A Salute to the Real Heroes of the Food Rights Struggle–And How to Back Them Up


Liz Reitzig has, over the last few years, become a national leader of America’s rapidly expanding food rights movement. She is the co-coordinator of Grassfed on the Hill buying club serving the greater Washington, DC, area, and co-founder of the Farm Food Freedom Coalition. Liz has spent the past six years working on the state and national levels representing small farms and consumers at the state legislature and in the halls of Congress lobbying for food and farming rights. She is the principle organizer of an annual National Grassroots Lobby Day and Legislative Reception on Capitol Hill. She does all this while raising five young children. 

 Tomorrow, she is leading a “Know Your Rights Workshop” and on Saturday a demonstration for Lemonade and Raw Milk Freedom—all these events in Washington, DC.

In this guest post, Part 1 of a two-part series, she explores why it’s so important for Americans to support their farmers engaged in producing sustainable nutrient-dense food, and provides specific suggestions for actions  people can do on their own to add support.

by Liz Reitzig

I have invested the past six years of my life addressing issues surrounding access to real foods.  Many people I know are astounded that food rights are even an issue and that I spend my time working to advance food freedom.  Why do I do this, they ask. 

I am sure that many of you reading this are aware of the many hurdles our farmers and food producers who care about sustainability go through in order to provide their communities with clean, healthy, safe, wholesome food.  It is a harsh reality of life in today’s America that many have become targets of government force for simply feeding their communities. 

Since this is the reality we are living with, we must acknowledge the reality that those who continue to provide our communities with real food are doing so at great risk to themselves and that it takes exponentially more time and effort than it would otherwise need to if the threat of government force did not exist.

This is why it is absolutely essential for those of us who make up their communities to take on more responsibility on their behalf. What do I mean by this? A little story about a farm and its chicken and pig might help explain:

Once Upon a Time….

 A Chicken and a Pig lived on a farm. The farmer was very good to them and they both wanted to do something good for him.

One day the chicken approached the pig and said, “I have a great idea for something we can do for the farmer! Would you like to help?”

The pig, quite intrigued, said, “of course! What do you propose?”

The chicken knew how much the farmer enjoyed a delicious healthy breakfast. He also knew how little time the farmer had to make a good breakfast. “I think the farmer would be very happy if we made him breakfast.”

The pig thought about this. While not as close to the farmer, he too knew of the farmer’s love for a good breakfast. “I’d be happy to help you make breakfast for the farmer! What do you suggest we make?”

The chicken, understanding that he had little else to offer suggested, “I could provide some eggs.”

The pig knew the farmer might want more, “That’s a fine start. What else should we make?”

The chicken looked around…scratched his head…then said, “ham? The farmer loves ham and eggs!”

The pig, very mindful of what this implied, said, “that’s fine, but while you’re making a contribution, I’m making a real commitment!”

(Story from http://www.agilejedi.com/chickenandpig)

We have successful local food systems today because many farmers, producers and other individuals have made a real commitment.  They have taken on an enormous project and dedicated their lives to it so that present and future generations have access to clean, safe food.  In the process, each producer has developed a community that benefits from his or her work.

We all know some prime examples of people who dedicate their lives to ensuring community access to real food or teaching people how to produce their own foods or promoting local food.

These amazing food producers, suppliers and teachers are like the pig in our story—they give all for this cause.  They are committed!  They have given their lives over to this tireless, often thankless, work so that we have choices in what we eat and so that these choices remain for future generations.

I don’t think we need to go into too much detail here for us all to be conscious of the diverse ways these producers are preserving our agricultural heritage through urban farming, seed exchange, and feeding their rural and urban communities.  I hope you will each reflect for a moment on how pivotal their roles are and just how much they bring to your community.

Most of the rest of us are like the chicken–“involved.”  We’re willing to do something to further the cause.  Maybe real food is important to us.  Or perhaps we want to eat locally.  Or support a sustainable food system. Maybe we’ve joined a CSA or buying club.  Or maybe we shop at a farmers’ market.  Or maybe we are still waiting for the right time.

Each of us has an incredible opportunity right now to embrace the idea of making a sacrifice in our life, get on the road to true commitment, to further a cause that is so much bigger than any one of us: access to safe, real foods for this and future generations.  Whether we are the chicken in the story, or one of the other farm animals not even mentioned, there is room for greater involvement on a path to full commitment. 

