In what some people are calling an example of nanny statism gone horribly wrong, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials announced that they had arrested three people for illegally picking saw palmetto berries on Friday.
According to the Panama City News Herald, a spokesperson for the FWC told the newspaper that they had been working on a sting to catch the berry bandits since last Thursday. The berries had been picked from a portion of Elgin Air Force Base that had wild saw palmetto plants growing.
The spokesperson, who was identified as Bekah Nelson, was further quoted as saying, "This is something that also happens in South Florida, but individuals that are attempting to harvest saw palmetto berries, and I believe that's a misdemeanor to do so, you have to be permitted."
The extract of saw palmetto berries is believed to be a homeopathic remedy for a number of conditions, including enlarged prostate, decreased sex drive, migraines, and hair loss. The National Institutes for Health disputes that saw palmetto berry extract has any medicinal use, and claims that peer reviewed studies have found that saw palmetto berry extract is no more effective to treat the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy than a placebo.
They are similar in character to an olive and used to be used by Native American populations in cooking; however, they are rarely used now in American food recipes.
The berries are estimated to have a value of about $4.45 a pound, according to the News Herald.
Many libertarians on twitter were quick to criticize the use of government force to arrest people for picking berries on public land.