Lakota Perspectives 


Health Dept Haras Granny

Government Agents Prevent Grandma From Selling Her Pickles
Janis Schmidt

Did you ever have one of those I-don’t-believe-that-happened kind of a day?  I went to Devils Lake today,  for a sale today at Mark’s Greenhouse, where he has a flea market and farmer’s market.  I have all food, something to do with my garden.  I am elderly, 67, disabled with bad knees to the point I can barely walk.  I get just a small amount Social Security Disability.  I cannot afford to buy groceries, all the vegetables I need, so I plant 3 rather large gardens.   In the summer time, I sell food and produce at farmer’s markets.  In order to sell canned pickles, one must submit jars of pickles to a lab to be tested at the cost of $5.00 per test, plus postage, upwards to $20.  I got test results in September of last year, permitting me to sell at farmers market, at the cost of about $80.00.  I did not make any money on this last year because of the end of season.  However, I was prepared for next season, or so I thought.  I need to get an exercise bike for winter months, and my tiller gave out on me, and I need to till the weeds out of the garden.   I cannot afford to get these 2 items, and selling at farmers markets is the only way I can make some extra cash, and extremely seasonal.   I also cannot afford to pay my bills.

I arrived at Mark’s Greenhouse a little after 9:00 on September 9, 2013, and squeezed in right on the end in the only available spot where I could still park my pick up.  Wouldn’t you know it?  I ended up right next to Rita Foss and her poodle husband, Richard, a man who repeats everything Rita does and says.  Rita and Richard are elderly, 72 and 75.  She had her usual baked things and an array of sewed items, and Richard had a trailer full of his farm tools.  I have had run-ins with Rita and Richard at the Saturday morning farmers market in Devils Lake last year.    Rita does not like competition, so she reported me to the Chamber of Commerce, who told me I had to have my pickles tested before I could sell them, which is when I had my pickles tested, September of 2011, too late to affect sales.  Not satisfied with that, Rita told potential customers that I was trying to sell a tainted product, and that my food was bad.  This really drove away potential sales.  Finally, I just stopped going to the DL farmers market altogether.  

I decided to go to Mark’s where I thought I would receive fair and equal treatment.  Rita was stretched out over four spaces, deliberately to shut out anyone from moving in, a familiar tactic of theirs to ace out the competition.   I could tell they didn’t like it that I had taken up the end spot.  I could see them really talking together.  Then they went over and talked to Mark Olson, owner of the lot and Ramsey County Commissioner.  He has had a very cold attitude towards me, never speaks to me, always avoids me, never helps me with anything.
I paid my $10 fee to Eva, Mark’s wife.  Along about noon, along comes the health inspector, Cindy.  She asked to see my authorization, the lab report.  I brought it out and handed it to her.  She claimed that I didn’t have all the pickles tested.  I told her I did everything according to the lab scientist who did the testing.  I followed her instructions on what to send exactly.  Cindy remained argumentative and was interfering with my potential sales, at the peak time of day.   She had been arguing for about 15 minutes, causing me to lose sales.  I asked her what she was looking for since I had complied with all the regulations.  She said the health Dept. was concerned about cases of botulism.   
“Oh really,”  I said.  “How many cases have been reported?”
“We get several cases a day.”  When I got home, I looked up botulism reports up on the Internet and learned that only 145 cases were reported nationwide.  And here Cindy was telling me she got 2 or 3 cases a day.  I immediately thought of all those home canners poisoning their families, if it weren’t for Cindy ever vigilant investigation and restrictions.  “While many cases of botulism are from causes other than food, about 15 percent of the around 145 cases reported each year come from a food outbreak.”  Devils Lake must be a hotbed of incompetent mothers and grandmothers carelessly processing and canning food, poisoning their families. All the nation’s outbreak of food poisoning must therefore come from Devils Lake.
“Are you saying you get that many calls of botulism caused by faulty canning?”  
“Yes.  It’s our job to keep people safe.”  (from people like me, no doubt)   and she headed back to my lab list, insisting I had to have the dilled green beans and dilled cucumbers tested in individual tests.   I told her I had the hot pickle mix tested, which had all vegetables with the same amount of vinegar and salt water added, which is what the lab scientist told me to do.  I have not had a case of botulism in all the years I have been canning.
  inally I asked her if the Health Dept. checks the water this rigorously in western North Dakota.  She said she had nothing to do with that.  “You say you are concerned about people’s health.  I should think testing the water would be a top priority.”  She said it wasn’t her concern.  I said that fracking was everyone’s concern, and that several states had banned fracking altogether because of its health problems related to water.  “I have complied in every way.  You are interfering with my sales and harassing me, an elderly disabled woman.  Shame, shame on you.”  I noticed that Richard had run over to talk with Mark.  Cindy got on her cell phone and called in Al, her supervisor.  While waiting for Al, Cindy continued to harass me, repeat herself, and kept me from selling.
Al arrived and wanted to see my authorization.  I showed it to him.  He said this was last year’s lab report and that I had to have each jar of pickles tested again for this year.  Nothing in my farmer’s market information says that I must retest every year.  Al did not produce any law stating that a person must retest every year.   I have been asked and paid to give a workshop in canning for Oglala Lakota College.
I told him that it cost me $70-80 dollars to have the test done, and was done at the end of the year, which he could plainly see.  He said I could not sell my pickles.  I argued with him.  Mark came over and stood beside Al listening in.   This is what is wrong in America, and I told Al and Cindy that they were a good example what was wrong with America.  Mark jumped in and said,  “This is my private property and my flea market.  We abide by the law here.  You either comply with the law and remove your pickles or I will ask you to pack up and get out, and don’t come back.  So what’s it going to be?”
Quite frankly, I was shocked that Mark did not ask to see the lab report or make any attempt to discover the facts.  He did not stand up for me, an elderly, disabled woman, who was complying with the law.  I thought about telling him to call the police, and continue to sell pickles. Then I realized they were all in it together.  Mark was eager to get rid of me, and they held all the trump cards.
“I need an answer now or out you go and don’t come back.”  Mark threatened.
Mark is a commissioner and a businessman himself.  He cowtows to business interests in the same way Governor Dalrymple and state legislators suck up to Halliaburton and other oil corporations who have ruined Western North Dakota with their fracking.   I said I would put the pickles away.  Mark turned and walked off.   Al and Cindy followed him.  Rita was beside herself with joy, and pretty soon she was over talking with Al and Mark. 
Al and Cindy returned.  Cindy was so happy and Al jovially told me to put my pickles in the pick up and close the end gate.  That was a real strong give away on who was behind all this.   Al continued to harangue me.  I said nothing.   I learned to go into the silent mode from Pine Ridge, when the authorities and police are totally corrupt and are carrying out illegal orders.  Most of all, I was all alone.  Then Al asked,  “What is this on the lids of some of your jars?”

