What’s the worst thing to say to a farmer? Hi, I’m from the government, I’m here to help

We figured out about 15 years ago that the worst thing to say to a farmer was, Hi, I’m from the government, I’m here to help, cause we hung out with farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration apparently hasn’t figured this out, and went all gushy about how the two agencies are sharing people and resources to develop new produce regs.

Farmers across the nation were cleaning themselves after hearing the news from Washington.

USDA’s fresh produce chief will join FDA to develop new food safety rules, as part of a cooperative initiative between FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Today’s announcement comes amid beefed up outreach efforts with key agriculture and safe food stakeholders to better share and exchange produce safety ‘best practices’ and ideas.”

Will this result in fewer sick people? No . Is it complete bureau-speak that no one, especially those that grow fresh produce for a nation, will care about? Yes. Saturday Night Live captured the do-nothingness that has already cloaked the Obama change administration.

Dougie Downer at the diner table

The microwaving raw frozen breaded chicken thingies turned out to be a huge media story. An outbreak picked up by the Minnesota State Department of Health turned into 32 people sick with the same Salmonella in 12 states, and led to numerous calls for people to be careful with this kind of meal solution, especially when using microwaves.

I did an interview with radio station in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, about microwave cooking the other day, and the host was starting to get frustrated. It went something like this:

“Maybe I should just eat local, fresh food and wash it well and I’ll be safe.”

“No. Local can be safe, but consumers have to ask about microbiological stuff – what do the growers do to keep the dangerous bugs off fresh produce.”

“Oh, well maybe I’ll just be a vegetarian to be safe.”

“No, fresh fruits and vegetables are the biggest source of foodborne illness in North America today.”


“Look, I’m not trying to be Dougie Downer at the dinner table, I’m just …”

Hysterical laughter at the other end. She called me Dougie Downer for the rest of the interview, and couldn’t stop laughing.

Saturday Night Live on Thursday also covered the issue last night. The clip is available here.