What Do You Call the MN Campaign Against Nutrient-Dense Food? Confiscation? Theft? Looting? And Hartmann Legal Victory on Contempt Charges

He’s back! MDA agent Jim Roettger shown last December hauling food and holding a search warrant at a suburban Minneapolis dropoff site for the Hartmann farm. “I’m new to this community and…get food from Alvin (Schlangen),” writes Elisa on a listserve. “I’m so upset they have done this, as is my whole family.”

Welcome to Minnesota, Elisa, where official interference in ordinary people’s access to food has become a major public initiative, along with paving roads and building schools.

And let me introduce you to James Roettger, the man who coordinated the “this” you refer to–the seizure of $5,000-$6,000 worth of food from Alvin Schlangen’s van yesterday.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know something about Roettger–he’s the Minnesota Department of Agriculture agent who seized food being distributed from the Hartmann farm in a Minneapolis suburb last December, mis-using his handicapped plate in the process.

The Minnesota campaign against nutrient-dense foods actually began last spring, when Michael Hartmann’s farm was linked to eight cases of infection from E.coli 0157-H7, apparently in his raw milk. That led to court-ordered embargoing of food from his farm.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Public Health could be seen as doing their jobs in that case, since people became sick. The problem is that the MDA, in particular, didn’t end its enforcement efforts with Hartmann. The MDA made a big part of its overall mission the destruction of anyone who had any connection to raw dairy, and nutrient-dense foods in general, totally apart from Hartmann.

On June 15, it conducted a raid on a Minneapolis food club, Traditional Foods Minnesota, and seized more than 50 different products, which didn’t include raw dairy, since the outlet didn’t sell raw milk. It accused Traditional Foods of operating without a license and violating zoning laws, and the outlet has been shut down ever since, as its owners seek to comply with seemingly endless red tape created by MDA, together with the city of Minneapolis.

As for the food seized in that raid, I understand from sources close to the situation that all the foods were tested, at a cost approaching $40,000. The result? Some pickles were found to have been packed in liquid considered to have a high Ph reading.

After shutting down Traditional Foods Minnesota, the MDA sought to shut down Alvin Schlangen’s operations. He made raw milk available from a facility adjoining that of Traditional Foods Minnesota, as well as from his farm, along with eggs, meat, and even fresh citrus.

Wait, I’ll let Roettger tell the story, per his statement to a Minnesota judge in support of the search warrant he obtained to carry out yesterday’s raid.

“I have been assigned as the lead investigator in a case involving Alvin Schlangen. I have gathered information that leads me to believe that Mr. Schlangen is selling food not produced on his farm without a license and is selling unpasteurized milk to the public at locations other than the farm on which the milk was produced. Each act is a violation of Minnesota law…”

Hmmm, the fact he’s “the lead investigator” suggests he is leading a team of investigators. So let’s see, if Roettger is paid $80,000 a year (without benefits), and leads a team of investigators who are each paid $60,000 a year, the numbers are starting to add up. Along with the $40,000 to test all the food from Traditional Foods Minnesota, we’re into the hundreds of thousands of dollars…to take food from ordinary people.

Keep in mind, this has been going on since last June. According to Roettger’s statement, “In June 2010, inspectors with the Dairy and Food Inspection Division Department found Mr. Schlangen selling food of various types from space in the Traditional Foods Warehouse building…without having a license to sell food. Mr. Schlangen also was selling unpasteurized milk and butter and uninspected custom slaughtered meat at this location which could not legally be sold even with a license.”

Then, Roettger says, “A search warrant was executed at Mr. Schlangen’s farm in Stearns County on June 23, 2010. Mr. Schlangen produces and sells chicken eggs and chickens on his small (approximately 5 acre) farm. The search found evidence of illegal unlicensed food sales…”

On July 27, Roettger says, “MDA had an administrative meeting with Mr. Schlangen and again informed him not to sell any food that he did not prdouce without a license, not to sell unpasteurized milk and butter and not to sell uninspected custom slaughter meat.”

