Bill HR 875: The Patriot Act of Food


While it may seem that my arguement below is skewed to the left and based simply upon liberalist banter, I must stress that my conclusions are based off of what I read in the actual text of the Bill.

To be more specific, I suggest you read over the following sections:

  • Section 201: Administration of National Program
  • Section 401: Prohibited Acts
  • Section 403: Notification and Recall
  • Section 405: Civil and Criminal Penalties
  • Section 506: Regulations

In my humble opinion, after reading over this bill, the establishment of Food Safety Administration seems like a small death to civil liberties. The administrationwill have the power to determine what food passes regulation standards based on very broad (and some arbitrary) guidelines left up to the determination of the the ADMINISTRATOR (dun dun dunnnnnnnnn)

The motivation behind this bill is to keep our food safe and out of the hands of contamination and bioterrorists. Though (if passed) this might prevent the occasional tomato and peanut scare, it seems like more wasted funding for another one of our government’s anti-terrorist moves that will do nothing more than infringe on our rights as citizens.

Anyone remember the Patriot Act? Well, more than anything else this seems like the beginning of government intervention into multiple realms of domestic life, a change none of us were hoping for.

Obama, you might want to get your wife’s organic garden at the White House approved. Those veggies could be lethal.

Advertisements

Obama Loves Monsanto: Bill HR 875

Congress is working on a bill: HR 875 (aka the Food Modernization Act of 2009) that if passed would allow only ‘federally sanctioned’ seeds and produce to be grown and consumed in the name of ‘food safety’. The passing of this bill would also mean no more backyard gardens, community growing spaces, or small farms, as these are obviously an enormous threat to public health.

The Future of Food? Yeah, this looks safe...
The Future of Food? Yeah, this looks safe...

The monopoly man just rained some bills on Monsanto, literally.

I don’t even know how to begin this entry besides the obvious action of staring at my computer screen with my mouth hanging stupidly open. IS THIS THE KIND OF CHANGE WE SHOULD HAVE HOPED FOR OBAMA?!

While the intent of the bill is to assure a large-scale public safety in food regulation, the catastrophic repercussions seem to really outweigh the benefits. Lets compare them together shall we?

Pros:

  1. Cleaner food distribution
  2. Standardized Prices (this could be good or bad)
  3. More government push towards environmentally friendly growing techniques (one would hope)
  4. Less parasite outbreaks from bad food (though these usually come from commercially produced products, anyone remember the peanut butter scare?)

Cons: (sorry this is obviously bias) Under the provisions of this law you could NOT legally:

  1. Buy heirloom seed and then harvest and re-use your own seed.
  2. You could ONLY legally purchase governmentally distributed seeds (aka Monsanto’s zombie seed of death!)
  3. You could NOT raise your own seed and sell, or even GIVE them to a neighbor.
  4. You would no longer be able to take your kids down to the local “pick-your-own” blueberry or strawberry farms, or buy from the roadside backyard grower of garden vegetables, or even grow your own vegetable plants, fruit trees, or nut trees, for your own consumption!!

For more information, read the FACTS at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-875

Here is a link to read about the current status of HR 875 that is being considered by Congress.

PLEASE read up and take action to make sure this doesn’t get through. If this is some kind of attempt at saving capitalism, it will have contradictory effects, and simultaneously destroy our local sense of sustainability, and our ability to complete basic tasks (eating) without the interference of GObama.

Gastronomic Racism: Italy’s xenophobic foodie.

I was sitting at my desk just doing mindless internet surfing when I came across an news article about Italy’s new effort to ban any new foreign food restaurants into cities. Starting in Lucca and spreading to other cities in the Lombardy region, Italian president Silvio Berlusconi really feels strongly about Italians only eating italian food…. as a means of cultural preservation of course.

Alright so, a little background. I lived abroad for about 6 months in Parma, Italy… home to Italy’s booming food industry, and when it comes to food, Italians are not kidding. There is so much diversity across the different regions in Italy that apparently there is absolutely no room for the cuisines of immigrant cultures from Africa and the Middle East….at least not anymore.

Luca Zaia, the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the Northern League from the Veneto region, applauded the authorities in Lucca and Milan for cracking down on non-Italian food. “We stand for tradition and the safeguarding of our culture,” he said.

Mr Zaia said that those ethnic restaurants allowed to operate “whether they serve kebabs, sushi or Chinese food” should “stop importing container loads of meat and fish from who knows where” and use only Italian ingredients.

Asked if he had ever eaten a kebab, Mr Zaia said: “No – and I defy anyone to prove the contrary. I prefer the dishes of my native Veneto. I even refuse to eat pineapple.”

Mehmet Karatut, who owns one of four kebab shops in Lucca, said that he used Italian meat only.”

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge supporter of eating local and maintaining national food traditions, but is this taking the “eating local” thing too far, and turning into a gastronomical form of racism? In Italy the culinary culture is synonymous with nationalism, but is this enough justification to completely ban other forms of cuisine?

What if someone is craving a burger, or a kebab? NO! *slaps hand* PASTA FOR YOU!

Anyway, go read the article. It’s a real trip.

And yes, Italians really are this crazy. (If you are Italian and reading this, I hope you are not offended, pero e’ davvero cosi in Italia, tutti politici pazzi.)

An Email I Received from Slow Food

“In these final days before President-Elect Obama makes his selection for Secretary of Agriculture, Slow Food Los Angeles urges you to express your support for dynamic and sustainable choices for the post.

An online petition available at http://www.fooddemocracynow.org is accepting signatures. The petition lists six suggestions including Gus Schumacher, former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Slow Food leader Neil Hamilton, the Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University.

