Most Americans didn't notice that our once-great nation officially died on Nov. 30. We were too fattened up on the unnaturally plump and juicy meat of factory-farmed Thanksgiving turkeys to notice the US Senate passing the Food Safety Modernization Act (S510) in a rare display of bipartisan unity. The act's passage means corporate fascism finally wins and we're all food slaves to the government from here on out.

That sucks—or would, if it were true.

Actually, S510 (which now awaits reconciliation with a similar House of Representatives bill approved last year) has nothing to do with corporate fascism. Contrary to the many allegations that it will hurt small farmers and criminalize home gardens, the bill is the
biggest boon to food safety in this country since the 1930s, and it strengthens the rights of small farmers.

Look, I'm as afraid of the government as the next guy, if not more so. It wouldn't shock me to find out that 9.11 was an inside job. I believe the surveillance/security state is out of control and barreling toward a near, dark future with an oppressed populace, robot overlords and three daily servings of Soylent Green. I am 99 percent certain that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, are lizard creatures clad in leathery, strange and imperfect human masks. But the people who call the Food Safety Modernization Act "the most dangerous legislation in the history of the country" need to calm down, read the Patriot Act and stop smoking that funny stuff that grows out against the back 40 behind the tall corn.

Although there is substantial big agriculture support for S510 in the pantheon of global-food-corporation monsters, small producers and those who best represent their concerns have not been left out of the bargaining. In fact, small farmers interested in constructive solutions have been a part of crafting the bill.

An unlikely cabal of liberal foodies, libertarian farmers and tea party fanatics has been spreading misinformation like venereal disease among rabbits: It's an authoritarian takeover of the entire food system; the nail in the coffin of small farms; a bill that would outlaw home gardening, canning and preserving; the end of farmers markets. These voices have been so loud that probably few other topics on earth generate as much distortion of the truth from a simple Google search.

In the meantime, national and regional organizations such as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the National Good Food Network, the Northeast Organic Farming Association and many others have worked hard to hone the bill into a fair piece of legislation. It increases much-needed inspection and liability for large, industrial food operations without placing unfair burdens on small producers, value-added product creators and the burgeoning local-food movement.

Contrary to the delusional rhetoric of S510 opponents, this legislation's adoption will mean real rights and distinct classifications for small farms. Real food safety reform necessarily has to affect producers at all levels to some degree. That's not a bad thing.

I mean, I know the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants…but, sometimes, it just needs some fresh water.

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