Buy Local—Take Your Family’s Food Safety Into Your Own Hands
FOLLOWING THE RECENT MASSIVE RECALL of eggs that had been reportedly contaminated by salmonella from chickens raised in filthy conditions on factory farms, Congress is at it again, looking to pass new regulations directed at food safety. The problem, critics say, is that so-called food safety legislation (H.R. 2749) introduced to clean up the country’s food supply is misdirected. Instead of reducing the ridiculous rules that prevent family farms from butchering livestock in small batches and selling meat and produce directly to consumers, congressmen want even stricter rules that only serve to benefit the massive multinational corporations that run the polluting factory farms.
The latest incarnation of food safety was introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) in late July and has already passed the House. It is currently being vetted in a Senate committee.
Take the recall of a half billion eggs from a corporation in Iowa that was well-known for its unsanitary conditions. State and federal agricultural authorities had regularly inspected the egg factory and had repeatedly cited and fined it for health hazards. Yet, the bureaucrats never did a thing to shut down the massive factory farm. The solution now being discussed in Congress is to hand even more power to federal authorities to impose recalls or shut down factories. In reality, the government already has that power, evidenced by the assault on independent family farms, especially producers of raw milk who have faced years of persecution at the hands of local, state and federal authorities. But corporate interests have the power and the money to fight the bureaucrats with their own army of lawyers.
The mainstream media remains clueless about the entire debate. For example, on Sept. 19 The New York Times excoriated legislators for not enacting even more stringent rules on food that would further consolidate the production of food in the hands of fewer and fewer multinational corporations, as if that is the answer.
It doesn’t require sterile laboratories to produce safe food. Enacting legislation that encourages the diversification of food is one solution, and there already is a bill that encourages this option. H. Res. 458, introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), calls on the federal government to encourage “organic farming, gardening, local food production, and farmers markets.” But that has been stuck in the House Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry since last year.
But the truth is, even that bill does not go far enough. The only way for Americans to be certain that their food is safe is to get more involved in food production. Reject massive supermarkets and other corporate bigbox stores. Support family farms that allow consumers to tour the facility to personally witness the conditions in which livestock are raised. Purchase produce and meats directly from the farm whenever possible. It may cost families a few extra dollars to do this, but it is the only way to truly be safe.
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(Issue # 40, October 4, 2010)