It's Been a Long Wait--Alvin Schlangen Basks in the Limelight, and Looks to Leverage His Success for Others
When I spoke with Alvin Schlangen a few days ago, I asked him how he felt about having been in the shadows of the food rights movement the last couple of years, prior to his trial.
Yes, there had been a demonstration on his behalf last May, but the lion's share of the attention from the media and from people like me who follow the expanding food rights movement had gone to people like Daniel Allgyer, the Pennsylvania Amish farmer who served a Maryland food club, James Stewart and Sharon Palmer in California of Rawesome Food Club fame, and Michael Schmidt, the Canadian raw dairy farmer under on-again-off-again legal pressure from the Ontario government.
During the last two-and-a-half years, Schlangen had endured multiple searches of his farm, van and warehouse from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the theft of thousands of dollars of members' food, and misdemeanor charges in two counties that could have landed him in jail for two years or more.
No, he told me, by no means did he feel neglected. "I always thought attention should go to the immediate problem." And that has shifted. "My longtime objective was not to focus on the fact that we were held up, but to maintain what we had and to stay positive."
Of course, Schlangen became the immediate problem a couple weeks back, and the inspiring solution when a jury acquitted him of all charges. What has occurred since he was acquitted has astounded him--it's much more than he ever could have imagined.
He's been granted free admission to the Weston A. Price Foundation's Wise Traditions Annual Conference in Santa Clara in early November. He plans to attend in what will be his first trip ever to California.
He has people clamoring to join his food club, the one the Minnesota Department of Agriculture worked so hard to destroy. He figures he'll be up from 140 to 200 members by the end of October, and possibly 400 members by the end of this year.
And he has taken the offensive on his remaining legal problems. Though he was acquitted in Hennepin County in Minneapolis, he still faces similar misdemeanor charges in his home of Stearns County. His lawyer, Nathan Hansen, is planning to seek dismissal of the Stearns County charges based on something known as "serialized prosecution," which he terms "a cousin of double jeopardy." In other words, a new trial on the same charges could be akin to trying Schlangen twice for the same crimes, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2 to hear the case.
Once he put these immediate legal issue behind him, Schlangen wants to pursue recovering thousands of dollars of financial damages from the MDA, and getting those officials responsible for his nightmare of the last two-and-a-half years fired.
And he wants to devote as much energy as he can to spreading the word about food rights, and helping other farmers and food clubs under assault.
"I just turned 55 this week and have never felt more ALIVE!" he says. "Thank you all for that," he says to those who supported him through his dark times. To be able to feel so alive again is, after all, quite the gift.