The offending hamburger came from a batch of frozen burger patties shipped by agri-conglomerate Cargill. The batch was made from slaughterhouse trimmings sourced from plants in Nebraska, Texas, South Dakota and Uruguay(!) and assembled in a plant in Wisconsin before shipping out as "American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties." Given the varied and distributed sources of ingredients for these patties, it's amazing we're not reading of plights like Ms. Smith's more often.
Or are we?
In today's NYTimes blog, Timothy Egan has a lovely yet scary post from the Yakima Valley in Washington state launching off the groundwork of Sunday's column and reveals that there are more than 70 million cases of food-borne illnesses a year in the US, resulting in 5,000 deaths. Egan's post is worth the read, but if you're lacking time, here's the conclusion (what inspired me to write today):
How much of the danger from leafy vegetables can be blamed on the industrial model that produces cheap calories I don’t know. But as consumers follow Michael Pollan’s advice to get to know our food producers, we will learn to see the processed burger and the industrial vegetables for what they are — cheap global commodities that carry some risk.
And as I look out the window at my urban chicken coop, I enjoy an even greater comfort that I know exactly where my eggs are coming from, and exactly who handles them from nest to kitchen.
The best antidote for such a thing is to see, touch and experience food as it comes off the fields. As imperfect as this harvest picture is, it satisfies a need that has never bred out of us as people.
Let's hear it for urban chickens and urban farmers everywhere for reducing the food sourcing risk.
Photo credit: estherase on Flickr