In December, “MDA inspectors inspected (not a sanitary inspection) Mr. Schlangen’s farm…and found evidence that he had been selling food that he had not produced on his farm without a license.”

But Roettger’s big break in the case was still to come, on Valentine’s Day, no less. “On February 14, 2011, I received a telephone call from a person who identified himself and sated that he is a tenant of the building” where Schlangen has facilities. I’m breathless as I read. “The tenant informed me of the following:…That Mr. Schlangen is storing and selling foods at that location, including apples, oranges, lemons, almonds, unpasteurized butter, and unpasteurized milk.” It goes on to say how Schlangen makes deliveries and brings in unpasteurized milk on Tuesdays.

Then yesterday, the big raid. Roettger obtained help from St. Paul police, and cornered Schlangen as he was dropping off food at a local college. Roettger looked inside the van, saw some citrus, which told his sharp investigative mind that Schlangen’s farm hadn’t grown it, and sought immediate approval of the search warrant, which was quickly delivered.  (There’s an excellent account of the raid and aftermath at the blog of one of Schlangen’s food club members._)

The big problem with search warrants of this type is that the suspected criminal doesn’t get to present his side of the story. Nowhere in the search warrant is there the slightest hint of Schlangen’s defense–that he makes food available privately to members of his food club who sign a statement to that effect and pay an annual membership fee, and that he doesn’t sell to the general public.

But there’s another question as well. Why does the MDA insist on obtaining search warrants and harassing visits instead of simply taking suspects like Schlangen to court? In fact, despite eight months of harassment, or call it theft of food, legal charges have yet to be filed against Schlangen.

Maybe the answer is to be found in the case of Michael Hartmann. The state condemned thousands of dollars of his cheese and meat products last June, and recently sought to hold the farmer in contempt when the MDA discovered, just as it was about to have the food destroyed, that substantial amounts had disappeared.

Today, a state judge declined to find him in contempt when he said that the reason there was less food was that he and his family ate it…and everyone was still around to tell the story. Maybe the judge was saying that it’s okay to eat the food you produce. Maybe the MDA is afraid to challenge Alvin Schlangen’s right to distribute food privately to consenting adults, because they’ll have a similar defense–they obtained it privately…to eat it.

Schlangen remains committed to making nutrient-dense food available to individuals who want it. Late yesterday, he wrote this statement to supporters:

“This three day marathon to bring nutrient dense food to our network of families is so much more satisfying when we can actually deliver the food. This day showed, once again, the arrogance of our Dept of Ag and the collective ignorance of our rights as Americans and Minnesotans. We will not allow fear and aggression to undermine our principals as we continue to promote health through our food supply. It seems ironic to me that the very food items that were used to obtain a warrant to search and detain our farm delivery truck, (4# of oranges and 5# of grapefruit) were the only food items left behind after the looting was done.” ?

So, Elisa, you seem to have picked a difficult state to live in if it’s nutrient-dense food you’re after.

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22 Comments on "What Do You Call the MN Campaign Against Nutrient-Dense Food? Confiscation? Theft? Looting? And Hartmann Legal Victory on Contempt Charges"

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Sylvia Gibson
March 11, 2011 9:10 am

" have picked a difficult state to live in if it's nutrient-dense food you're after."

Are there any states that aren't difficult in obtaining the wanted nutrient-dense food?

"The United Nations released a whopper of a report today. In the midst of soaring global food and oil prices, the agency let loose a public stunner: World hunger and climate change cannot be solved with industrial farming. So much for seed-giant Pioneer Hi-Bred's "We Feed The World" slogan. Yowch."

Bill Anderson
March 11, 2011 12:24 pm

You have to wonder who is pressuring MDA to undertake this course of action?

Surely it couldn't be the pasteurization industry, could it? (sarcasm)

Edwin Shank
March 12, 2011 12:29 am


I know Im a little late. This is in relation to your last post on the FDAs John Sheehan and French Cheese

Sheehan says: …"In countries where pasteurization of milk is less common, outbreaks of foodborne illness attributed to tainted milk or milk products occur more frequently than they do in the United States. In France, for example, the rate of foodborne illness attributed to milk and milk products was reported to be roughly three times what it is in the U.S….

