“The criminal misdemeanor trial of Wisconsin raw milk farmer Vernon Hershberger that drew national media attention ended more than two weeks ago, but Michele Bollfrass-Hopp, one of the jurors in the case, has been unable to get it out of her mind.
In the case, Vernon Hershberger, a 41-year-old Amish farmer, was put on trial for violating Wisconsin’s dairy and food licensing laws by selling unpasteurized milk. Cases in which farmers are prosecuted for selling unlicensed food for private use are rare. In one other case, last September, a jury of six people acquitted Minnesota farmer Alvin Schlangen on criminal misdemeanor charges similar to those facing Hershberger.
Bollfrass-Hopp been “haunted,” by the proceedings, she said, so much so that she has spent hours since the trial reading up about natural, raw, and nutrient-dense foods of the type Hershberger sells to about 200 members of a private food club in Loganville, WI.
“I have never been an organic food person, the whole raw milk thing has never been on my radar,” said the 51-year-old manager of a local telecommunications company. After the trial ended, she was “up till four in the morning reading about all this.”
As a result of her reading, she also became deeply troubled by what she now feels was the unnecessary withholding of relevant information from the jury—information that she says would likely have led the jury to acquit Hershberger of the single criminal count of which he was convicted. Hershberger faced a sentencing hearing Thursday at the Baraboo courthouse where he was tried, with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $10,000 fine….”
“David E. Gumpert writes about food and health, and is the author of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle Over Who Decides What We Eat, due out in June.”