Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finding the truth on food: A worthwhile mission. But don't expect to find anything

The United States Senate just passed S 510, a food safety bill, even though many including the Tea Party were against it..

Now I try not to be political on this blog -- food shouldn't be, right? You can debate religion and politics over dinner, that's fine.. but food should be a little distant from political distractions.. No?

Although NEWSWEEK magazine last week featured a tale of two plates: On side part of the cover story was an image of a slice of pepperoni pizza, and on the other portion was salmon and lettuce, along with one carrot. The moral of the article: The poor are overweight because they eat bad food and the wealthy are snobby about good produce, hence: Liberals vs conservatives.. Republicans vs. Democrats. Red state vs blue state. And we all zone out.. Because, even if we are interested, we are all a little tired of constant political news being forced into our heads 24/7.
But I digress.
Back to the food bill.

Why did some hate it? Why did some farmers think it went too far? Why did progressive institutions think it will save the lives of millions?

This is the problem with our programmed reality. News organizations report what people say about something. That's fine. But shouldn't there be context? Shouldn't someone actually go to Thomas.loc.gov? Look the bill up? Read it.. report what is in it? Add CONTEXT to the subtext.. add real information to the sound bites. Give us juicy information--ON WHAT IS REALLY IN THE BILL!!

There is at least one article that sums up what the bill will do if signed into law by President Obama.
1) (and no big shock) Higher food prices.

2) While roadside stands and people selling food from gardens will not have their farms banned, they will apparently have to comply with state and local food rules. As currently worded, they will not have to register with the FDA.

3) FDA will have the power to order recalls and not ask companies to voluntarily do them. That is a major change.. massive and major. And it would altogether change the FDA's direction and jurisdiction.

There is real information out there. I challenge you to, as I am trying to do, find real actual and true information on the bill.. It's difficult. Sounds bites are ruling our lives...

I do have one concern, and perhaps this would be shared by both opponents of the food safety and modernization act and proponents as well: What about imports of food from other countries that don't share our same safety standards? Have we kept up on this.. What about genetic splicing? Is this really the best idea, even if it would hurt Monsanto's wallet to truly study it? ...chemicals in our food...good idea or bad?

There are real choices we, as consumers, must make. It's my hope that any law Congress moves through will help consumers have safer choices. And while we are searching for the truth, don't forget to eat. Even if it's from a garden.

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