November 27, 2018
This is a guest post by Carole Morison who was featured in the documentary “Food, Inc.” and was a recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leaders Award. This piece was originally posted on Carole’s blog.
It’s seems like we are hearing more and more about some type of recall on the food that we eat. Multi-state outbreaks of food borne illnesses are on the rise. The latest warning is to not eat romaine lettuce or anything, such as pre-packaged salad mixes, containing romaine lettuce.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people have become sick with a strain of E. coli from eating romaine lettuce in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified an additional 18 people who have become sick with the same strain of E. coli in Ontario and Quebec.
On November 23rd, via Twitter, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, announced the most recent outbreak is likely California-based.
This year alone the CDC has investigated 21 multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks, more than any year in the past decade. Foodborne illness hits one in six Americans every year, the CDC says, estimating that 48 million people get sick due to one or another of 31 pathogens. About 128,000 people end up in the hospital and 3,000 die annually.
Everyone expects for the food that they eat to be safe. Dependence on the food producer and government rules, regulations, and inspections are relied upon to ensure that safety. After all, it wouldn’t be for sale or served in a restaurant if it was bad, right?
It might have been true in the past however in this day and time and the look toward feeding the world, our food system can’t be relied upon to do the right thing and produce food to consumers expectations of safe food.
Mass production of food as quickly and cheaply as possible is what our mainstream food system is. Most everything you buy at the grocery store has been mass produced, further processed, or additive enriched. Corporations have gotten into the game of self- proclaimed “farming to feed the world” because quite frankly, they know it’s the one thing that all of us need to survive. The bottom line on the balance sheet is all that matters and if it happens to make people sick, oh well. They are guaranteed to have sales for their product no matter how many times they mess up.
Economy of Scale is what economists identify our mainstream food production as being. The non-politically correct version – mass production of food cheaply. In other words, cutting corners to save money. Most of us understand having to cut corners to save money in our everyday lives. However, when the responsibility of suppling the masses with food that is supposed to be healthy, wholesome, and safe to eat, cutting corners is not an option. This is where the equation of food production is wrong.
Attempts to change standards of food production is met with a brick wall. The corporate giants have the money, power, and influence to control our government and bend legislators to their will. I learned a long time ago that actual farmers, us little people, are not the client of the US. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This came from a former USDA attorney. Research, development, education, marketing, and so on, every aspect of USDA is there for the big boys. USDA has become another subsidy for corporate agriculture compliments of taxpayers. Is it any wonder that the big boys who control our food system have become billionaires? Let’s feed all of them a basket full of E.coli tainted romaine lettuce and see how they feel afterwards. A fitting punishment for expecting others to eat it, I would say.
Just recently I read an article “Dirty Farm Water is Making Us Sick”. It makes perfectly good sense to me that if one is using waste water from a mass animal production facility to irrigate crops there are going to be problems. Waste water is exactly what it is, water with waste in it. No matter if it’s waste water from a drainage ditch or a so called “lagoon” it derived from water that is a waste by-product from animals. Waste means it can’t be used. And believe me folks, don’t get all dreamy eyed over the word “lagoon” cause it sure ain’t The Blue Lagoon!
As mass food production increases so will the “oops, mess ups” in food safety increase. Quick, fast, and in a hurry isn’t always the beast means of producing our food.
Knowing where your food comes from and how it was produced is the best defense. Having to worry over everything that one puts in their mouth as to whether you will get sick or not from eating is not normal. You should know the person or people who produce your food not the name of some corporation who massed produced in some place.
Locally supplied foods, farm direct, famers markets, and grocery stores that carry locally produced foods are your best bet. If your regular shopping source doesn’t carry these products ask them to.
If you’re not sure ask the farmer producing the food if you can visit. Check out how much or how many is being produced at one time. If animals, look at their condition and behavior, how they are raised, and decide if the methods are acceptable to your expectations.
Look at the overall farming methods whether it be meat, produce, grains, nuts, etc. Most of all, don’t except lame excuses as to why production standards don’t meet your expectations. Most farmers that you visit will be more than happy to answer your questions, will appreciate your feedback, and want to satisfy your curiosity. These farmers are the real deal and wouldn’t want to feed you something that they wouldn’t eat their selves.
When you know your farmer, you will know your food.