Farmers markets at the front lines of food access, as Loblaws exec Galen Weston says they’ll kill people

A story today in the Toronto Star reports that at a recent food conference sponsored by Loblaws, Galen Weston said that while farmers markets are great, someday they’ll kill some people. Meanwhile, in Portland, Maine, farmers are going to be able to legally sell raw milk at the local farmers market without warning labels:

A farmers market in Portland Maine where you'll be able to buy raw milk without a warning label. The Portland Press Herald reports that city councilors Monday authorized dairy farmers to sell unpasteurized milk at Deering Oaks, above, and Portland's other farmers markets without having to explain the risks of consuming raw milk. Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette. Click for story.

First from Food Editor Jennifer Bain, in the Toronto Star:

“An off-the-cuff remark by Galen Weston at the Canadian Food Summit has enraged the farmers’ markets community and local food lovers.

“Farmers’ markets are great. . . ,” Weston said Tuesday during a speech to about 600 people at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, but added: “One day they’re going to kill some people though.”

“I’m just saying that to be dramatic though,” he quickly added.

Weston is executive chairman of Loblaw Cos. Ltd, Canada’s largest food retailer, with more than 1,000 stores.

He was talking about building a long-term vision for food in Canada and how to capitalize on the demand for local food. Food inspections are crucial, he insisted.

Robert Chorney, the executive director of Farmers’ Markets Ontario, had to wait until the next session’s comment period for a chance to speak out.

“We strenuously object” to Weston’s remark, he told the delegates. “That was awful.”

Chorney later added: “What (Weston) said was really saddening. It really put a damper on the day for some of us.”

Ontario’s 175 farmers’ markets do more than $700 million in sales every year. Markets are regularly inspected and food is easily traceable because consumers know who they’re buying from, said Chorney. The association says that four surveys since 1998 have shown that 83 per cent of respondents feel market food is as safe or safer than supermarket food.

Weston’s comment set off a series of angry tweets under the hashtag #FS2012.

“A question for Galen Weston Jr: Have you ever been to a farmers’ market?” tweeted Gail Gordon Oliver, publisher and editor of Edible Toronto. “Have you ever REALLY spoken to a farmer?”

“Bold (and unfounded?!?) comment from Galen Weston: one day produce from farmers markets will kill us,” tweeted Sara Zborovski, a lawyer who focuses on regulatory and intellectual property issues in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.

The two-day summit is being put on by the Conference Board of Canada, and Loblaws is the top sponsor. The event attracted people from government, agri-businesses, farms and community food organizations.

Some delegates whispered among themselves on coffee breaks that supermarkets sell most of the food that’s recalled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). They reminded one another that it was Maple Leaf Foods and a Toronto meat plant — not a farmers’ market — that was at the centre of a 2008 listeria outbreak that left 23 people dead and led to a major recall….”

Get the whole story from the Toronto Star.

And here’s another Toronto Star story on the same subject.

And now, from Dennis Hoey, in the Portland Press Herald:

What people think about this move. From the Portland Press Herald news story on raw milk at farmers markets.

PORTLAND — Dairy farmers will be permitted to sell raw milk at the city’s farmers markets without having to warn customers about its potential health risks.

After a long discussion, the City Council voted Monday night not to amend the city’s Farmers Market Ordinance to require vendors to display a placard and provide handouts to consumers detailing the risks of unpasteurized milk.

Councilors also authorized farmers market sales of malt liquor, hard cider and wine produced by Maine farms.

Councilor John Anton led the drive against the requirement for vendors of raw milk.

“It feels unfair and arbitrary,” he said.

The proposed amendment was considered by the council’s Health and Recreation Committee on Nov. 15.

At that meeting, Douglas Gardner, director of the city’s Health and Human Services Department, and his staff recommended that farmers be required to offer a fact sheet about the risks of drinking raw milk.

The fact sheet, based on warnings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says raw milk is responsible for nearly three times as many hospitalizations as any other food….”

Read it all in the Portland Press Herald.

And in this related story from Hella D, “Regulatory Cooperation Commission Decides What North Americans will eat“, you can bet it’ll be the Galen Westons of this world who’ll be the dominant voices on this level of governance:

The following is the third installment of a three part investigation by Nelle Maxey into the wide-ranging environmental and socio-political implications for Canada of the recently signed US-Canada cross border security deal and ancillary agreements related to the Regulatory Cooperation Commission. Read part 1 and part 2 here.

