Chelsea Green Publishing

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights

Pages:264 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584043
Pub. Date June 05, 2013

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights

The Escalating Battle over Who Decides What We Eat

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
June 05, 2013


Do Americans have the right to privately obtain the foods of our choice from farmers, neighbors, and local producers, in the same way our grandparents and great grandparents used to do?

Yes, say a growing number of people increasingly afraid that the mass-produced food sold at supermarkets is excessively processed, tainted with antibiotic residues and hormones, and lacking in important nutrients. These people, a million or more, are seeking foods outside the regulatory system, like raw milk, custom-slaughtered beef, and pastured eggs from chickens raised without soy, purchased directly from private membership-only food clubs that contract with Amish and other farmers.

Public-health and agriculture regulators, however, say no: Americans have no inherent right to eat what they want. In today's ever-more-dangerous food-safety environment, they argue, all food, no matter the source, must be closely regulated, and even barred, if it fails to meet certain standards. These regulators, headed up by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with help from state agriculture departments, police, and district-attorney detectives, are mounting intense and sophisticated investigative campaigns against farms and food clubs supplying privately exchanged food-even handcuffing and hauling off to jail, under threat of lengthy prison terms, those deemed in violation of food laws.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights takes readers on a disturbing cross-country journey from Maine to California through a netherworld of Amish farmers paying big fees to questionable advisers to avoid the quagmire of America's legal system, secret food police lurking in vans at farmers markets, cultish activists preaching the benefits of pathogens, U.S. Justice Department lawyers clashing with local sheriffs, small Maine towns passing ordinances to ban regulation, and suburban moms worried enough about the dangers of supermarket food that they'll risk fines and jail to feed their children unprocessed, and unregulated, foods of their choosing.

Out of the intensity of this unprecedented crackdown, and the creative and spirited opposition that is rising to meet it, a new rallying cry for food rights is emerging.


ForeWord Reviews-

"Before the advent of pasteurization in the 1860s, there was no food processing and little regulation. Since then, “a lot has changed in attitudes and approaches toward food safety,” despite what some believe is evidence suggesting chemical processes that match FDA standards are unhealthy and raw foods are not dangerous. So claims journalist David E. Gumpert, who makes a strong case in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights that restrictions on raw food distribution and consumption are impinging our basic rights as American citizens.

The journey begins when Gumpert introduces readers to Dan Allgyer, an Amish farmer whose home was raided by the FDA when the agency discovered he was selling unpasteurized dairy products to consenting consumers through a food club. Though he’d been running his business for many years, Allgyer began to worry when hearing of other farmers who had been forced by the FDA to destroy thousands of dollars worth of food, even made to pour bleach over it so they could not feed it to their own pigs.

The examples Gumpert provides of overregulation—such as the illegality of raw milk, even when produced for private use by a family cow, and the FDA’s destruction of raw foods that tested negative for harmful bacteria—are made more assertive by quotes from first-hand witnesses, legal documents, and testimonies, which he skillfully weaves into the narrative to make for both an engaging and authoritative read.

Also effective are Gumpert’s inclusions of a short history of food processing and FDA regulations, as well as statistics regarding how safe it is to consume raw food. He shares the stories of parents of children with ADHD and asthma who have shown improvement without medication, crediting their health to daily consumption of raw milk.

While the lay reader may have difficulties following the pasteurization process lingo and legal jargon, those with knowledge of food regulation, farmers and co-op members, or those interested in public administration, will admire Gumpert’s efforts. This book is not simply a portrayal of people who have been affected by the increased enforcement of FDA regulations, but is more significantly an argument against regulations that infringe on Americans’ rights to choose what they eat or drink."

Kirkus Reviews-

"[David] Gumpert (The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights, 2009, etc.) illustrates how Americans have lost the freedom to make their own decisions when it comes to procuring and consuming food, which he considers outrageous. Through extensive passages on organizations, such as the now-shuttered California-based Rawesome Foods, Washington, D.C.–based Grassfed on the Hill, accounts of their Amish suppliers and their encounters with the FDA as well as local public health officials, Gumpert considers some of the still largely unresolved legalities surrounding the sale of raw milk, pastured eggs and other raw foods. He also presents a brief overview of issues familiar to those engaged in food rights activism, including debates on the merits of raw milk in alleviating health problems versus fears of pathogens and outbreaks. Gumpert makes it clear that he sides with the right for private groups to operate without interference, raising basic yet worthy questions on fundamental rights with well-chosen examples of police overreaction, including undercover raids, trespassing, confiscation, mass-disposal of foods and dramatic arrests. Still, he does not write with an overly alarmist tone and fairly portrays the quirks and flaws in the individuals involved—e.g., author and war food activist Aajonus Vonderplanitz.


