Wherein My Food Conference Skit Works So Well, I Am Put on the Hot Seat; MD Hearing


"David Edwards" presents at the NOFA-NJ Winter Conference on Sunday, Jan. 26. (Photo by Rita Ladany) I got a taste Sunday of what it is like to be a government food policy official in enemy territory. 


I spoke at the NOFA-NJ Winter Conference in Lincroft, NJ, and decided to assume the role of David Edwards, a high-ranking (and fictitious) food policy official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (NOFA is the Northeast Organic Farming Association.) 


I had actually assumed the same fictitious role on Wednesday evening at a get-together at Groton Wellness, but because most of the people there already knew me, it was all in good fun. Yesterday, most of the people hadn’t met me before. And also, this time I dressed for the role,  in suit and tie and dark glasses; the NOFA-NJ board member who introduced me, Theresa Lam, played along and explained to the 45 or so people present that “David Gumpert has been delayed, but we have a substitute speaker, a high-ranking official from the Department of Health and Human Services by the name of David Edwards.” 


I guess I should have realized that not everyone understood this was a skit when one man immediately got up and left when the speaker he had come to see apparently wasn’t there. This was, after all, a busy conference, with several dozen presentations and more than 500 attendees. 


My/Edwards’ talk was entitled, “Survival of the Weakest: Keeping America’s Food System in Safe Hands,” and I went through a series of PowerPoint slides making the case that our factory food system has done a wonderful job of keeping people’s stomachs full, even if it has led to serious chronic health problems and police-state regulation of small farms selling food privately. The health problems, I pointed out, have resulted in huge economic benefits for Big Pharma and the medical profession, and the over-regulation has benefited Big Ag corporations. 


I also argued, as David Edwards, that we in government had cleverly created a food safety “crisis” to distract from the factory-food-related health issues (such as antibiotic resistance, over-use of pesticides, and the rise of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs). 


I thought it was pretty cute, till people in the audience began taking me seriously. One woman interrupted with questions about why I was defining food safety entirely in terms of pathogens. I was taken aback, but decided to stay in character. 


She wouldn’t accept David Edwards’ explanations that there were serious food safety issues, and that we had to penalize small farmers to get the message across, even if that meant confiscating unregulated food. “Why would you dispose of perfectly good food?” she inquired when I explained that food confiscated from from Rawesome Food Club in California and from Alvin Schlangen and Michael Hartmann’s farms in Minnesota had been disposed of in landfills. “How did you know it was unsafe?”


I gave her the standard line, that because it hadn’t been a part of the state’s regulation-inspection process, it was assumed to be high-risk food. She wasn’t buying it. 


A man wanted to know why I was arguing that we had to promote an armed raid against Rawesome Food Club in Los Angeles. I explained that we had to set some tough examples, to discourage others from getting the idea that private food sales would be tolerated.

In the Q&A afterwards, there were more tough comments and inquiries about the Food Safety Modernization Act and about undue corporate influence over dairy and other industries. I cut it short after just a few questions, anxious to return to the much-more-comfortable David Gumpert. 


Theresa Lam confessed to me afterwards that she had been worried that my skit had gone awry, and perhaps I should come out of character.  “A couple people were pretty angry.”  But in the end, she was relieved, and glad I had stayed in character. “People were engaged. It was a very informative exercise.” 


I must admit, I sweated the intense cross examination. It made me realize how uncomfortable it can become for government proponents who have commented here, when people here become angry and fire off intense questions. 


In the end, I realized yet again why government officials are so reluctant to engage in direct face-to-face discussions or debates about raw milk and other food rights issues. Who wants to have their rules questioned and scrutinized? 

I also understood how insecure these officials must feel, at heart, to be defending a system that has become so terribly corrupted. So many stay inside their hallowed halls, limit themselves to speaking to industry supporters and other government officials. They must be just a tad nervous. After all, it’s never a good idea to be messing with people’s food. 


The push to legalize raw milk in Maryland, home of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is gaining momentum. Liz Reitzig has been leading much of the effort, and tomorrow (Tuesday) will feature a full day of hearings. Livestreaming of the hearing will be available here; click on the arrow with the Health and Government Operations Committee.  

