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Protecting Organic Food

I usually try to stay a little shy from politics with this blog, as I know that we get slammed with disheartening news so often.  However, I do feel that part of my mission with this blog is to educate and inspire people, and now I’m calling some of you to action.

Our local, organic farm stand at Gladheart Farms

One of the most important freedoms that we have is choosing what we put in our bodies.  That said, I feel it is very important to protect equal access to healthy, organic foods and natural herbs and remedies.  Over the last year or so, a battle has been waging over HR875/S425 that has turned into the current legislation in process, S510.  This issue is of grave importance to me and I hope it will be to you.

Of all the many facets of sustainable food, food safety is probably on the top of the list. After all, what good is it, if it’s not safe to eat? Out of the perils of systematic pesticide and herbicide use, sloppy factory conditions and general negligence in the factory food sector, we find ourselves in a situation where a number of elected officials are looking to make food safety a priority in the United States.

Food safety with these porkers?

At its core, I respect the desire to make the food supply safer, but as Senate Bill S510 has taken a number of liberties against food independence, I wonder who’s backing the bill and why? Certainly, it’s not solely about food safety.

Senate Bill S510 is summarized to “A bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the safety of the food supply” except it has a number of dangerously fascist ideas nestled within its outlined text. A small farmer becomes equated to an industrial farm, and the profit-driven industrial farm’s mistakes are passed on to our fellow CSA.

Hickory Nut Gap Farms piggies live the good life and eat natural foods and clean spring water!

If this bill goes through, all our small farms will have to pay various fees that could possibly put them out of business and make it impossible for us to continue getting locally grown organic food.  This makes no sense because the people who brought us food that was recalled were large-scale industrial foodies; our small farms have had little to no recall.  So who are we trying to protect?

Wonderful, organic kale field is easier to monitor food quality… and a large city enjoys!

Let’s look at who supports the bill. According to maplight.org, huge corporations like General Mills, Kraft Foods North America, National Association of Manufacturers and 25 more organizations support this bill. In opposition: American Grassfed Association, Family Farm Defenders, Small Farms Conservancy 93 others in an open letter to address the Senate Bill S510.

The letter is to the point: the regulations that the government would like to enforce don’t actually apply to small operations, specifically organic farms. The disease-laden corporate industry is infected within the large-scale operations where pushing product over quality is more important and safety can sometimes be overlooked. The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) publishes an extremely up-to-date recall list proving this point effectively.

The scenic midwest, full of picturesque miles of pesticide laden grain farms…

Over the last three years of my purchasing local, responsibly-raised food, I have never once encountered a recall of any sort.

On Govtrack.us, where you can read the bill in its entirety, an anonymous answer to the question of redundancy within the Food Science Experts that work for the FDA was quite clear in its support of knowing the land from which food grows:

“Although one may try to argue that one incident is too many, it appears that the majority of the incidents actually occur in large producers who are “in it” for the money. To strangle the small farmer with regulations and taxations harms not just the industry, but the future of the next generation of farmers who would gain their skills of growing healthful food from this generation.”

That’s not to say family farms go without issue, but the small farms are able to catch issues quicker, track their product faster, contact their customer base personally and are held to a local reputation that means far more than any corporate marketing could ever buy.

As I write this blog, I’ll admit that I’m feeling a chill and a rising sense of urgency.  Let me just add one more comment: who brought us MSG (monosodium glutamate as an additive), high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), aspartame, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), Avandia (prescribed for type 2 diabetes) and Vioxx (arthritis pain medication)?  The FDA permitted all these toxic substances and allowed them to become a mainstream part of our diet.  FDA also permitted the sale of antibiotics for nontherapeutic purposes in animals in CAFOs, a practice that has resulted in antibiotic resistance and the creation of difficult-to-treat infections like MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). Properly-prescribed, FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs are responsible for over 100,000 deaths each year in this country [*Starfield, Barbara--p. 484]. FDA’s true clients are not the American people but rather the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

S510 is not about protecting public health but rather about increasing federal control over food and transferring market share from the local food system to the industrial food system. The bill grants broad rulemaking power to FDA, a grant not merited by the agency’s track record. Its passage will cripple local food over time. (Kennedy, Pete)  That said, I would like to ask that we come together to protect our food and drug sources.  I personally prefer organics from my local farms and natural supplements, and would like to have easy access to them. Urge your senator to oppose this bill as it is written; it can severely impede the right of food independence. It is our own responsibility to ensure the food we eat is raised ethically with cleanliness and the utmost focus on food safety in the United States.  Below are some links you can use to take action:

Please take action and forward this information to your circle of influence in the same way.

Thank you Pete Kennedy for the wealth of information you made available, and to the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

To locate the contact information for U.S. Senators, go to www.senate.gov

Talking points to discuss with your senators (compiled by Pete Kenedy, Esq.) http://www.ftcldf.org/111_Cong-S510-Talking-Points.htm

Petition to vote NO! to s510 http://www.ftcldf.org/petitions/pnum1061.php

Sources for this article:

http://www.hickorynutgapfarm.com

http://www.gladheartfarms.com

Kennedy, Pete Esq http://mrscottyl.blogspot.com/2010/10/s510-revised-fda-coming-to-farm-near.html

* Starfield, Barbara.  ”Is US Health Really the Best in the World?” Journal of the American Medical Association.  JAMA, Volume 284, No. 4; July 26, 2000.  Accessed online 22 September 2010 by link at http://www.drug-education.info/articles/Starfield.htm for http://www.drug-education.info/documents/iatrogenic.pdf

http://www.justmeans.com/Senate-Bill-S510-Food-Safety-or-Food-Fascism/27723.html

http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/?p=5133

http://thegormleyfiles.blogspot.com/2009/10/senate-bill-510-825-billion-dollar.html

http://www.real-sonic-bloom.com/real_food_is_freedom/government_corporations%20threaten_farmers_markets.htm

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yurtmanI live in a little sustainable minded yurt village in western NC near AshevilleView all posts by yurtman →