Enriched with historical references ranging from Pasteur to de Tocqueville, this is an accessible, if at times exhaustively detailed, work valuable for its reportage of incidents that have remained largely unknown to the average citizen."

“It seems far-fetched to think that ‘police’ in black suits would make an assault on what we-the-people have forever assumed was our right to eat what we want to eat. Based on an extraordinary journalistic investigation, David Gumpert makes a compelling case that we are witnessing a concerted national program to shut down the buying and selling of pure, wholesome, unadulterated food—farm by farm and state by state. These assaults, being carried out on farmers in the name of ‘food safety,’ are jeopardizing our basic liberties, which must include access to foods that keep us healthy. There is no bigger story, and Gumpert has told it in a compelling, highly readable fashion.” --Abby Rockefeller, president of the Resource Institute for Low Entropy Systems and author of the scientific paper “Civilization and Sludge”

“A wakeup call for anyone who eats, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights is an exposé on the American government’s calculated attack and sinister use of brute force on family farmers and consumers involved in the local food movement. Through harrowing tales of government spying and raids, David Gumpert demonstrates how complacency has allowed corporations to manipulate federal agencies and gain complete control of our entire food supply. If you care about what your family eats, read this book.”--Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep: The True Story of the USDA’s War on a Family Farm

“An issue this important should have its own revolutionary flag. The image would show a farmer and a neighbor exchanging food above the classic motto ‘Don’t tread on me.’ This is a revolution that needs to happen. What could be more important to all of us than control over the quality of food we put in our bodies?”--Eliot Coleman, author of The Winter Harvest HandbookFour-Season Harvest, and The New Organic Grower

Publishers Weekly-

"Journalist Gumpert (The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights) chronicles the increasing government regulator crackdowns on private food clubs and the farmers who provide for them, drawing vocal and heretofore unnoticed attention to the lack of freedom Americans have over what they eat, due to the watchful eye of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The book contains many disturbing examples, from the farmer who faced jail time for providing raw milk to customers without proper licensing or labeling—though they were clamoring for the product, owned the cows through a co-op, and also never became sick—to the distributors for food clubs who saw close to six figures worth of food destroyed by regulators on cursory evidence, followed by their own trip in the back of a paddy wagon. Unfortunately, the book reads like a call to arms for those who already share Gumpert’s point of view. The book would have benefitted from further discussion of the few examples where people did become sick from private food sources, and analysis of the government regulators’ perspective. Despite the occasionally chaotic narrative, Gumpert commendably draws attention to a multitude of injustices committed in the name of food safety."

“With incredible clarity and masterful storytelling, David Gumpert leads us on a journey into the trenches of America’s battle over food rights. No one knows this terrain and understands the implications as thoroughly as Gumpert, and the result is a book that will by turns enrage and inspire you. The battle for the right to nourish our bodies with real food must be won, and this book is an essential part of making that happen.” --Ben Hewitt, author of The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food 

“This book will get you fired up! David Gumpert makes an eloquent case for the importance of food rights and documents the actions of government regulators against small farms and buyers clubs. These infuriating stories are woven together and contextualized by Gumpert’s insightful legal and political analysis. For anyone interested in reclaiming food, this book shows you that you are part of a larger political struggle.” --Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, and Wild Fermentation 

“The 18th century was the century of political rights; the 19th century was the century of women’s rights; the 20th century was the century of civil rights. The challenge of the 21st century will be the struggle for food and farming rights. Thanks to the work of David Gumpert in chronicling this ongoing battle, we have a roadmap for establishing the right to access the foods of our choice.  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights is highly recommended for anyone interested in family farms and nutrient-dense food.”--Sally Fallon Morell, president, The Weston A. Price Foundation

