Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

A community that can feed itself is free. A community that cannot feed itself is not. It’s that simple.
Joel Salatin

Some people wonder why we go to such trouble to find local producers for our food. I have had people be surprised that we now want to grow our own food. Over the last few years, I have realized that it is getting harder and harder to get quality, unadulterated food. Part of the reason is our population is aging and farmers are retiring. Their children are not taking up farming and the farms and ranches are being sold as ranchettes to the rich. In the farming community this is called “the final harvest”.

Farm land is also being bought up and consolidated into the hands of a small number of food conglomerates. Here is a chart by Dr Philip Howard on the Organic Processing Industrial Structure, just in case you thought your favourite organic brand was safe from this restructuring. Probably the root of why it is getting difficult to get local food is increasing government regulation. Many farmers actually recommend to their sons and daughters not to farm because these rules are becoming so onerous.

organic-food-processors

Changes since June 2009 include (1) Coca-Cola fully acquiring Honest Tea in March, 2011; (2) Nestle?s acquisitions of Cadbury (and Green & Black?s) in January, 2010, and Sweet Leaf Tea in May, 2011; (3) Sara Lee?s acquisition of Aidell?s Sausage for $87 million in May, 2011.

As I have been researching this issue, I have found the rules and regulations regarding food production, processing and distribution are, in fact, very onerous and not always sensible. For example, we have the same rules for industrial chicken producers that are slaughtering 10,000 chickens a day as for your neighbor who is killing one chicken in her kitchen and wants to sell it to you. She can sell it to you but she becomes a criminal for doing so. Superficially this appears fair. One set of rules for everyone, regardless of scale. But many of the safety concerns that have made these regulations necessary have been caused by the Industrial Food System itself.

Another example is raw milk in BC. According to the judgment by The Honourable Madam Justice Gropper between Fraser Health Authority v. Jongerden, “there is no provision in British Columbia’s Public Health Act which creates a rebuttable presumption like that contained in s.25 of the Ontario Milk Act… Raw milk is deemed to be a health hazard by regulation… The Transitional Regulation, on the other hand, is quite clear that milk for human consumption which has not been pasteurized at a licensed dairy plant in accordance with the Milk Industry Act, is a health hazard.”

A health hazard. It is written in our laws that raw milk is a health hazard. No proof is required. It is assumed. This is bad news for anyone in BC who feeds raw milk to their children. This case should be appealed to the British Columbia Court of Appeal to get a ruling about whether the Fraser Health Authority has jurisdiction over a private, contractual agreement. If they do, Heaven help us. The arms of government are indeed long.

There has been talk at The Weston A Price Foundation about drafting a Family Farm Bill of Rights. This legislation would allow farmers and their families to grow and consume their own food and sell their products to their community without onerous government interference.

In some areas, this is known as farm gate sales. Here is an example of Legislation in BC called Food Safety Amendment (Farm Gate Sales) Act 2009 which appears to have died during the first reading. Legislation like this might save the family farm from extinction and ensure a healthy local food supply for our children. Unfortunately, history teaches us that the ruling class rarely give up their power without a fight.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
The Declaration of Independence

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
24. (1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

February 22, 2011: Here is some essays from Kimberly Hartke. She is the Weston A Price Foundation Publicist. She has posted a number of articles called Raw Milk Around the World. I particularly like the article by Sir Julian Rose, a vocal supporter of raw milk, which states: “If you are still in doubt about the benefits of real, fresh milk, you might be reassured to know that the Queen of England drinks nothing less.”

3 thoughts on “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

  1. This is an email conversation I had with Suze Fisher, the WAPF Chapter Leader for Casco Bay, Maine about Family Farm Bill of Rights. Here are some examples of what is happening in the US:

    I don’t think there is any exact example of what I’m thinking of, but there are a few other states working on implementing legislation along the same
    lines. See this YouTube video about Oregon’s effort, which seems pretty extensive:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/FamilyFarmFriends#p/a/u/1/SqykNIr2zZY

    And here’s Florida’s Food Freedom Act:
    http://tinyurl.com/y8mklyu

    Today I attended a round table discussion among food activists, some representing other organizations and proposed the idea there. Some folks are very interested in it and I’m gong to talk to some of them about forming a committee to work on this. I’ll keep the CL list updated. If you decided to do something similar in your state, please let me know. Networking among the states would be really helpful!

    Suze Fisher

    “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”
    ~Albert Schweitzer

  2. Pingback: What's a Starving Student to do About Food?

  3. Pingback: Ontario Court Reverses Lower Decision for Raw Milk Farmer

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