Friday, September 17, 2010

Apparantly, Vegetables have rights too.

For as much rhetoric as corporate ag spews about producing the cleanest, safest and most abundant food supply in the world, maybe I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that they don't take any sort of criticism challenging this position very well at all. In fact, corporate lobbyists have successfully introduced food libel laws in 13 states in this country. (Thankfully, at this writing, Tennessee isn't one of them.)

As I understand it, what this means is that if you make a show out of talking and writing bad things about commodities that agribusiness produces in the states that have these laws on the books, and you don't have sound science to back up your musings, it's a whole lot easier for them to sue you for libel, and, I surmise, win their suit. At least in theory, if I said that eating chicken raised by corporation X made me sick due to the hormones in it, I could get sued. So much for that dratted constitution and all those soldiers that died protecting our rights; darned freedom of speech and expression and all. Big brother has spoken and he says eat it and don't complain. If you dare raise your voice, at least in any of 13 states with laws like this on the books, you shall be silenced, one way or another. At the end of the day, it's all about the money, it's all about control, and it's all about being scared to death that someone will come along and take the money and control away.

Most farmers that sell directly to the public have no fear of their consumer's criticism, mostly because we have good reputations and good products and we protect both very diligently. If someone doesn't like my food, or the farming practices under which it was grown, or the service I provide while selling it, I think they ought to be able to say so. Knowing that they CAN say so, I am going to be extra careful not to give them any reason to do so, and I believe this is as it should be. From what I read, I surmise that some sectors of corporate ag don't see it this way AT ALL.

A couple of my blog readers commented that most consumers don't want to know how their food is produced. I fully agree with that thought. More than that, I believe a large fraction of consumers don't *care* how their food is produced, so long as it's there. That's their right and that's fine with me. Some folks won't be told that you get what you pay for and it's as true of food products as it is anything else. Let 'em go buy "cheap", crappy, industrially raised, irradiated, hormone laced junk food and never ask any questions about how it might have got in that plastic container on the shelf in their local supermarket.

Me ? I'm going to the garden to pick me a tomato. ;)


SmartAlex said...

OMG! They have libel laws for that? What a load of crap. Puleeze take me back to the days when we didn't need a gozillion stupid laws to tell people how to act. Or insurance companies.

Stop the world! I wanna get off!

Jason said...

That's what I thought too, nearly to the word, actually!

So apparantly, you can buy the world's best tomato from me (or, more likely, I could buy it from you...or trade you beef or eggs for it), and we could trash talk one another with no repercussions (except maybe personal vendettas) till the cows come home.

On the other hand, better keep your mouth shut if you have the misfortune to buy a bad tomato or a bad piece of chicken at a chain grocery store anywhere in Alabama. Big brother has food libel laws on the books way down in the heart of Dixie.