It was a bit of a consciousness-shifting event to sit in a banquet hall at the Tuscany in Las Vegas on Monday evening alongside some 95 county sheriffs and a handful of deputies -- most in full uniform with gleaming badges -- listening to and applauding speakers you'd more commonly associate with Libertarian Party gatherings or seminars sponsored by the Austrian economists of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
One popular topic at the gathering was United Nations Agenda 21, which has given the schoolmarms of the fascist Left such popular euphemisms as "sustainable development," but which is actually about shoving rural folk off the land under any of a thousand "environmental" pretexts, the long-term goal being to cluster a sharply reduced remnant of mankind into urban tenement ghettos from which we can be shuttled to our state-assigned jobs in little solar-powered trolleys.
One local couple who spoke with the sheriffs Monday were Laura and Monte Bledsoe of Overton's Quail Hollow Farm. Laura Bledsoe tells me she was surprised to find most of the sheriffs were already familiar with the Southern Nevada Health District raid on the outfit's Farm-to-Fork dinner last October, which has gone viral around the world through YouTube videos.
Members pay hundreds of dollars to help support the local organic farm -- receiving in exchange weekly seasonal produce baskets as well as the opportunity to attend local-produce dinners a couple of times a year. But last October, health district goon Mary Oaks descended on a members-only dinner at the farm and ordered all the prepared food to be polluted with bleach so it could not be consumed, on grounds that it had not been inspected and approved for consumption by the federal Department of Agriculture.
Oaks would not even allow the prepared food to be fed to the farm's pigs.
"Unaware of their rights, the Bledsoes initially complied with Oaks' unlawful demands and destroyed the food," writes Ethan Huff at www.naturalnews.com. "But shortly thereafter, Laura's husband Monte remembered they had an emergency contact number for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund on their refrigerator. ...
The Bledsoes spoke with general counsel Gary Cox, "who instructed them to ask Oaks for a search and arrest warrant, which of course she did not have. The Bledsoes then asked Oaks to leave the property, upon which she allegedly stormed off in anger and screamed that she was going to call the police. Police eventually arrived, but unaware of why they had been called and what the alleged crime was, they, too, left and offered their apologies to the Bledsoes," Huff reports. "Fortunately, the Bledsoes were able to improvise with the chef to create a whole new meal for their guests, which ended up turning out to be a type of blessing in disguise, according to Laura."
Assemblyman Cresent Hardy of Mesquite was due to attend a Friday meeting between the Bledsoes and health district supervisors to see whether the district will relent and issue waivers for such meals in future, Laura Bledsoe told me Thursday.
Right now, it appears Nevada law won't even allow the health district to issue a permit for such a dinner, though Mrs. Bledsoe expresses hope future dinners might be allowed with sufficient disclaimers. "What happened is the Legislature totally adopted the (model) USDA law about 15 years ago. We're going to address food choice. Many states allows jams, jellies and breads from small producers as long as the people know" their origin outside inspected factories.
Current law effectively bans raw milk and organic fresh-from-the-farm meats, "even though more people actually get sick from regular processed milk and meat," Laura Bledsoe says.
Even as they pursue exemptions based on disclaimers, the Bledsoes also plan to draft new state legislation allowing educated consumers to choose local produce.
"As people have gotten educated, even McDonald's has announced they're going to opt out of using the pink goo," Ms. Bledsoe reports. "What that really is is ammonia, and even though it's added to the meat, the USDA has not required McDonald's to list it as an ingredient; they call it a 'process.' The ammonia goo is used to 'clean' animal parts that would otherwise have to be thrown away because of the parts of the animal they come from, and then those cuts are ground in and become part of the hamburgers our kids eat. So that's how the USDA 'protects' us with these big producers. For myself, I'd rather know my local farmer."
(The British tabloid Daily Mail reported last week McDonald's made the move in response to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's campaign against the use of discarded beef cuts treated with ammonium hydroxide, which he called "pink slime." McDonald's denied its decision was related to the campaign.)
One reason cited for the health district raid was that some of the food packaging did not contain labels, though it appears labels are not required if food is eaten within 72 hours. Oaks also reportedly cited the fact that there were no receipts for the food -- though it's unclear how a farmer is to supposed to acquire a "receipt" for food he or she has grown herself.
"Under the law we would have had to ship our produce more than 400 miles to (upstate) Utah, or to Reno to get it inspected before we could bring it back here" to be consumed mere yards from where it was harvested, Bledsoe explains. "And the Reno facility may be shut down by budget cuts," leaving no such inspection station in the state.
"We have received hundreds and hundreds of messages of support, from Alaska to Florida and even overseas. The Farm-to-Consumer Foundation says our raid has brought more attention to the movement than any other story, and that includes videos of Amish farmers being led away in handcuffs."
Learn about supporting Quail Hollow Farm -- and arranging for weekly or twice-monthly produce basket pickups -- at http://quailhollowfarmcsa.com/.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "The Ballad of Carl Drega," and "The Black Arrow." See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.