Leave a Reply

69 Comments on "Wherein My Food Conference Skit Works So Well, I Am Put on the Hot Seat; MD Hearing"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Deborah - Pacifica
January 28, 2014 1:58 am

Oh my gosh, David…this is hilarious, I’m just about rolling on the floor, laughing hysterically!! But, what a good way to engage people, to open their eyes and to challenge them into realizing what really is going on. Was this video-taped? I would love to see the whole thing. So, did you finally ‘fess’ up and turn into David Gumpert in the end? How did you come up with this idea, it is ingenious and very creative!!

January 28, 2014 2:49 am

David, another similarity between “David Edwards” and “Don Schaffner and Michele Jay-Russell” is that they are also roll-playing.

Deborah - Pacifica
January 28, 2014 3:46 am

Well, good for you, David…what an absolutely brilliant idea!!

January 28, 2014 10:49 am

David: Congratulations, for be willing to assume the role of Mr. Edwards. Now you need to find someone to play Mr. Edwards role. Was the event recorded.

January 28, 2014 10:53 am

David: Found the video, you assumed the role well.

January 28, 2014 1:21 pm

Dear David Gumpet. I fear that you have not had a taste of being a food safety official by making a ‘fake presentation’. I have been a public health official in Sweden for 3 years and worked at the European Commission for over a year, and I can assure you that attempting to protect the whole population of people in a world where 4% of the population are feeding 96% of the population is far from easy. There is no agenda to support large scale business. Large scale business is a situation that has evolved in modern society, and… Read more »

January 28, 2014 2:06 pm

Corporate agriculture didn’t accidentally “evolve” but was systematically built by corporations, banks and governments. It’s a planned economy that requires massive corporate welfare subsidies, market interventions like “intellectual property”, and police and military action to prop it up.

Regulatory bureaucracies are fully conscious of this and see their role as to help aggrandize this corporatist system. They openly refer to big business, NOT the people, as their “clients”. This is both their career interest and their ideology.

During the lethal Showa Denko outbreak, which killed at least 37 people and permanently debilitated thousands, the FDA led the criminal public… Read more »

Ken Conrad
Ken Conrad
January 28, 2014 2:32 pm


A living probiotic food such as raw milk should be made available to all children, so that each child has an opportunity to nurture a strong immune system.

Unfortunately raw milk has to compete with toxic endocrine and immune disrupting medical interventions such as vaccines and chemically laced, HFCS sweetened dead foods that disrupt a child’s overall health and undermines raw milk’s life giving properties.

People seem to have a limitless supply of funds to spend on expensive booze, drugs, cigarettes, soft drinks etc. yet when it comes to buying good wholesome food it’s all of a sudden to expensive.
Hence the… Read more »

Mary McGonigle-Martin
January 28, 2014 3:04 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post this comment.

Mary McGonigle-Martin
January 28, 2014 3:05 pm

Sorry Cat, I left off your name.

January 28, 2014 3:14 pm

David, thank you so much for taking the time to visit us at NOFA-NJ. Your presentation certainly had my adrenalin flowing! After all, NOFA-NJ is an organization that promotes small local organic and sustainable farms and food and your character David Edwards was speaking out against our beliefs. Seeing it all play out from my perspective, I thought the situation was hilarious. Mr. Edwards presented his support of the Health Department’s regulatory activities very subtly at first, while the audience did not seem to notice where this was going. As his discussion progressed, eyebrows began to furrow, then… Read more »

mark mcafee
January 28, 2014 3:37 pm

This would all be very funny….except the skit is real. Unfortunately, Mr. John Sheehan of the FDA is the no show for the speech and not Our beloved David. Cat has the EU constructive perspective, I have the American alienation perspective. I have tried many times to hold constructive dialogue, share hard data studies of raw milk, even with the submission of two huge FDA citizens petitions ….to no avail. The FDA doors are locked tight and well guarded. For the FDA to allow access would empower us and surrender to knowledge!!!

Our future of progress will… Read more »

Deborah - Pacifica
January 28, 2014 3:40 pm

Dr Cat Berge – I fear that you missed the whole point of David’s ‘fake’ presentation. It was a ‘tongue in cheek’ effort to point out how ridiculous our government agencies, big Ag and big Pharma have become here in the USA. By your statement, I am assuming that you are still living in Sweden…which makes for a much different environment compared to ours. His presentation was meant to prompt and challenge the participants, which it did and it even elicited the types of questions that he was asked during the presentation. In… Read more »

January 29, 2014 10:26 am

The one superb thing to come out of it is the fact that there’s only c. 30,000 genes in the human genome.

