Sunday, November 21, 2010

S 510 - IS FOOD SAFETY REALLY THE POINT?

Have you ever bought food from a local farmer or at a farm market?  Cider from a roadside stand?  If so, and if you were happy with your right to do it, it may be time to come up to speed with Bill S 510 pending in the Senate.  Debate will start again after Thanksgiving.  In fact, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to think about the food on the table and where it comes from...

In 1996, I owned the Apple Barn Farm Market in New Boston, NH when E. coli in cider made  in Connecticutt and NY made people sick. The national media went nuts.  Everyone became afraid to drink unpasteurized cider, the government considered requiring all cider to be pasteurized (some would say ruined), and a lot of family businesses in our area  threw up their hands and quit.   Orchards turned into housing developments. 

The apple business in NH was tough enough because of the short growing season.   Profits, were never huge.  The added expense of pasteurization was unthinkable.  Not to mention that cider had been made for hundreds of years pretty much the same way.   

All this history came back to me reading yesterday's NY Time's article:  Small Cheesemaker Defies FDA Over Recall.  It offers both the small producer and the FDA's perspectives.
 
My sympathies are with the small farmer.  That's where I get all the food I can because I know it's freshest and it's raised with a "hands on" approach (I would say "with love" but I hate it when you roll your eyes).  Industrially produced food can't be.  I don't want my local farmers harassed, or burdened.   I trust the county extension services which are part of state universities, to keep them informed of the latest developments with their crops/products and problems that might effect them.
  
Also, I fear big agribusiness.  When you see headlines like:  Vegetables Are The New Meat, and read:   unrestrained vegetable eating has never been more eagerly pursued. Sunchokes are everywhere, black kale is all the rage, and even plain old broccoli—never mind boutique brassicas like spigarello and Romanesco—is hot. Vegetables, you see, are newly and increasingly fashionable, at least among a certain segment of fine-dining, CSA-belonging, Michael Pollan–reading, rooftop-garden-crazed New Yorkers.

This new breed of plant lover isn’t motivated entirely by ethical, environmental, or even health concerns (though those reasons come into play), but by culinary ones. Simply put, the once-meat-obsessed populace is realizing that vegetables actually taste good. Especially when fresh, in season, and carefully prepared ...You know that the meat lobby has to have a reaction.  They are very powerful in Washington. Remember what happened to Oprah?  Would the meat lobby try to make it tough on their competition by any means possible, including increased regulation?   Well, that's their job.
 
So I ask you to read about the bill and to weigh in with your senators.  (The bill has already passed through the House).  Going to Congress.org and typing in your zip code at the upper right is one easy way to find your senators and send an email (or snail mail, or CALL).

To read more about S 510 and what's at stake, check out Slow Food USA.  

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