Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The food safety bill making its way through Congress is a conflict for those of us who try to foster more direct contact between farmers and customers and more responsible farming. We know better than most how very slipshod and untrustworthy our current food safety regimens are, and can hardly help favoring a general tightening. But the way in which these things are usually carried out by Congress and the USDA is a major concern. We smaller farmers and processors are generally the target because we are easier to push around and do not generally hire lawyers. So one size fits all regulations and practices, such as irradiation of meats and other foods are apt to bear heavily on smaller businesses, while actually benefitting the conventional industry. Our concern, in the meats area, is that inspectors in major meat plants do not have the power to shut the production down if they see something they don't like. We can assure you that if our inspector in our small plant sees something amiss, she will stop it and we will hear about it.

Has anyone connected with government food regulation ever asked if smaller plants and independent farmers regularly sicken their customers with dirty products? And isn't that the question we should be starting with?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The Massey coal mine in West Virginia that claimed the lives of 25 plus miners yesterday belches so much methane that even the broken government agency in charge of mine safety thought it should be inspected every five days. It will be interesting to see what gets done about this loss of life by the government and by the people of West Virginia who seem to be pretty much of the opinion that government is the problem. Perhaps it is when it only fines Massey a few hundred thousand for many violations this past year alone. But whose fault is that? Would we have a better government if we invested some effort in demanding it?

This level of methane release by "clean coal" puts grazing cows in the shade, I think.