Not sure what this would look like in your life?  Consider the following:

  • Maybe it would look like giving up a family vacation in order to donate the money to a farmer facing jail. 
  • Maybe it means traveling a little further and paying a higher price so that those who produce our food can make an honest living. 
  • Or maybe it looks like changing your schedule to pick up your groceries regularly at the farm. 
  • Or maybe it means going to a farm to personally thank a farmer for getting up early on Christmas day and milking cows so that you can have real milk 365 days a year.
  • Maybe it looks like scheduling and planning a food-related event in your area.
  • Or perhaps it looks like making a movie about local farmers, writing letters to the editor, reaching out to your neighbors or working on legislative issues related to food and farming. 
  • Maybe it means starting a buying club, growing a garden or playing with someone else’s children so that they can become more involved.
  • Perhaps it looks like making signs for a rally, engaging in peaceful non-compliance or throwing a few bucks towards supporting someone else’s planned event. 

Whatever it looks like in your life, go ahead and embrace it!

(In Part 2, what commitment looks like in Liz Reitzig’s life, and what it might look like in your life.)

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52 Comments on "A Salute to the Real Heroes of the Food Rights Struggle–And How to Back Them Up"

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Deborah - Pacifica
August 17, 2012 1:55 pm

In keeping with this theme of those that work hard in keeping people informed, please check out http://www.cornucopia.org. A friend had recommended this site to me about a week ago, but with my heavy travel schedule from west coast to east coast, I didn’t get a chance to review it until last night. This site has a weath of information. It is an organization that is doing great research into what has been going on within the food industry. They have two great posters that had my head spinning last night after reviewing them &… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
August 17, 2012 4:03 pm


“It is more than a trend,” said Jim Richter, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Wilcox Fresh, Rexburg, Idaho”

Did they really think it was a ‘passing fad’?

D. Smith
August 18, 2012 5:03 am

@ Deborah: Mark Kastel from Cornucopia has been a guest speaker at several of the same events as Sally Fallon over the past few years. I’ve been a follower of WAPF for probably four years now, and have followed Cornucopia for probably two years or a little more. In all that time he’s only had one article I somewhat disagreed with (something about Big Medi-Sin) but I don’t remember off-hand what the article was called. The chart showing which bigphakephood companies own which “organic” food companies is and eye-opener if this is the first time… Read more »

D. Smith
August 18, 2012 5:11 am

@ Deborah: Hey, I should probably add here that Jeffrey Smith is no relation! Smith is actually my maiden name, but I still use it because two of my degrees are in my maiden name, so it’s just easier for me. :->)

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
August 18, 2012 12:06 pm


A repeat?


“Selling adulterated food is a felony. But doing so without knowledge or intent to defraud consumers is a misdemeanor, penalized by up to a year in prison or a $1,000 fine.”

Wow, raw dairy isn’t treated this way…….

“”memo outlined how companies could avoid liability for sickness and death because consumers never review their auditing reports.

And even if consumers did see the reports, the memo argued, they need to take steps to protect themselves. Either way, inspectors should be able to “escape with no liability.”

BS, if the “inspector” does a poor job, they should be liable. If a doctor does… Read more »

Deborah - Pacifica
August 18, 2012 3:18 pm

Hi D. – yeah Smith is a very common name, my maiden name was Brown, again another very common name! But, you never know, there may be some genealogical connection!! Lol! Anyways, the Cornucopia site is a wealth of information & yes, I am familiar with “Institute for Responsible Technology” & also find that site to be a very valuable source of information. I will check out Organic Consumers Assoc. I was aware of some of the organic products were being bought up, but totally unaware of how many & how their products have… Read more »

D. Smith
August 18, 2012 3:41 pm

@ Deborah: Yep, that’s exactly why those companies bought out the organic brands – for money – and for an enhancement of these big companies somewhat tainted reputations once organic products started hitting the big-time marketing and were accepted with open arms by the “aware” section of the population. PepsiCo makes dozens of totally unhealthy products and they know it, so they had to do something major in order to change that perception. But people didn’t like the idea, so they cut back on purchasing (at least I did) once I discovered the deception on the… Read more »

D. Smith
August 18, 2012 3:45 pm

I sincerely hope the demonstration today goes great guns for Liz and the rest of them. Wish I could be there. But remember folks, just because not ALL of us who support this can actually be there, physically, it doesn’t mean we aren’t rooting our heads off in the background. It remains to be seen where the whole thing goes but anything never attempted is impossible to achieve, right? Go activitists!!

D. Smith
August 18, 2012 3:59 pm

Good little 3.5 minute video here about a woman in Virginia was who cited for hosting a birthday party for a friends child on HER OWN PROPERTY.

