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Food Freedom Act is about common sense, not politics

Feb 7, 2013 - Katie Swistowicz, Lander

Editor:

I am writing in support of the Wyoming Food Freedom Act. This bill has a broad base of support. The "uber-conservative" bill sponsors, State Reps. Sue Wallis and Kendell Kroeker support it as well as someone like myself, who would be considered a flaming liberal. This isn't a hot-button political issue, but one of common sense.

The purpose of the bill is to lift all government oversight from food products, including inspections, as long as it is sold as part of a single transaction involving an informed end consumer. I will break down what the bill's purpose is in very simple terms.

A single transaction means the consumer is buying a food item directly from the producer or grower. If it is a carton of eggs, the consumer is buying the eggs from the owner of the laying flock. If it is a raw steak, the consumer is purchasing the steak from the cow's owner. If the consumer wanted to buy a lemon meringue pie, he would purchase it from the baker who baked it.

This bill does not cover any sales that involve a distributor; no middle men are involved. This bill does not apply to food prepared in restaurants or school lunches. It does not cover food sold in grocery stores and other retail outlets. If the consumer doesn't feel the food is safe, handled properly, etc., the consumer does not have to purchase the item from the person who grew or produced it.

Here are some scenarios that are currently illegal within Wyoming in which the Food Freedom Act would allow: If I grow a nice row of lettuce and parsley in my garden and cut the leaves on a regular basis to include in my salad, that is perfectly legal. If my neighbor down the road, Farmer Fred, grows a nice row of lettuce and parsley, and cuts those leaves, and sells them to me at the local farmers market, that is illegal. He can harvest the entire plant of lettuce and pull up the parsley by its roots and sell it to me, but as soon as he cuts those leaves it is illegal for him to sell and for me to purchase. The Food Freedom Act would allow Farmer Fred to sell me that lettuce and parsley.

I raise laying hens in my back yard for eggs, and that is completely legal. If I slaughter a hen that has quit laying eggs because she is too old, that is legal. If I then cook that hen and make soup, again legal. If my neighbor down the road wanted to buy that slaughtered hen from me, it is illegal.

It doesn't matter if I have slaughtered one hen or 1,000. I cannot legally sell my neighbor any poultry that has not been processed (slaughtered) in a state inspected poultry facility. Currently, there is only one poultry processing facility in the entire state of Wyoming. The Food Freedom Act would allow my neighbor to buy the hen I slaughtered.

This bill isn't about ultra-conservative politicians dismantling state government or flaming liberals demanding organic lettuce. This bill isn't about allowing a grocery store to sell any poultry, dairy, or meat to the public without inspection. This bill is about letting Wyoming citizens exercise their common sense when they purchase food. It allows for Wyoming citizens to buy some lettuce leaves from Farmer Fred. It allows for my neighbor to buy a chicken from me.

If you don't think Farmer Fred's hands are clean enough, don't buy his lettuce at the farmers market. If you don't think I know how to slaughter a chicken properly or handle it safely after it is slaughtered, then don't buy my chicken. But this Wyoming citizen does want to buy Fred's lettuce because if he just cuts the leaves instead of pulling up the whole plant, he can have more to sell me next week and the week after that.

These are the common sense scenarios that would become legal when the Food Freedom Act passes.

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