“This Amish Farmer is in jail. The direction of this nation is in peril and one man cannot stop this tsunami that has been headed our way for many years. The so called church has ignored it, denied it, embraced it and some have even HELPED TO PERPETUATE the moral decline of AMERICA AND LOSS OF OUR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.”
Amish Farmer Sam Girod is in Jail…His Enemies Want Him there for Life
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
~ 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (Holy Bible, King James Version)
This might turn out to be the hardest newsletter I’ve ever written. I definitely think I’ve spent the most time on it. I’ve started over at least 5 times and I still don’t like it. But I guess I’ll just pour it out like it is and hopefully you can pick up the pieces and make something out of it.
The Facts Aren’t Hard to Tell
Samuel Girod, Amish farmer in Kentucky and herbal salve maker, father of twelve… is in jail. He’s been there for over a month and he has done absolutely nothing even remotely worthy of treatment of this magnitude. (Sam had made some healing claims on the labeling of his herbal salves and this all escalated from there.) When they came to arrest Sam, they corralled his wife and children into the yard to be guarded by an agent with a semi-automatic rifle. (According to a family friend that I spoke with, his children are still having nightmares.) They put Sam in hand cuffs, hauled him to prison, locked him up without bail and threw enough charges against him (28,000 pages of legal documents) that if they have their way in court Sam will be in prison for the rest of his life. (He’s 57 and they want him in prison for 68 years.)
Here’s the Background Story
Sam and Elizabeth Girod and their 12 children are Amish farmers in Kentucky. For the last 16 years they have made homemade herbal salves as a family. They sold it from their farm and at a few small stores near them. The family makes three products: A chickweed salve, a bloodroot salve called To-Mor-Gone and an essential oil blend called Sine-Eze.
Their main salve is the one Sam called “Chickweed Healing Salve.” It’s made with wild-harvested herbs like chickweed, rosemary, comfrey, peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender essential oils as ingredients blended with olive oil and beeswax to stiffen it.
The salve making is not rocket science. Any of you could make these products in your kitchen. In fact many people do. If you Google it, you’ll find recipes online like this one. But like so many other areas of life, moms are busy, salve making is messy, and so folks are quite happy to pay Sam and his family to make the salves for them. And so they do.
So the $64,000 question is: What in the world went wrong? How did this peace-loving, quiet, minding-his-own-business, Amish family farmer, father of twelve and loyal American citizen end up in jail for making herbal salves? How is it possible that this simple, God-fearing father, who would, any other year, be out working his fields with his horses getting ready for spring planting, be now sitting behind jail bars… considered a dangerous criminal?
These questions seem to defy answers. But let me show you how easy it actually is to make an innocent man look criminal. Then maybe you’ll understand.
Innocent Labeling Misstep
Sam’s nightmare started over twelve years ago. Their family was still new in the salve business and he had quite honestly and transparently labeled his one salve as ‘Chickweed Healing Salve’ and had healing testimonial claims on the label.
He also did not have the familiar FDA disclaimer that looks like this:
“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Sam, in his simple, disconnected-from-the-world Amish way of life may not have realized that healing claims coupled with the disclaimer omission amounted to a cardinal sin in the eyes of the FDA. Or maybe Sam just didn’t feel the disclaimer was truthful or even right to use. Maybe Sam felt it was dishonest to say that his salve was not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease when, of course, that is exactly what his salve is for.
Whatever the reason, Sam was soon to get an education!
To Criminalize a Man
It’s fairly easy to criminalize a man… especially if he makes the first misstep. Please stick with me. It’s critical that you understand how it’s bureaucratically possible to make a good man look bad. How easy it is for otherwise sensible people to rationalize that good is evil and evil is good and that light is darkness. (Isaiah 5:20)
Humble acknowledgment: It is an integral part of our civil duty as public servants to protect the American public from Illegal drug dealing criminals. We, the knights in shining armor, riding upon white horses have again courageously protected the vulnerable people of our great nation of The United States of America from the alarming menace of an illegal drug cocktail of Rosemary, Beeswax, Olive oil, Peppermint, Chickweed, Eucalyptus, Lavender and Comfrey. (These are the exact ingredients of Sam’s Chickweed Healing Salve.)
You will also be relieved to know that the dangerous Amishman who is the mastermind behind this shocking, illegal interstate drug trafficking is now safely behind bars without bail. And if we have our way in court, he’ll be there for the rest of his life. Thanks to us, your children will again play safely in the streets. Long live Truth and Justice in the grand ole USA! We tip our hats to your grateful applause as we ride off into the sunset.
Please excuse the satire. This situation is really not funny.
When the FDA informed Sam that these healing claims made his salve a drug and he was in for big trouble, Sam dutifully and respectfully took the offensive word ‘Healing’ off his label, removed the reference to possibly healing of skin cancer and changed the name to ‘Chickweed Salve.’ When that still was not good enough, he renamed it again to ‘Original Chickweed.’
Chillingly Familiar Escalation of Force
After the label changes, Sam says all was quiet until about three years ago. Then suddenly everything came roaring back. Apparently a local health official spotted Sam’s Chickweed salve in a small convenience store in Missouri. The local official informed a state health official who informed the FDA who swept in and seized the salve.
And the violation? Promotional brochures were found in the Missouri store with testimonials from Sam’s customers claiming to be healed from various skin ailments by the salve.
