10 March 2013

Food Sovereignty -- what if Ask versus Make creates Trust?

I had some thoughts after reading these two posts that separately appeared on facebook:

Food safety might be related to trust. Do you trust your neighbor when he says his Vermont maple syrup is organic? Do you trust some mega-corporation when it says "All Natural"? Now, Vermont (my state half the year) has very strict maple syrup regulations to support the participating farmers. But the fact is, I could wander over and say "Paul, are there any chemicals you use, etc." I can't do that with a giant food corp. I must rely on government to make them compliant.

In her talk on TED, Amanda Palmer says we should Ask rather than Make. I'm relating these two posts ("Food Sovereignty" and "The Art of Asking") because Ask works over Make, when you Trust. So in Vermont, we trust because the social network is strong in Vermont. It has to be or you die of the freakin cold or the freakin floods.

So I live in Vermont when I can because I trust my neighbors. I can't trust a giant food company being regulate by a giant, distant government, because there's lots of documented problems with government not really checking for diseases at slaughterhouses, government allowing shady business practices of trans-shipping food from China through Mexico so it skirts some regulation, Government allowing genetically modified material into our food stream without warnings, courts upholding the right of mega feed/seed companies to sue farmers for "stealing" copyrighted corn polen that blew onto their farms, and on, and on, and on. In other words, no TRUST.

Maybe if we buy and GROW locally, we'll know where our goddamn food comes from and we can trust, and know, our food is safe. Now--local growers can still elect to go through any certification process (e.g. certified organic) if they feel the stamp of approval will help them with their customers. But being made to do this won't make food any safer, because the "make" implies top down control, which would be fine if "everyone" agreed with the top, e.g. functioning democracy. But when the system gets a bit big and convoluted, maybe smaller, more local, more known, can be more trusted.

[Getting ready for french toast at our Bed-and-Breakfast in Berkeley.  Challah bread: Cheeseboard Collective, Berkeley, California.  Maple-syrup: from our neighbors in Brownsville, Vermont]