It’s just insane. But this is where we’re headed, as much as I hate to say it. We are being over-protected “for our own good”. Yeah. Uh-huh. Sure.


Mary McGonigle-Martin
August 18, 2012 8:23 pm
D. Smith
August 18, 2012 8:53 pm

Sounds like we’re losing the battle, at the least the battle concerning less rather than more regulation. It’s because too many people are unaware of what is happening with processed type foods, and they are also unaware of what REAL food is.

Baylen Linnekin article/interview: http://reason.com/archives/2012/08/18/where-are-all-the-food-libertarians

Dave Milano
August 19, 2012 2:00 am


Thank you, really.


August 19, 2012 12:51 pm

Looks like they got a fair amount of coverage on the event. Way to go Liz, and all the dedicated freedom drinkers!

August 19, 2012 3:35 pm

The actions of the police in Canada with regard to phones and videotaping in the raid on Glencoulton Farm reveal the sinister aspects of the recently passed “Federal Crime Bill.”
The police no longer need to go before a judge to get a warrant to access/or seize phone, internet or email traffic, information or phone call and use data. The smoke screen around this intrusive legislation is exemplified by the conservative party’s rhetoric or should we call it propaganda. “This legislation will enable the law enforcement community to catch pedophiles, so anyone against this legislation supports… Read more »

mark mcafee
August 19, 2012 7:51 pm


The link to Dr. McBride was exquisite…..

If the FDA and all of Wahington DC and all of medical America would take its message to heart ( and GUT ), our entire economic collapse, jobs crisis, social security bankruptcy, farming distaster, dairy crisis, failed modern medical detour and pharma poisoning apocalypse would cease.

The world will continue to be flat until such a time as enough death occurs that people are forced to look at death and sickness in the face. Sorry to say we have a little farther to go down this valley of the shadow of inhumane… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
August 19, 2012 10:40 pm

Why do you have to pay into the milk pool?

mark mcafee
August 20, 2012 3:41 am


In 1969 Opdc could have opted out of the milk pool. Opdc did not exist then. We have tried two lawsuits and one legislative attempt Big dairy wants our money and killed the bill.

Opdc supposedly receives raw milk into it’s plant. That is the corrupt excuse given for the unfair economic toture and tax into the milk pool.

It is flat wrong. !!!!

mark mcafee
August 20, 2012 4:31 pm


The Milk Pool is literally killing the dairy farmers. It assures that they all get the lowest possible milk price and there is nothing that anyone of them can do to liberate themselves from the ensuing bankruptcy.

OPDC can not buy a drop of fluid milk from the Milk Pool….like other processors. Why? Because of the required less than 10 coliform count and also the lack of control over quality and potential pathogens. About 5% of all Milk Pool milk contains pathogens.

CDFA does not appear to care about these very compelling issues and the structural unfairness that it… Read more »

mark mcafee
August 20, 2012 6:19 pm


I thought, wrongfully thought, that Mother Jones Magazine would present the Raw Milk story in an unbiased and helpful manner…boy…was I wrong.

They quoted FDA extensively, made a satire out of the PARSIFAL and GABRIELA studies and discounted these peer reviewed and published studies completely as if they did not matter and were irrelevant. They said that raw milk killed people, but did not give the data that supported any deaths. The then went on to talk about the guarantees of pasteurization and how it has changed milk safety for the better and assured that… Read more »

Mary McGonigle-Martin
August 20, 2012 6:59 pm

I haven’t seen the article. Whatever I said must have been good..

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
August 20, 2012 9:39 pm


bacterial contamination appears to be so much more prevalent in everything but dairy….

mark mcafee
August 20, 2012 11:28 pm

This is a response from an attendee at the RAWMI raw milk seminar last month in Oregon.

“New Creation Dairy Goats
Mark, THANK YOU again for leading the class in oregon that prompted our family to push for whole foods and only consuming raw milk….here’s my post for today on my facebook page: Allergy/Asthma update: On Sat night we went to a friends house who has cats….which is my daughters biggest problem and ALWAYS triggers the asthma to the point of needing a middle-of-the-night nebulizer treatment….this was our FIRST visit to this friends house that DID NOT end with ANY… Read more »

mark mcafee
August 20, 2012 11:52 pm


Dr. Lindy Woodard speaks about her pediatric practice and the use of RAWMILK to reduce and or eliminate asthma and allergies and ear infections.

I rest my case. She says that raw milk is medicine.

