Thursday, July 10, 2008

I know where my food comes from, how about you?

“The purpose of the recordkeeping provision of the Bioterrorism Act was to support going back to the origin of food after people have gotten sick when you are trying to find out how the biological agent got there,” said Michael Taylor, a professor at the George Washington University and a former F.D.A. official.  “But the provisions are of little or no value with respect to trace-backs of fresh produce because of the amount of shoe leather and time it would take.”

This is from today's NYtimes which reports on the now 1,000+ people in this country sick from a nefarious salmonella outbreak.  The problem is that we cannot find out where the food is coming from.  Why? Because nobody knows, and the FDA does not require a label of origin on food.

Last week I ate carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onions and garlic from Madura Farms, Middletown, NY, and chicken from JohnBoy's Farm, Pound Ridge, NY.  I have had sausage and eggs this week for breakfasts, the sausage from Mountain Products Smokehouse, LaGrangeville, NY and the eggs from Tello's (local greenmarket).

If I have any problems I know exactly where each farmer is located and I can go and complain.  This kind of transparency separates small farmers from large agribusiness.  If John Boy's chicken got me sick he would know about it right away, because I would trek over to Pound Ridge and give him a piece of my mind.  

These producers have the burden of quality.  They will go out of business if anything goes wrong with their food.  Their negligence cannot be hidden away by middlemen and supermarket distribution.  Their food has no label because they stand next to it when they sell it.  And I must continue to stand with them.  

I have said it before, and I will say it again:  buying proper food is a political act.  Big agribusiness is standing on the shoulders of corporate welfare, small farms are standing on their own feet.  Let's all stand with them.

Be Well.

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