But Didn’t Act Due to Budget Constraints
According to published reports, the FDA knew for “years” about the problems at the peanut butter plant in Georgia and about the farms in California that produced tainted spinach, but didn’t do anything to stop the situations, instead relying on the industry to self-police.
I’m not quite sure what’s more frustrating: that the FDA seems to make so many of its decisions based on the desires of industry lobbyists, or that the FDA would still rely on the industry to self-correct even with evidence of ongoing problems. If there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear to me, it’s that in most cases, most industries place profits at a higher priority than public safety issues. That’s the whole reason behind having a government agency to regulate the industries. What’s the point of having the agency if all it does is sit back and say, “OK, guys, looks like you’ve got everything under control; just keep doing what you’re doing…”?
I’d say give ‘em some teeth, but with their schematics being what they currently are, they’d probably use the teeth to make things tougher on the small, local farmer who’s trying to distribute regionally. Instead, I think it’d be a better idea to dramatically reorganize to place emphasis on encouraging regional distribution whilst deemphasizing national mono-cropped conglomofarming.
Put the burden on the largest farms to prove that their practices aren’t disturbing the environment and/or putting consumers at risk. Reward smaller farmers who plant a variety of crops and rotate them properly.
We’ve spent too long looking at the system and saying, “It’s broken, but we can’t fix it.” Heck, that’s what the FDA did with the spinach and the peanut butter. Unless we make changes soon, the worst is yet to come because our food is being produced in unnatural ways that, over time, lead to compounded safety concerns. I fear we’re on the crest of seeing the results of decades’ worth of compounding.
Other people see it, too. Why else would “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” make it on the cover of Time Magazine? It’s because there’s a groundswell of people saying the exact same thing I do: doped-up livestock shitting directly into the rivers and acres of corn / soy / tomatoes in soil stripped of its natural nutrients, propped up by even more chemical enhancers does not add up to a desireable situation.
It’s time for the government to recognize that the industry isn’t looking out for the people, it’s looking out for itself; to recognize that a populace raised on corn and chemicals is not a healthy one; and to overhaul the system for the benefit of everyone who eats, in favor of more sustainably raised food from smaller farms, distributed across a smaller swath of the land.