Most of the regulars here already know that the Senate’s version of the food fascism bill, alternatively known as S.B. 510, was passed yesterday. According to the sources I follow on this issue, a few issues stand in the way of it becoming law—more than the usual reconciliation with the House version, which was passed some time ago. Some see hope in that; but I don’t ... since the general idea has gotten congressional approval, I expect some sort of food tyranny will become the law within the next year or two. I don’t like it one bit, but am inured to it. Anyway, that isn’t what I want to focus on at the moment.
Yesterday’s New York Times published an article on the matter, titled Senate Passes Sweeping Law on Food Safety. The cognitive dissonance in it—at least if one is aware of the real issues involved in pushing this bill—is amazing. One of the “real issues” is that the locavore and foodie movements have cut into food corporations’ profits. More individuals are discovering that at least some of their health issues stem from poor nutrition, which stems from uninformed food choices. Processed foods—even those oxymoronically labeled as “fortified”—simply do not have the nutritional value that cooking from scratch offers. Additives of all sorts typically offer no nutritional value, and instead may act in harmful ways upon the body. As people learn about the health benefits of real food, raw food, or minimally processed foods, many of them turn away from fast food, CAFO meats and dairy products, and the like. (If you desire more information, see the movie Food, Inc.—it’s available in its entirety on YouTube, albeit sliced into segments.)
So, back to the Times article ... The lead paragraph opens with a particularly amusing statement:
The Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s food safety system on Tuesday, after tainted eggs, peanut butter and spinach sickened thousands of people in the last few years and led major food makers to join consumer advocates in demanding stronger government oversight.
Uh, it’s been those major food makers who’ve been sickening so many individuals. The company responsible for the peanut butter debacle knew their product was tainted, yet failed to act until people started getting sick from it. The people behind the egg recalls have a sordid history. Surely the authors of the Times article know these things. Many suspect that the real reason big ag backed this legislation is to ensure it would impact their competition. And it will: some of the restrictions and requirements will put many family farms and small operations out of business entirely.
Another bit, deep in the article, stands out too:
Part of the problem is the growing industrialization and globalization of the nation’s food supply. .... As food suppliers grow in size, problems at one facility can sicken thousands of people all over the country ...
And this legislation will only increase these problems, as smaller food producers will be unwilling and/or unable to bear the costs of compliance and will exit the market. By burying small farm businesses under mountains of documentation and fees—both of which big ag can easily accommodate—the playing field is tipped even more toward industrialization. It seems to me the foodicrats are focused so fully on the forest, they don’t see the trees ... and as a result are chopping them down.
The only way I can see for small producers to try to survive is to go private: close their offerings to the public at large, and either create some sort of sharing arrangement (like the herdshares for raw milk and raw–milk products, such as cheese and yogurt), or a subscription model, wherein products are never offered to the public but are instead sold to thoroughly vetted, trusted customers. The latter model would suck for individuals like me who have no contacts amongst local farmers, but if that’s what’s necessary to keep them in business, so be it.
[Addendum: Someone just now forwarded me a link to an excellent article relevant to my gripes above: Top ten lies about Senate Bill 510.]
[Addendum 12/02: David Gumpert has a new post up, offering a glimpse into the Tester–Hagan Amendment to S.B. 510. Just reading it (he has some good links, too) convinces me that the amendment merely subjects small farmers to a different kind of tyranny than big ag.]