On Local Foods and Public Health

The "Local Foods to Local Markets Bill" (SB11-258) is currently being discussed by the Colorado legislature.  This bill has major implications for farmers, farmers markets, and consumers interested in year round supply of local, nutritious food.  The bill would allow farmers to bake, dehydrate, or prepare acidified products in their home kitchens and be able to sell those products directly to consumers either at farmstands, farmers markets, or through community supported agriculture programs.  The farmers would need to grow the primary ingredients of the product themselves, not exceed $5000 dollars in annual sales, and register with local health departments.

Currently, farmers who wish to create these value-added products are required to do so in a certified kitchen under strict oversight from local health departments.  While I understand the public health policies that created these conditions, I have seen first hand how the current rules are prohibitive to farmers and most don't make value added products available because of these rules, despite the large customer demand for them.  This bill would empower farmers to expand their business and products to meet that demand.

Interestingly, this bill that makes more healthy local food available to the consumer faces its biggest challenges because of concerns about public health.  The arguments I have heard is that this will result in un-trained people introducing food products to the public and that we need to work closer with local health departments to ensure the safety of our citizens.

The people who are going to benefit from this bill are people like myself, farmers who sell directly to consumers, and if there is any group of people that take public health seriously, it is us.  If there is any group of people we can trust with a little self-regulation, it is us.  We are on the front lines trying to create a healthier and more sustainable food system.  We know our customers personally and deliver  product only if it meets our high standards, that is the only way we will survive in this business.

Customers are demanding local food be available year round and this bill would empower farmers to start meeting that demand.  We canít  let the idea of an un-trained person distributing poor product put doubt  into a bill that would empower SO MANY capable people of getting their products into the marketplace.

There is a much larger public health issue at stake within our communities.  In Boulder County, 700 million dollars are spent on food every year and around 1% of that is for food grown in Boulder County.  What is the public health issue if our current food supplies are interrupted?  There is an immediate need to boost our production and consumption of local foods and this bill is a step in that direction.

This bill further allows farmers to make a living farming

This bill will result in an increased consumption of year round local  food

This billís benefits far outweigh the costs/risks

I encourage others to speak up in support of this bill!

Mark Guttridge
Ollin Farms
Longmont, CO


 

 

 

Update 5-5-11
The bill has passed in the state senate and will be introduced in the house today and voted on within the next week.  It's time to urge your state house reps to support the bill!

Find yours here:
http://comaps.org/allsearch_old.html
 

A PDF Version of the Final Bill Can be Viewed Here

Note: in order to gain support from Colorado Department of Health & Environment (CDPHE), canned goods have been removed from the bill.  In return, CDPHE has committed to support local health boards through the process, creation of a registry, and review the program.


 

  "In our current system, it's perfectly fine to go to supermarket for a Moon Pie, but a homemade apple pie, watch out!"
-Joel Salatin

Letter from Gail Schwartz, the senator who introduced the bill:

Greetings!

The 'Local Foods, Local Jobs' Act (SB11 - 258) has passed through the State
Senate but your help is needed to ensure its passage in the State House!


Your support and action is needed as soon as possible to pass SB11-258 and
increase consumer access to local, value-added goods, boost local economies,
and increase the physical health of the people of Colorado while bringing
communities together. 

You can help by calling & emailing your State Representatives, and
encouraging friends and family to do the same

To find your CO State House Rep. & their contact information, enter your
address here: http://comaps.org/allsearch_old.html

____________________

    What you can say when you call & email  (please feel free to
personalize the message)



      My name is ______ and I am from ______.  I am calling to support the
'Local Foods, Local Jobs' Act (SB11-258) that will be coming up for a vote
shortly.

      This bill will:

   - Support entrepreneurs and encourage job growth
   - Allow consumers the freedom to purchase products made with quality
   ingredients grown by local farmers
   - Promote Colorado agritourism
   - Allow local growers to be more profitable by utilizing surplus
   production

Please support for this bill when it comes up for your vote!