Monday, June 25, 2012

Stale Air

I had given up on Terry Gross. She had gone off on some tangent or another, probably one too many poets or reflective recluses droning on about their childhood. I like Ms. Gross. She’s almost always so civil. But really, the subject matter was killing me.

And then I ran out of podcasts. It happens most Monday mornings (because shows have the weekend off). So I punched the button on the 35 segments of Fresh Air I hadn’t listened to.

Perhaps I was a bit hasty.

Assessing Consumer Concerns About The Meat Industry

"On Thursday's show, Philpott also addresses the FDA's proposed new rules calling for the regulation of factory farm antibiotics, the USDA's proposed new rules to let poultry inspectors oversea their own kill lines, and the business practices within the meat industry that have turned it into an industry "that profits not by putting out an excellent product, but rather by relentlessly slashing costs.""

I’m kind of assuming my readers caught the fact that they’re calling self inspection “regulation”. That’s because this one story pushed so many of my buttons that I want to move on.

Regulatory “capture”. The FDA is proposing the rules that the industry wants including making the “regulations” “voluntary”. You’ll hear echos of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Hopefully it will remind you that Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture told farmers to “Get big or get out”. Some small farmers didn’t get the hint of course. (Anybody remember “Farm Aid”?) And then there’s the section on immigrants without union representation being exploited by corporations in industrialized food processing. The fact that half of you are thinking of a modern-day chicken processing plant and the other half of my readers are thinking of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is precisely the point. (Click on the link youngsters. It’s about east Europeans working in Chicago’s meatpacking industry a century ago instead of Guatemalans working in a Georgia poultry plant. Otherwise, the song remains the same.)

Hey! Anybody remember the meatpacker’s unions? Yes, the show touches on that subject also. You should listen to it. Tell Terry Gross I apologize while you're there.

Don Brown
June 25, 2012

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