"David Gumpert plucks out some of the most salient battles in this current food war and brings them to our awareness with the storytelling genius of a spy novel. The intrigue, the angst, the heartache and heroism are all displayed."--Joel Salatin, from the Foreword


David E. Gumpert

David E. Gumpert has become a nationally recognized writer and authority on the intersection of food, health, and business by virtue of his widely acclaimed book The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights, as well as his provocative and popular blog, The Complete Patient (, and his many articles about food rights on and The Huffington Post. He gained behind-the-scenes access to the key participants and vast government documentation necessary to write Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights. A former reporter with The Wall Street Journal and editor at Inc. and Harvard Business Review, Gumpert has brought his considerable investigative and journalistic experience and business expertise (author or coauthor of seven books about small business and entrepreneurship) to bear in articulating the corporate, legal, and political forces driving Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights.


The Raw Milk Revolution

The Raw Milk Revolution

By David E. Gumpert

Beginning in 2006, the agriculture departments of several large states-with backing from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-launched a major crackdown on small dairies producing raw milk. Replete with undercover agents, sting operations, surprise raids, questionable test-lab results, mysterious illnesses, propaganda blitzes, and grand jury investigations, the crackdown was designed to disrupt the supply of unpasteurized milk to growing legions of consumers demanding healthier and more flavorful food.

The Raw Milk Revolution takes readers behind the scenes of the government's tough and occasionally brutal intimidation tactics, as seen through the eyes of milk producers, government regulators, scientists, prosecutors, and consumers. It is a disturbing story involving marginally legal police tactics and investigation techniques, with young children used as political pawns in a highly charged atmosphere of fear and retribution.

Are regulators' claims that raw milk poses a public health threat legitimate? That turns out to be a matter of considerable debate. In assessing the threat, The Raw Milk Revolution reveals that the government's campaign, ostensibly designed to protect consumers from pathogens like salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, and listeria, was based in a number of cases on suspect laboratory findings and illnesses attributed to raw milk that could well have had other causes, including, in some cases, pasteurized milk.

David Gumpert dares to ask whether regulators have the public's interest in mind or the economic interests of dairy conglomerates. He assesses how the government's anti-raw-milk campaign fits into a troublesome pattern of expanding government efforts to sanitize the food supply-even in the face of ever-increasing rates of chronic disease like asthma, diabetes, and allergies. The Raw Milk Revolution provides an unsettling view of the future, in which nutritionally dense foods may be available largely through underground channels.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Raw Milk Revolution

Joel Salatin, David E. Gumpert

Paperback $19.95


Weston Prince 2009 Conference Keynote

Gumpert Speaks at Harvard Food Law Society

Gumpert Speaks at Harvard Food Law Society

Raw Milk Debate - February 16, 2012

Raw Milk Debate - February 16, 2012

David Gumpert looks at the health benefits of raw milk


Ethical Markets

Ethical Markets

By Hazel Henderson and Simran Sethi

With insight, clarity, warmth, and enthusiasm Hazel Henderson announces the mature presence of the green economy. Mainstream media and big business interests have sidelined its emergence and evolution to preserve the status quo.

Throughout Ethical Markets Henderson weaves statistics and analysis with profiles of entrepreneurs, environmentalists, scientists, and professionals. Based on interviews conducted on her longstanding public television series, these profiles celebrate those who have led the highly successful growth of green businesses around the world.

Ethical Markets is the ultimate sourcebook on today's thriving green economy.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Ethical Markets

Hazel Henderson, Simran Sethi, L. Hunter Lovins

Paperback $30.00

Pearls, Politics, and Power

Pearls, Politics, and Power

By Madeleine Kunin

Pearls, Politics, and Power is a call to action for new political engagement and leadership from the women of America. Informed by conversations with elected women leaders from all levels, former three-term Vermont Governor and Ambassador to Switzerland Madeleine M. Kunin asks: What difference do women make? What is the worst part of politics, and what is the best part? What inspired these women to run, and how did they prepare themselves for public life? How did they raise money, protect their families' privacy, deal with criticism and attack ads, and work with the good old boys?

