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Sorry- not the Newsletter- but CARE about this!

Posted 10/15/2013 3:39pm by Desiree Robertson-DuBois.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is a new law that will soon affect all farmers who grow vegetables and produce your food across the country. This means ALL farmers, not just the big ones, but the farmstand on the corner and your local CSA too. As a fairly small grower I've known that something like this was coming for a long time, but it may be the first that you've heard of it as a consumer. You've all heard of food borne illness and due to greater media we've all heard a lot more about it when they occur. Spinach, raspberries, canteloupes, peanut butter- all infected with potentially deadly bacterias such as e.coli, salmonella and listeriosis. YUCK. Of course we don't want this to happen- we farmers are painfully aware of the fact that we provide food that you and your children will eat and the very last thing we would ever want is for anyone to get sick as a result of something from our farm.

I have taken classes on food borne illness prevention such as GAP (good agriculture practices by the USDA) and Serv-Safe. One of the incredible things that I've learned is that surprisingly few food-borne illnesses originate from produce grown in the United States. Most contamination results from produce brought in from other countries. However, there isn't a lot of regulation that can be done outside the US and so, the FDA has decided to put limits and regulations on what they can control- in-country food production.

I've been going through the new proposed regulations and while some of it seems to lie on the side of practical common sense, we all know that where the government is involved, we can throw common sense out the window in the implementation. For example- It directly conflicts with the National Organic Program's exhaustively researched and already regulated timing guidelines for harvesting fresh produce after the application of manure/compost. They disregard the simple fact that we have winter in our region, the ground freezes, and therefore many potentially harmful bacterias DIE. Farmers would have to wait NINE months before harvesting food from the field, NINE MONTHS?!? That seems ridiculously long if you take seasons and soil biology into account. 

Therefore, I am urging all of you to check out this website from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and make some comments (don't worry, the NSAC breaks it down into sections to make it easier to understand and get through and then walks you through how to comment and what types of questions the FDA is interested in having specifically answered by farmers, processors and consumers). Support your local farmers! You only have a couple more weeks to make your comments so do this soon- it's your food, your farms & farmers (and your bank account, because all this regulation sure as sure won't be free).