This is such a classic case of poor logic. Of course the rate is going to be higher.… Read more »

Bill Anderson
March 12, 2011 12:32 am

Great stats Edwin! Aso thanks to Sylvia for the link!

Another thing to consider about the French is their rate of obesity, which if I'm not mistaken is a fraction of American's obesity rate.

Mark McAfee
March 12, 2011 10:12 am

Brilliant work Edwin,

Thats the kind of logic that makes sense to people….but really pisses off the FDA Sheehans of the world. So keep on doing it!

Time will pass and people will wise up and things will change. Even Sheehan will change or be changed.

Some one needs to get that Buret off of Buret Boys head and throw it in a muddy mud puddle. He wears it like a special forces food commando. He has that military authority psuedo-FDA uniform crap going on in his head….you need to make life real for him….remind him that he… Read more »

The Complete Patient
March 12, 2011 10:14 am

John Sheehan and his colleagues at the FDA are experts at what is known as "cherry picking." They look for the studies or examples that "prove" their points on raw dairy and foodborne illness, and ignore all evidence that might undermine their position. Usually, that means ignoring big-picture data, since invariably that doesn't say what the FDA wants it to say. Very sad. Thanks for digging this up for us. There will surely be more to come on the data front.


Concerned Person
March 12, 2011 10:37 pm

Edwin, was there a break down comparision for between the U.S. and France for milk/cheese related illnesses only? Your comparision was for all foodborne illnesses.


Sylvia Gibson
March 12, 2011 10:38 pm

"Crews have already scooped and hauled away more than 85 tons of fish to a composting center where they will turn into fertilizer."



They are contaminated with a neurotoxin that affects humans and they will be making fertilizer with it?? Is this population control?

"means ignoring big-picture data, since invariably that doesn't say what the FDA wants it to say. Very sad. "

Appears TPTB ignore vast amounts of data for many issues, especially when it doesn't fit their agenda. Beyond sad.

Sophie Lovett
March 12, 2011 11:15 pm

Farmers organizing a "Tractorcade" today in Wisconsin:

Mark McAfee
March 13, 2011 10:27 am


Your question might seem relevant but it is not….

The overall death and illness rate in a country is directly related to that countries citizens immune status and that means unprocessed whole food consumption and access.

That also means drinking Raw milk, eating probiotic fermented foods and reduced use of preservatives, sterilization practices and knee jerk reactive abuse and over use of antibiotics.

In France the drug pharma mafia is under control can not push its drugs on people in the media like it does in the USA.

The sum total of the diet gives a very good indication of… Read more »

Smy Opin
March 13, 2011 10:32 am

Not only is there foodborne illness to compare, we need to demand they include
" foodborne health" in the equation.

We cannot continue allowing them to conclude that "enriched" flour used in twinkies is equitable to the real vitamins from real food.

You can't just count how many people get sick from pathogens.
You have to include those that are ill due to empty calories, low nutrient food, pesticides,
chemicals, etc.

Bill Anderson
March 13, 2011 10:53 am

The French are healthier than Americans. That is what matters.

The French are also more socialistic, have stronger labor unions, and have profound respect for small farmers and their agricultural & culinary traditions. Artisinal raw milk cheeses are not merely "legal", they are protected and defined by law to prevent commercial/industrial immitation.

Today Madison, WI had over 200,000 people protesting on the capital square against the union-busting policies of the Walker administration. The morning protest was organized by various family farm groups, and featured dozens of family farmers driving their tractors around the capital square.

Today, I am proud… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
March 13, 2011 9:16 pm

"enriched" flour"

This is misleading to many people. It appears to be "assumed" that "enriched" means healthy with added vitamins. Not the case at all.



