Do You Have a Safe Food Supply?

If you’ve been interacting with us for a while, you know we’ve chosen to circumvent governmental oversight rather than comply. If the state and county food oversight bureaucracies had their druthers, we would have a raw milk permit to sell raw milk, a licensed and inspected kitchen in which to make homemade canned goods, an inspected processing facility to process our pastured meat chickens, a retail food facility license in order to sell to you, and all our red meat would be processed in a USDA facility. Fortunately, we’ve been able to circumvent them to where they allow us to operate as a private farm who only caters directly to consumers (no restaurants, hotels, or retail stores).
That said, our stance could be interpreted as careless, lackadaisical, or, depending on your view of governmental food oversight, straight-up foolishness. But there are two sides to the coin. Here’s why we take the position we do:

  • We, more than anyone, want a safe food system, but in our view, all of the above-named licenses and permits do not necessarily serve that cause. Rather, they incentivize centralization and corporate-scale food establishments. A centralized food system is by nature unsafe. It is unsafe food-safety-wise because far more animals and crops are amalgamated to central processing mega-facilities where, if you have a pathogen outbreak, it quickly spreads out of control. But it’s also unsafe nationally, because—as it now stands—if someone wanted to cripple America, they could, for example, destroy or disable 4-6 industrial meat plants and we would have meat shortages for at least eighteen months and a doubling of meat prices—similar to what we saw in the spring of 2020. We want a safe food system, but compared to the current food regulatory authorities, have a very different vision of how to get there. They vie for centralization, control, and a big-business conglomerate food supply. We advocate for decentralization, freedom, and small-scale direct-to-consumer regional food acquisition.
  • We care passionately about food safety, but just don’t think arbitrary government inspectors looking at thousands of chickens whizzing down an industrial processing line actually makes the chicken any cleaner or safer, or even having a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspector come in once a year to measure our freezer temperatures and eyeball our poultry processing room will help us to produce cleaner food.
  • We’re more than willing to participate in a safe food system, if only the USDA or FDA would be willing set a threshold for what clean food is. We would love to submit our chicken for swabbing and compare it with chicken from the supermarket, if only they were to set a threshold (bacteria parts per million, or whatever). Please, just give me a threshold, and we’ll far exceed it because if they were to do so they would be forced to set the bar low enough to allow industrial-scale processors to meet it. But the entrenched idea of food safety is whether or not one of their own has seen the process (USDA inspection), which we think is just an illogical determination.
  • Those of us who are small producers in a branded product take food safety very seriously, in part because we don’t have a bevy of Philadelphia attorneys on retainer to protect us from a bad food situation. We actually take it more seriously than the industry that has both the bureaucracy of inspectors and attorneys on retainer to protect from unhappy customers. For us, this inherently creates a real-time daily audit, if you will, because of the nature of the relationship with the people who actually use the food we produce (we get direct blowback if the product is less than stellar). By catering to the end user, we make ourselves vulnerable, in a sense, but we welcome and desire the direct interaction.
  • If we want people to exercise their discernment muscle to make better food decisions (yes, discernment is muscle that must be exercised just like your biceps or triceps) a direct relationship with the farmer or food producer is paramount in order to have a scenario in which to exercise discernment. In the supermarket setting—because everything has the official stamp already on it and the producer is a nameless faceless entity that may be thousands of miles away—that discernment muscle remains lethargic.
  • If the only decision is whether or not it has the USDA blue check mark on it, there’s no decision going on. Because of this, society has become extremely ill-informed and lethargic in its ability to determine whether the food is any good or not, or whether it’s trustworthy or not. Nobody asks because government bureaucracy has essentially taken away that ability to weigh options, and not for the betterment of the food or for society. As a people, we no longer know how to actually vet our food and are at the mercy of a few bureaucrats making food decisions for us. I’m not saying direct-to-consumer producers want to pass the buck to the eater when bad food is produced, rather that if we depend on the government to tell us if our food is safe, we’re in a very precarious position due to the empirical nature of top-down regulation that, by the way, has long been swayed by lobbying influence from the industry itself.
  • If the goal is an educated savvy consumer, how do we get there? I suggest we get there by circumventing the plethora of federal and state regulations and allowing people the freedom to look around, sniff around, and ask around on real farms to see if they’re comfortable with what’s being offered. Food production should be aromatically and aesthetically pleasing, and even relatively uneducated people will quickly know whether or not what they’re seeing and sensing is pleasing or not.

To sum it up, we advocate for a food system that is regenerative in nature—in other words, farming and food production that leaves our nest better than we found it, which plays right into the aromatically and aesthetically pleasing part. We believe food should be decentralized—many family-scale farms and processing plants across the nation, serving their local neighborhoods and regions. In order to have a readily accessible local food supply we need thousands of farms who open themselves to the local populace, and as it currently stands, governmental red tape makes it a nearly insurmountable obstacle for small farms. And finally, we advocate for a food system that is relational in transaction—the eater knows the producer and vice-versa, which creates a win-win for both eater and farmer. And that, is The View from the Country.

Do you have a safe food supply? If not, how do you propose attaining one?

Quotes worth Re-Quoting –

“How much evil throughout history could have been avoided had people exercised their moral acuity with convictional courage and said to the powers that be, ‘No, I will not. This is wrong, and I don’t care if you fire me, shoot me, pass me over for promotion, or call my mother, I will not participate in this unsavory activity.’ Wouldn’t world history be rewritten if just a few people had actually acted like individual free agents rather than mindless lemmings?”― Joel Salatin

“We don’t need a law against McDonald’s or a law against slaughterhouse abuse–we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse.”― Joel Salatin

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