Strange (Vegetable) Bedfellows

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Pragmatic anti-government sentiment is emerging from unlikely places these days. In the wake of the E coli spinach scare, the "edgy" environmental magazine Grist has a stunningly sensible take on a new Senate bill that would "subject raw-vegetable production to a regulatory regime similar to the one governing meat. Their proposal would create a unified Food Safety Administration, combining under one umbrella the USDA's jurisdiction over meat and poultry processing with the FDA's over vegetable production":

There are severe costs to relying on a heavy government hand to ensure a reasonable level of food safety. Inspectors are adept at enforcing rules, and less so at making obvious distinctions [between local farms and industrial facilities]….

Federal regulations are essentially placing obstacles between local consumers and farmers, and favoring an environmentally ruinous, nutritionally suspect model (corn-fed beef shipped long distances) over a much more benign one (grass-fed beef consumed locally).

The article was written by the aptly named Tom Philpott, who "farms and cooks at Maverick Farms, a sustainable-agriculture nonprofit and small farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina."

His policy recommendation?:

Rather than rely on the federal government to keep your spinach safe, get thee to the farmers' market and meet your area farmers.

You know alliances are in flux when Grist is linking to an article in National Review ripping on the USDA and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For more on the potential libertarian constituency among food snobs, those lucky enough to be print subscribers can check out my review of Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma in the current issue.

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  1. Support the Senate bill!
    Support my chance to land a government job!

    Who could be against a safe food supply? It saves childrens’ lives.

  2. I think farmers should be required to implant an RFID chip in every plant that they grow. Just like how cattle herders are all required to do the same for cows.

    It’s for the children, after all.

  3. Oh, and a note for KMG: I found your review of The Omnivore’s Dilemma quite interesting. I’d be interested to see a reaction to your review from the book’s author.

  4. Everyone is a Libertarian when it comes to their own stuff… They just want total regulation for everyone else. Nothing shocking here.

  5. I think farmers should be required to implant an RFID chip in every plant that they grow….It’s for the children, after all.

    No, it’s for the seedlings.

  6. Sounds like GRIST is one of those enviroemental wetermellon publications GREEN ON THE OUTSIDE RED ON THE INSIDE the say radical eco-freak publication that says those who reject the idea of GLOBAL WARMING should be put on trial this proves what a bunch of radical eco-extremists they are and i,ll bet they even praised that eco-terrorists training film HOOT

  7. What’s with the kneejerk “watermelon” comments at Reason.com? I never see these anyplace else on the web. Weird.

    Besides, the cross-subsidized ag business is a libertarian’s nightmare as well as an ecological disaster, there’s plenty of shock and horror to go around for everyone.

  8. Yeah, and what’s with Wally’s complete inability to assemble a coherent sentence?

    HOOT is an ecoterrorist training film… um, yeah. I suppose that Disney animated films are all coded allegories supporting the homosexual agenda, and George Soros is planning to poison us with flouride in our tap water. Beam me outta here.

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