Popular comedian and commentator Stephen Colbert entered into the debate over raw milk last week, airing a star-studded segment satirizing both the federal government and unpasteurized milk advocates.

The Colbert Report segment features Rawesome Foods, a raw food club in Venice, CA, which was raided by federal, state and local authorities in June.  Security footage shows agents confiscated raw milk with guns raised.

Raw milk is illegal to sell in many states, but allowed in California.  Authorities allege Rawesome failed to meet local and state public health regulations.

“The nanny state is always sticking their noses into our business, from baby seats to motorcycle helmets,” says Colbert in a jab at paternalistic regulations.  “All over the nation patriots are rising up, like the citizens of Venice, California.”

“Liberty is under siege,” declares Colbert.

The show, which reenacts and dramatizes the Rawesome raid, features David Acheson, former Associate Commissioner for Foods at the Food and Drug Administration.  The FDA cautions consumer against drinking raw milk because it can can harbor dangerous pathogens.

A straight-faced Acheson discusses the public health consequences of raw milk.  “Raw milk has led to serious illness and death.”

The segment pokes fun at the FDA as well as raw milk advocates, the two sides of what has become a fierce debate over food freedom.  Rawesome Food members question the FDA’s fear-mongering motives.  Acheson assures Colbert that the FDA is simply interested in protecting public health.

Former presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) offers a libertarian perspective in the sketch.  “This is pasteurization without representation,” he says.

“If we continue on this course where the government tells us everything we can do, what we can put in our mouths, we will end up a zombie state,” says Paul.  “We will end up with individuals who make no decisions for themselves.”

“People do have a right in a free society to do stupid things,” adds Paul.

“It is my right to get dysentery if I choose to do so,” says one Rawesome club member.  That attitude, Colbert says, “Puts the ‘dumb’ in freedom.”

“Cleary the government has declared war,” says Colbert. “Whose side will you be on?”

Here’s the comedic sketch in entirety:

  • This one had the soymilk running out of my nose…

  • dangermaus

    Personally, I don’t drink raw milk but it’s insane that the government can forbid people from producing or buying it. Are we free, or not?
    “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” ~Thomas Jefferson.
    “There is No Right to Consume or Feed Children Any Particular Food; There is No Generalized Right to Bodily and Physical Health; There is No Fundamental Right to Freedom of Contract.” ~ US Dept of Health & Human Services and US Food & Drug Administration, 2010

  • Leonard Crandall

    This problem goes back to tuberculosis days. The govt. is forever fighting the last war, but in its defense, it feels that since it does regulate milk, it would be liable if something bad happened.

  • Leonard Crandall

    This problem goes back to tuberculosis days. The govt. is forever fighting the last war, but in its defense, it feels that since it does regulate milk, it would be liable if something bad happened.

  • Judy

    I noticed it was the LA Cops with their guns out. Only the Office of Criminal Investigation carries guns within FDA. They go through the same training as FBI. Feds stopped the Turbuculosis outbreak in early years, now they’re preventing the Salmonella, Camphylobacter and E. coli outbreaks now. And 38 states in the Union legally sell raw milk – you just can’t cross state lines with it. People can be stupid if they want but their insurance shouldn’t cover their hospital stay, and if they feed it to their kids, get them on child endargement.

  • Kristin

    Ridiculous, Judy. There is more of a danger of Salmonella, Camphylobacter and E. coli with government supported, big business processed food than with good, clean raw milk and/or good, clean local produce. The gov’t is paid by big business and they’re trying to shut the little guy down. Check out Senate Bill 510. The regulations they’re trying to put on small farms would shut them down. Support your local farmers!!!

  • @Kristin: What are these regulations and how will they shut them down?

  • Sue

    Hey Kristen,
    Before you start going after S 510, how about you let the regulations get published and see what is proposed first, hhhmmm? The bill authorizes regulations and that’s it. No one is trying to shut anyone down.

  • dangermaus

    Exactly, Leonard…. The Republicans have given us a lot of reasons to distrust them in the past, but let’s hope the first thing they do when they take power after November’s elections that they seriously address tort reform, rather than talk about it, as has been the only thing they’ve been willing to do so far on the topic.

  • Ella

    Judy: Salmonella, camphylobacter and e-coli were not found in the milk samples from Rawsome, it is debatable that any pathogens were found as no good evidence has been presented, however the bacteria in question are streptococcus and listeria. Listeria for the record, is also found in pasteurized milk, other cooked food, and raw vegetables, none of which are being banned because of a few contaminations.
    What needs to be controlled is sanitation of equipment, not banning the food in question. Bacteria can infect any food, there have been deaths from peanut butter for goodness sake, and not due to allergies, but salmonella!
    People can feed their children what they want i guess, but raw milk is what mine are getting, not peanut butter.

  • Ella

    Also, i was one of those children fed raw milk, LOTS of it until the age of 10. At this point our supplier stopped selling goat milk. As i refused to drink cow milk which i considered at that time to be repulsive, they stopped buying from these people. However they did eventually get some pasteurized organic milk, and i gradually forced myself to enjoy it thinking it was good for me. This is when i got sick, it appeared i was suddenly allergic to milk! I was congested very often, and every cold lead to a lung infection lasting about a month including spells when i was unable to breathe. I stopped drinking it thinking i was allergic, but miraculously the next time i got milk, raw goat milk at that, no problems occurred, the next cold i got lasted 3 days as had been normal for me, and several health problems went away.
    I even started drinking cow milk, which was raw of course, with limited problems. A little congestion in large amounts.
    I’ve never been sick from raw milk, but have been particular about the quality… obviously the people whose jars weren’t clean were not following necessary rules of cleanliness and would have been a problem even with pasteurized milk. Pathogens can contaminate and grow in the medium, be it raw or not. As noted, there are still nutrients in the milk for them to feed on and multiply.

  • Ella

    excuse me, i meant staphylococcus