Did you have a good 4th of July? Did you spend it eating organic corn-on-the-cob and knocking back a glass of raw milk? No? Me neither. In America, we tend to celebrate our freedom eating the most inorganic materials agribusiness has to offer. You can commemorate our freedom and our forefathers with fireworks, flags and Cool Whip or you can support a film that shows another fight for freedom happening with less fanfare but with a huge impact
Farmageddon isn’t a pastoral Michael Bay film as the title suggests, but it is explosive and may provide welcome respite from this week’s Transformers Bay bonanza. It’s a documentary by mother Kristin Canty, who found her way into filmmaking by sheer outrage. Canty follows several farmers and distributors on the frontlines in a war against raw milk.
Raw Milk? Yeah, the stuff people have been drinking for over 8,000 years ever since someone pulled on a cow udder and found it produced something tasty. Louis Pasteur originally intended the pasteurization process for keeping wine and beer from souring – the French commitment to their alcohol is amazing. The process was extended to milk, and for a long time pasteurized milk was sold side by side with the raw. However, as the industrial food system took hold, the pasteurization process became necessary, as the industrial milk would often make people ill. Pasteurization became the FDA’s failsafe even though the benefits of raw milk, which has more healthy bacteria, has been claimed to improve allergies and digestion.
Are you rolling the dice with raw milk and its by products like yogurt and cheese? Sure. Raw milk can contain bacteria that can make you sick, or kill you. So can spinach, hamburger and fried Twinkies. But raw milk seems to bring out the nasty side of our government, by which I mean raids, guns and million dollar surveillance operations. The film is a collection of eye witness interviews, expert testimony and actual footage showing our U.S. government spending your tax dollars to stalk small farmers, raid their farms, confiscate their equipment and sue them in court. Rarely with a warrant or cause.
Canty’s film is elegant in its simplicity it shows you the evidence and allows you to ask most of the questions – like why do we punish small co-ops for producing healthy foods and subsidize the industrial complex that’s contributing to obesity. Is it really safer to pasteurize dairy products or is it something we’ve just grown accustomed to even though it may be detrimental to our health? And wouldn’t Pasteur, a Frenchmen, be rolling in his grave to know Americans were pasteurizing cheese?
In the film, perennial food documentary favorite Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin asks “why do they have such a problem with freedom?” It rhetorical, of course, because we all know the answer is money. Canty tries for straight answers from the FDA and the Department of Agriculture but what no one seems willing to fess up to is the revolving door between politics and agribusiness. Canty’s film is a small victory in a larger battle fighting for the freedom to choose better food. It’s a war that can use all the patriots it can get.
For more information visit farmageddonmovie.com
Recycle, Reuse, Rejoice!