Signs for S 510

In an eerie and bizarre twist of fate, this morning while preparing to write yet another article regarding updates to The Modern Food Safety Act (aka S510) a little pop-up window message on my computer screen advises:

Warning! S 510 Critical!

Goosebumps ran along my skin.  I didn’t get much sleep last night, so my overactive conspiracy theory mind immediately wondered if some computer hacker had wormed their way into my office – sending me messages to either back off or come join their rebellious group….

I looked out my window to see if Jack Bauer was standing on the sidewalk, casing my house….

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During a rational, logical investigation to discover whether Big Brother or Liberty Underground was responsible for this message, I discovered the batteries in my keyboard were ‘outta juice’.

My keyboard model is “S 510”

Hmm… ain’t that interesting….

I switch my focus to finding new batteries….

Who Stole My Extra Batteries?

So, unable to shut down non-government internet networks quite yet, Big Brother has resorted to stealing my back-up supply of AAA batteries….

Oh, wait…. didn’t some male personage in my house complain about remotes needing batteries a few weeks ago?   My steel trap memory saved me from once again jumping to the wrong conclusions and making a total arse out of myself…

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Years ago, my mom and I both worked and spent leisure time with a woman who would have been my mother-in-law, had first love fantasies and dreams panned out.

For future reference, she is dubbed Ms. Taurus-Lotsa-Fun.

She taught me how to scratch in her middle son’s recently restored car.

(If you ain’t ever ‘scratched’ you haven’t lived.   Scratching involves placing the rear tires of your chosen hot-rod on dirt or fine gravel area, located real close to asphalt roadway.   You press the gas pedal to the floor while standing on the brake at the same time.  Get them tires to spinnin’ real good….then release the brake and peel out across the asphalt.   Shriek and laugh a lot to add extra fun.  Drive back and whip out your tape measure to see how long of a ‘scratch’ you made….   Muscle cars are not just for boys…..)

Ms. Taurus-Lotsa-Fun introduced me to the Morman religion, Astrologer Linda Goodman and always made sure I never had any actual pasta at the bottom of my bowl of her excellent home-made spaghetti sauce.

She also let me drive everywhere we went when I had my permit.   After three sons, she was more than happy to sit in the passenger seat while I learned to drive.   She entered the ‘no-fear’ zone way ahead of my own mother.

She was also a big believer in Signs.  A philosophy I wholeheartedly embraced that by turns, exasperated and amused my mom.

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According to me, Ms. Taurus-Lotsa-Fun was very good at listening to her intuition and picking up on wisdom from her surroundings that escaped others.

According to Mom, Ms. Taurus-Lotsa-Fun always found a sign to back up what she intended to do or believed in anyways.

Mom is a preacher’s kid.   She’s very familiar with how some people can find a ‘sign’ for durn near anything they want to do and quote Scripture to back it up.   She learned early from Grandpa to be wary of those who misinterpret God’s word, usually for their own gain or benefit.

I have never lost the belief in signs.   And I’m very aware I can interpret and fill with meaning anything I choose.

I had two very good teachers.

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In the end, my sign this morning led me to sharing with you yet another opportunity to research the S 510 bill. In a more humorous fashion.

My editor/publisher friend says my greatest talent is the ability to link widely diverging topics and still  come up with a logical conclusion from the whole mess.

Of course I can.  I’ve had lots of Sign and Interpretation training….at the side of a Master.

Sunny Side Up(date)

Ventured into the newsroom this morning.   Already in a ‘mood’ so what’s a little more irritation and angst?

Read the latest regarding food poisoning allegations and egg recalls.

Seems FDA Chief Margaret Hamburg needs more ‘power’ in order to do her job properly.   She’d also like to have greater authority over imported foods.

Funny, the tainted eggs came from farms in Iowa.  When did they become defined as foreign imports?

She is, however, taking the ‘egg problem’ very seriously.  Apparently laws that allow the shutdown of lemonade stands and small dairy farms (read here, and here, and oh, lookee, here’s another….) have failed miserably when it comes to keeping big corporations on the straight and narrow.  She simply must have more authority in her fight against evil egg producers.

She calls for more enforcement and preventative power.  Oh, and would you people please quit eating eggs sunny side up too?

(I can see aides and under-paid paralegals frantically adding that decree to some sub-section in the pending Modern Food Safety Act….)

Sheesh.   Have you no intelligence whatsoever?  Must we now legislate how your breakfast  be cooked, too?

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What really caught my eye was the long list of previous violations by DeCoster companies (seems the two main farms in this tragedy are owned by or heavily linked to Wright County Egg and Quality Egg, both owned by Austin “Jack” DeCoster).

Between 1994 and 2010, seems DeCoster companies have run afoul of and had to pay large fines for multiple offenses regarding harm to the environment, employees and animals.

As my eyes re-read the timeline, I noticed heavy involvement by Labor Secretaries, EPA, Immigration authorities and animal welfare groups… the list was long and varied, but allusions to different agencies involved made my mind fill in, “OSHA”, “Fair Wage & Labor”, “State Environmental agencies”…

I didn’t see FDA or subtle reference to such at all in the long list.   Guess they were anxiously sitting in their offices, unable to join in the battle because they didn’t have proper authority and power….

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Really, what kind of product did you expect from those who don’t care if hog waste runs off into local waterways, if  employees have safe and clean working conditions, who continually hire illegal immigrants willing to work for peanuts and suffer all kinds of indignities just to stay in the country and eat?  Apparently these folks also make the typical slave quarters of the pre-war south look like mansions when compared to the living conditions of their animals.

Rather than just blindly giving Ms. FDA some more power, me thinks perhaps a little more research is required.

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Some preliminary digging into historic egg prices tells me savvy egg producers plan for space and animal workforce management to counteract the dips in productivity compliments of the molting process.

