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Galen Weston's hypocrisy: industrial food vs. farmer's market
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For someone in Weston’s position, constantly concerned about maintaining market share in a shifting market landscape that increasingly favours local foods over faceless ones, farmers’ markets must represent a real threat. Not just because of the business they currently steal (which must be tiny), but because of the consciousness they cultivate. That consciousness, based on trust and connection with the people who grow your food, is impossible to scale for the industrial food system. The big players keep trying to create a reasonable facsimile, (ie - “big organic”) but the demand for fresh, truly local food keeps growing. What’s a second generation billionaire food industrialist to do?
Enter perception: If food grown by local farmers is not inspected by the government, there may be an opportunity to create and capitalize on fears about food safety. Suddenly there’s a problem that needs to be solved. The solution? Food regulation and safety inspections. As many small farmers have discovered, onerous regulations can effectively shut down the small producer. It’s happening across North America now, and I bet we’re going to see it increase here.
How does this fear mongering work, even as the evidence against factory farming grows?
I think it has to do with a certain cultural narrative about hygeine.
In 1847 women were dying in hospitals due to infections contracted during childbirth. Lots of women. A physician named Semmelweis had a theory. He believed that somehow doctors were spreading the infection. His solution? Simple - doctors should start washing their hands. The medical establishment would have none of it. They ignored and ridiculed him. Lots more women died. Later, Louis Pasteur confirmed Semmelweis’s hypothesis and “germ theory” was accepted.
Germ theory led to the amazing development of antibiotics. But as we sadly discovered, all did not become rosy. Antibiotics certainly have their place, but despite warnings form whistleblowers, their overuse has had disastrous consequences in medicine and in agriculture.
Now we’ve come full circle.
The data is in: It’s pointless (and dangerous) to attempt to eliminate all bacteria, all the time. Some bacteria are “good.” The delicate balance of bacteria in people, animals, food, soil, water and air is crucial to resiliency and good health.