Monday, November 7, 2011

How to Stop Useless Food Destruction

The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund is a legal institution in place to defend the rights and broaden the freedoms of family farms and protect consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods.  It's a valuable resource for any farmer or organization that deals with small farms and locally produced whole food, and their 24/7 hotline can help out if you are in a legal pinch.  If you are concerned that government regulators may be putting your rights and your food at risk, they are an organization to contact. 

Here's the story of Monte and Laura Bledso, owners of Quail Hollow Farm in Nevada's Moapa Valley.  On Friday, October 21, they began their farm to fork dinner with paying guests and locally produced food and music.  As their guests were arriving, farm tours were wrapping up, and the final dinner preparation was beginning, the Southern Nevada Health District showed up demanding an inspection.  They declared that the food was unfit for not only human consumption at a public event, but also consumption at a private event or even by animals.  Let me make it clear that there was nothing wrong with the food they prepared, with the sanitation of the facility, or with the farm's legal standing.  Laura and Monte had complied with all regulations up until the event, most of the food preparation was done at a certified facility offsite and a certified food trailer had been rented for the onsite preparation, and they had a special use permit from the US Health Department for the event.  Despite all if their efforts, and regardless of the fact that their food was, indeed, entirely safe for consumption, the inspector gave Laura and Monte no choice but to throw their lovingly prepared dinner that guests had paid for in the garbage.  And to add insult to injury, they were not only required to throw all the food away but were also told to pour bleach on it, thus rendering it completely useless, even for composting.  This story speaks to how out of touch with reality our national food priorities are.  Our government is willing and motivated to crack down on the small farmer who's never had an incident of illness from his or her food, but are unable or unwilling to adequately regulate large-scale factory farms that cause thousands of food recalls, illnesses, and deaths.

Fortunately, Laura and Monte's story has a happy ending.  As the inspector was forcing them to bleach and trash their dinner, they thought to call the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, that then let them know about their right to demand a search or arrest warrant from the inspector in order for them to continue operating on their property.  When the inspector was unable to provide such a warrant, the Health District had no legal recourse but to leave the premises.  Laura and Monte were able to salvage their event, and the guests felt a greater sense of bonding and motivation to enact change as a result of the incident. 

You can go to the Fund's website to read more about Laura and Monte's experience, and to get involved yourself. 

Have a great Monday!

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