Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Business of Government is..... Part 4

to ensure that every one has enough to eat.

This in my opinion is the greatest problem facing us in this country. It is what is our great shame. Children in the US go hungry. We do not have a food shortage in this country - pounds and pounds of it are wasted and thrown away everyday.

Due to various local, state and national guidelines and restrictions it is often difficult to give away food. Health concerns and all of that. Part of me understands that and the other part of me says - if there are people who are hungry and would be truly served by it - then the government should find a way to make that happen or better yet - get out of the way and let it happen.

It is not just a lack of food that is a problem in the US. It is the lack of oversight and the lack good guidelines - where production is concerned. In the last few years we are hearing more and more about tainted meat and spinach. I was shocked to learn that there are less than 2 FDA inspectors per state. The oversight is almost none existence. This is a huge concern of mine. The safety of the food supply is largely unmonitored and if I were a terrorist - WHICH BIG SCARY FBI MAN READING THIS I AM NOT - I think I would skip the bombs and explosives and the airports and head straight for some large food production center. A field of spinach or strawberries for example.

I happen to think that industry does a decent job policing itself. Reputation is everything and one tainted food scare can shut down a business in no time flat - but the fact remains that for all the talk of homeland security I think we remain very vulnerable.

I would also take it a step further and say that the government needs to do more than issue food pyramids and make recommendations. Their projections of the amount of food needed to feed a family of four is laughable.

Nutrition and the food supply are issues that seem so simple and not the place for government regulation and while that may be true - they are also issues which impact other interrelated issues. Children who do not have a healthy breakfast do poorly in school. Children who are hungry or nutritionally starved (junk food is not brain food) are at a disadvantage. Adults who are hungry or nutritionally hungry - miss more work and will eventually in all likelihood develop some chronic and expensive diseases - such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. It is a huge game of tumbling dominoes and each piece of the food puzzle impacts the next.

I also question our liberal use of chemicals, pesticides and growth hormones in the food supply. The EU has banned most of it and I think we should also consider that seriously.

I think the Federal government - should work with the States and the local governments to revamp and recreate our nations food policy. I still think it should be quality focused and with a reasonable amount of hand-off - no need to stifle competitions and the free market - I am not looking forward to bread lines or anything like that - but the patchwork approach is leaving too many people and out and clearly many American's are lacking in the education and recourses to make better choices. We need better food safety, better industry regulation (smart regulation), better food safety net measures and better education.

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