- Do you think that you should be able to choose what food is best to feed your family?
- Do you think that if you believe raw milk is superior to homogenized, pasteurized, setting in a plastic container milk that you should be able to provide raw milk for your family?
- If your neighbor raises and butchers beef on their ranch should you be able to buy his surplus?
- If the family next door always has an amazing garden and preserves (cans) extra food so she can sell some to you thereby benefiting both of you, shouldn’t that be okay?
I live in Wyoming. We moved here almost a year ago and we love it. But there are people in certain agencies here that think we should not be able to choose which foods we feed our own families. They think it is too dangerous for us to make our own food decisions and that they must ‘protect’ us from that danger.
I have a few problems with that.
My first problem is that so far the government run agencies with all of their food rules and regulations have not done the best job at ‘protecting’ us. In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that foodborne infections caused 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5000 deaths each year. (1) My guess is that most of these foodborne illnesses came from factory produced and inspected products not from food provided by the neighbor next door. Does even a week go by when there is not a recall of some food product or outbreak of salmonella or E. coli or other related foodborne illness? Sure, we can get food poisoning from Aunt Lucy’s famous potato salad but we can also get it from store bought peanut butter and spinach or a drive-thru burger. But we have the USDA and their Food Safety and Inspection Service and the FDA to protect us, right? According to the Academy Award Nominated Documentary Food, Inc. not exactly. In 1972, the FDA conducted approximately 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, the FDA conducted 9,164.(2) Is this progress?
My second issue is that our choice to eat clean, whole foods produced locally should be Our Choice. It shouldn’t be something that is decided by a person wearing a suit sitting in some office. We should be able to go to a local farm or ranch, Farmer’s Market or even a roadside stand and as an informed consumer we should be able to purchase these locally produced foods for our families consumption without government interference. We should be able to hold traditional community events such as a Church Bazaar or a food involved fundraiser (like a bake sale) without government interference.
Wyoming Food Freedom Bill (to be introduced into legislation in 2011) intends to allow us the ability to the do the things mentioned above. The purpose of the Wyoming Food Freedom Act (still in draft state) “is to allow for traditional community social events involving the sale and consumption of home made foods and to encourage the expansion and accessibility of farmers’ markets, ranch, farm and home based sales and producer to informed end consumer agriculture sales” (3). I like the sounds of this bill. It would allow us the freedom to choose what we purchase for our home consumption. It would allow farmers, ranchers and even home based bread makers the opportunity to increase their income. For people not interested in purchasing direct from producers it would not affect them (they can still go to Wal-store for their food needs). Commercially produced food (such as food purchased in a restaurant or at Wal-store) would not be affected. This bill is about choice. That is all I want. The ability to be the one who makes the choice regarding the food my family eats not that suit guy (or gal).
Do you believe in the ability to make our own food choices? I encourage you to sign the online petition in support of the Wyoming Food Freedom Act. You do not need to reside in Wyoming to sign the petition. Please visit the Wyoming Food Freedom Petition and take a moment to show your support. For more information visit the Wyoming Food Freedom website. If you reside in Wyoming you can also show your support at The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Agriculture Committee interim meeting being held on Monday, April 19th in Dubois. Scheduled start time is 1:30 PM. Look for the people wearing the “Wyoming Food Freedom” badges. And as always show your support by supporting your local food producers in any way that the law currently allows.
What do you think? Does a bill like this sound like a good idea or does it sound wreckless and pose to many dangers by allowing (informed) consumers to make their own choices? Why or Why not?
This post is a contribution to Fight Back Friday hosted by Food Renegade
(1) Source: Foodborne Active Disease Surveillance Network (FoodNet) Surveillance Report 2007 page 5 paragraph 1
(2) Source: Food, Inc. Movie. Timestamp 26:11 to 26:20 Do you have Netflix? You can watch Food, Inc instantly.