Read full article here: Regulatory Cooperation Commission decides what North Americans will eat

To introduce the third article in this series on the Regulatory Cooperation Commission (RCC), let’s begin with a brief reminder of the Martin-era Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP. The SPP met with significant public opposition on both sides of the border when it became known. Then it seemed to disappear. The Border Security deal and the RCC are simply a continuation of the SPP under new names. This is readily apparent from this statement in the RCC Joint Action Plan introductory comments:

The United States and Canada will seek, to the extent possible, to coordinate the RCC’s activities with the work of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council when the three governments identify regulatory issues of common interest in North America.

These policies have been transacted by government bureaucrats and private business leaders behind closed doors with no involvement of parliament or public debate. This excellent background video, End of Nations, from Global Research in Toronto gives a great overview of the subversion of the SPP into the current Harper Border Security and RCC policy deal. Please do not kid yourselves. This deal IS about national sovereignty and the formation of a North American Union.

Nowhere will Canadians be more personally affected by this deal than at their own dinner tables. That is the subject of this article — the agricultural trade sector and what the RCC Joint Action Plan reveals is in store for us as “misalignments” (their word) in regulatory “processes, practices and activities” are “fixed” by the swell deal.

The first section of the Agricultural initiatives concerns “Food Safety”. The justification for this portion of the deal is stated as follows:

“Food produced under the regulatory systems in both countries is some of the safest in the world, and it should usually not be necessary to apply additional inspection or testing requirements, simply because it is crossing the Canada-U.S. border.”

While many Canadians may take exception to this statement about the safety of our food supply as teenagers drop dead from energy drinks, the elderly keel over from their listeriosis-laced sandwiches, and obesity and illnesses like cancer and diabetes rage in the general population, the fact remains that the government is sold on its business-friendly policies regarding food additives and contaminates, GMO crops and foods, lax food labeling, lax inspection procedures and opposition to natural supplements and locally-produced foods. I present here the most worrisome of the specific details provided in the Joint Action Plan and its supplementary document, The Consultation Report.

Here are the specific initiatives:…”

Read it all on Hella Delicious blog.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Farmers markets at the front lines of food access, as Loblaws exec Galen Weston says they’ll kill people

  1. Deborah Evans

    This story is about Portland MAINE. The Portland Press Herald story is here http://www.pressherald.com/business/raw-milk-sales-will-need-no-warnings_2012-02-07.html
    MAINE is also home to the Towns of Sedgwick, Penobscot, Blue Hill, Trenton and Hope where the first Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinances were passed during 2011.
    Thanks for posting the story – we are so proud of the Portland City Council for taking this step towards re-asserting our natural right to choose the foods we grow, serve and eat in our own communities!

  2. Gretna Maggiacomo

    Incredibly stupid comment made by Galen Weston, forces one to think of all the recalls of tainted meat & produce & especially all the nutritionally empty processed foods that fill the hangar sized Loblaw super store shelves…OMG…there is so much work to be done to turn this huge food disaster around….awfully sad cuz I kinda liked Galen from what I saw but nope, he’s just another Monsanto Lackey!!!!!!!

  3. George Wright

    I never thought much of Loblaws since this happened

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boys_in_Red_accident

    The accident was one thing, their suing the driver of the van who lost his family for loss of product in the truck was another, their real colour came out when they defended their suing, saying it was normal procedure. To not realized they made a mistake and then try to justify their greed , revealed how ruthless a company they really are. They will not stop in their worship of money. George Wright

  4. Oh, don’t be so hard on the guy! He was just hoping for progress in farmers’ markets, so they could catch up to industrial food.

    When he said, “One day they’re going to kill some people though,” he simply forgot to vocalize the thought in his head, “like we do.”

  5. Mike Lanigan Farmhouse Garden

    Galen is the richest man in Ontario partly on “the backs of farmers”. Loblaws are ruthless when dealing with farmers. I was told by a friend the largest organic grower in Ontario…he finds it easier to deal with Walmart…you figure it out. My veggies are no different at the farmers market than that on their shelves accept for the fancy package, and market wares are three days fresher. He is feeling the competition…and he doesn’t like it.

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