(Which in chicken speak means, renewal time.  “I’m taking time off from reproducing and growing me some new feathers to replace these old, shabby ones.”   Nature does have a cycle.   Which, historically, is rebelliously out of sync with consumer demands….)

According to one poultry specialist report attempting to educate in regards to Flock Management the average wholesale price per dozen of eggs from 1983 – 2002 was 52.3¢.

I figure this is probably a good number, since the report was ‘sponsored’ by the United Egg Producers.  They better know how much money they get per dozen, else their 10-year approach to flock management will be severely handicapped.

This author also contends that prices took a jump in 2003.  Up to an average of .58¢ per dozen.  One section puzzled me:

“Are we entering a period of time for significant changes in the prices we receive for our eggs?  If so, should we re-think our replacement policies? If prices justify the elimination of molting is the industry prepared to make a major investment in new rearing facilities?”

How are they ‘eliminating’ molting?   Have they found the secret to keeping chickens from dropping their feathers?  How do the birds feel about this?  Did Mother Nature get the memo?

Further reading indicates they eliminate molting by selling off the chickens.  And replacing them with new ones, ready to lay….

Sometimes my cynical heart leads me to jump to conclusions….

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I also question the container in which these egg farmers are doing business.   A search to find who actually sets the wholesale price for eggs informs me it’s either complicated or on a need-to-know-basis, and I do not need to know.  (or perhaps I need to polish up my searching skills….it does happen….)

I did find this quote regarding poultry and egg prices from the USDA’s Economic Research website (tsk, tsk, last updated April, 2009):

“With almost 18 percent of total poultry production being exported, the U.S. poultry industry is heavily influenced by currency fluctuations, trade negotiations, and economic growth in its major importing markets.”

Okay, that’s interesting.   Has anyone heard the rumor a global economic crisis is going on?   Maybe egg prices were reduced in order to keep folks from starving due to poverty.   Lowered prices means egg producers need to get their profits from quantity, not quality….just a speculation…

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My brain committee speaks up about a gal I worked with years ago.

I never saw this gal wear the same outfit twice during the six months I was a temp in her office.   During a visit to her home,  my hostess proudly showed me her master closet, and two other full-size closets packed from floor to rafter with clothes. They made the local Goodwill racks look sparse and neat.

She was appalled I paid an average of $8/gallon for raw milk from an organic farm. (translation: small flock, healthy animals, modest lifestyle owners who love God’s creatures, great and small.)

She routinely went clothes shopping in order to keep her wardrobe and fashion plate status renewed.   In her mind, organic dairy farmers were interfering with my right to dress well.

When a society encourages fashionable, extravagant wardrobes over basic nutrition, then we all have a problem.

(No, I don’t look in other people’s medicine cabinets…It’s just her bad luck to combine a tour of her wardrobe with criticisms of my food choices…and my ability to type…)

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The buy-local-organic community cries “corporate farming” is the root of most of our evils.

I say corporate farming grew in the fertile ground prepared by a busy, complex society who values luxuries over necessities and demands ‘instant gratification’.

“I want an Egg McMuffin, My Way and I want it now!  Hurry up, I’m late for work.”

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Philip Zimbardo defines Evil as

The Exercise of Power to Intentionally Harm, Hurt, Destroy or Commit Crimes against Humanity.

He also contends it’s not just bad apples who commit Evil.  Often, it’s good apples who have been placed in a poor situation and are required to operate under a problematic system.

The plot thickens….

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The AP article listed over 3.5 million dollars paid by DeCoster Farms in fines and settlements since 1994, though I think they just highlighted the big ones.

Are the owner and his managers Evil people who must be stopped via a more powerful FDA?

Or are they business men trying to make a living in a system that demands short-cuts and piss-poor conditions just in order to make a living off a commodity they have no direct power in setting the price of other than through pricey lobbyists and campaign donations? (those two items do not come cheap…)

Have they grown so big and received so many tax breaks, they can survive even in the face of million dollar penalties, fines and settlements?

Did they grow to immense proportions through Taking Over the World Intent, or did they do their best to meet supplier demands in a price fixing system?

Did they discover they could not fulfill supply demands, profit requirements, regulatory fees, labor laws, environmental protection acts and good animal husbandry practices all at the same time?  Did they truly set out to destroy the average American or did they slide one slippery step at a time down a muddy slope built and maintained by our government and culture?

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One last observation – It’s amazing to me how I don’t have to go any further than my Yahoo email “What’s New?” tab to connect with reports on the Salmonella outbreak that simply cries out for more FDA power and authority.

Mainstream media is just in time as Congress reconvenes on September 13th and Senate Bill S510 is on the agenda.

I have to scan Facebook, read emails from a friend and surf independent blogs or small locally owned media to find out how local, state and federal authorities are wreaking havoc in the lives of small dairy, poultry and meat operations.

Via charges of regulatory, permit and licensing violations.

Resulting in operation shut down, seizure and/or destruction of personal property and Cease and Desist orders, punishable by jail time if ignored. (Grazin’ Acres, Bechard Family Farms, Rawesome organic co-op, Palmer Family Farm, Brigitte Ruthman just to name a few…)

These small farms were targeted via sting operations or unannounced raids by local regulatory agencies.   No allegations of tainted food, food borne illness, environmental hazards, labor violations or cruelty to animals have been made by those leveling charges.

They face extinction because they dared to provide themselves, their neighbors and local community with healthy, nutritious food.

But you won’t hear about them through Yahoo News or the AP.

Cause if you did, you’d tell Ms. FDA and the authors of S510 they already have power aplenty and they’d better start focusing their enforcement efforts on the proper targets.

Tyranny grows to power in the field of Fear and Hysteria.