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Bad for potlucks, folks?

  • Subject: [cg] Bad for potlucks, folks?
  • From: Steve Smoot steveshome@juno.com
  • Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 10:14:23 -0800

Hi Folks,

Yes, health departments' efforts to control every aspect of food consumption do seem a little misplaced to some of us involved in organic agriculture. A look at many studies of the human health on this planet indicates that food consumption is not currently a very safe activity. On the other end of the issue stands the fact that Washington State, with one of the highest rates of per capita income, ranks 2nd in the nation for "food insecurity" - that means families with not enough food to eat. Those nonprofit organizations whose primary focus is "food security" might be granted a little latitude by the regulators who seem to be, otherwise, shoveling sand against the tide of corporate control of our food supply. Or, perhaps a correct metaphor would be "carrying water" for the food corporations.

This isn't going to be an easy subject for a community gardening organization to solve but we should keep in mind that our activities are at the forefront of the individual family's opportunity to gain some measure of food security. If the local food police feel that they have prosecutorial power over community potlucks today are they then not likely to come to believe that they should control community gardening tomorrow? Perhaps this would be acceptable if there was some measure of success in their efforts to insure public safety.

However, here in Spokane and elsewhere in the state, the government has managed to allow city compost to be contaminated with herbicides. Besides crop loss, the result here has been the closing down of the city sponsored composting effort at a very significant cost to taxpayers. Remarkably, this persistent herbicide in the compost continues to be used on agricultural land despite having been shown capable of not only persisting in plant residue but of passing directly through cattle and contaminating manure.

A couple of years ago, there was a local outbreak of a food born parasitic infection. Exposure occurred during a banquet and information about this very significant health event was published in the journal of the American Medical Association. Remarkably, the produce company and restaurant which were the sources of this problem was never publicly identified.

One might be led to the conclusion that regulation is a matter of politics when agencies step in aggressively to prohibit activities that draw attention and seek to support local food security, while failing in their responsibilities to provide local gardeners with safe soil amendments and to inform us of other dangers to public health.

Message: 2
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 17:17:31 -0500 (EST)
From: Jeneva Storme <jenevastorme@yahoo.ca>
To: community_garden@mallorn.com
Subject: [cg] Bad for potlucks, folks?
Unfortunately, the Health Authority in Spokane has a
history of cracking down on public consumption of
home-cooked food in any context.  I remember when they
banned home-prepared food, even sandwiches, from being
provided to youth at Crosswalk, a centre to help
street kids.  The reason given was health risks from
improperly prepared food -- but these kids often have
to resort to eating out of trash bins, are they really
in danger from a couple of homemade sandwiches or a
bowl of soup?  This type of thing is a ridiculous
abuse of authority to "protect us from ourselves", and
should be fought with every bit of power at the
people's disposal.
Greening West Broadway Coordinator
"Neighbourhood Solutions for Community Change"
West Broadway Development Corporation
640 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB  R3C 0X3
phone: 774-3534  fax: 779-2203
website: http://www.westbroadway.mb.ca

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