Individuals and communities are fighting for the right to make their own food choices. Isn’t that a little backwards? How did this right get taken away from us in the first place?
Slowly but surely, it has disintegrated until consumers have few choices. Various restrictive laws around the “civilized” world include the inability to legally buy milk, eggs, and meat from your neighbors. Often we’re also unable to buy foods guaranteed to be free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), also known as GE (genetically engineered).
Some communities are banding together and taking a stand.
Sedgwick, Maine, has declared food sovereignty. This means, and I quote, “Sedgwick citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing. . .It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.”
How did this become “crazy talk?” How did our governments (lumping my home-and-native-land, Canada, in here with the USA) get the “right” to tell us what we can’t buy and eat locally while allowing (yes, encouraging!) chemicals, additives, food coloring, and GM (genetically modified) organisms in our food?
Speaking of genetically modified “foods,” the village of Telkwa has become the 11th GE-free-zone in British Columbia, Canada. The wording here is less forceful than Sedgwick’s–and yes, I know it’s not exactly the same topic, either! Telkwa says, “the use of GMOs is inconsistent” with their community plan, and “is unwelcome in the Village of Telkwa.”
What about you? What are some food laws where you live that drive you crazy? What can you and your neighbors do about it?
I wish it was easier to buy raw milk. Our state is pretty restrictive. I can get it but have to drive a hour away to an Amish farm that has been registered and certified by the state of NY.
Valerie Comer says
It’s completely restricted here. Raw milk is illegal unless you own your own cow. A local organic dairy has been making cheese for several years and is now licensed to sell liquid milk–but not raw. Oh, the hoops and expense they’ve been jumping through!
Is it worth it to drive an hour for raw milk? Do you do it?
Yes I do make that drive. The taste of raw milk is far superior to homogenized and pasteurized! The farm also makes cheese (which are wonderful) and you can purchase meat. Their bacon is wicked good!
Cool raw milk story – when my daughter was around a year old she used to have chronic diaper rashes with open, weeping sores. Nothing I used would heal them until we moved to PA and my ex worked for a farmer that gave us raw milk right from his cows. Within three weeks the sores healed completely and never returned with no further treatment by me or the doctor. Amazing!
For me – well, well worth the drive.
Valerie Comer says
Wow, yes. I can see that. Raw milk has been so vilified, it’s crazy! Somehow I can’t talk hubby or son into milking every day, though…
Ahh, but I sneak mine into pudding and I make ice cream with it. 🙂 Also use it for cream of tomato soup and yogurt.
The issue is often cited as being food safety, but because the big factory farmers have more clout, they’re often able to put rules in place that hurt small farmers, organic farmers, etc. So, the system is rigged, and that hurts everyone.
We do need good safety standards. But how does a consumer know what standards should be followed? How does a consumer know that their local source is following them, particularly if it’s a really small business or a really new one? It’s a really complex issue.
A related example: A lot of people use a site called Task Rabbit to hire people to do things for them. People try to underbid each other to get the job. I’ve seen people bid as little as $50 to cook a week’s worth of dinners. I wanted to start a business doing that, but to do it legitimately requires that I take a very expensive (for my budget) food handling safety course and have liability insurance. I couldn’t do it, including business expenses and a reasonable salary for me, for less than several hundred dollars for a week’s worth of meals.
Although it’s a different industry, it’s an example of how safety is often ignored. You can bet the cooks offering to do the job I’d be doing if I hadn’t lost my funding source for $50 are not trained in proper food handling, nor do they have liability insurance. The consumers buying this bargain are risking food poisoning, because you can’t safely cook like you cook for your family when you’re cooking for strangers.
When the local producer you’re buying from is really small or really new or someone selling their backyard produce (which is equivalent to the person bidding on Task Rabbit, just trying to make a bit of extra money), there are similar questions. How do you know what you’re getting? You have to trust that they’re telling you the truth when they say there’s no pesticides or GMO seeds used or whatever. That’s harder to do these days when so many people seem willing to do or say anything to make a buck.
How do we protect ourselves aside from being the producer of everything we eat? That’s the real question for today’s world, with its global markets.
Valerie Comer says
You’re right. It IS rigged to those who have the money/clout to lobby our governments.
Aside from growing our own food (which I know is not practical for everyone, though it’s the path we’ve chosen as far as we can take it), you can only get to know your local producers. Sure, you have to take your word for it if they say it is organic but don’t have certification. But you can drop by and see their farm/garden. You can talk to them and look into their eyes.
And if they’re not telling the complete truth, you’re probably still better off than the same level of un-truth at the supermarket!