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News for December 8, 2010

Raw Milk, Food Rights Debate Continues

Brigitte Ruthman has never minded authority. Until this year, Ruthman said she "never had a reason to oppose government," in fact, the 50-year-old owner of Joshua's Farm believed wholeheartedly in "good government."

"But all that's changed," she said. "I'm 50 and I've changed. I thought I was doing something good and I got attacked. Now I feel like I'm the one who has to fight this fight. This is a mission that I'm on."

READ MORE (iBerkshires) ]

Raw milk among items seized from Gibbon farm

State Agriculture Department investigators Tuesday seized hundreds of gallons raw milk and other food produced by a Gibbon dairy farm that has kept churning out product despite a state order to stop.

Raw milk produced by Mike Hartmann's farm was fingered by the state for eight cases of E. coli O157:H7 in May, and seven instances in July and August of other stomach bugs that cause diarrhea and abdonimal pain.

READ MORE (Star Tribune) ]

Raw deal says milk producer

Chilliwack dairy farmer Alice Jongerden has been found in contempt of court for her continued distribution of raw milk in violation of a court injunction. Jongerden says the ruling has put her out of business, but the shareholders still own the herd of Jersey cows, and they are producing today.

"What is produced is the personal property of the people who own the cows, and they are taking possession of their property, despite the ruling putting me out of business," she told the Times via e-mail.

READ MORE (Chilliwack Times) ]

The FDA’s crackdown on small cheesemakers fails to turn up many bugs

To many observers, including me, the Food and Drug Administration's recent pathogen-hunting campaign amongst artisanal and small cheese makers is evidence that it will not wield the new powers granted it to by the Food Safety Modernization Act neutrally, to inspect and regulate the largest sources of risk in the food system. (See Grist's Food Fight debate, in which I was a participant, for more.) It's gone looking for the most easily findable, albeit least commonly infectious pathogen around -- listeria monocytogenes.

Its agenda seems to be building a compelling case for lengthening or eliminating the 60-day aging requirement for raw-milk cheeses. For decades, American dairy regulations have allowed the sale of cheese made from unpasteurized milk as long as it's aged at least 60 days, during which pathogens should die off in the fermentation process. Europe does not have this same aging requirement, and allows the sale of soft raw-milk cheeses.

READ MORE (Grist) ]

More FDA Authority Won't Improve Food Safety

In its rush to enact sweeping new food safety legislation during the lame-duck session, Congress hit a procedural roadblock that may put the bill off for at least another year. User fees added to the Senate version run afoul of a constitutional requirement that tax measures originate in the House. That's good news for consumers because this expansion of Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority would waste billions of taxpayer dollars without making our food supply any safer.

With as many as 5,000 Americans dying every year from food-borne illnesses, consumers would obviously benefit from a safer food supply. Unfortunately, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act won't help us reach that goal.

READ MORE (Forbes) ]

S 510 Opponent Wins Activist Award at Sustainable Agriculture Conference

Harry Hamil is a 63 year old farmer, and the purveyor of fresh and local products in his North Carolina retail store, the Black Mountain Farmers Market. Harry, for the past 18 months has worked full time as a volunteer activist, working tirelessly to sound the alarm about the pending food safety modernization act in Congress. See his recent blog post on the negative implications for the raw milk industry.

This past weekend, Harry Hamil was presented with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s ‘Activist of the Year’ Award at the CFSA Sustainable Ag Conference. The farming organization is the only one that spans two states, North and South Carolina.

READ MORE (Hartke) ]

The Grinch that Stole Christmas

Before the story behind the story, another farm fresh food bust this morning about 9 A.M. when a farmer was apprehended and detained while driving a truck. He was delivering a variety of foods to be delivered to people that paid to purchase them, to multiple drop off sites, depriving them their food they depend on to feed their families. The Grinch that Stole Christmas Dinner has appeared again as in other pre-dawn raids with gun toting folks. The message I received through from the coordinator of Hartmann Farms Host Sites in Minnesota. This is the third such bust in as many months in Minnesota alone. Here was the message this morning:

As I write this, the Department of Agriculture officials have intercepted Roger in the delivery truck at the Minnetonka site ~ they have placed the foods under embargo ~ they are attempting to take possession of the truck and all its contents ~ Roger is not willingly giving that up. A court order to force that issue is being sought.

READ MORE (Journal of Food and Healing) ]

10 Reasons Why We Need to Break Up Big Ag’s Monopolies—And How You Can Help

On December 8th, hundreds of food activists will convene in Washington, D.C. for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Department of Justice (DOJ) hearing about the consolidation of America's food industry. The meeting, called "Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy," is the fifth and final segment of a series of antitrust workshops held throughout America this year. It's also our best chance of saying "STOP" to the out-of-control corporate blood clot blocking the free flow of our country's food system.

If you haven't sent a letter to the DOJ yet, you have til December 8th to make your voice heard about consolidation in agriculture. And if you're not mad enough yet to send a letter, here are the top 10 reasons why you should be:


Flame Retardants Found in Butter

As part of an ongoing investigation into chemicals in our food supply, scientists found extremely high concentrations of a flame-retardant compound in a supermarket sample of brand-name butter.

It is the first documented case of serious contamination in food in the United States with a class of chemicals known as PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

READ MORE (Discovery) ]




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