Another contributor to the endemic of osteoporsis, and other illnesses? Other countries ban items, yet our govt allows and appears to encourage the poisoning of its population.




Why is it "ok" to sell this (and other) poison to the masses and not raw milk?

I am glad Wi had a good turn out, it will open more eyes and hopefully… Read more »

Concerned Person
March 13, 2011 9:48 pm

I just bet you hate the fact that raw milk has not killed anyone in the last 37 years and pasteurized milk and pasteurized dairy products have killed at least 620 in that same period and pasteurized cheeses and ice cream are on the top ten risky foods list and pasteurized milk is the most allergenic food in America for children….

Mark, this is a very sick statement to make; suggesting that I would be disappointed that no one has died from drinking raw milk. You are an odd man. Something is not quite right upstairs in that… Read more »

Milky Way
March 14, 2011 1:08 am

This paper does a good job comparing recent raw and pasteurized milk outbreaks in the US. The missing piece is number of servings for each.


Full paper posted here:



Steve Bemis
March 14, 2011 4:22 am

MW: quoting from the abstract of the study you cite:

"Eighty-three fluid milkborne outbreaks were reported between 1990 and 2006, resulting in 3621 illnesses. The mean number of illnesses per outbreak was 43.6 (illness range: 21644). Consumption of unpasteurized milk was associated with 55.4% of reported outbreaks."

Do you then agree with the following math derived from this study recap: 3621 illnesses times 55.4% for raw milk equals 2006 raw milk illnesses over 17 years, or an average of 118 raw milk illnesses per year?

Steve Bemis
March 14, 2011 4:41 am

I realize this conclusion confounds outbreaks with illnesses, so reading the study we find that it does not, on a quick read, show the number of illnesses other than to note that the largest (n-1644) was due to pasteurized milk. Removing this number from the total number of illnesses yields 1977 total illnesses, which if we assume they were ALL due to raw milk, yields an average of 116 reported raw milk illnesses per year.

Joseph Heckman
March 14, 2011 7:42 am

Protecting Yourself in a Nuclear Emergency with Potassium Iodide


Could a significant amount of radiation from the nuclear emergencies in Japan reach the USA; I do not know. FYI from a reference book Radiological Information for Farmers:

Protecting farm animals and products
Why is it so important to protect dairy animals?
One of the materials a nuclear accident could release is Iodine-131. If a person or animal eats food or drinks water with Iodine-131 it gets into the body. Cows with Iodine-131 produce contaminated milk. Humans can be… Read more »

Steve Bemis
March 14, 2011 7:53 am

A more careful reading of the study (which utilized CDC data and was designed to provide a baseline in order to have a way to determine if a terrorist food-poisoning event may have occurred) shows there were 974 reported raw milk illnesses in the 17 years, and 2647 reported pasteurized milk illnesses. This would indicate an average number of reported raw milk illnesses as 57.3 per year (974/17) during the period 1990-2006 (Table 1, Milkborne Disease Outbreak Profile, page 435,

Karen James
March 14, 2011 8:32 am

Thanks for the information, Joseph.

A neighbor of mine used to sell her raw goat milk to the closest nuclear power plan for weekly testing. I believe it took something like 9 to 10 days for the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster to show up in her milk in the United States.

Karen James
March 14, 2011 8:34 am

Thanks for the information, Joseph.

A neighbor of mine used to sell her raw goat milk to the closest nuclear power plant for weekly testing. I believe it took something like 9 to 10 days for the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster to show up in her milk in the United States.

bop da
November 8, 2011 3:36 pm

Most commonly, nutrient density is defined as a ratio of nutrient content (in grams) to the total energy content (in kilocalories or joules). Nutrient-dense food is opposite to energy-dense food (also called "empty calorie" food). According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, nutrient-dense foods are those foods that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories. Fruits and vegetables are the nutrient-dense foods, while products containing added sugars, processed cereals, and alcohol are not.[1][2][3]

Second, nutrient density is defined as a ratio of food energy from carbohydrate, protein or fat to the total food energy. To… Read more »