A hodgepodge of outdated regulations and price fixing. The funny thing is that most people believe the endless palaver about how all this is necessary to protect us. Yet in my experience, for instance, meat inspection hasn’t eliminated the occasional E-Coli outbreak and when one does happen, the meat or poultry company has usually recalled the suspect meat before the FDA or AG Department has acted.
Lest there be any doubts about the extent of the problem, forthwith is just a taste of the regulatory minutiae that control today’s menu:
Turkey. Title 9, Part 381.76, of the Code of Federal Regulations directs turkey inspectors on the proper method of examining a frozen bird, to wit: “If a carcass is frozen, it shall be thoroughly thawed before being opened for examination by the inspector. Each carcass, or all parts comprising such carcass, shall be examined by the inspector, except for parts that are not needed for inspection.”
Do we really need a price fixing corporation for Cranberries. If it were a PRIVATE enterprise the government would be shutting it down under antitrust. Because it’s the government, that makes it OK.
Cranberries. Title 7, Part 929, establishes a “marketing committee” overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set quotas on the volume of cranberries shipped to handlers from growers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Long Island, New York. The grower “allotments” help to ensure that the price of cranberries remains artificially high.
Yes people can’t tell the difference between bread and a roll.
Bread/Rolls. Title 21, Part 136, requires anything labeled as “bread” in a bakery to weigh one-half pound or more after cooling. To be legally called a “roll,” each unit must weigh less than one-half pound after cooling.
Did the potato growers really need to have the government grade the spuds for them. Or is this a free advertising scheme. Let’s face it, how often do you see anything less than “Grade A,” on anything.
Potatoes. Title 7, Part 51.1546, dictates the proportion of allowable defects among specific grades of spuds. Potatoes graded as “U.S. No. 1” may not exceed the following tolerances at the point of shipping: 5 percent for external defects, 5 percent for internal defects, and not more than a total of 1 percent for potatoes that are frozen or affected by soft rot or wet breakdown. An entirely different set of tolerances apply to U.S. No. 1 potatoes while en route or upon reaching the destination, while similar standards are also set for “commercial” grade potatoes, “U.S. No. 2” potatoes, and “off-size” potatoes.
Yes I think we know what string beans are.
Green beans. Title 21, Part 155.120, defined green beans and wax beans as “the foods prepared from succulent pods of fresh green bean or wax bean plants conforming to the characteristics of Phaseolus vulgaris L. and Phaseolus coccineus L. The beans shall be one of the following distinct color types: (a) Green; or (b) Wax. The varietal type is either (a) beans having a width not greater than 1 1/2 times the thickness of the bean; or (b) beans having a width greater than 1 1/2 times the thickness of the bean.”
Here’s a clue. Both colors of cornmeal will work for any recipe including stuffing. The best cornmeal is stone ground fresh if you can get it. But the government only seems to care about the color. I’m surprised that there isn’t a Munsell # in there somewhere.
Cornmeal (for stuffing). Title 21, Part 137.275, distinguishes yellow cornmeal from cleaned white cornmeal: “Yellow cornmeal conforms to the definition and standard of identity prescribed by §137.250 for white cornmeal except that cleaned yellow corn is used instead of cleaned white corn.”
So there are little stickers on every nut. And the people in government can’t figure out that that’s nuts? This is just another attempt at protectionism and price fixing.
Pecans. Title 7, Part 65, requires “country of origin” labeling for pecans and a variety of other foods. The declaration may not contain abbreviations or flags. However, the adjectival form of the name of a country may be used to identify the country of origin—provided the adjectival form of the name does not appear with other words so as to refer to a kind or species of product.
It’s important to note that all these regulations have people, probably whole staffs of people attached to them, all making probably more than you do. And that regardless of the cost, you have to bear it, like it or not. For some reason, nobody pays much attention to the benefits that a small group of people get, like the protections of the cranberry and pecan growers or the restrictions that actually make it harder to business. The fact is that most people could make the choices without the government specifying whatever. By the time most of the food gets to the stores all the things here have been rendered irrelevant and the consumer will maker their own choice, usually without reading the labels that are so expensively stuck on. The typical consumer does not care about the color of cornmeal that’s going to be turned brown by the gravy anyway, probably will buy both colors of beans and can be sure that even if the Federal inspector never saw the turkey, that it will be fine.
What never gets talked about is the cost to the productive economy from all these penny ante regulations and the need for armies of compliance people. time spent on compliance, and I’ve been there, is time, and costs that have to be carried by everything. It’s a slow bloodsucking taking the resources that could be used for innovation and growth out of the economy and encouraging endless further rent seeking cronyism and the use of regulatory competition stifling. Which we all pay for in higher process, taxes and the unavailability of product and a lowering of our standard of living.