Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Goodbye food

by Constance O'Neill

In the DVD,
The Cheese Nun, the nun was in France working on her Ph.D in microbiology to help her learn more about cheese, and pointed out all the farms that had closed down, farms which had produced some of the best cheeses in France going back many generations.

The food safety laws put in by the multinational corporations have done this. Those laws harmonize with the bills here, so we know with clarity what they will do to farming and food here. The laws in Europe have also gotten rid of generations of cheese makers in Tuscany, while Kraft Food is doing well in Europe.

Vandana Shiva explains what the food safety laws are really about. Vandana Shiva -Food Laws

And one can see just in looking at New York - remember New York, famous for its stunning diversity in food, the place where immigrants of all kinds got their starts by opening little food shops, by vending on the street? - how much is happening to shut down the most normal exchange of food and any possible small businesses around it, leaving only corporate food.

The insanity and injustice of it is palpable.

The following didn't pass but it gives an idea of where they are heading as they tighten the noose on access to normal, safe local food in state after state,
Meanwhile, the big meat packers are still free to sicken and kill people and the big food processors free to put GMOs that are associated with organ failure and sterility and hair growing in the mouth, into our children's food unlabeled, and to load their food with MSG and aspartame, both shown to cause a long list of serious diseases. (While touted as a necessity for achieving food safety, no one believes that bills in Congress written by Monsanto and giving the FDA police state power, will be used in any way to go after industry, but they clearly pose a terrible threat to farmers and local food.)

The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund sued the FDA over their ban of raw milk in interstate commerce. Last month, the FDA responded to FTCLDF's suit that such a ban is unconstitutional, with assertions that would impress Hitler.

  • "There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food."
  • "There is no 'deeply rooted' historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds."
  • "Plaintiffs' assertion of a 'fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families' is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish." (With the removal of the food words and one ends up with this actually frightening position by a government agency ostensibly tasked to protect people's health by preventing corporate harm: "Plaintiffs' assertion of a 'fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health ... is similarly unavailing ...")
  • FDA's brief goes on to state that "even if such a right did exist, it would not render FDA's regulations unconstitutional because prohibiting the interstate sale and distribution of [insert the name of any food you consider invaluable] promotes bodily and physical health."
  • "There is no fundamental right to freedom of contract."
This strangling of food access is happening everywhere.

The large farmers market in Urbana, Illinois, is a source of great pride to the city and a delight to its regular customers, but those who attend have no idea how close the farmers and other food vendors there are to going under. Some can't bring fresh eggs to market anymore without purchasing refrigerator trucks (yes, there is no need); others can't bring baked goods without going through expensive classes and renting government facilities that they can only get into at midnight on the day before the market (yes, there is no need); those selling meat are threatened with financial collapse of their whole operations if USDA/corporate demands for electronic tagging of their animals is forced on them, though it is "lunatic." (and may even be much worse; and honey farmers talk under their breath of regulations in which they might not even be allowed to share honey, let alone sell it.

Choking rules are increasing on each type of food sold at the Urbana farmers market. But the market manager is so out of touch with what her own vendors are going through, that the market just increased the fee to vendors by 39%, saying the market had become so popular, they added more vendors and now need fire insurance for how close tents are to eat other (yes, it is absurd). The market gains from the vendors, but it is the vendors who are forced to bear the burden of the success they brought to others.

Meanwhile those in charge in Urbana, bragging on the market as a special feature of the city, dependent on it themselves for wholesome food for their families, have not seen the corporate threat to the vendors so not only have done nothing to protect them from unjust regulations but become the very ones to enforce those regulations, and then top them off with their own additional fees.

A young Mediterranean man in a city in Massachusetts who wanted to open a small restaurant (which would provide jobs to others) can't do so because a new regulation requires an especially large grease trap which is prohibitively expensive. The impossibly expensive grease trap is supposed to protect the water.

The EPA also uses "oil" as a means to shut small businesses down. It has demanded that dairy farmers put in (again, prohibitively expensive) equipment to prevent spilt milk, defining the fat in milk now as oil.

Meanwhile BP spews "grease" into the world's oceans and adds poisons to that at will, yet does not face being shut down or even stopped, and gets tax breaks and even subsidies for what it did.

At a time when people have lost jobs and jobs themselves are disappearing, the corporations have devised a crushing orchestration of "health" regulations and laws which boggle the mind in terms of their anti-competitive impact. Forced onto communities, they are aimed at people's natural connection to food, and are breaking down distinct cultures and communities and local economies piece by piece.

The patent absurdity of the food safety regulations does not escape ordinary people. At a church in Massachusetts where, like all religious groups, they put on bazaars to support their efforts to do good in the community, no one is legally allowed to bring home baked goods to sell anymore. Asked about this, the church secretary frowned and then whispered, "We do it anyway."
Food itself is going underground.

In Pennsylvania, farmers meet customers in parking lots in out of the way places at night to sell them food.

S 510, the Food Modernization Act sees "modern" food as solely corporate food, and would use disease threats they define themselves, to even bring in DHS and the military to wipe out their animals.

Perhaps churches, farmers markets, restauranteurs, shop owners, and families are beginning to see the full picture - that "food safety" is a hoax and that the health laws are meant to be destructive - the local piece of a massive international scheme by multinational corporations to take control of all food in the world. Perhaps as they begin to see how each of them and all of them are being harmed, they will join together and storm their local city council meetings to demand the removal of "food safety" laws that are actually corporate choke-holds on everyone's access to local food, to their own local economy, and to the abundant, distinct, and happy life that comes with it.

The odds are good it is illegal for your child to sell lemonade and cookies to neighbors now. This isn't only "crazy" or upsetting. It is deeply inconsistent with existence.

No comments:

Post a Comment