Why are more consumers demanding local and sustainable food? What is at the "heart" of this major shift in consumer demand and how should our government respond? These are pointed questions that we posed to legislators and regulatory officials during a recent interim study at the Indiana State Capital. The purpose of this study was to discuss the role of "food safety" regulations within the context of Indiana's growing local food economy.
Food safety is and should be the top priority in any food system. Period. This however does beg the question; how should we define foods that are "safe" for human consumption? For example the FDA would define Twinkies, Mountain Dew and high fructose corn syrup as perfectly "safe" and approved for human consumption. However raw milk fresh from a healthy grass-fed cow or fresh pasture-raised chicken processed on your neighbors farm and sold to a restaurant is deemed as hazardous for human consumption and illegal for sale in commerce.
Does the amount of mere regulations that our government puts in place always equate to "safer" or "healthier" foods? If this were true, shouldn't all of our "food safety" regulations be leading us to a more vibrant and healthy populous? According to Food Safety Magazine, the U.S. has one of the most stringent and highly regulated food systems in the world; yet disease and healthcare costs continue to increase at a shocking rate.
In our humble opinion we believe that our government has arrived at a disconnect between the safety of our foods and what it means to have a vibrant and healthy society of people. All the while overbearing and scale dependent "food safety" regulations are presenting market entry barriers for small-scale local food producers and innovators who dare to question the status-quo food system.
At Seven Sons we believe that the ultimate determination of the safety and quality of the food we produce should be measured by the health and longevity of those who consume our products.
In this light we challenged our state legislators to consider the very real possibility that some of our long accepted "food safety" orthodoxies could actually present barriers that inhibit consumers from supporting positive change within our food system.
How can you start making positive change happen? The only answer is to take it upon yourself to first make a positive change in your own life. Vote with your food dollars and vote for legislators that cherish and protect your right to support the food system of your choice. Stay updated about food issues in the legislature and consider subscribing to the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Newsletter.