Showing posts from 2013

An Open Letter to the FDA on Proposed New Rules

Re:  Preventive Controls Rule: FDA-2011-N-0920, Produce Standards Rule: FDA-2011-N-0921 My name is Michael McClellan, and I own a small organic farm in Bowling Green, Ky. I am by no means a large-scale producer - in fact, I only have 14 acres, but I have been working for the past two years to rebuild our soil and help the farm to recover from past years of neglect and over-grazing. It has now rebounded beautifully and is almost ready for cropping.  Next year should be our first crop of organic fruits and vegetables with a little bit of animal stock (mainly poultry) coming soon thereafter. I am writing because I am concerned about the impact that FDA’s proposed FSMA rules will have on my small farm and others like me. Besides farming myself, I also buy food from the farmers' market in Bowling Green and I know there are several small farmers there who could potentially be driven out of business by these regulations if they are not enacted with the interest of protecting small fa

Transparency in Food and Politics

Transparency is a hallmark of good government. Sunshine laws, campaign finance laws, open records, public meetings, and the Freedom of Information Act, are just a few of the ways we as Americans have sought to ensure that we know what is going on in our government at all levels and that elected and appointed officials are accountable to the American public. We seek transparency in campaign financing so we can see to whom and to which interests elected officials are beholden. This is a key factor in having working, democratic institutions, a necessity for ensuring that democracy will function best, a lifeline to the tax-paying public that wants to be sure its money is being well-spent by its governing officials. Transparency, in general, makes it easier for good people to function and more difficult for bad people to function. Where transparency is weak or lacking, corruption usually flourishes and criminal behavior is unchecked. Even in the personal sphere, Christianity has always

Cattle Culture in South Sudan

South Sudan is dominated by livestock - literally. According to the South Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture, there are some 12,000,000+ cattle in South Sudan (compared to some 8,000,000 people) and another 19,000,000 sheep and goats, as well as uncounted chickens, guineas, and other fowl. This makes South Sudan the top livestock producing country in the world in terms of head of livestock per capita. On the weekend of March 16, 2013, a small group of us went to Terekeke, about 45 miles north of Juba to visit some cattle camps run by the Mundari tribe. This area, incidentally, was one of the most heavily damaged during the years of fighting with Sudan when the people of South Sudan were seeking their independence from Arab and Islamic rule. The Mundari people are one of South Sudan's smaller tribal groups, most easily identified by the "scarification" on their foreheads, which typically consists of two sets of three lines on opposite sides of the forehead that are not

New Technologies and the Value of Work in America

Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, has just published what promises to be an especially significant book worthy of wide attention - The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? Reviews, not surprisingly, are good. What is most intriguing about this book, though, is its premise that in the rush to modernity modern man has lost and continues to lose significant aspects of civilization that have held communities together for millennia. In short, not everything "modern" is necessarily good and we should look carefully at what traditional societies around the world have to offer us today to help us resolve many of the perplexing social and societal problems that plague every so-called "advanced" or "modern" society. Related to this is a very sad, but challenging, article that appeared in today's Washington Post newspaper (see ). As technology, particularly robotics a