D. Smith
August 21, 2012 1:15 am

@ Mark: Raw milk IS medicine – until someone says it isn’t – and then someone with two tweets worth of authority comes along and verifies the nearly unverifiable because they’re from some gubment agency. And because they can. Egotards.

I would venture to say that Mary Martin contacted Mother Jones with her story and they ran with it without bothering to do any real journalistic research, even though she now claims amnesia. Or maybe Marler spoke for her. Hmmmm. I stopped looking at Mother Jones several years ago because they had some idiotic stuff… Read more »

D. Smith
August 21, 2012 1:24 am

@ Mark: Good Lord, more than a half a million dollars?? Dang near like blood money. You’d think they would WANT to keep you in business.

But if it were me, I’d go back to being a paramedic and deprive the milk pool. But that’s just me. Stressful as it is, it would be a walk in the park, stress-wise, compared to letting them rule the roost, and you wouldn’t have to kiss the butts of the State goons.

Kristen P
August 21, 2012 3:51 am

puke on, mark, puke on. at least it’s not bloody diarrhea.
I love me some hippies.

Mary McGonigle-Martin
August 21, 2012 4:21 am

D. Smith, the author of the article had been a raw milk drinker for a year. She purchased it from a herd share somewhere in California. Somewhere along the road she read something about pathogens and raw milk. I think she found the Real Raw Milk Facts website and watched the videos. I think that is how she found me. Anyway, she contacted Marler Clark and they connected us.

She never revealed to me that she was a raw milk drinker when she interviewed me, but I could tell by her questions she… Read more »

August 21, 2012 5:51 am

Forgive me gentle “bloggers,” but I can’t help thinking this series of comments has reminded me of an old Looney Tunes cartoon where Daffy Duck is “The Duxorcist: Mary had a Little Lamb.” One can view the old cartoon on U-Tube by the same title. I’m sorry Dave M. and Mark, because I’d like to stand with you when you respectfully reach out to her, but I know without a doubt my hand would get bit right along with yours.
It is the nature of the spirit(s) within. JMHO.

Deborah - Pacifica
August 21, 2012 2:11 pm

Hmmmmmmm, interesting post, albeit a bit strange, but I need to ask….who is Dave M.?

D. Smith
August 21, 2012 2:21 pm

@ Mary: Yes, this is rich. The author was a raw milk drinker for a year – and wasn’t worried about pathogens and never was sickened from the milk in any way? Then you encouraged her to watch a video and read a story and then ya’ll discussed a few things. At that point, based on other people’s experiences rather than her own, she decided the benefits did not outweigh the risks.

I guess it makes sense to someone. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Does she also know how pasteurized… Read more »

D. Smith
August 21, 2012 4:19 pm

@ user2690: I sure would like to understand what is going through your mind with this post, but I must admit to having no clue whatsoever. Who is the “her” you refer to?

D. Smith
August 21, 2012 4:22 pm

@ Deborah: Dave M. is Dave Milano. He had a one sentence post farther up the line thanking Mary for her post with the video interview of Dr. Natasha McBride who wrote the GAPS stuff.

It is again one of those days where posts are just landing wherever they wish. I tried to “reply” to user2690 but of course it shoved my post all the way to the bottom of the page instead of correlating it under his post. So now everything is out of kilter. Arg.

Dave Milano
August 21, 2012 4:31 pm

For the record, I am not “reaching out” to Mary, but consider her a long distance friend. Mary has been nothing but civil to me and others, and her opinions, however convergent or divergent to my own, are neither here nor there when it comes to taking responsibility for each other. Kindness and love to all. (Notably, one’s responsibility to be kind and loving does not preclude the exchange of ideas or attempts to persuade. One might argue it is the only way to effectively persuade.)

On the latter, Mary stated above that a raw milk drinker may not have… Read more »

D. Smith
August 21, 2012 4:46 pm

Interesting article from Sarah Pope. The video is a bit weird, but makes a point. The reader comments are always a testimony to the goodness of raw milk, too.


Deborah - Pacifica
August 21, 2012 5:46 pm

Thanks, D., I was somewaht confused about user2690’s post, it wasn’t making sense & was somewhat strange!

D. Smith
August 21, 2012 6:55 pm

Can someone, anyone, comment on what happens when you add iodine to raw milk? I was doing some research on iodine this morning and happened upon this forum and saw the comment by one person who mentions the practice, but doesn’t go into any detail at all.

Here’s the comment verbatim: “If you are concerned about bacterial count, put a few drops of iodine in the gallon of milk and stir it thoroughly.”

It came from this link: http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&p=97019

It is in a comment posted by buffalo girl about the fifth post down.


