My mailbox started filling up daily with food recalls, changes in drug warnings, and information about drugs being put back on the market after being pulled for adverse reactions. Today, Publix supermarkets are recalling vanilla wafers for undeclared soy ingredients. It's only 10:30 a.m. though, so there will probably be more before the FDA offices close for today. Friday was quite the day for recalls:
- Bantry Bay Seafoods frozen mussels
- La Torre jalapeno nacho slices
- Whole Foods 365 Organic Everyday Value Popcorn
- Pedigree Complete Nutrition Small Crunch Bites at Albertson's in California and Las Vegas
- Grove Grow Notes brand Dried Bamboo Fungus Veiled Lady
In a former life, I was a lactation consultant, and I remember a colleague telling me that a man once told her that he wanted his wife to bottlefeed, "because you don't know what's in breast milk. You know what's in formula because it's all right there on the label." I think most people realize how naive that comment is, but I would also say that most people trust the food system in this country to give us exactly what the label says with no added allergens, fungus, bacteria, or salmonella. I wish we could trust the food system that much. It would be great if labels were 100% accurate and complete. But in their quest for 100% food safety, legislators and regulators go a little over the top.
A few years ago in Illinois, they tried to outlaw potluck dinners. No, I am not making this up. Although that piece of legislation failed, when our church bought a new building, it had to have a licensed commercial kitchen, which included five sinks: one for hand washing, one for a mop, one for washing dishes, one for rinsing, and I don't even remember what the other one was for. They all had to be stainless steel, of course. When we lived in Hawaii 15 years ago, we couldn't have bake sales unless everything was prepared in a certified, licensed kitchen.
I'm not saying that there should be no regulations. I would just like to see regulations that make sense. It's obvious that most regulations favor big business. If I wanted to sell my goat cheese, I'd have to buy a $15,000 pasteurizer as part of the certified dairy and certified kitchen that I'd have to build -- total budget could easily hit the $100,000 mark. It doesn't matter that my family and friends have been eating our cheese for six years without a single illness. It doesn't matter that I make it in one-gallon batches, because we're hand-milking 8 to 10 Nigerian dwarf does that only average about a quart a day. Nor does it matter that I'd only sell directly to the consumer, so if one of us ever did get sick, I could call up Jane Doe and say, "Hey, bring back that cheese. It made me sick."
But my musings on this subject are elementary compared to David Gumpert, a journalist and author who writes a lot about health care issues. My husband reads Gumpert's blog religiously, and as of late, most of his posts have to do with raw milk or small farm dairy issues. There are several cases of state regulators going after small farmers who sell directly to the consumer -- and not because anyone ever became ill from their milk. I can never figure out exactly why state regulators go after independent farmers, except for the oh-so-obvious bottom line. Giant corporations donate big bucks to politicians; small farmers don't. Giant corporations can hire lobbyists and scientists to make their opinions sound credible; small farmers can't.
Of course, reading about all these food recalls just makes me happy that we grow so much of our own food. With the tomato plants producing by the bushel, it's time to make more salsa. We finished the latch batch in about two days. My recipe varies, depending upon exactly what I get from the garden, but as requested by a couple readers, I'll post a recipe and pictures tomorrow.