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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What you need to know...

I am forwarding the latest newsletter from Local I wanted to post perspectives from all sides. This needs to be passed around to inform.
Ok here is the newsletter. After it I have posted some sites that will get you to start really thinking.

It's been a big month for people who love real food. As you've no doubt heard, the First Lady planted a garden. On Friday my email inbox was full of messages triumphantly singing out the news. We'd like to send our own congratulations and thanks to Kitchen Gardeners International, a small organization that worked on this idea tirelessly and with great creativity over the last 15 months. It's a good one, and we believe the nation will be better for it.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've also received a barage of emails about the "Food Safety Modernization Act", or HB 875. The tone of these was somewhere between concerned and hysterical. From what we have learned, HB 875 is not the horror story it has been made out to be. It would not, for example, result in "totalitarian control" or "the planned elimination of farmers" as one oft-forwarded email put it. It actually contains some sound ideas. But for some reason, myths and misinformation about this bill have taken root and spread like a noxious weed.

It got me to thinking. First, truth be told, it made my head spin. All this justifiable jubilance stuffed in next to that screeching panic felt downright disorienting. The administration could not publicly promote organic gardening, and then sign off on a bill that would "criminalize organic farming and outlaw home gardening." It's absurd.

But what does it mean, to have so much exuberance in the locavore community on the one hand, and so much fear and loathing on the other? I think it comes down to this: food, and the ability to grow it honestly, is fundamental to our well-being. We celebrate when we see the food we love, and the values behind it, being respected by influential people. And if we feel that our right to grow that food without undue interference is threatened, we react strongly.

That said, it seems to me that we need to take a breath and put both of our hands to work. We can, each of us, sow at least one seed this spring. If the First Lady thinks pulling a few weeds is a good activity for her family, it's probably good for ours too - and it is. We can, each of us, also follow the food safety bills as they make their way through Congress, writing to our representatives to tell them how important small scale, organic agriculture is to us and to our communities.

It turns out that HB 875 is unlikely to go anywhere. And that's not necessarily great news, given that it contained some ambitious, positive changes. Our friends at the Cornucopia Institute tell us that 875 has been passed over for another food safety bill, HB 759. They, and others like Food and Water Watch think that we will need to make our voices heard as HB 759 moves forward, to ensure that the bill that is eventually passed includes exemptions for small food processing facilities and the same kind of smart, risk-based inspection processes that are contained in HB 875. We'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the newsletter, take good care, and eat well.

Erin Barnett
Director, LocalHarvest

Will Congress Wipe Out Home Gardens, Growers Markets?

http://www.newswith NWV-News/ news133.htm

Lose your property for growing food?
Big Brother legislation could mean prosecution, fines up to $1 million index.php? fa=PAGE.view&pageId=92002

Here's a site with an excellent article on NAIS, plus two good videos - for sharing with anyone who doesn't 'get it' about NAIS.

The obama administration is moving forward at a frightening pace to implement NAIS. Spread the world and stop the insanity.

http://eriewire. wordpress. com/2009/ 02/24/local- food-challenged/

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