Deborah - Pacifica
August 21, 2012 8:01 pm

D. – what I can share about iodine being added to milk, has to do with pasteurized milk…my grandmother, when we could not get raw milk, always added some iodine to store bought pasteurized milk. She stated that pasteurization always destroyed the iodine that was in raw milk. Wow, thanks for bringing this question up, you brought me a ‘blast from the past’ recollection!

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
August 21, 2012 8:06 pm

I’ve heard of adding iodine to water in an emergency situation for purification. I don’t know what it would do to milk. http://water.epa.gov/drink/emerprep/emergencydisinfection.cfm


Mary McGonigle-Martin
August 22, 2012 12:37 am

Thanks Dave. I consider you a long distance friend also. I hope you know how much I respect the lifesytle you have lived. I think owning your own cow is the only way to go with raw milk.

Mary McGonigle-Martin
August 22, 2012 1:22 am

D. Smith, she knows all about CAFO milk. That is why she was drinking raw milk. If somone wants to be a milk drinker, I think the best option is to buy grass fed raw milk from a local farmer and pasteurize it at home.

As for our family, we don’t consume dairy.

D. Smith
August 22, 2012 3:52 am

Did anyone else have trouble with the volume on this video? I can hardly hear her speaking, and I have the volume turned up on all of the speakers. Does anyone know if it’s available anywhere else? Thanks in advance.

D. Smith
August 22, 2012 4:14 am

@ Sylvia and Deborah: Yep, whenever DH and I head out to go camping in the summer or snowshoeing in the winter, we always carry iodine in case we run out of fresh water. We also carry gray sea salt in case we think we need added electrolytes.

But I’d never heard or thought about adding it to raw milk, but as I said, the person who posted that statement at the link I included in a different post, didn’t go into any details at all. I don’t know if she was adding it to the milk as… Read more »

D. Smith
August 22, 2012 1:25 pm

@ Mary: Since we now reside within a city, owning our own cow is not possible, as is the case for many people, so that’s a great statement but a lousy solution! Therefore, the only way for those of us who love and consume raw milk is to try to purchase it from someone who is able to own a cow or three. The food safety people want to make that difficult for us, even though we’re willing to take responsibility for our own decisions regarding the foods we consume in the name of food freedom… Read more »

D. Smith
August 22, 2012 1:35 pm

@ Mary: I don’t pasteurize my raw milk. Why would I do that since the whole idea is to keep it raw? I grew up drinking raw milk, I know what to look for in a farm operation providing raw milk. If your family chooses not to consume dairy that’s fine, but I would hope, then, that you are also boycotting all forms of milk and also telling folks of the dangers concerned with pasteurized milk, the process it takes to make dried milk powder, the hazards of buying pasteurized nut milks in boxes, and… Read more »

Mary McGonigle-Martin
August 22, 2012 2:08 pm

If you took the time to read my article for FSN, you would know my stand on CAFO milk. For people who want to drink healthy milk, but don’t want to take the pathogen risk, home pasteurization of grass fed raw milk is an option.

Mary McGonigle-Martin
August 22, 2012 2:12 pm

From a food safety perspective, owning, living with, and milking your own cow is the safest option. Having to care for only one cow decreases the risks.

Deborah - Pacifica
August 22, 2012 2:24 pm

It is an intriguing notion, that’s for sure & I do remember back a number of years when camping & hiking to bring iodine for purification purposes of water. I did do some research on the internet last night for using iodine with both pasteurized & raw milk. In the few posts that I saw iodine being used in raw milk, they didn’t state why it was being used. In a number of posts that I found with using iodine in pasteurized milk, it was for the same reason that my grandmother did it…to replace the… Read more »

August 22, 2012 5:22 pm

so true … but even a Thorn in the Flesh has its purpose – by which I mean the role MMMcG plays in the Campaign for REAL MILK : never forget, though, she’s not here to help people get healthy : she’s sent to wear out the saints

Deborah - Pacifica
August 22, 2012 5:27 pm

A while back I came across a post, I forget which website I was on nor what it was that I was researching, but it caught my attention & I copied it…here it is…some food for thought:

My wife and I operate a 100 percent grass-based seasonal dairy. Your readers need to know that just because a dairy is organic doesn’t mean these cows are eating a grain-free diet. These dairies can feed organic grain, hay or silage and still sell organic milk. This may be slightly better than regular store-bought milk, BUT these cows can still… Read more »

August 22, 2012 6:52 pm

What evidence do you have for this radical assertion?