a m u s e BOUCHE

by Jordan Green

Ari LeVaux, who tracks food-related legislation in his e-mail newsletter “Flash in the Pan,” says there is currently a raft of legislation before Congress that is likely to confound even the most astute monitor. The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) is one that has generated a flurry of concerned e- mails. LeVaux quotes Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch as saying that DeLauro’s bill wouldn’t regulate seed-saving, backyard gardens or farmers markets, but rather would split the Food and Drug Administration into separate agencies — and was unlikely to pass in any case. LeVaux duly files these concerns in the “alarmist” category. More vexing, he says, is the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act, sponsored by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), which “would make recordkeeping requirements that currently apply to food processors extend to farms, and require that such recordkeeping be done electronically. It would also mandate that all farms become certified in so-called ‘Good Agricultural Practices.’ Following these practices, which are mostly aimed at controlling microbial contamination, turns out to be easier for farms that grow just a few things than it is for diverse, integrated farms — especially if the farm contains livestock.

These and other aspects of HR 759 boil down, once again, to rules that would place disproportionate burden on small, family farms in their attempt to regulate the large factory farms where most food safety problems originate.” Drilling down to the state level, Rep. Pricey Harrison (D- Guilford) and others filed legislation in the NC House on April 8 to establish a Sustainable Local Food Policy Council to take a look at the foods that are served to students under the National School Lunch Program, to look at the possibility of allowing poor people to use food stamps at local farmers markets and promoting urban gardens on vacant lots to lower food costs for people adversely affected by the economic downturn. “Building a local food economy will create jobs, stimulate statewide economic development, and circulate money from local food sales within local communities,” the bill’s findings state. “Other important benefits of a sustainable local food economy in North Carolina include preserving open space, decreasing the use of fossil fuel and thus reducing carbon emissions, preserving and protecting the natural environment, increasing consumer access to fresh and nutritious foods, and providing greater food security for all North Carolinians.” Who could be opposed to all that, you may ask. Well, the agribusiness and grocery sectors that fund the campaigns of elected officials and their paid lobbyists who work the halls of the NC General Assembly, for starters. With that out of the way, I know you’ve been dying to eat. The good news is that the Big Eat continues through the end of the month at select downtown eateries in Winston- Salem. That means every Tuesday you can obtain a 50 percent discount on signature dishes at restaurants ranging from 6th and Vine to the WS Prime Steakhouse. Menu items change weekly, so check for updates. It’s evident that restaurateurs are eager to get customers in the door on Tuesdays. Table 16 in downtown Greensboro hosts a cider pairing on April 21, with liquid refreshment provided by Foggy Ridge Cidar in Dugspur, Va., followed by a four-course meal. April specials include $5 wine glasses every Tuesday and a dozen Breton Sound oysters every Wednesday for $8. Also on Tuesday, April 21, Ben & Jerry’s offers free cones at both its Triad locations (5836 Samet Drive #150, High Point and 3332 W. Friendly Ave. in Greensboro), according to area manager Tammy Hawk. The Vermont ice cream purveyor is drumming up contributions for Habitat for Humanity, and live music is promised. And on Saturday and Sunday, April 19 EarthFare hosts a computer donation drive at its Greensboro store on Battleground Avenue in celebration of  Earth Day.