But they were expecting >100,000, since they were assuming the doctrine of One Gene = One Trait, which is also the foundation dogma of the alleged safety of genetic engineering.

Therefore, along with all the other evidence, that of the HGP relegates this core piece of GMO Junk Science to the trash heap of history, and leaves the entire dogma of theoretical GMO safety in tatters.

Of course, this hasn’t slowed down the cartel or the regulators at all. But… Read more »

Ora Moose
Ora Moose
January 29, 2014 11:36 am

Oh oh, I was afraid this might happen. If you have not heard yet, David has been slapped with a court restraining order as a direct result of impersonating a government official. According to the terms, he is prohibited from giving speeches at any public conference or seminar, cannot visit Farmers Markets, and must stay away from any farm that has cows or sells food.

According to an FDA spokesperson “We decided to make an example of Mr. Gumpert, since we can’t let just anyone pretend that they are a government official or regulator simply by putting on… Read more »

Ora Moose
Ora Moose
January 29, 2014 1:36 pm

I’m also hearing that David may be charged with running a blog without a license, and defamation of obviously corrupt government practices in high places. They’re very mad (as in crazy) and they’re not going to take it anymore. Donate now to the DGLDF, make a difference.

mark mcafee
January 29, 2014 1:45 pm


What do I find interesting about the human genome and human biome projects?

First off… It shows evidence that we are genetically ruled by a about 95% bacterial DNA The human biome project tells us to start thinking differently and to stop killing ourselves with the abuse of a antibiotics. And…start respecting the dominant role of bacteria in our lives!! We are after all BacteriaSapiens!! That’s what is so important about these scientific & societal investments

January 29, 2014 5:23 pm

Dear Raw milk mike,
I live in Belgium. I drink raw milk. I go twice a week to a local dairy and pick up a gallon that I consume myself!. It helps against my allergies. I make the choice… and educated choice and a choice of buying local and buying taste. I do not need to impose that choice on all people. All people make a choice. We should let all people make the choice.
I have lived 10 years in USA. I know the system there too.
Kind regards,

January 29, 2014 5:26 pm

I live in Belgium. I have spent 10 years in USA. I have been part of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation. I know the American system. When I say that it is a system of camps and fighting against each other, that is simply a truth. How can you in USA change this? How can you get FDA to find solution for you as well as other commodities? That is your challenge. I fear ridiculing public health officials and appointing them guilt by association (being part of government does not make them responsible for corporate systems) is not the… Read more »

January 29, 2014 5:28 pm

I do not think we can blame governments. People have to take responsibility for their own health and their food choices. People afford what they want.

January 29, 2014 5:29 pm

” There is no agenda to support large scale business. ”

Cat, you are incorrect. I think you need to read up on Earl Butz (Assistant Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., from 1954 to 1957, Secretary of Agriculture from 1971 to 1976 ) and how his policies shaped agriculture today. He told farmers to “get big or get out” and he managed to almost destroy the family farm in America. He gave walloping big incentives to large-scale agribusiness. The proliferation of large commercial farms in America are a direct result of his manipulation of the market.… Read more »

D. Smith
D. Smith
January 29, 2014 5:46 pm

Take responsibility for our own food choices??? Exactly how do we accomplish this when the “unblameable gov’t” is making “food choices” like raw milk illegal all over the country as fast as they possibly can? And if they aren’t making it illegal, they’re making up rules and regulations which make it impossible for small farmers to stay in business. That makes raw milk inaccessible. It’s not a matter of “affording” what people want, it’s a matter of legality and access. Regulators won’t be done with their jobs against raw milk until it is… Read more »

January 29, 2014 7:21 pm

There might have been an agenda.. but that agenda was not by public health officials. Do not mix up agricultural policy with public health safety. Public health officials and administrations are simply trying to secure the system. What I mean is that a public health official should not be mady guilty of simply working for the government. As regards ‘get big or get out’ , can you tell me a single modern country where the same situation is not happening. This is a global phenomenon, there is more than US policy governing this trend. How many modern day kids… Read more »

January 29, 2014 7:24 pm

Dear D. Smith,
Read through my sentences and tell me what part was ‘rude and distasteful’. What do you know about my training and competences? Please avoid these kind of personal attacks.
Kind regards,

January 29, 2014 7:30 pm

For someone claiming not to have a political agenda, you’re sure pumping out the lies left and right like a fourth-rate hack columnist. “There Is No Alternative”…”globalization is a law of nature”….”people wanted to be driven off the land and into shantytowns”….”people are lazy and don’t want to work….”

