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View Diary: What kind of Future do you foresee on the Horizon? (123 comments)

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  •  One game-changer (1+ / 0-)
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    At least as it looks right now: new FDA hygiene regulations on production of produce.  Doesn't sound like it would have any effect on climate change, does it?  But here's the thing.  If these regulations are implemented, they will double the cost of mass-produced fresh fruits and vegetables, or maybe more.  We're talking everything from weekly testing of water, to actual hygiene training for every worker in the production stream, to massive record-keeping obligations.  EXCEPT, there's an exemption.  For extremely small producers (under $25,000 net) and for middling-small producers (under $500,000 net) who sell primarily direct to the consumer or to retail restaurants WITHIN THE SAME STATE or WITHIN 275 miles.  See what I mean?  Instant parity, perhaps even economic advantage, for small, local food producers -- farmer's markets, pick-your-own, subscription co-ops, farm-to-family stores.  Instead of being consistently undercut by 50% by the big chains, local produce sales will have a price advantage due to being exempt from some very tough regulations, most of which are really irrelevant for smaller operations.  It's a form of finally making corporate agribusiness responsible for the "externalities" of their unhealthy production methods on public health.  And it will incidentally address the social costs of long-distance transport of staple fruits and vegetables which CAN be produced locally, except that such production has been rendered uneconomical.

    Of course, doubling the cost of produce isn't exactly healthy for the average person either.  But combined with economic conditions, it's likely to lead to a Renaissance of the backyard garden, before the food distribution system as a whole completely breaks down.  Comments on the rule are still open, and I would suggest weighing in in support.  It might have little or no effect for the purpose proposed, but the side-effects could be quite valuable.

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