.”
After the initial action by the moms, the FDA issued a statement indicating the agency has no intention of prosecuting those who transport raw milk for personal consumption.
This time, the milk freedom riders will up the ante, purchasing fresh, unprocessed milk from a small farm in Wisconsin, transporting it to Chicago’s Independence Park, and then distributing it to other mothers who need it for their families.
“The Wisconsin to Chicago trip will raise the stakes over a similar Nov. 1 event challenging the FDA’s use of force against raw milk distribution. By having moms act as agents on behalf of other individuals, we’ll show a central problem with the ban on interstate movement of raw milk,” Liz Reitzig, an event organizer, said.
Defying the federal law does not come without risk. Federal law enforcement officers could arrest the milk toting moms, and if convicted they could face stiff fines and other penalties. Mary Gercke, an Illinois mother of three, said she’s willing to take that chance.
“I am willing to risk arrest in order to obtain the foods of my choice from the producer of my choice,” she said. “It is abhorrent that Americans risk criminal penalties for getting healthy foods from small family farms or helping other families with the transportation of these foods. Americans need to wake up to the reality that their tax dollars are used to enforce draconian laws on their neighbors.”
Reitzig says the group has informed the FDA of its intentions.
The ride will kick off the morning of Thursday Dec. 8 and will culminate in a rally at Independence Park. For more information, click here.
For a story on the initial milk freedom ride, click here.