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Free Liberal: Coordinating towards higher values

Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

Washington to Regulate Your Bake Sale

by Paul Jacob

Informal production and distribution, from small farms and homes, were once not only common, but the backbone of everyday life.

Today, there's a revival of much of this, as people begin to realize that corporate practices have increasingly relied upon putting additives in foods and plastics in other products.

I have sad news for locavores and other health food fans hoping to buck the trend of corporate practice: H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. This new bill, now worming its way through the corridors of Capitol Hill, would require anyone who stores or sells any food products to any third party to register with the federal government and keep extensive records about every product bought, produced, modified, or sold.

How far will the law reach? I suspect it will have no limit, which one section clarifies: “In any action to enforce the requirements of the food safety law, the connection with interstate commerce required for jurisdiction shall be presumed to exist.”

In other words, the federal government will, if this bill is passed and “successfully” administered, regulate everything, including (and down to) your local organic truck farm, festival, or bake sale.

This bit of food totalitarianism thus takes its place in a long line of federal government regulations that, in the name of safety, regulates small operations out of existence.

It makes no sense.

Paul Jacob's "Common Sense" is published by the Citizens in Charge Foundation. Their website can be visited at

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Bake sales, farmers markets, et al may only be impacted by regulations on 'second party' commerce, which does not seem to be the case with this bill. Third party commerce is what happens when I sell to a merchant who resells my wares. In second party commerce, some who gets sick off my food can say that Mike made me sick and investigators can come and look at my operation to see if this is in fact the case. If the sick consumer bought the food from a middleman, that transaction should be traceable back to me so that the same thing can happen.

The reason such things are necessary is that my vendor may not be down the street or in the next county - he may be in Wisconsin or Alabama or even Dublin. If I only sold in the next county, the local health department could handle inspecting a few bad jalepeno peppers in my chili. If I FedEx a pot of frozen chili to a store somewhere else then my operation is not as small as your original post indicates and I frankly should keep track of the health and safety of my operation and supply chain.

# posted at by Michael Bindner

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