Catching up on today's food news, and the sweeping $1.4 billion food safety act that has been hotly debated this week, I'm thrilled to report good news for locavores and the farmers who feed us.
An issue of concern has been the potential burden that much needed and tighter restrictions would have on small producers, including pretty much every farm that I buy from at farmers markets and farms in NYC and on Long Island.
As you probably know, Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) introduced an amendment in support of relaxing the rules on small family farms that has received a ground swell of support from local food organizations across the US.
Now the good news:
According to a report on NPR.com posted a few hours ago about food safety and small producers:
"Senator Tester announced Thursday morning that a deal has been reached on incorporating his small producers amendment into the food safety bill. It would exempt small farmers who earn less than $500,000 and sell directly to consumers within 275 miles from some federal requirements. It would also allow FDA to override the exemption if a small grower is connected with an outbreak."
Earlier in the week, Tester was joined by Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food) and Eric Schlosser (author of Fast Food Nation and Executive Producer of the movie Food, Inc.) and 128 organizations who supported his amendment:
"S 510 is the most important food safety legislation in a generation. The Tester Amendment will make it even more effective, strengthening food safety rules while protecting small farmers and producers. We both think this is the right thing to do."
-- Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan
Tester, a third generation farmer, in a recent press release says:
“Food production in America is already too centralized, so we’ve got to fix this bill so it doesn’t put a nail in the coffin of family-scale producers. The folks who sell their produce directly to the local market—whose customers can see them eyeball-to-eyeball and know where their food is coming from—shouldn’t be forced to deal with expensive new regulations aimed at big industry-scale producers.”
For more on the Tester Amendment and the organizations that support it read the letter here.
And, check out politico-locavores Schlosser and Pollan in the movie trailer for Food Inc....
I love the fact that so many foodies in the public eye, including Eric, went to high school with me at The Dalton School on the Upper East Side (he's a year older). Here's what's funny...so did Michael's sister, the actress Tracy Pollan (my year), Eric's wife, Shauna Redford (a year behind me), Don Barber of Blue Hill and Stone Barns, and Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (not to mention Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods (a year behind me) and my favorite hero of the moment Jennifer Grey (my year), of Dirty Dancing fame, who made the finals this season on ABC's Dancing with the Stars -- please watch and vote for Jennifer next Monday night at 8:00). Happy Viewing!