Bill Marler, in the Huffington Post, from a story titled “What is the ‘future of food’ without food safety”:
“I attended the Future of Food Conference in Washington D.C. this last week and was amazed by the speakers that author Eric Schlosser and the Washington Post put together. From Lucas Benitez, Co-Founder, Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Wendell Berry, Author, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, Will Allen, Founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc. and even The Prince of Wales popped in only days after the wedding of the century for the keynote address.
It was truly an impressive list of speakers with a deep commitment to issues surrounding the future of food, and with a clear commitment to a vision of small, organic agriculture. The discussions ranged from workers rights to GMOs, from frozen vegetables to global warming. Obesity was also discussed along with the trend of booming backyard gardens. Sustainability was the catchword of the day along with going local, organic farming and the ever-present mantra, “know your farmer, know your food.” Lunch was served family style touting local, organic agriculture — meat and vegetables. White House Chef Sam Kass shared recipes as some in the audience gushed how hot (not temperature) the president’s chef was.
Food safety, in the broadest sense of food security (ending hunger) and healthfulness (being against processed foods), was discussed by many of the speakers — clearly, important issues that impact billions worldwide. However, food safety as I live it was not on the agenda. In fact, the only time it was discussed was when Barbara Kowlazcyk (mother profiled in Food Inc. who lost her son to E. coli O157:H7) asked one of the panels of speakers about food safety as she lives it. The response is the same response that I hear often — “know your farmer, know your food” — “if you can look your farmer in the eye, you know the food is safe.” To me it is not a satisfactory answer to Barbara and the 48,000,000 Americans that are sickened, the 125,000 hospitalized and the 3,000 deaths that occur each year with a foodborne illness….”
Bill Marler, of Marler Clark, is a lawyer who specializes in food poisoning cases, some of which have involved raw milk.