New West: Multimedia Feature: Food Safety Fight Highlights Growing Power of Local Food Movement

Although Republicans are threatening to scale backthe sweeping food safety law signed last month by the president, the fight that preceded the law shows what was once a small-scale farmer’s market effort has grown into a true industry in Montana.

Small food producers trying to exempt themselves from stringent standards set by the new law succeeded in the form of an add-on to the bill sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), but it wasn’t exactly easy. Throughout 2010, it had appeared that food-borne illness might claim the local and organic food movement as one of its victims.

The catalyst for the law appeared in the form of eggs: a record-setting recall of 500 million eggs and more than 1,300 cases of salmonella traced to just a pair of Iowa farms. Congress mobilized to address the safety issues raised by a highly centralized, industrial-scale food system in the U.S.

The result was an overhaul of the nation’s food safety system, the Food Safety Modernization Act.

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