Written by: Nazli Sadr and Thomas Stringer
OVERTON, Nevada – Planning a picnic requires a permit now. When Denise, a sustainable farmer, organized a gathering for her guests to encourage her community to choose sustainably grown foods and local produce for their meals, she did not expect the Health Department to be the surprise guest.
Two days prior to the event, Denise received a call from the Health Department. They ordered her to get a permit for her event because it was both a “public event” (no definition provided of what constitutes a public event versus a private one) and it took place on a farm. The family complied and filled out the paperwork.
In order to actually get the permit, the farm needed to be inspected. A Health District employee, on the day of the picnic, arrived for an inspection of the farm. To summarize Denise’s words, the inspector declared the food unfit for consumption for reasons ranging from no labelling on the food packages to food not prepared the right temperature. Denise provided reasonable justifications for all of the “infractions” stating, respectively, according to the code labels are not required if food is consumed within 72 hours (which it was) and that the food was being prepared to brought to proper temperature for serving when the inspection occurred!
After suggesting that the event become “private” instead of “public”, to quote Denise in her article:
“This idea infuriated Susan [the inspector] and threatened that if we did not comply the police would be called and personally escort our guests off the property.”
Trying to save the food from going to waste, prior to the destruction, the family asked the inspector if they could keep their food for their own personal consumption. The inspector essentially insulted this notion by indicating that this food is a health hazard and should not be consumed by anyone, even the pigs who grew up on the farm, cannot go near this.
All of the food was destroyed. Thrown in the trash, bleach poured all over, and hundreds of pounds of locally grown organic food was destroyed.
What will happen next? Will mothers and fathers require certification and permits to cook dinner for their kids and family? Will you need to be inspected before you feed yourself?
For most people, it is often perplexing when they see libertarians decrying every little expansion of the state as if it were the end of the world. To such people it seems as if we are obsessing over little things, unimportant and irrelevant issues.
Of course such people are fundamentally missing the main point. As for most part, what libertarians are decrying is not the specific piece of legislation, but the process that it is part of – the continual expansion of the state, and the misuse of current state powers.
The story above is just one of many such injustices, where the law has been used in a way that was not at first intended, and in a way that is not supported by anyone at the time of its passing.
It should be truly terrifying that government officials can come onto your property at a private gathering and declare your food – which you eat all time – to be ‘unfit for human consumption’ with threat of arrest unless you either disperse or destroy your food. In a world with millions starving, do we really want our governments destroying food?
The parties involved in this situation knew what they were getting themselves into. People are not stupid. It can be assumed that they know that on a farm, food is processed, grown, and moved from the field to the house. Even when food is properly inspected and certified to the government’s standards, poisoning still occurs and there are no guarantees regardless.
Safety should always be a priority but when people want to do things that are not safe, in this situation, knowing full well that what they are about to do is not entirely risk free, government standing in the way is a belittlement of freedom. In this situation and in many others, preserving the illusion of safety comes at the expense of individuals pursuing their happiness.
For Denise’s full story please click here.
Thomas Stringer is the editor-in-chief for The Libertarian.