Friday, September 30, 2011

100 Reasons to Eat Local - Reason #1

... because what you don't know (about where your food is grown and/or processed) can kill you.

I haven't been following the news of the latest foodborne illness breakout. I say the latest with a touch of sarcasm, because it seems like the news is full of such reports on too regular a basis these days.

At the same time, I know it's not a situation we should make light of. It's serious and horrible ... and not something I ever want to experience.

Right now, it's Listeria in cantaloupes. I can't imagine feeding my daughters something like a cantaloupe - fresh, sweet fruit, which they love - and having them sickened because of it. I can't imagine what that would feel like,

Which is why, I'm too much like the author of this article when it comes to purchasing our food ... and I've heard those same things come out of my mouth when talking with my daughters about why we make the food purchases that we do.

... because what we don't know about where our food is grown and who grows it, can, indeed, kill us.


  1. Unless I'm doing testing on my food myself, even if my neighbor grew it, it could still kill me. The chances are SMALLER, yes, but eating local is not 100% foolproof. Esp. here in NJ where we've had idiots dumping raw sewage where ever they want to when their basements back up. (I've witnessed them do it...yuuuuck!)
    And if you read about this recent melon contamination--it was not uncommon for local residents to stop by the farm where the contamination occurred to pick up fresh cantaloupe. Those people were eating local.

  2. I eat as locally as I can too. But this story makes me think hard. I read about the small town where these cantaloupes were grown. Small farming town that's been through tough times recently, no obvious cause of contamination, and the locals all eat those cantaloupes too. No one there got sick. All food is local somewhere, even if much of it is produced for shipping. I'm not defending the industrial food system AT ALL. But I do wonder if the evils generated by that system are not being visited upon other places, places that might supply a local market that seemingly has nothing to do with industrial production. The anti-biotic resistant bacteria created on feedlots and CAFOs may prove highly mobile. I'm just speculating here, but I do wonder about this particular case.

  3. @ Kaye - yep. Everything you say is true - but, if it had only been "local" people eating the cantaloupe, then fewer people would have gotten sick, and perhaps no one would have died, because they would have found the culprit more quickly.

    I also think that if I KNOW my farmers, and if I visit their farms, and if I talk to them about what they grow and how they grow it, I'll know what things might make me sick.

    It's absolutely true that nothing is 100% safe, but one has a lot more control over one's safety when what one eats is locally sourced and not shipped from across the country or around the world.

  4. It is stories like this that make me not want to buy anything from the grocery store ever. I agree with Kaye that eating local isn't fool proof, but I think that it is a lot less likely, especially if you are buying from small scale farms, not a huge farm like the one this outbreak is from.

    Our CSA farm has their water and soil tested every year, and while something can always be missed, I am pretty confident that I am better off getting my food from them rather than the grocery store.

  5. I signed up for the FDA's food recall emails. I get at the minimum two a day. TWO A DAY!

    That's two cantaloupe recalls this year. Yesterday there was a recall on organic grape tomatoes from the U.S. Those should be safe, right? Wrong.


  6. This is what happens when you use raw sewage (instead of well-rotted manure) to fertilize crops. Especially when the raw sewage comes from centralized animal feeding operations. California law allows using raw animal sewage on farms and guess where most of our fruits and veggies come from? (well, for mega grocery store shoppers, anyway.)

    Just goes to show that you should ALWAYS wash everything before eating, unless you grew it yourself. But even then - birds can carry listeria and they poop everywhere.

  7. Well… crap. Pun not intended. You would think farmers, even agribiz giants, would know that you need to compost sewage. IIRC, properly composted poo does a better job of fertilizing & avoids lawsuits. Seems like it would be a smart bottom-line issue even if they don't care about poisoning their customers.