Vernon Hershberger was not the first and won’t be the last of the raw milk outlaws to get off or get mostly off by a jury — his recent trial did give an economic development boost to tiny Baraboo, WI. The town was filled with food freedom celebrities and raw milk adherents for the weeklong event that ended with Hershberger being found not guilty on three of the four charges. While Hershberger still faces a year in jail and up to a $10,000 fine, the food freedom movement declared the outcome a big win. They also said it has some kind of larger significance, suggesting that in the future prosecutors will shy away from taking these Forrest Gump-like characters to trial. I agree there is a lesson in the Baraboo trial for state and local prosecutors when it comes to these raw milk outlaws. The lesson is not to shy away from jury trials, but to re-think the charges that are brought. The charges upon which the jury found Hershberger not guilty involved his going without certain licenses and operating a so-called “buyers club” that state saw as a retail business. It came across as bureaucratic stuff; just the kind the jury could come to see as unfair just before it fell asleep. The one count upon which Hershberger was found guilty was violating the state’s hold order on his milk and food that was placed under police tape on June 2, 2010. His supporters say he admitted it, but it is also the only one of the four counts the jury could easily visualize. Everybody knows its illegal to cut those police seals, it’s even taught on NCIS. No, the problem is not bringing Vernon Hershberger or Alvin Schlangen, who is another who got off in neighboring Minnesota, to jury trials. No, the trouble is bringing charges that do not deliver the injured into the courtroom. As I’ve said before, everybody in America can drink raw milk if they so desire. Get a cow and have at it. As we learn in Economics 101, if someone thinks they wants to drink raw milk but ends up not doing so, they’ve given up raw milk due solely to their own peculiar economic desires, not the law. Pasteurization, one of the greatest food safety advances of modern society was embraced after massive killing outbreaks early in the 20ths century in cities like Boston and Portland. In researching those historic events, one finds the dairies that were responsible were not the schlock operations. Instead, they were heralded for their food safety records up until the time of their disasters. Then, time, temperature and distance caught up with them. Those are the Achilles heels of raw milk. Next time some Forrest Gump is bought into court, let’s have the charges be for criminal negligence for the injury or injuries to people sickened by raw milk. Let’s put those victims and their relatives in the courtroom and let them hang around the town square for the time of the trial, doing media interviews. Let the folks hear from mothers like Mary McGonigle-Martin, who nearly lost her son Christopher Martin to raw milk. Then we will see just how popular raw milk is with a jury. Unfair you say? I don’t think so. We are not talking about the right to drink raw milk here. We covered that already. See the part about the cow. We are talking about the organization and structure of commercial enterprises to sell raw milk at retail prices to the public. So when that delivery to the last few “private food club” members in the city ends up being a bridge too far, and toxin growth permanently injures an innocent child, somebody should be held criminally responsible. Unsuspecting children are the victims of these enterprises, and prosecutors need to focus on those stories and not let them get bogged down on license cases. Indeed we are either going to see stepped up prosecution of these criminal enterprises or wait for the inevitable return of the Boston or Portland size outbreak of early 20th Century. The cure-all claims and other medicine show-like promotions of raw milk to city dwellers is not going to end well.