Kunin's core message is that America needs an infusion of new leadership to better address the major problems of our time. To see how women can achieve that goal, she combines her personal experience in politics; the lessons of past women's movements; the stories of young women today who have new ideas about their role in society; and interviews with a wide range of women in positions of power, looking for clues to their leadership, as well as the effects of gender stereotyping. She interviews Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, analyzes her campaign, and addresses the question: "Is the country ready?" Other interviewees include U.S. Representatives Loretta Sanchez, Linda Sanchez, Deborah Pryce, and Tammy Baldwin, and U.S. Senators Susan Collins, Amy Klobuchar, and Carol Moseley Braun, and Governors Kathleen Sibelius and Janet Napolitano.

The next generation of women will be inspired to lead by seeing women like Nancy Pelosi wielding the gavel, and seeing themselves reflected in the portraits in statehouses, courthouses, corporate and university boardrooms, and the White House. Pearls, Politics, and Power will help ensure that this inspiration is not soured or deflected, but channeled into successful candidacies by America's leaders of tomorrow. What will it take for women to assume their rightful places in the political corridors of power?

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Pearls, Politics, and Power

Madeleine Kunin

Paperback $14.95

The Art of Leading Collectively

The Art of Leading Collectively

By Petra Kuenkel

A guide to collaborative impact for leaders in industry, government, and social change networks

Our world is facing unsustainable global trends—from climate change and water scarcity to energy insecurity, unfair labor practices, and growing inequality.  Tackling these crises effectively requires a new form of leadership—a collective one.  But, in a world of many silos, how do we get people to work together toward a common goal? That is one of the most important questions facing sustainability and social-change professionals around the world, and it is a question that Petra Kuenkel answers in The Art of Leading Collectively.

Readers learn how to tackle system change for sustainable development, reimagine leadership as a collaborative endeavor, retrain leaders to work collectively, and manage diverse groups through a change process that has sustainability as a guiding focus. Drawing upon two decades of pioneering, internationally recognized work orchestrating multi-stakeholder initiatives, Kuenkel presents her chief tool, the Collective Leadership Compass, and shows others how to use it with large groups of diverse stakeholders to solve complex, urgent problems—particularly those that enmesh business activities, governance, human needs, and environmental impacts.

The book offers many examples of collective leadership efforts involving corporate, public, and nonprofit sectors around the world.  Readers learn about the processes that led to a sustainable textile alliance, advanced global seafood sustainability, and set standards for sustainable cocoa and coffee production and trade, as well as those that helped nations rebound from war, develop sustainable infrastructure, and tackle resource conflicts with global businesses, to name a few.

Kuenkel provides a clear roadmap for leaders from multinational companies involved in partnerships, international organizations engaged in cooperative development, public agencies, and interest groups—as well as for citizens seeking solutions to social and sustainability challenges.

Available in: Hardcover

Read More

The Art of Leading Collectively

Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Petra Kuenkel

Hardcover $29.95

Limits to Growth

Limits to Growth

By Donella Meadows and Jorgen Randers and Dennis Meadows

In 1972, three scientists from MIT created a computer model that analyzed global resource consumption and production. Their results shocked the world and created stirring conversation about global 'overshoot,' or resource use beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. Now, preeminent environmental scientists Donnella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows have teamed up again to update and expand their original findings in The Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Global Update.

Meadows, Randers, and Meadows are international environmental leaders recognized for their groundbreaking research into early signs of wear on the planet. Citing climate change as the most tangible example of our current overshoot, the scientists now provide us with an updated scenario and a plan to reduce our needs to meet the carrying capacity of the planet.

Over the past three decades, population growth and global warming have forged on with a striking semblance to the scenarios laid out by the World3 computer model in the original Limits to Growth. While Meadows, Randers, and Meadows do not make a practice of predicting future environmental degradation, they offer an analysis of present and future trends in resource use, and assess a variety of possible outcomes.

In many ways, the message contained in Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a warning. Overshoot cannot be sustained without collapse. But, as the authors are careful to point out, there is reason to believe that humanity can still reverse some of its damage to Earth if it takes appropriate measures to reduce inefficiency and waste.

Written in refreshingly accessible prose, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a long anticipated revival of some of the original voices in the growing chorus of sustainability. Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update is a work of stunning intelligence that will expose for humanity the hazy but critical line between human growth and human development.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Limits to Growth

Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows

Paperback $22.50