Food Buzz

A Balanced Food Modernization Act Passes

The big news this week comes from our nation’s capital, where the Senate voted 73 to 25 in favor of Senate Bill S510, the first comprehensive food safety reform in this country in nearly 30 years.  While the final language of the Food Modernization Act is still subject to the reconciliation process, it is expected that a bill will be on the president’s desk for his signature before the end of the year.

In the end, the Senate did a good job of balancing the need for increased regulation while preserving the viability of small farms and consumer choice.  At odds was the issue of size: Is a one-size-fits-all approach sensible when it comes to regulation?  Are larger farms somehow more responsible or susceptible to incidences of food contamination and the spread of foodborne illnesses?

The truth remains that there exists a risk no matter where you get your food. Through more effective regulation of large farms (those responsible for sickening hundreds or thousands at a time) and the preservation of consumer choice at local markets, the Senate has done a good job of balancing the need for greater food safety assurances and the competing interests of big ag and small farms.


Humpty Dumpty

On one end of the spectrum, you have flocks of two to three hens, kept in your or your neighbor’s backyard, where the one dozen eggs produced each week is enough to feed the family that cares for the chickens.

On the other end of the spectrum is an egg factory in the middle of Iowa, where millions of birds lay millions of eggs per day (32 million egg cartons recalled times 12 eggs per carton divided by 90 days of production equals 4,266,666 eggs per day where the average hen lays one egg per day).

It’s hard to imagine how far and how fast we got away from decentralized and local production of food.  The recent recall by Wright County Egg has now reached 17 states (including Washington) and the number of reported cases of salmonella linked to the eggs is over 2,000.

Nationally, only 0.4% of all food purchased by consumers comes direct from the farmer.  We’re working with you to grow this number, and as our distribution network grows so does our ability to keep local farmland in production, plant heirloom seeds and raise heritage breeds of animals, keep dollars in our community, and, not least of all, deliver incredibly fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

If you are free on Sunday, please take a drive out to Tahoma Farms, at 21108 Orville Rd E, Orting.  We will be there from 2 to 6 pm.  There will be guided farm tours at 2:30 and 3:30, and a potluck dinner at 5:00.    We hope you can join us!

Greenwashing & Other Fine Tales

We have the first in a new series of podcasts posted on our blog for those interested in hearing an impromptu conversation about McDonalds, Wal-Mart, sustainability and how local food production, and Terra Organics, fits into the mix.

There’s also a graphic that I’ve been holding onto for a while, and it now seems timely to share it.

The subsidy regime pits commodity growers against vegetable and fruit growers, and McDonalds and others buy fillers and subsidized meat, dairy, and grains at an artificially low cost.  The foods that should be accessible to the least healthy amongst us have little to no price supports.  So long as corn syrup and factory meat and dairy dominate the $60 billion a year farm program in this country, McDonalds will always dominate the way food is produced and consumed in this country, no matter how many new farmers markets are springing up around the country.

But, of course, that doesn’t mean we can give up the fight.

Establishment of Washington State Food Policy Council

Thanks to efforts by the Good Food Coalition, yesterday, Governor Chris Gregoire signed an important Executive Order at the Food Systems Strategies Summit. Executive Order 10-02 brings together agencies and community partners to coordinate their work and increase collaboration to strengthen our Washington State’s food system.

The Order tasks the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Social and Health Services along with the Conservation Commission and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to deliver a report to the Governor and the Legislature outlining the remaining gaps and opportunities in Washington state food policy that will help agencies, legislators, and stakeholders develop solutions that fit our state’s needs.

“We need to keep our farmers working, and ensure all kids have access to farm fresh food,” said Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim).  “This Executive Order is a building block towards a better way of doing things, and I’m hopeful that it will result in strong policy recommendations to the  Legislature on how we can promote healthy farms and healthy food.”

The Order also opens the door for National funding and education and promotion of nutrition to the public.


America’s Fruit and Vegetable Conundrum

A study from the CDC outlines the lack of fruits and vegetables in American diets.

The data indicates that a staggering average of 86% of American are not meeting recommended requirements for fruit and vegetable consumption (2+ fruits/3+ vegetables a day). What’s more astonishing is that an average of 90.5% of adolescents are also not meeting those requirements.

The study goes on to present different community solution factors including the prevalence of farmers markets, produce distributors like Terra Organics, and health food stores. In addition, the CDC touches on the correlation of nutritional and farm-to-school programs to higher percentages of adolescents meeting recommended fruit and vegetable consumption.

Read the full report here and listen to Cookie Monster!!