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April 3, 2009

The HR 875 Food Safety Modernization Act Scare

You may have heard the scare stories about the bill before Congress: HR 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act. I came across a good post at the Secret Farm blog, Secret Farm: A garden blog: HR 875 the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

As many of you out there are aware by now, there is a bill that has been introduced to Congress called HR 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 . I have seen a number of twitters and blog posts about it, as well as articles and discussions. I was all set to write a very different post about this issue until I came across this post at Crooks and Liars.com in my search:

http://crooksandliars.com/nonny-mouse/monsanto-and-hr-875-take-two

Read the post at Secret Farm.

So I followed the link to Crooks & Liars for more information. From the post there:

To set the record straight:

There is no language in HR 875 that would regulate, penalize, or shut down backyard gardens or ‘criminalize’ gardeners; the bill focuses on ensuring the safety of food in interstate commerce.

Farmer’s markets would not be regulated, fined, or shut down, and would, in fact, benefit from strict safety standards applied to imported food to ensure that unsafe imported food doesn’t compete with locally grown produce.

The bill would not prohibit or interfere with organic farming, or mandate the use of any chemicals or types of seeds. The National Organic Program (NOP) is under the jurisdiction of the USDA. HR 875 addresses food safety issues and falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA.

Monsanto and any other large agribusiness company had no part whatsoever in drafting this bill, and Rep. DeLauro’s husband and his company do no lobbying on this issue.

HR 875 has nothing to do with any national animal ID system, which would fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA, and not the FDA.

So I looked around the web and found some other sources, explaining that the hysteria is unwarranted.

Food and Water Watch, Background on H.R. 875

Here are a few things that H.R. 875 does NOT do:

* It does not cover foods regulated by the USDA (beef, pork, poultry, lamb, catfish.)
* It does not establish a mandatory animal identification system.
* It does not regulate backyard gardens.
* It does not regulate seed.
* It does not call for new regulations for farmers markets or direct marketing arrangements.
* It does not apply to food that does not enter interstate commerce (food that is sold across state lines).
* It does not mandate any specific type of traceability for FDA-regulated foods (the bill does instruct a new food safety agency to improve traceability of foods, but specifically says that recordkeeping can be done electronically or on paper).

The Slow Food USA Blog, in H.R. 875 links to a few trusted sources saying this bill does not do the scary things that the emails and blogs claim.

So don't be afraid. Don't be very afraid.

April 1, 2009

8 Ways to Join the Local Food Movement

8 Ways to Join the Local Food Movement -- AlterNet,
1. From Lawn to Lunch
To convert your sunny lawn to a lunch box, remove turf in long, 18-inch strips. Cut the edges of each strip with a sharp-bladed edging tool. While one partner rolls up the grass like a jellyroll, another slices through grass roots with the edging tool. Remove about an inch of rooty soil with the top growth. When the roll gets heavy, slice it off and load it in a wheelbarrow. To compost the strips, layer green sides together, then brown sides together, ending brown-side-up. Cover the stack with soil and mulch (straw, chopped leaves, or shredded bark) and let stand for 10-12 months.
Make beds 10 to 20 feet long and six to eight feet wide (so you can reach the center from each side).   ...

6. Start a Community Garden

Start by calling a meeting (or better yet, a potluck) to decide what kind of garden you want, what locations might work, and how to manage plots.

 
Good stuff, go read!

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