Ah-ha! So, since Sam is still claiming ‘healing’ even though it is not on his label this time, the ‘healing’ claims are in the same store so that means if we stretch the interpretation just a little we could make a case that Sam is still selling drugs that we have not approved so he’s still an illegal drug dealer. Plus now we charge him with selling illegal drugs across state lines!
So the ‘illegal drug’ inspections began. To his credit Sam tried to be agreeable and peaceful even though he rightfully insisted that his salves have nothing to do with drugs. His protests fell on deaf ears. They are drugs because you claim they heal, cure or prevent disease.
Sam reluctantly gave the FDA permission to inspect, hoping to pacify them. But he did ask one thing. Since their family is Amish and photography is offensive to their practice of faith he asked that the agents not take pictures. Sam says the FDA agreed that they would not take pictures during the inspection. But, when the agents arrived to do the inspection, they immediately pulled cameras and proceeded to shoot pictures completely breaking their word and completely ignoring and disrespecting Sam’s reasonable request to respect his faith.
Is anyone surprised that when the agents later came back unannounced to do another search of Sam’s facilities, that this time Sam refused them permission? He no longer trusted them. They had broken their word the previous time, plus they didn’t have a search warrant. The deputy sheriff, who had escorted the agents, told the FDA that this was totally within Sam’s rights. They legally needed a search warrant to inspect. Gesturing toward the street, the sheriff told the agents, “There’s the road.”
The agents left… but they didn’t give up. In fact it seems they may have been just a tad irritated that this little bit of a nobody Amish man called their bluff about something as small as keeping their word. He even made them retreat to get a warrant! And he’s an illegal drug dealing Amish man at that! No worries, Sam… we will be back with a warrant!
And they were. And the charges escalate with every turn. Sam, (probably naively) is representing himself in court and he has made a few blunders there. He’s Amish so he doesn’t have a telephone or computer so he’s rather hard to communicate with. Because of a miscommunication, he missed a court date a few months ago which has not endeared him to the already irritated prosecutors.
So now he’s charged with contempt of court. He’s charged with introducing illegal drugs into interstate commerce; charged with manufacturing drugs without a license; charged for misbranding drugs; charged with obstructing or threatening a witness in the federal grand jury indictment (which Sam has no idea what, how, when or who they are referring to with that charge)… He’s charged with conspiring with others to prevent, by force, intimidation, and threat FDA agents from discharging the duties of their offices… You get the picture.
If you have been paying attention over the last 25 years to the conduct of federal agents in conflictual situations, these charges and the extreme use of force and weight is chillingly familiar. Unless a miracle happens, the situation does not bode well for Sam or his family. As innocent, non-violent and as peaceful as they may be, one does not speak up to the federal government and win.
Where will it end? We can only hope and pray that it ends better than it has for others in similar situations. I’m saying no names, dates or situations here. I’m just saying that it’s eerily familiar.
So What to Do?
Please, join with us in prayer for Sam and his wife Elizabeth and family. This is a real fellow American family in real distress. We do believe in the power of prayer. And we also believe in the power of a peaceful, non-resistant, go-the-second-mile type of response as Jesus taught us to move the hearts of men. If you’d like to send Sam and Elizabeth and family a card or a note of encouragement, their farm address is: 409 Satterfield Lane, Owingsville, KY, 40360. Address it to Elizabeth Girod since Sam is in prison.
And also, join us in prayer for those in authority who seem to us to be unjust, vindictive, unreasonable and unmerciful. Maybe they feel we judge them unfairly too. Maybe they are not as bad as it seems. Maybe there are factors here that they know that we do not know. They are people too… maybe they don’t like what their superiors make them do either. Maybe they are also afraid and powerless. If that is the case, pray that they would individually have the strength and moral character to do the right thing even if costs them their job and reputation.
Also pray for Dawn and I and our family. We are concerned about the actions of these folks. And no, we are not being controlled by the ‘spirit of fear.’
“For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear; but of Power, and of Love, and of a Sound mind.”
~2 Timothy 1:7
As you know, we are fully licensed, tested, inspected and regulated by the PA department of Ag and fully legal in all regards in everything we do. Yet, down inside we recognize our own vulnerability.
We would be in denial if we did not deeply recognize how easily and quickly these same folks could also criminalize a little nobody Mennonite farmer and his family from PA. After all, we also publish stories from our own experience and stories from our customers that show how raw milk and raw milk kefir can heal, cure or for sure at least prevent some diseases. So does that make The Family Cow raw milk a drug?
According to the FDA it does. Will we be the next ones with a target on our backs for selling illegal ‘drugs,’ producing ‘drugs’ without a drug license, aiding and abetting those who take these same ‘drugs’ across state lines?
Put yourselves in our shoes. I think you can sympathize even if you are of cooler blood and think we are over thinking this. We might be. Just remember… some of Sam’s friends thought so too.
Prayers and Blessings,
Your farmer ~ Edwin
for the Shank Family and Family Cow Team
For further reading and research and details about Sam Girod, the links below will be helpful. If you want to know more what you can do to help Sam and Elizabeth, the 2nd link and 5th link may be of most interest to you particularly.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! ~ Isaiah 5:20
Know your farmer.
If you don’t have one, find one.
If you can’t find one, become one.