I have to admit that after watching ‘Farmageddon’ this week on YouTube, my view is probably a bit polluted. So last week when I saw a local news story advertised, I couldn’t help but think, “OK, the reporters are probably going to push their liberal, pro-Big-Ag, pro-big-government agenda.” Turns out, I was right, and in instances like this, I hate it when I’m right.
I didn’t stay up to watch the news piece, but I did read RTV6’s coverage on their website. You can read it for yourself, but essentially they went on and on about how dangerous farmers markets are,
One of the issues that seemed to bother officials most was the lack of hand washing. So, OK, Uncle Sam, what you’re telling me is that if I go to a farmers market to buy zucchini that still have some garden dirt on them, you’re going to give the vendor grief because she didn’t wash her hands before she handed it to me? Now, I can understand if someone’s doing something like slicing a cake (which I’ve seen at farmers markets.) If it were me though, I’d rather see someone wearing gloves than washing their hands in an outdoor venue like that. Maybe that’s just me.
Putting all the little gripes aside, the biggest issue that the reporter seemed to have with farmers markets was lack of oversight by Uncle Sam. The reporter seemed to imply that as more people buy food from farmers markets, there’s going to be more of an issue with food safety that the government won’t catch because they don’t have enough inspectors to bother every market every time. What the reporter fails to realize, I think, is that most of us consumers of local food feel a lot safer buying our food from vendors that we know by name — vendors whose farms and homes we can visit if we wish. If meat from my farmer friend’s cattle makes me sick (which it wouldn’t, but let’s just say for the sake of argument), I know right where to go. And that farmer happens to be so invested in the health of his heard that he’s going to want to know, and he’s going to want to track down the problem. I can’t get that when I buy my meat at Sam’s Club.
More and more these days, I see the government trying to make one-size-fits-all regulations. The same kinds of regulations that work for massive factory farms just do not work for smaller operations. In fact, not only are they ineffective, but they’re downright obtrusive. Those seeking food safety for consumers are well-intentioned (most of the time), but I truly feel like these folks are barking up the wrong tree.
Don’t misunderstand me. I understand why there has to be an interest in food safety on the government’s side. If businesses were allowed to do as they pleased without regard to the well-being of the folks who purchased from them, we might still have swill dairies or poisons of various sorts being dumped into our food supply. When animals are raised in an unnatural way, when food is grown in frightening ways and harvested by folks for whom no care is paid (because they’re not technically supposed to be in the country, let alone harvesting food), we’re going to have issues. When the USDA says bathing commercially processed chickens in “fecal soup” is fine so long as the salmonella contamination isn’t more than 23 or 24 percent, we have problems, and there has to be oversight.
Distance poses a problem too. Things are done very differently by the folks who bring our food from several states (or even several countries) away compared to someone like me who might pick tomatoes out of my garden in the morning and sell them at market in the afternoon. Comparing farmers markets with their fresh, locally produced foods to grocery stores and restaurants with their factory farmed, Big-Ag-sanctioned foods just doesn’t make sense. Whipping the public into a frenzy over “unsafe” farmers markets doesn’t make sense to me either, unless you’re a corporate food producer who can lobby because it feels like it has a lot to lose as the local food folks try and level the playing field.
I’m concerned, and any of you who care about your right to choose what you eat, any of you who care about the choices that you can make for your families should be concerned too. I feel like the government — the Obama administration specifically — is waging war against the small farmer/rancher. There’s something seriously wrong with this country when we’re told that we don’t have a Constitutional right to grow and consume our own food. It’s be one thing is we were talking about some illicit drug, but come one folks! We’re talking about milk, tomatoes, apples, pork, chicken, and so on.
I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes peeled. It’s one thing to see folks up in arms about raw milk. While I think it’s stupid, it’s not surprising. But farmers markets? Horrible food safety concerns like people not washing their hands? Those tomatoes laid out in the garden where birds would have pooped on them and bugs could have mated on them. Why do I care if someone washed her hands before picking a tomato? I just don’t get it!
Anyway, I guess I’ve ranted enough for one blog post. I just feel like I had to speak my mind on this one because it really did disturb me. Telling me how to do with the food my family and I consume is NOT the business of our government, and making it harder for me to get nutritious, local foods shouldn’t be something that I’ve come to expect. I can smoke or drink while I’m pregnant, and I can feed my kids Twinkies at breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I want, but I can’t buy wholesome foods from local farmers without the government wanting to stick its nose in. Leave me to my tomatoes and zucchini, and pester the facilities that participate in the government-sanctioned poisoning of Americans. That might sound harsh and radical, but that’s how I feel, and I resent such a huge road block being placed in my path to liberty!
- Food Safety Concerns Grow With Farmers Markets’ Popularity — news piece featured on RTV6, ABC’s Indianapolis affiliate
- Farmageddon – The truth about the food and dairy industry — one of several instances of ‘Farmageddon’ on YouTube
- http://farmageddonmovie.com — The references section on this site has some excellent resources.