Man: So after your experience with the raw milk arrest, how did that change your attitude? I mean, you obviously did a lot of research during that time. How did that change what you do and your passion for the topic and subject?
Victoria: It altered it in a specific way, which is, it made me more of an activist, which I already had been to a certain extent, but I realized how much potential there was for corruption in the system of people dealing with people who might be engaged in otherwise fairly innocuous activities. I mean, if I, because I'm a western prize chapter leader. I'm all of that. That's my passion. That's my advocation, if you will. But I own a graphic design firm. I'm a small business owner. I hire freelancers. I have reduced corporate annual reports, for Pete's sake. If I could get arrested for that, anybody could get arrested. And on such flimsy charges.
So I started to really look at the court system differently too. Like, rather than saying, "OK, good, bad, there's probably some shake-out but on the whole they do a good job," I began to wonder more. Is it really always a good job? Are they always? Because when I read through the discovery, and broke down the CDFA, Seniors Special Investigators Report to the Los Angeles County DA's that got the ball rolling. And I broke it down, and there were statements that were made on one page that were contradicted on the next page. It's like, "Oh." And, for example, she said we took samples of the products that were available at the farm stand and we tested them and we found that there were no pathogens in the goat's milk. And on the next page, because we found pathogens in the goat's milk, we realized that this is a public safety hazard and we had to move immediately. It's like, if somebody didn't read carefully, they might just breeze through it and say, "Oh my God, they found pathogens in the goat's milk," but did they go back and read it? No.
So I really started to worry about the issues dealing with farming overall. Not just raw milk, because it's perfectly possible to produce dangerous bad quality raw milk. It could be. That's why the pasteurization movement started back with Nathan Strauss, the Macy's heir, back in the early 1900's, where there were people producing milk in terrible conditions and selling it for dirt cheap to intercity children, or then, what would be called the intercity, but the slums in New York, and children were dropping dead because they weren't getting nourishment and they were having milk with chalk in it to make it look white, and it was dreadful.
But it was also possible at the same time to produce certified clean milk where you tested the cows. You made sure they were free from disease. You made sure the milk was chilled properly and kept chilled throughout the supply chain. And that was also going on.
So I think of things in a spectrum in a lot of ways. There's a product called milk and there's a product called milk. And there's (________) milk, produced from animals in confinement, fed horrible Gummy Bears after their sell-by date, and then there's cows raised on grass. And within that there's a full spectrum of things, that all bear the same name.
So, for me, it's not just about raw milk, although that was what I had my experience for. But it's about farms of all kind. When I see regulations and laws coming up that talk about not allowing deer on your property, because deer poop could contain pathogens that could get in your strawberries. So, OK, what are you going to do? Are you going to start shooting the deer when they wander on, or are you going to enrich the soil so that you grow healthy plants and you're going to gather up properly and make sure you have workers gathering it who clean their hands and who take care of the produce, and that I'd be happy to eat. I don't care if deer are tromping all over the property. Really. I'd rather have that than something from an industrial farm that you have to wear a hazmat suit to visit, where the plants are so weak that you must spray them with pesticide, because they're not raised properly.
So I see small farms as being a threat. I guess would be the bottom line for me. That the small family farm, which really has been the backbone of this country since it's inception, is under threat economically, legally, legislatively, and the people that would put together farmer and consumer are having some difficulties, as with Ralston's buying club, John Moody's buying club in Tennessee, which is safe because he worked for the constitutional lawyer and the State of Tennessee back downed on his. But there was a club, did you see the Blue V Farm of Gedden? Recommended documentary that talks about the threat to small farms in America that was made by a mom who started buying raw milk because her son had allergies. And she found that it actually did better and then she found that these farmers not just made milk, but they had eggs, and vegetables, and fruits and she started buying things from farmers. And all of a sudden she couldn't buy it anymore because her farmer had been shut down, and her buying club had been shut down, so she started going on an investigation. But there was a club called Nana buying club in Ohio that actually was swat teamed. And the farmers own food was confiscated that they had just laid in for the winter because nobody bothered to check and come in and see which food is (________) buying club, which food is yours, and it never really recovered. They lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of food, because they were just stocking up for the one day a week that their private numbers. (________) buy meat and milk and Arrowhead Mills cereal, and so on. So they were carrying retail products as well as private label.
So a long winded answer, to a very short question. But this is how we choose our food. If people want to choose horrible food, they have a right. We have a right to buy Ho-Ho's if we want to. Or whatever. But I think we have a right to choose whatever we want to eat. And a right to make private contracts with farms or farmers, or people that supply it to us. I want to be able to go to the farm. I want to know how my food is prepared. I'm a little more, let's say, Burlett's total immersion in this whole thing. I source as much food as I can from the farmer's market, and then I go to a small co-op and get the rest.
So I'm very passionate about this. But not everybody has to be. Not everybody has to do what I do. But I think everybody should have the right to do what I do. And if they're at a state where retail sales of raw milk, or freshly slaughtered beef, or whatever, are not legal, they should have a right to go to a farmer, say, "I like how you raise your animals. Could I buy some of the meat that you prepare? Could I buy some of your milk? Could I gather some of your eggs?" And they should have a right to do that.
So that's where it turned my opinion and my attention.