Food safety is a hot topic these days. Even hotter is the seat of the small family farm, especially if they are truck farmers, dairies, or a diversified farm. It seems that they are literally under attack from various government agencies.
On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we are rather at a disadvantage when it comes to shopping for organic foods. While a store catering to the organic foods market may exist, I’m unaware of one in Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Hattiesburg, or Waveland. I also haven’t found one in any of the small towns in the same area. There are some U-Pick farms that advertise organic vegetables, and most of the grocery stores have an organic section, small as it may be.
So organic food is more expensive. Is it worth it?
It depends on your point of view, perhaps. Organic foods can be critical for some people though, especially if they suffer from chemical sensitivities, allergies, etc. Right now, it’s the only source of food that is free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). GMOs are banned in many European and Asian countries due to lack of testing and/or testing that associates it with increased health risks and problems.
In the United States, not only do products not have to be labeled when they contain GMO products, but apparently, it’s not even legal to label a product as being GMO free. A few states have passed state laws requiring labeling or have such bills coming up for vote.
It seems that giving food away, in the eyes of governmental agencies, is faced with the same regulations as those that food being sold must meet. Using this logic, agencies can decide what every family eats, right down to seizing family gardens, poultry, animals, etc. This is something important to remember as food safety laws are under consideration, whether at the local, state or federal level. Do you really want a federal agency to decide what is safe and healthy for you? Of course, their regulations have already been in place in terms of large, industrial production of foods which have resulted in death and illnesses. It’s also the official federal position that no one has the right to obtain or consume any particular food, nor do they have the right to general or bodily health.
Okay. Apparently, I was wrong in thinking that the government worked for the citizens.
So with huge concerns about our food supply, I decided I should watch the movie, Farmageddon.
Okay, so I wasn’t completely in the dark about some of the issues that surround our food supply. I had talked to a few people, I had done some reading, and I had some of my own concerns about the American food chain. I’m a consumer, and I had seen some anomalies in some of the food I had purchased over the years through standard commercial channels.
Does that mean I have an open mind? I’d say on the scale of open minded people regarding the American food chain…I’m open minded. I don’t think that our food is 100% safe in the current model, but I also don’t regard fast food as an instant death sentence.
Please, watch Farmageddon. It doesn’t have the whole story, and undoubtedly is slanted towards the small farmer/co-op. Even so, it’s a story that isn’t told in the media very often. It’s also a tale that we need to pay attention to. Farmageddon is available via Netflix, as well as through many other venues. It may also be available at your local library to check out.
It affects our lives. It affects our choices. It can also affect livelihoods, whether it’s our own income or that of our neighbors, as small producers from fisherman to farmers, are regulated and pressured out of business. I don’t know if it’s due to pressures from “Big Business” or the government’s desire to control, but does it really matter which one it originates from? It needs to stop.
We need to have the ability to make our own choices. We’re adults, not school children and we need to have the right to choose what we eat and feed our families, as well as the right to be healthy. We need to be able to continue to obtain and consume the foods that are traditional to our cultures and region. We sure don’t need anybody coming to tell us that we can’t have any more of Aunt Mamie’s special pepper sauce, or that Ray-from-down-the-street can’t let us get some of his barbecue or that the neighbor across the alley can’t give us a bag of greens or that I can’t make my mulberry jelly anymore to give for Christmas, now can we?
Originally, the laws were to protect us from unscrupulous companies who canned, pickled, bottled, and boxed up food that was substandard, spoiled, or diseased. It protected us from filthy factories and dirty milk bottles.
Today, we are getting sick from food containing ingredients we don’t even know are there, coming from mega-sized corporations who don’t care who they make sick as long as they show maximum profit. They are apparently able to meet these complicated regulations and obtain the expensive licenses, while clean, local businesses can’t sell us the products we want because somebody in a distant office has decided that they are unsafe.