D. Smith
D. Smith
January 29, 2014 7:34 pm

I am entitled to my opinion just as you are, and it wasn’t meant to be a personal attack it was just my opinion of your entire post. The WHOLE first post you made on this thread seemed rude (against David) and somewhat condescending.

It was not a “fake” presentation, it was a sort of test for the audience, to see how they would react.

I don’t care about your training or your competence.

January 29, 2014 7:35 pm

Corporations are artificial creations of government and are in fact extensions of government. Nominal government exists to serve corporations, as bureaucrats in every sector openly say. It’s the same system, and to be a bureaucrat of one part is to serve the whole.

We the people don’t want the FDA finding any “solution for us”. The solution is to abolish the FDA along with the corporations it serves.

January 29, 2014 7:37 pm

“Let them eat cake.”

(It has to be GMO-based cake, of course. No “choice” there. The government’s planned economy made sure of that. No choices there either.)

January 29, 2014 7:40 pm

Belgium’s nothing to write home about either. There, if the people make the choice to take action to defend their farms and food, the government sets up a kangaroo court and tries them as an organized crime network.


mark mcafee
January 29, 2014 8:52 pm

Hey Cat..

Most of my posts around here are to try and inspire some rank and file at the FDA go break code and start asking questions. Watch out some of the junk yard dogs around here bite… But mostly it’s just anonymous backing. I know the FDA reads this blog for the newest information. I know its a one way bridge, but at least they read it! How do I know? During litigation on my last FDA citizens petition, the FDA had reams of blog post comments that they submitted as evidence!!! Congrats to David!! Communicator extraordinaire!… Read more »

January 29, 2014 9:15 pm

Why would the corporate government employees be nervous? They have an entire army on their side, if they choose to push it that far. Certainly, the legal system, the police, etc. I think you were feeling discomfort because you don’t have that assurance in your normal existence.
Wow, they can’t take it when a few readers of a blog ask questions and express anger? I guess that’s typical of dictatorial types; “Obey me and don’t ask questions!”.

January 29, 2014 9:27 pm

Good points, Russ. Sorry if those working for the system feel under attack, but they choose to work for these agencies. They could be doing something really beneficial for everyone if they used their talents and energies to build an alternative to the doomed industrial system. For example, how about becoming the small farmers they resign to obsolesence? Or perhaps figuring out other ways to rebuild self-reliant communities? They claim to be “doing their job”. Fine, and I’m doing MY job by trying to keep my family healthy obtaining fresh, relatively uncontaminated food.

January 29, 2014 9:41 pm

“People have to take responsibility for their own health and their food choices”. EXACTLY WHAT WE’RE DOING. Another family and I are driving over 2 hours round-trip every week because my state doesn’t think I should take that responsibility. Every time a citizen attempts to take responsibility for their life or that of their family, bureaucrats leap into action to discourage them through onerous laws, licenses, certifications, you name it. We moved to the state in which we currently live due to the relaxed homeschooling laws . The state we left demanded constant streams of paperwork and testing… Read more »

January 29, 2014 9:44 pm

“We the people don’t want the FDA finding any “solution for us”. The solution is to abolish the FDA along with the corporations it serves”.

Right on, Russ! Couldn’t have said it better :)

January 29, 2014 9:53 pm

Dr. Berge,
Working for an oppressive government is as wrong now as it was in during the time of the Nazis. We now have a system that teaches kids that it is better to snoop on and bully one another than to get up early and do physical labor that causes them to actually need a shower afterwards. This is a big fat reason I’m homeschooling my 5 kids. BTW, one does NOT need to get up at 4 A.M. to milk a cow! You can milk the cow anytime you want to, as long as it’s every 12 hours.… Read more »

Ora Moose
Ora Moose
January 29, 2014 10:22 pm

David, you probably would be much safer as long as you don’t go around impersonating a Phillipino. I was getting worried that people don’t get the joke since there were no replies all day but I knew you’d get it.

January 30, 2014 2:15 am

Dr. Cat Berge said: “People have to take responsibility for their own health and their food choices.”

