Red Tape

This is in response to Max Borders on our compulsive urge to regulate.

Regulation and red tape in the food industry can be seen in any farmer’s market, small restaurant, and mom and pop food store.  I understand the need to protect against diseases like botulism, but it has truly gotten out of hand.  Americans used to be able to have a dream and go after that dream.  Unfortunately, without money, that is seldom the case anymore.

I grew up going to the Waldo Farmer’s Market in Waldo, Florida.  Waldo is a tiny speed trap of a town with a giant flea market/farmer’s market.  People sell everything from Avon and pets to tractor parts and food.  What are noticeably missing are home grown canned items.  One can buy hot dogs at the small shack, boiled peanuts at the end of the aisle, and all the mustard greens they can eat, but there are absolutely no home-canned items. 

Another place home canned items appear to be missing are in small restaurants.  When I first moved to Jacksonville, Florida, we started going to Matanzas Inlet to a tiny waterfront restaurant.  They had the best Dattle pepper sauce I’ve ever had.  They used to bottle and sell the sauce to their adoring fans.  We went there in 2008 and suddenly it was unavailable for purchase.  One could still have it at the restaurant but due to the red tape involved in bottling and selling the sauce, the restaurant had to stop selling it to customers.  Of course, I have known people who leave extremely generous tips and walk out with the bottle, but that is saved for another essay.

Another place that is suddenly missing home canned items is the mom and pop grocery store.  Taking trips to West Virginia and North Carolina, there are many small family owned stores.  They carry many things from homemade jam and preserves to localized souvenirs.  On a recent trip we noticed that a small fun store between Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA had changed the labels on all their jams.  When we asked about it, they told us that with all the red tape, they had to stop selling their own jams and go with a larger company that specialized.  The jam was ok, but it just wasn’t the same. 

Although it was probably for health reasons, the red tape in America has gotten out of hand.  It has taken money and amazing food from farmer’s markets, small restaurants and mom and pop food stores.  Many times change is for the better.  This is one of those times that change has taken a step backwards.