Maryland Organic Food and Farming Members Mike Tabor and Nick Maravell speak out about how new federal regulations could threaten local farms.
“Each week at farm stands in the Maryland area, we try to explain a peculiar situation to our customers. On the one hand, they want to buy our fresh fruit and vegetables. However, I tell them, that in a few years, these will all be illegal to sell!
Because they have some degree of dirt and bacteria on them. The strawberries for instance, have some trace amount of straw and soil on them. As do the tomatoes, beans and cucumbers. We do rinse them before leaving the farm — but we won’t put them through a disinfectant bath nor pack them in antiseptic plastic containers and put “PLU” labels on them. That’s not what consumers want at a farm market — nor is it something we’ll ever be able to do.
Regulations for a new food law — FSMA, the Food Safety Modernization Act — administered by the FDA are currently in the process of being finalized. Although the act originally had protections for family farmers like myself, we see those being ignored or phased out over time.
Common sense and following the data of recent food safety scares lead us to a very strong conclusion: the further the food travels from the farm to the consumer, the more opportunities it has to become a food safety problem. The current cyclospora food poisoning problem in bagged salads is a good example.
This is one reason why 20 million consumers come to farmers markets like ours and want fresh produce from our fields — preferably grown without pesticides, herbicides or GMO seeds. And sadly, protecting consumers from these synthetic perils is not addressed by FSMA.”