Food Safety: Losing Your Right To Choose
January, 16, 2017 (Fault Lines) — Recently on Fault Lines, you may have read about a yearlong undercover law enforcement sting that busted some online tamale-selling stay-at-home moms in a city with an enormous unsolved murder rate. Or maybe you heard about the hardened criminals arrested for giving the homeless a few bagels and hot cups of coffee. According to the “officials” behind these arrests, it is all in the name of food safety.
Do you feel safer?
In Michigan, the government wants to protect you from something that’s not even available in your local grocery store: Farm produced meats, dairy and the occasional baked goods that are the property of private “Herd Share Members.” Herd shares are a sort of farmer collective where members share and lease amongst each other the livestock, equipment and other means of production in an effort to opt out of the Big Agriculture, Food Industrial Complex that has been responsible for just about every modern food borne disaster.
Herd share products are sold and shared among members and not available to the general public. Therefore the government should have no jurisdiction there other than for inspection of those facilities and equipment that may be used in production of items for sale to the public if any.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development MDARD is seeking a destruction order from the court for 18 Oatmeal cookies and 17 apple muffins, among other things. If that sounds ludicrous to you, it is, because it is ludicrous to you and every other thinking person.
The offending baked goods were fruits of a raid prompted by a vague notion by county health officials in August, 2016, that two kids had come into contact with some raw milk and that milk was the potential cause of the E. coli O157:H7 the kids had contracted. So MDARD sent some people down to “investigate” Dairy Delight Cow Boarding LLC, a herd share dairy farm. Upon arrival, they were informed by owner Chris Unger that she had already spoken to the father of one of the kids and he was pretty sure the source of the infection was tacos, not raw milk. She told them she had contacted other members and nobody reported any illness. The officials wanted the information on all the other share holders and Unger promptly ejected them from her property.
Naturally, with this low level of respect for their “authoritah,” MDARD officials came back less than a month later with Sheriff’s deputies, a warrant and health department officials in tow, grabbing everything food-like in nature and generally retaliating for the earlier snub. Government agencies such as health departments, department of agriculture and the FDA take the position that any food that does not emanate from a regulated source is adulterated.
Much of the time as alert consumers we know the exact opposite is true. In Unger’s case, she sent her own samples of raw milk to a lab and no contamination was found. Three months after her own tests found nothing, MDARD is silent on the results of the tests they sent to the lab. This is likely because they failed to raid the taco place or any of the other “regulated” establishments where the kids actually contracted their infection.
In Michigan, you need a license to sell a pie you made to your neighbor. Many other states have all encompassing food laws like this and you can thank Big Agriculture and the politicians they own for that. It’s not about safety at all: it is a complicated morass of centralized wealth extraction built on fossil fuel dependency, industrialization, trans-nationalization and globalization.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
This effort to consolidate and control food production for benefit of huge corporate entities has been going on since world war two and will continue unless Americans collectively wake the hell up. Recent actions by those like MDARD and the FDA raiding and putting people out of business can be attributed to the massive deregulatory coup brought about by the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 brought to you by a legislature bought and paid for by Big Agriculture.
This act enabled much of the food supply to be deregulated by allowing for the privatization of inspections and the introduction of HAACP into supply chain inspection channels. HACCP is a food safety protocol intended for already processed foods, restaurants and other institutions providing food directly or indirectly to the public. It is a very weak system as is, but allowing it into the early links of the food chain is a disaster waiting to happen. Who can forget the videos of downer cows that were being ground-up and added to the beef supply and the subsequent posturing by the FDA who neglected to mention that the inspection system was about to get even less efficient.
It’s about money and control, no safety involved whatsoever. Safety is how they sell it to you. Many people rightly feel that the government has failed them in regulating what appears on the shelves at the local store and they want to take charge of what they put in their bodies. In case it slipped your mind, that is one of those freedoms we here in America like to put our hand over our heart about at sporting events and such.
Big food and the people we have elected to our government want to take that away from you. Remember the last lines of Soylent Green
Det. Thorn: Ocean’s dying, plankton’s dying… it’s people. *Soylent Green is made out of people.* They’re making our food out of people. Next thing they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food. You’ve gotta tell them. You’ve gotta tell them!
Hatcher: I promise, Tiger. I promise. I’ll tell the Exchange.
Det. Thorn: You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You’ve gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We’ve gotta stop them somehow!
Do you feel safe?