Make up your own mind: A novel thought

Elizabeth Dougherty

It’s the end of food as we know it. That’s a broad, very generalized way to put it, so let me explain. First, I have to give you some background leading me to this conclusion.

My parents were blue-collar Democrats, growing up we ate pot roast, pasta (no one called it “pasta” back then), pork chops and the other standard dinners American families ate in that era. Vegetarianism was considered an extremist notion, pursued by fringe-y attendees of Woodstock years before. Gasp.

Something happened over the years, and it really began in California with Alice Waters. Although she is almost continually harassed and the brunt of many a chef’s joke, she started an American trend. It wasn’t vegetarianism per se, it was eating fresh ingredients in the French manner, purchased that morning at open-air markets and local farms.

The San Francisco/Berkeley area was largely considered forward-thinking and as the country followed their lead in food trends, people across the country started making healthier, fresher meals in their own areas.

Fast forward to 2010 when the Food Safety Modernization Act was just a proposal “on the table”. I asked people what they thought of it on my social media site, Eat St. Pete!, and it was met with grave apprehension. A few actually implored that I speak out on their behalf because they felt they had little input to change or stop this law from passing (yeah, right). It did indeed pass and caused a major change in platform thinking.

Phil Lempert from the Today Show appeared on my radio program, Food Nation Radio Network, during the massive egg recall in 2010, strongly asserting the Act be passed due to the large amount of people becoming sick from salmonella in eggs. When I mentioned that the current statistics at that time actually showed less people getting sick from this “outbreak” than the number of people getting sick from eggs generally on a day-to-day basis, he was not happy. It turns out his sponsor was Egg Beaters, a pasteurized egg product. No conflict there. Let’s just say after the interview, there was no polite “goodbye” on the studio line.

I didn’t really understand it until recently. Realize, I read food articles from all over the world every day. It’s part of what I do for my sites and for planning my show. The difference is clear. Many Democrats now want major reforms and support for laws further regulating food; the way it is grown, who grows it, how it’s distributed and more. Many Republicans want less regulation of food and think there are too many laws about food on the books already.

Too little regulation is ill-advised. Due to the modification of some crops, it may become more necessary than ever to monitor our food supply, particularly from large farms, not smaller ones currently most affected by the Act. It’s a strange, strange time.

It could all be just politics in play, which means no matter who is in power the same outcome will occur with more laws being passed affecting food on the dinner table. After all, we can’t really decide for ourselves if we want to eat genetically modified food, can we? We are not scientists. It’s best not to label the produce and other GM products because we probably wouldn’t buy it. And it’s perfectly safe, right? Maybe, maybe not, but let’s not pass the one law we need, requiring accurate labeling of GM food so we can research each product and be informed consumers. One site about GM food is below for your perusal.

In a perfect world, people would abandon party platforms and look at each issue separately. We’ve become so conditioned and so busy, we buy whatever the party we belong to is selling. Who will be hurt in the end? We will. Do I expect this to change? No, I don’t. Welcome to the politics of food.

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/blog/1619

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