Recent food safety scares have the American public frightened. This year it was salmonella in tomatoes, then peppers. Last year we were scared of peanut butter, spinach, imported seafood and even pet food. And, of course, our megacomplex agribiz system ensures a major beef recall just about every year.
The good news is that this big hot mess has people talking. Activists and policymakers alike are looking for a better way. The bad news is that it looks like the answer to our complicated, industrial mess of a food system is likely to be nothing more than a complicated, over-regulated bureaucracy that stands to hurt all our smallest farmers most.
There’s no better time to join the conversation. (With the Farm Bill shuttered, we have to turn our attention to something ... right?) So here are a few good places to start.
* For a refreshing editorial perspective on our food safety system, check out Local Harvest director Erin Barnett’s take in their latest newsletter.
* Read the New York Times editorial that got Barnett stewing.
* Food safety expert Marion Nestle has also discussed the potential of a food safety overhaul in her What to Eat blog. You’ll also learn more (much more!) about U.S. food safety systems in her numerous articles and books, including Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (University of California Press, 2002); Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism (University of California Press, 2003); Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Food and Nutrition (McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 2004), and her latest book, What to Eat.
As always, if you have opinions of your own, we invite you to share them in our comments section below.