The following piece first appeared in the Huffington Post.
Across the nation, millions of Americans are asking the age-old question: “What’s for dinner?” It used to be as simple as choosing between chicken and beef, but today the choices have become considerably more nuanced. It’s now a matter of free-range and “all natural,” gluten-free or vegan, organics vs. GMOs, etc. And to make the question harder still, there’s a constant flood of media reports on things like pink slime, industry misinformation about contamination, and other scandals dogging the industrial food system.
So who’s looking out for you? Well, the regulatory watchdogs (USDA and FDA) aren’t barking. In fact, they seem to be fetching for the very industries they were designed to oversee. This leaves employees of conscience – the insiders – to be the eyes and ears for the consumer. Those people within the system who are often in the first and best position to protect food integrity. The worker who sees animal abuse, the quality control guy who witnessed the fraudulent report, and the federal inspector who refuses to cower to the industry. But unfortunately, these people are often intimidated into silence or subjected to various means of retaliation and punishment for speaking up. In some U.S. states, it’s actually a crime to report an agricultural crime. This backlash against truth-tellers must stop; the integrity of our food system depends on it.
So what can you do? The Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) is urging the concerned public to help push back the wall separating consumers from the truth about the food they eat. It’s a call to be part of a growing movement to empower truth-tellers and help break down the barriers that threaten food system transparency.
It takes a community to safeguard our food. Everybody eats and we all have a stake in this, so stay connected. The Campaign’s new mobile-friendly website at www.FoodWhistleblower.org serves not only as a resource for corporate and government whistleblowers in the food sector (offering legal services and advice), but also as a hub for community activism on behalf of whistleblowers and in opposition to the bad actions they disclose.
In this community, for example, whistleblowers can find out how to safely expose animal abuse at a slaughterhouse while citizen advocates can petition against Ag Gag laws that would seek to silence the whistleblower. Finding out what’s for dinner just got easier.
Amanda Hitt is Director of the Food Integrity Campaign.