That is precisely what is going on here at this website, with RAWMI, with private food arrangements, with food clubs, and on and on- the exercising of the unalienable rights that every person possesses by the irrevocable act of the Creator God. These rights cannot be separated from the person. They might be suppressed, violated, etc., but they exist in every individual on the face of the earth and they cannot be taken away (ref.: Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of… Read more »

January 30, 2014 8:13 am

I’m proud to be an honest junkyard dog rather than a vile police dog, the type you may prefer, a loathsome combination of viciousness and servility.

If the metaphor is supposed to mean that people here are stupidly, gratuitously combative, that’s false, as you know well if you pay any attention at all. I, at least, argue a consistent viewpoint on the relationship of governmental and corporate bureaucrats, and the clear tyrannical intent of this combined bureaucratic system. I argue it more or less sharply depending on how strongly anyone is spewing the fraudulent opposite.

This is unlike your… Read more »

mark mcafee
January 30, 2014 1:11 pm

David, great pix. You really look like The G Man!!!lol

Russ, I try to talk to everyone that includes the FDA and locals anytime the opportunity a ails itself peace and progress has few constructive bounds I try to speak to everyone in a voice and language they understand. That is why my messages may seem varied.

Just trying to defend Dr Cat a little here. Her voice has taught me much about speaking with Indians in a far away and distant foreign land called FDA. And it works, they have sent an… Read more »

January 30, 2014 1:20 pm

Dear Cat, it does help that you start with a “Dear David, Dear Raw milk mike, Dear D, and end with a “Kind regards, Cat”. It make us want to do the same but it doesn’t change your underlying message and your gilt by association. In America government agencies like yours ignore the very people they are suppose to represent, and ignore the letter, and intent of the law. The regulatory agencies should be protecting us from adulteration, misbranding, and unfair business practices. Public health officials should promote good health. Both are, in fact, doing the exact opposite.… Read more »

mark mcafee
January 30, 2014 1:39 pm


At the end of the fight and the end of the day, peace is settled by reasonable battle weary people that sit and talk things out and decide the new political lines and decide just how much progress was actually made with all the fighting.

If no one meets with or talks with the FDA there is scarce chance of much long term progress. Each state level health department takes its orders from the book of FDA. Even little old Humboldt county in CA that forbids the sale of Raw Milk takes its orders from the FDA and refuses… Read more »

mark mcafee
January 30, 2014 1:58 pm


As I left the Maryland legislature, after testifying before their health committee on HB 3. A cow share bill, we met with the chief of staff of the chairman for the committee. In the past the chairman simply refused for any raw milk bills to be voted on and killed all bills prior to vote!!!

His rationale was simple, he is risk adverse and he is saving lives by stopping raw milk access.

We explained to his chief of staff the CDC data about the actual numbers of consumers sickened by pasteurized milk since 1972 ( 430,000 CDC… Read more »

January 30, 2014 3:46 pm

Mark you said “When safety fails, and people get sick”.

What if there is no correlation between state sponsored food safety and people getting sick. Have you seen any correlation.

D. Smith
D. Smith
January 31, 2014 9:01 pm

This is a fascinating article called High Rise Foods. Designed by a Belgian architect. It’s one of those things you see and think to yourself “if only”. If only it were that simple.


D. Smith
D. Smith
January 31, 2014 10:30 pm

Let me also add, just for the record, I do NOT believe in global warming and I do not believe we’re overpopulated. That is media spewed claptrap for the gullible. Still, his idea has merit because not everyone can live on a farm no matter how much we wish we could, and this might be a good idea on a smaller scale, too. Or it could be tweaked to many different adaptations. Rooftop gardens are still a good idea, also, as are community gardens (on the ground) as long as the City Fathers allow their… Read more »

February 1, 2014 3:05 am

I hope the “junkyard dog” term applies to me! I would hate to be left out :)

D. Smith
D. Smith
February 5, 2014 3:50 am

More from Vandana Shiva:

The irony is that GMOs are being promoted in the name of science, yet science and knowledge are being sacrificed daily for untruths to feed the greed machinery, not people. Without knowledge sovereignty there is no food sovereignty. Without knowledge freedom there is no freedom and democracy.
[end quote]

Taken from this link: http://www.asianage.com/columnists/gmo-biggest-food-con-268

D. Smith
D. Smith
February 5, 2014 4:20 am