On January 20, 2014, the Virginia House of Representatives shut down the Virginia Food Freedom Act (HB135), which would have allowed for the sale of prepared foods by local farms and small producers directly to consumers, due in part to raw milk fears.
Many Virginians would prefer to buy premade items such as lasagnas, soups, and beef jerky from their neighbors instead of the preservative-laden items sold in the frozen aisle of their grocery store.
Currently, Virginia producers who want to sell processed foods out of their homes must have a state-inspected kitchen. To be approved by the state, producers must keep a separate refrigerator and cookware dedicated for food items sold and, unfortunately, very few small producers have the money, time or space to build out an industrial kitchen.
“These small producers don’t want to become the next Kraft Foods; they are simply looking to make enough money from a side business to supplement their income,” says Bernadette Barber, a Virginia farmer and a proponent of the Virginia Food Freedom Act.
Several residents and farmers testified in favor of the bill and the economic opportunity it affords, but it was ultimately shut down because of fears surrounding how the bill might allow for the sale of foods prepared with raw milk or raw meat. Such fears were spurred by exaggerated and at times ludicrous testimony from parties opposed to the bill, such as the veterinarian who said, “It would allow me, if I understand the bill correctly, to slaughter an animal as I choose, this morning for breakfast, stand on the side of the road and hang it from a loader bucket and ask if you’d like a piece.”
Although the bill was shut down, the subcommittee chairman did ask Travis Hill, the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, to examine the problems that small producers are having entering the market. It is expected that a meeting will take place in April in Charlottesville; visit www.virginiafoodfreedom.org to stay up to date on information. Barber expects to introduce a revised version of the bill in 2015.
The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods. http://www.westonaprice.org/lab