Josh Viertel, Erika Lesser, Slow Food USA board members, and Slow Food leaders from around the country have signed the petition and are spreading the word. SFUSA is encouraging members and friends to add their names in support of the suggested candidates: Even if the new administration doesn’t pick one of the listed candidates, signing the petition sends a strong message that we want a good, clean, and fair food system and that we expect our new administration to make choices that support that vision.

For more information on the nominees and the role of the Secretary of Agriculture, check out Kim Severson’s piece in last week’s Diner’s Journal on the New York Times’ website:
http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/foodies-make-a-pitch-to-obama/

as well as Steph Larson’s comments, posted on one of our perennial favorites, The Ethicurean:
http://www.ethicurean.com/2008/11/15/ag-sec/

For more about the mission of Food Democracy Now!, read their mission an description at:
http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/about-us/

Please sign the petition! This could dictate the future of how we understand and experience the not only the food we eat, but also the environment we live in!

Monsanto: Rounding up an agricultural monopoly.

While the name, Monsanto, might not sound immediately familiar, this company has one of the most deep-‘seeded’ successful businesses in the history of American agriculture.Monsanto is the country’s lead producer of the genetically engineered seed, dominating between 70%-100% of the market for a wide variety of crops produced in the country. The company’s monopolization of this industry had created serious problems for the environment, small farm owners, and the health of millions of consumers all over the world.

The company began with its production of ,”Ready Seed Roundup,” one of the most used herbicides in agricultural farming. In order to combat the accidental death of wanted crops with the use of this herbicide, the company created genetically engineered seeds that could withstand the Roundup spray. Seems like the perfect combination, farmers could use the herbicide to get rid of unwanted weeds, while not having to worry about killing off any of their precious crops. The perfect plant, right?

Initially, it seemed like a foolproof plan, however; as the company continued to gain momentum, its success gave it enough power to almost completely take over the entire agricultural industry, bringing with it some severe environmental consequences.

Monsanto Cartoon
Monsanto Cartoon

The Monoculture: Death of Biodiversity: Before the birth of advanced agricultural technology, the United States flourished with endless varieties of fruits and vegetables, all growing in their respective local climates. Agriculture was biodiverse and soil was rich. Now, with the obvious profit benefits of creating an monoculture, that is: The agricultural practice of producing one crop over a large area, has made it almost impossible for other plant and crop species to flourish.

The Consequences? Catastrophic Crop Failure: If this one crop strain becomes affected by a pathogen, that means the entire harvest is gone. No variation=less adaptability to changing environmental conditions.

According to Ag-Journal Online “Statistics show a vastly shrinking innovation in biotech submissions and doubling of time to approval by USDA. Agriculture is in danger of losing its innovation due to single trait crop development many experts think. Roundup Ready herbicide resistance has so dominated the World’s commodity corn and soybean growing areas that few even bother to submit alternative trials. Studies by three major watchdog groups shows innovative biotech plant submissions drying up.”

The company has patented this seed, and made it almost impossible for small farmers to live in peace, without the anxiety of this seed to accidentally become entwined in their crops. The video below, a clip from the documentary, “The Future of Food,” gives some insight about the current situation that exists with Monsanto, its patenting of seeds, and the toll this takes on our environment and the jobs and financial security of small farmers.

To see more of “The Future Of Food” you can purchase a copy from the Grassroots Gourmet Online Store that can be found in the list of links to your left!

Monsanto is developing problems for our environment, economy, and personal health, but these problems are way too vast to try and swallow in one entry, plus, I wouldn’t want to ruin your appetite.

Monsanto posts will be regular, with updates and sections based on the environment, health issues, and economical issues as well.

More news to come..

California’s Prop 2! How it benefits you!

I don’t know about you but I definitely had my fair share of celebrations with the Obama win and all. We are at a truly historic time in our country’s history.

If you are from California, we had a pretty epic line-up of propositions this election. Of the important ones that passed, the 63.3% vote in favor of Prop 2 shows that we Californians have what it takes to move in the right direction towards eating ethically and responsibly! wooooo!

It seems that everyone agreed that paying a little more for our meat and dairy products is worth it to improve the quality of life of chickens and cows that sit cooped up in slaughterhouses awaiting their demise, all for our culinary pleasure. I’m no PETA fanatic, but this proposition made sense to me. Why should these animals be confined into an insanely small space, living in incredibly low quality conditions just so large distributors can make money in the cheapest ways possible?

You’d think with America’s obsession with food that passes health inspection codes, that this proposition would have been proposed earlier, but at least we can say we’re finally going to get our act together on a much larger scale.

Unhumanely Kept Hens at an Egg Farm
Unhumanely Kept Chickens at an Egg Farm in California

The specific requirements of this proposition include:

  • Prohibition of confining farm animals in cages that disallow them to stand up, sit down, turn around freely, and fully extend their limbs.
  • Specifically, the ban prohibits dense confinement of egg laying poultry, as well as specifically designed crates for mothering pigs and veal calves.
  • Violation of this proposition will result in a misdemeanor charge and up to $1000 in fines.

You may be thinking, “ok great, so now I have to pay 25% more for my eggs” but here are the ways that this proposition benefits YOU, the consumer:

  • Healthier Eggs/Meat/and Poultry
  • Tastier products (less stress from the animal=better tasting products!)
  • Sounder Sleep (were working towards ending animal cruelty and eating more ethically and responsibly!)

Endorsers such as The Sierra Club, the Center for Food Safety, and the Organic Consumers Association all agree that by spending as little as a penny more per egg produced, we as a community can create conditions for our animals that improve their quality of life, as well as ours.

For more information on the details of this proposition, visit. www.yesonprop2.com

Some other helpful links:

Thanks for making the right choice on this one California!