Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Food sovereignty only really works in fantasyland


Well, fantasyland or on extremely small scale. As in, literal trading between friends and neighbors. Which is what people do already.

Things like this are all well and good and fluffy clouds and rainbows until there's a food-borne illness outbreak.

"Food sovereignty" sounds a lot like "I want those other companies to follow the rules, but not me!"

Yes, yes, Big Business is evil and all that: buy small, buy local. I got it. I'm totally onboard with that. Really, I am, and there are certain laws and regulations that really do stifle small, local business unnecessarily and I believe that should be changed. I'm just not sure why anyone thinks small farmers/businesses are immune from greed, safety shortcuts, and unsanitary food preparation. And if they really do believe that, I'd like to know what they think the threshold is for regulation. Because I'm sure the same people who want the right to sell raw milk and unlabled food would pitch a fit if a large corporation started doing the same.

Snake oil salesmen are the very epitome of small business entrepreneurs. It was those selling un-or-mis-labled "tonics" on the street that lead to the passage of the 1906 Pure Foods and Drugs acts - an act meant to protect consumers and increase consumer choice and confidence in the food and drugs they purchased. A hundred years later, now that we have one of the safest food supplies in the world, many consumers sneer at all food regulations. (That apply to them, anyway, now that they're trying to start up that goat farm they always dreamed about and discovered how complicated and expensive it is to follow all the rules).

If someone is trying to sell you something, how can you be anything but wary if when say, 'We don't need to be regulated. Just trust us.'

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