Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Think About It Or Not?

Things I Think About

I think about food. A lot. Some would say obsessively. I can live with that.

It's not always, "What should I have for lunch?" Nor is it what recipe to create next. I also think a lot about food policy. Which is not what most people contemplate. Yet perhaps we should. No need to rehash all the recalls and headlines here, it's pretty clear that the industrial food business is not doing a good job of producing safe foods, with some knowingly shipping tainted goods as with the recent peanut product issue.

Not a shock that the House recently passed one of the many proposed food safety bills, HR 2749. I mean, what Rep is going to vote no for safer food and have that on his or her voting record? The problem is nothing is ever as easy as it sounds. Food safety is needed. Indeed, just the provision in the bill that allows the FDA to make food recalls mandatory instead of voluntary was a huge improvement.

The problem with the bill is that it treats all food production as if it were large-scale industry. And, key provisions such as the $500 annual fee per facility are going to weigh heavily on small, local food producers such as the family that makes and sells jams and preserves at the farmers market. Along with additional paperwork and administrative burdens, the bill is going to put additional pressure on these small local producers who are not part of the problem.

Meanwhile, key parts of the bill that would regulate antibiotic overuse in factory farms — a practice linked to the development of MRSA and the virulent salmonella and E. coli strains — were successfully lobbied against and removed from the bill.

Another problem in the bill is the impact it could have on wildlife diversity around farms and the burden of compliance with this on small farms. While leaving the major source of food-borne pathogens and recalls out of the picture (feedlots and factory farms) this provision would require farms to clearcut vegetation around cropland, leaving the area open to erosion and a loss of habitat and biodiversity.

The good news is that the bill is not yet law. There is time to ask your Senators to keep the good part of the bill, put back the provisions that would better regulate factory farms, and decrease the impact the legislation would have on small farmers. You can find your senator's contact information here. Read a great analysis of the best and worst of HR 2749 here.

Things I Don't Think About
Most days, I think my brain has hit its carrying capacity. So, in order to make room for all the issues that are important, I clear the clutter. Here are a few items I no longer contemplate:
  1. What's on TV. I mean, is it worth it?
  2. Since having a child, I seem to be constantly sticky. I quit thinking about the cause of this.
  3. Why my kid will or won't eat this or that. There is no logic. Fix decent food, kids won't starve themselves. Eventually, I'll win.
  4. My child's wardrobe. Hey, I am just happy she dresses herself.
  5. My wardrobe. I know, it shows. I am just happy I still dress myself.
  6. My age. What's the alternative to getting older? Death. Accept aging.
  7. All the to-do lists I wrote and lost. I am sure there will be more new items to fill a list. A lot more.
  8. Celebrity gossip. Really, why do we care?
  9. My blog, which needs to change. I've been terrible at getting posts up. I have been thinking about you all, really. Life has just been a little crazy ...


Chris said...

Interestingly, the House did the exact same thing with the 'safe toy' legislation that went into effect back in February or March. Everyone agrees that we don't want lead and other harmful substances in the toys our children play with, but the new regulations make it prohibitively expensive for mom and pops to make small batches of kid friendly stuff. It's such a shame that the government only seems to see the big industries and writes legislation that is impossible for small business to live up to.

Thanks for pointing this out. More letters to my Senator tomorrow now.

Miranda said...

#2 Totally. My feet are always sticky. So is the floor. I just wear slippers these days,