Saturday, November 7, 2009

To those we elected

Here's a letter I sent to my elected representatives just after the Climate Change Day of Action. Feel free to paraphrase or copy/paste. I ask that you investigate the issues yourself, so the letter comes from you. It's just important that we the people they actually represent tell them what we think.

Dear _________:(insert name of your representative)

We are approaching critical moments in the debates on three major issues before the U.S. legislature: climate change, health care reform, and food safety. Fortunately, there are actions you can take as an elected representative, that affect two, if not all three issues simultaneously.

Most immediately, world leaders will discuss a new climate change treaty this December. We need to bring atmospheric CO2 levels back down to 350 ppm! Levels above that could lead to irreversible, catastrophic changes for humans and many, many other species. Please visit for more information.

Localizing food supplies is a very effective way to reduce carbon emissions. Did you know that it takes approximately 26 ounces of oil to produce a double quarter-pounder with cheese? This product generates 13 pounds of CO2, as much as a typical car generates from driving 13 miles! Local food generates less CO2 since it travels, on average, less than 150 miles, and it is much more nutritious. Local food is produced by small farmers and sold through farmers’ markets and other direct-to-consumer avenues.

By now it must be intuitive that the above-mentioned quarter-pounder is chronic disease waiting to happen. Over the past several decades, what we have saved in paying for food, we have paid in increased health care costs. Some savings! With “nay” votes on H.R. 2749, or The Food Safety Enhancement Act and H. R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act, you can help save America billions on health care. These bills place unbearable regulatory and financial burdens on small farmers who produce the healthiest food, and who are not part of the food safety problem! The recent food-borne disease outbreaks have all originated on factory farms, in feedlot-style livestock operations, or in centralized processing facilities. Several of the farmers who grow my food are very worried about staying in business if these bills pass in their current forms. Please, remove small farmers and direct sales from under the regulatory umbrella! They are some of the folks actually doing some good.

These days, people in Michigan need any advantage they can get. The western side of the Lower Peninsula is second only to California in the diversity of food crops grown. Small farms are one of the few growth areas in Michigan’s economy. Passage of H.R. 2749 and H.R. 875 could snuff out that growth as effectively as a pesticide. If the government will make room, small farmers in Michigan will flourish, bringing with them nutritious local food, fewer CO2 emissions, and better health for all.

In summary, I ask you to:
1. only accept a carbon emissions treaty with levels no higher than 350 ppm,
2. revise the pending food safety legislation to remove regulatory burdens from small farmers and direct sales.

By taking these simple steps, you will be doing a great service for many, many people in Michigan and all over the world.

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