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Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

When you want to know where your computer came from, what country manufactured your car, who produced your DVD player, or even where your shirt is made, you need only look at a sticker or label to find out. But if you want to know where the tomatoes, cantaloupe, chicken and ground beef in your refrigerator came from, you can only take a wild guess. Country-of-origin labeling - known as COOL - is not required for the food we put in our bodies.

With our food already traveling thousands of miles on average before reaching our tables, with food imports increasing every year, and with food safety scares on the rise, it is past time for consumers to have the basic information necessary to make informed choices about the food they buy, and to choose to buy more local food if they want to. COOL would also give U.S. farmers and ranchers a valuable marketing tool to distinguish their products from those coming from other countries, as food supply and distribution systems are becoming increasingly globalized.

Surveys show that more than 80 percent of Americans want to know where their food comes from, and just as many are willing to pay a few extra cents to eat domestically raised meat, fruit and vegetables should they cost more than imports. More than 200 farming, ranching, food safety and consumer groups support country-of-origin labeling.

Congress actually approved a mandatory COOL law in 2002. But the food industry persuaded Congress to delay its implementation until 2006, and groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the National Food Processors Association, and National Pork Producers Council want the law killed outright. The law, part of the 2002 Farm Bill, requires beef, pork, lamb, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables to carry a label stating where the foods were produced.

You have a fundamental right to know where your food comes from.

    » cmep | foodsafety | cool

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