I told him it was water residue from the boiling of the jars, both to sterilize them and in the canning process itself.  “There’s something in the water in Warwick.  Sometimes the water is brown, and sometimes it has a milky substance in it.  I do not use the water in my pickles.  I buy water for drinking and canning.  However, I sterilize and can with tap water.”  

This should have prompted Al to go out and test the water.  Instead he told me that I should buy water to sterilize and can with, which would be a totally unnecessary expense.  I was really thinking about working Al over with my cane and spanking Cindy’s butt.  Instead, I said nothing.  Obviously I was working with a pair of unscrupulous nitwits whose only concern is to eliminate competition for business interest, nitwits who operate under protection of color of law.  They hold all the trump cards and the citizen doesn’t stand a chance with them.  It’s all about business making their profit.  It was just rolled out and over me, and there was nothing I could do about it, when it is authorities who do not uphold the law.  I was also a whistleblower on the perverted administration at Warwick School and the states attorney and sheriff who destroyed evidence of an unreported rape.   Rita was so happy, she was practically jumping up and down.  She and Richard are so high school.  They are truly representative of the American public.  Al told me that Mark would give me a few minutes to remove my pickles or he was going to ask me to leave.  He handed me a brochure on the Health Dept. requirements.  Assuming the brochure is current and up-to-date, it said nothing about retesting in the lab test section.  So Al was just making it up as he went along. And why not?  Obama just makes it up as he goes along.

All in all, they took up an hour of my time, during which the most people attended.  The other vendors looked at me like I was up to no good.  Rita made sure that story was spread around.  Most of my sales come from the pickles.  People love them.  In fact, I had people stopping by asking for my pickles.  What I do is produce something of true worth.  I plant 3 large gardens and grow vegetables.  I preserve them in part by canning.  I cannot afford to buy the vegetables I need.  Even if I could, the vegetables would not be of the same high quality as mine, or anyone else who grow their own vegetables.

When I got home, I checked to find the law or rule that says a person must retest every year.  It doesn’t exist.  I called the state Health Dept.  I asked about retesting every year.  The woman wanted to know where I was calling from.  I asked how that would make a difference in the law.  “Isn’t the law uniformly applied throughout the state?”  I wanted to know.  She said every county applies its own rules.  Fantastic!  I thought.  So I told her I was selling in Devils Lake.  She said I couldn’t sell my pickles until an inspection team came out and inspected my kitchen, and therefore I couldn’t sell any pickles.  This is different from what it says in the farmers market rules I received.   Only the Health Dept. has a copy of this law they applied to only me. 

What is shocking is that government agents are misusing the law and their position of power to punish and control the people, rather than serve, inform, and protect.  What happened to me is a microcosm of what is wrong with America.  Agencies, such as the Health Dept. and Homeland Security, are functioning more like Hitler’s Gestapo, rather than an agencies functioning in the best interest of the people living in a democracy or republic.  The agencies serve business rather than people.  What is shocking is that agencies, such as the Health Dept. do not have to uphold the law.    In fact, they create their own rules as they go along.  There is no law that says I must retest my pickles or not offer them for sale.  If I change the basic ingredients or add a new product, then I must have another test done.  Nothing in the rules or law states that I must retest every year.

If anyone out there would like to jump on board and show up at the next few remaining sales.armed with a video camera, please email me or give me a call:  or  701-294-2196.  

You could help out by giving Mark, Al and Cindy a call and question them.  Here’s their numbers.
Mark Olson (701) 662-2853 or 662-3910 

Al   and/or  Cindy 701-662-7035 If you are in Devils Lake, you can visit Al or Cindy at 524  4th Ave NE,  Unit 9.


Janis Schmidt

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