Whenever July 4th comes around, I find myself thinking about the nation’s 50th birthday 185 years ago.


It was on that date in 1826 that Thomas Jefferson died at Monticello and John Adams took his last breath at Braintree. The two men whose public service was marked by being collaborators for freedom and competitors in democracy had in their later years grown close as old and trusted friends.

Whether it was coincidence or a Divine seal of the Declaration of Independence itself maybe forever debated

A couple of things, however, remain pretty certain.  One, if we moved Jefferson and Adams into the modern world, chances are they’d see a lot of things differently. 

But to quote a line from William Wirt, then U.S. attorney general, Adams and Jefferson would disagree “without the bitterness of party spirit.”

If food safety were the topic, my guess is that Jefferson would sound a lot like our friend Harry Hamil down at the Black Mountain Farmers Market in North Carolina.  Talk about gardens with Harry, and you will learn his summer garden this year includes 148 varieties of tomato starts, 4 of ground cherries and 7 of tomatillos.

As Food Safety News readers know, Harry was one of the most outspoken critics of the new federal food safety law, and he worked effectively to tamp it down.

I am also fairly certain that John Adams, the attorney, would sound a lot like Bill Marler if he got into food safety.  Marler, our publisher and the nation’s premier food safety attorney, is primarily an advocate for the victims of foodborne illnesses.

He pulled out all the stops to get Congress to pass the food safety law.

Adams, who defended British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre, knew all about gaining enemies by being an advocate.    

Just as Harry is close to the land, Bill is really close to the sea or specifically, Puget Sound. His folks’ farm is on the Sound, and he is never more happy than when is going for salmon or shellfish in a small boat.

There are probably other pairings I could make out of those who debate food safety issues on Food Safety News. Some have even gone at it with more pointed punches than Bill and Harry.

Black Mountain is planning its first iteration of a regional tomato celebration for the three weeks around Labor Day. Harry says it depends if he can keep up the pace he’s been on with the largest garden of his life, and of course whether “regulatory foolishness” does not demand his attention.

God only knows what’s on Bill’s schedule for later this summer, but I am thinking about getting the two of them together. Maybe Bill could bring some of those Puget Sound mussels and Harry could carve up a few of those tomatoes for us.

Would we erase the “bitterness of party spirit by which the wise and good will not fail to profit?”   Maybe, maybe not, but we’d all be better for it.

Eat wisely and drink moderately with some frequency.

Happy Fourth of July!

Editor’s Note: This version includes a couple of word changes caught by a careful reader.