Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a story that struck fear into the hearts of eaters across America: a young woman, stricken with E.coli, paralyzed after eating a burger.
There, by the grace of God, go any of us.
The New York Times report on flaws in the food safety system cited cases in Minnesota. In response to the flurry of media, viral messages and You Tube postings, the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, flew to Minnesota to respond.
In a speech at the University of Minnesota, Vilsack told Minnesota Public Radio News that the administration will ask Congress for legislation to permit mandatory recalls of tainted food.
While Vilsack's responsiveness is appreciated, his words promising that the administration will "ask" Congress for its permission to crack down on BIG FOOD is like a child promising his mother that he won't put his hand in the cookie jar after she has "asked" him repeatedly to take it out.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2009, the Agribusiness Industry (those responsible for our food supply) has a total of 1,071 lobbyists who have spent $69,077,420 on lobbying efforts in 2009 to date. Given that there are approximately 75 million American children, that is roughly the equivalent of spending almost $1 per child in America to lobby against regulation for higher food safety standards.
Perhaps we should suggest our children save their allowances in the hopes that we could form a Mommy Lobby and challenge the interests of the corporations funding these lobbying efforts whose CEOs compensation is dependent upon their fulfillment of fiduciary duties to their shareholders.
We are all stakeholders in the food supply, whether we own the stocks or not. And 300 million of us eat. Together, we can Do Something.