Steps have been taken to start legal action against the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Lorain County Health Department for violating the constitutional rights of John and Jacqueline Stowers of LaGrange, Ohio.
The Stowers operate an organic food cooperative called Manna Storehouse. ODA and Lorain County Health Department agents forcefully raided their home and seized the family's personal food supply, cell phones and personal computers.
On the morning of December 1, 2008, law enforcement officers forcefully entered the Stowers' residence without first announcing they were police or stating the purpose of the visit. With guns drawn, they swiftly and immediately moved to the upstairs of the home, where ten children were in the middle of a home-schooling lesson. Officers then moved Jacqueline Stowers and her children to their living room, where they were held for more than six hours.
There has never been a complaint filed against Manna Storehouse or the Stowers related to the quality or healthfulness of the food distributed through the co-op.
Seems I’ve been reporting on ever increasing, and downright shocking losses of freedom in the U.S. over the past couple of years, and listening to the Stowers’ personal account in the video above shows that this is no exception.
This is simply inexcusable government intrusion on the freedom of choice of American consumers – your right to chose nutritious, organic and locally grown foods, and to save money by buying in bulk through a community co-op.
Was the Raid on Manna Storehouse Justified?
In December last year, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) joined forces with the Buckeye Institute’s 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in filing a civil lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Lorrain County Health Department for performing an illegal raid on the Stowers family residence in La Grange, Ohio.
The Stowers had run a community co-op called Manna Storehouse since 1999. The 60 regular members pooled their resources and bought food in bulk from organic growers across the state of Ohio, which enabled them get discounts on the healthiest foods available, such as organic grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, organic eggs and produce, raw milk and cheese —all produced without man-made chemicals, hormones, pesticides, dyes, or additives.
Those of you who read this newsletter on a regular basis are well aware that this type of diet is a powerful way for many to achieve and maintain optimal health and longevity, especially if you eat according to your nutritional type. It’s even more important if you suffer with any type of food allergies, intolerance to chemical additives, or chronic illness.
The problem, according to the Feds, stems from the fact that the Stowers were selling foods without a retail license. However, they were not selling to the general public, only to co-op members who pay a membership fee and agree to take full responsibility for the food they purchase, which exempts them from requiring a license, according to the FTCLDF and the Buckeye Institute who are now defending them.
Said FTCLDF President Pete Kennedy,
“We joined in this suit because it furthers the mission of the Fund, which is to protect and defend the rights of farmers and consumers to have direct commerce with each other free from governmental interference and harassment.
We hope that the Lorrain County Court of Common Pleas recognizes that government is overreaching in this case and is basically engaged in intimidation tactics to frighten people into believing that they cannot provide food for themselves.”
FTCLDF General Counsel Gary Cox added,
“This is an example where, once again, the government is trying to deny people their inalienable, fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice. The purpose of our complaint is to correct that wrong.”
Violating Constitutional Rights in the Name of… What?
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Section 14, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution, guarantees the right of peaceful citizens to be free from paramilitary police raids, searches and seizures. And yet these types of constitutional breaches over food, nutritional supplements, and wholesome alternative remedies are performed at an ever increasing rate.
For example, just as the consumption of raw milk is growing in America, so are heavy-handed attempts by state officials in some states to kill it. They've confiscated thousands of dollars worth of food, which is often all it takes to bankrupt a business and squelch a movement.
You’re not even safe carrying organic personal care products across state or country borders, as getting caught with certain products can lead to being thrown in jail for possession of illegal drugs, due to flawed drug testing kits.
Forceful raids and sweeping searches and seizures are not “routine,” and exceed the authority granted to Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and county health departments.
The lawsuit filed by the Buckeye Institute and FTCLDF maintains that the paramilitary style execution of a search warrant against a peaceful family whose only alleged crime was failure to obtain a permit – which is a third degree misdemeanor under state law – is clearly unconstitutional.
The armed agents from the ODA, the Loraine County Department of Health, and the local police carried the type of search warrant used to bust potentially violent and dangerous drug dealers!
How You Can Help Protect Your Rights
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization made up of farmers and consumers joining together and pooling resources to:
- Protect the constitutional right of the nation’s family farms to provide processed and unprocessed farm foods directly to consumers through any legal means
- Protect the constitutional right of consumers to obtain unprocessed and processed farm foods directly from family farms
- Protect the nation’s family farms from harassment by federal, state, and local government interference with food production and on-farm food
If you want to help the fund carry out their mission, and help farmers and citizens like the Stowers with their legal defense costs, you can make a donation to the fund by going to this site.
Remember, today, conventional agriculture uses an arsenal of more than 600 pesticides – enough to ensure that about three pounds of it ends up on your plate every year, if you consume conventionally-grown produce.
And the routine use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, and genetically modified organisms to beef up yields has created a number of serious health concerns, including early puberty and an array of new allergies.
If you want to be optimally healthy, knowing what you eat and where it comes from is of prime importance, and belonging to a co-op is a great way to save money while ensuring your family eats well.
For more information on where to find wholesome, organic and locally grown foods, please check out my Sustainable Agriculture page.