antibiotics overuse, CAFOs, csa, diabetes, economics, factory farms, factory food, fda, food chain radio, food control, food criminalization, food freedom, food legislation, food safety, ftcldf, heart disease, joshua’s farm, judith mcgeary, obesity, organic, pete kennedy, rawsome food co-op, s510, sally fallon morell, shiv chopra, Sustainable Practices, usda, wapf
By Rady Ananda
In this three-part series, Food Chain Radio host Michael Olson interviews key people in the food freedom movement. From gun-blazing bureaucrats who attack small food producers to legislation like S 510 which threatens to hyper-regulate whole food operators out of business, Olson questions guests about government motives, who’s behind the legislation, and where the crisis really lies.
Olson notes that the U.S. “has a serious food safety crisis, and so its agents, with guns drawn and warrants in hand, are breaking down the doors of the little people who sell food to their neighbors. But wait… which is in crisis: local food or industrial food?”
A quarter of the US – 76 million people – are sickened each year by foodborne diseases, and 5,200 die from them, David Gumpert wrote in The Raw Milk Revolution. Tracing outbreaks back to the original source is difficult and sometimes impossible for health authorities. But, in these interviews, in recent films, and in books, we learn that industrial food is to blame for the vast majority of people who become ill or die.*
Instead of shutting down large operators like Wright County Egg, which sold half a billion contaminated eggs, state and federal agents raid small businesses that caused no one illness. (Here’s a recent story, not covered in the broadcast, but which adds to the list of small operators being targeted, who have not sickened anyone.)
Clearly, food safety is not the issue. Instead, we’re advised, follow the money.
Over the past seventy years, food production has been increasingly monopolized into the hands of fewer and fewer farms. The graph below shows the number of US farms and their size from 1900 to 2007. Where we once had nearly six and half million farms, averaging 147 acres in size, the latest USDA figures show just over two million farms, averaging 418 acres in size. Averages hide the further concentration by farming giants which often lease several different plots. (Data from USDA and Ag Classrom. Click here for larger image.)
Factory foods comprise most of the US diet. Industrial food adulterations are directly responsible for the skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart and neurological diseases. Farm overuse of antibiotics has led to drug resistance in humans.
In response, sensible consumers are moving to whole foods grown locally and organically. The number of farmers markets, food co-ops and farm shares is growing exponentially. The USDA Economic Research Service reports that organic farming became one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture during the 1990s. Certified organic cropland “more than doubled from 1992 to 1997, and doubled again between 1997 and 2001.” It doubled yet again between 2002 and 2005.
As encouraging as this is, only a half a percent of all US farmland is certified organic. That amounted to about 4.8 million acres in 2008, ERS reports. In 2009, organic food comprised 3.7 percent of total U.S. food sales, the Organic Trade Assn. reports.
But Big Food isn’t about to give up any market share without a fight. And Big Food owns government.
Olson told me, “My day job for the past 15 years is General Manager of a 10,000 watt newstalk radio station that programs over 10 hours per day of local content. Much of what I hear the community talking about on the radio consists of the following:
“From the left: ‘I hate big business because big business wants to take all the money and leave me in poverty.’
“From the right: ‘I hate big government because big government wants to take all my freedom and turn me into a slave.’
“I am truly amazed that we on the left and we on the right do not recognize how much we share in common. Instead, we spend our days throwing apples at each other over the backyard fence while they – Big Business and Big Government – steal our grandchildren into pecuniary slavery.
“There is something we can all do to break free from this tyranny. It is so simple it will make you blush! I will introduce it next week on the ‘From Food to Freedom’ edition of the Food Chain Radio show.”
Each of these 40-minute podcasts gives vital information to those who care about what they put into their bodies, and government encroachment on food freedom – the right to eat what nature provides, unadulterated and unmodified by drugs or chemicals or pasteurization.
Show #697: GODS THAT DAMN FOOD PART I: THE CRISIS – 4 Sep 2010 (8.52 MB) Listen Now buy cd version
Guests: Sally Fallon Morell of Weston A. Price Foundation and Pete Kennedy of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Topics include how fresh whole milk has become the battleground of food safety; why government has become so frightened of fresh whole milk; and why government is telling us, “You have no absolute right to consume any particular food.”
Show #698: GODS THAT DAMN FOOD PART II: THE ATTACK – 11 Sep 2010 (8.67 MB) Listen Now buy cd version
Guest: Brigette Ruthman of Joshua’s Farm in Massachusetts, and Aajonus Vonderplanitz of the Rawsome Food Co-op in Los Angeles
Topics include a look at government enforcement actions against the purveyors of fresh, whole foods; why government is attacking small producers with little or no food safety problems, while ignoring giant producers with huge food safety problems; and what government hopes to accomplish by attacking the little people.
Show #699: GODS THAT DAMN FOOD PART III: THE KILL – 18 Sep 2010 (8.87 MB) Listen Now buy cd version
Guests: Judith McGeary from Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and author Dr. Shiv Chopra, formerly of Health Canada (FDA equivalent), who rejected the use of bovine growth hormone in Canada’s milk.
Topics include a look at what foods are in crisis; who is telling government how to make food safe; and what impact S510 and related food safety legislation will have on our access to food.
Another bill, S 3767, the Food Safety Accountability Act, makes it a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to “introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce.” Stanley Fishman notes that the “bill also appears to provide the same punishment for introducing ‘adulterated’ food into interstate commerce. These terms are so vague and so broad that they could cover almost anything…. Any supplement or food could be labeled as ‘misbranded.’”
But other legislation that supports food freedom has been introduced: HR 4913, the Free Speech about Science Act; HR 3394, the Freedom of Health Speech Act; and HR 3395, the Health Freedom Act. All of these address claims about food and dietary supplements, which Mike Adams of Natural News supports.
Spend a couple hours – listen to the entire series. Hear what good and decent small-time farmers have to say about what they are enduring, today, in the Land of the Free.
Michael Olson authored MetroFarm: Growing for Profit in or Near the City. Food Chain Radio airs Saturday mornings at 9 am Pacific. Past shows can be accessed here.
* Revised Oct. 5 to remove the claim about the percent of foodborne diseases that are attributed to organics. Further research indicates wide debate on the topic. Bias readily appears. For example, humans have been drinking unpasteurized milk for thousands (and probably tens of thousands) of years, yet the Centers for Disease Control specifically advises people not to drink it. This topic will be explored more deeply in a future article.