Food Freedom

To be able to sell our pork legally, our pigs have to be killed and processed at a USDA inspected facility.  The closest one is in North Carolina, over an hour away from here. So despite the fact that there are closer meat processors, and despite the fact that it’s been done safely and humanely on farms for thousands of years, when it’s time to process our pigs we have to load them on a trailer and drive them to another state.  Because we’re trying to do it by the book.

Plenty of folks around here just ignore the book.  They process their own pork, as families have for generations, and sell it “under the table.”  I suppose that makes them criminals in the eyes of The Man.

There was a bill in the General Assembly this year that would have granted small farms some relief from this kind of one-size-fits-all over-regulation.  The Farm Freedom Act would exempt small farms and home-businesses from the laws requiring government-approved and inspected kitchens, processing facilities and the like, provided their sales were directly to the consumer, their packaging identified all ingredients and included a statement the the goods were not prepared in a state or federally inspected kitchen.  It’s illegal here to sell baked goods at the Farmers Market, for example, unless you have a government-inspected kitchen.  The bill would change that.  As proponent Joel Salatin said, “If we trust our neighbor’s lasagna, we should be able to purchase it from them without government interference.”

But alas, the bill didn’t make it out subcommittee.

If we really want to increase access to local food, then we need to get rid of the obstacles to producing it.

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8 comments on “Food Freedom

  1. Jeff says:

    I’ll refrain from using the “c” word, but the fact that the bill didn’t make it out of subcommittee should tell you everything you need to know about who is on our side and who isn’t. Conservatives? Yeah, right. Conserving corporate profits.

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    • Bill says:

      The chair of the committee is our local delegate. I wrote him and I know several other people who did and who called his office to support the bill. I haven’t heard a word back.

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      • Jeff says:

        Sound like he needs to be shown the door come next election. Not that that will happen, since he’ll pull out all the stops and push everyone’s hot buttons to distract them from looking at his Swiss bank account. Typical politician.

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  2. El Guapo says:

    did the subcommittee give a reason for dropping it?

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    • Bill says:

      No. They just “laid in on the table” by a voice vote.
      For all I know there was an actual flaw in the bill. The sustainable ag community was pushing it and I know the committee members heard from lots of people about it. So they owe us an explanation. I’m still waiting for it.

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  3. Amy Lou says:

    That’s a really big bummer–both the bill being dropped and you having to transport your pigs for processing. I really hope that someday real people making real food will be able to do it with the least amount of headache possible. I hope that someday is soon.

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    • Bill says:

      Amen Amy. I think people should have the freedom to legally buy food from neighbors they know and trust, whether they have government licenses and approvals or not. But that’s just crazy talk.

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      • Amy Lou says:

        Yes.

        And another thought… The CDC says that about 3,000 people die from food-borne illnesses per year. I’d assume that stat is what the government is ostensibly trying to mitigate by imposing regulations and whatnot.

        But then the CDC says that about 600,000 people die from heart disease per year. A major cause of that stat is poor diet.

        It’s currently cheaper for people to get a thousand calories of junk food than a thousand calories of healthy food. If more people were able to sell healthy food with fewer restrictions, it would make eating healthy both more accessible and affordable, and perhaps that heart disease number would go down.

        And honestly, even if the food-borne illness number goes up as a result, we’d need it to go up hundreds of thousands before the bad outweighed the good.

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