By Joel Salatin
Liberty is risky. When you let people make their own decisions and self-determine what they eat, decisions can be quite subjective. You even risk making bad decisions or allowing scofflaws to sell snake oil.
But is the answer government oversight on every decision? Does regulating every morsel of food insure its safety? Certainly not, as the number of food-borne illnesses and recalls attest. The truth is that a perfect system does not exist. Offering more freedom is risky, but so is complete governmental control. Government experts marched together telling the populace to eat trans-fats and carbs. The official USDA food pyramid probably did more to destroy America’s health than any other single official act.
Subjecting all food to bureaucratic intervention between producer and buyer simply insures that all food must please bureaucrats. That’s an important reality. Government regulators are subject to the same nature as anyone else. Politics, power, and prestige afflict all people, regardless of where they work.
Pleasing bureaucrats requires pleasing cultural orthodoxy. What happens when the orthodoxy is wrong? The heretics are burned at the stake nonetheless. Today, many of us dare to question the orthodoxy du jour.
Here is a sampling of today’s orthodoxy:
1. Chemicals are safe; compost is unsafe.
2. Mono-speciation is safe; multi-speciation is unsafe.
3. Sterile is safe; biologically active is unsafe.
4. People should not visit farms; people bring diseases.
5. My body belongs to the state; self-determination is unsafe.
6. People can’t be trusted; people in government can be trusted.
7. Local food can’t feed the world; we need concentrated animal feeding operations.
8. Sick animals are merely pharmaceutically disadvantaged; the terrain theory is nuts.
9. Food should be cheap; expensive food is elitist.
10. People are too stupid to make food decisions; bureaucrats must make all food decisions.
On it goes, but you see the drift. The orthodoxy is palpable and clear. But what do you do with nonconformists? Do you burn them at the stake? Or is it not indicative of a liberty-oriented, person-respecting, diversity-loving culture to let the heretics practice on themselves, to innovate?
Those who suggest that allowing food to be grown and sold without governmental intervention
will plague society with poor food and sick people have no basis for the assertion. Today, those of us who want to produce for our neighborhoods do so with a plethora of knowledge and infrastructure unavailable to our ancestors. Microscopes, stainless steel, indoor plumbing, on-demand hot water, soap, and refrigeration were science fiction in our great-grandparents’ days.
The Virginia Farm Food Freedom Act, known as HB1290, leverages this knowledge and savvy to a futuristic place of innovative food. Rather than being stuck in outdated orthodoxy, freeing food and farm entrepreneurs to access their neighbors with heresy food like raw milk, home-made beef stew, and microwavable shepherd’s pie identifies Virginia as a place that embraces liberty and the future.
The future is always scary. Would you rather go there with several heretics, or securely wrapped
in the protection of today’s orthodoxy? Many of us would choose the heretics, knowing from history that these folks understand thought and practice freedom. When you’re facing uncertain times, you usually want someone willing to think creatively, not someone stuck on forms, licenses, and an archaic orthodoxy.
So let’s join hands and push the Food Farm Freedom Act forward in the upcoming General Assembly. Let’s dare to dream about a food system that embraces innovation. Today’s orthodoxy will give us more of the same: cancer, Type II diabetes, obesity, autism, and food allergies. How about something different? Your heretic farmers who fertilize with compost, make cheese in their kitchens, and build immune systems rather than using drugs are ready to take us into tomorrow’s solutions. Get on the freedom train.
Joel Salatin is a Farmer, Author, and a Local Foods Advocate. He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia. You can learn more about him and his farm on their website: www.polyfacefarms.com