Thursday, October 8, 2009

knowing where your food comes from

This past Sunday, there was an eye-opening article in the Sunday New York Times about Stephanie Smith, a 22-year-old dance instructor who remains paralyzed from a food-borne illness caused by e. coli which came from a hamburger she ate.

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.

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.
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.

Let's hear it for urban chickens and urban farmers everywhere for reducing the food sourcing risk.

Photo credit: estherase on Flickr


Tarazod Films said...

Hip hip hooray for urban farmers (and urban chickens too)!

jmbelders said...

Just started reading your blog recently and enjoy. Been gaining interest in joining the Urban chichen world. At this point I am trying to decide on the type of coop I should build or buy. Again, nice read and keep it up.

jmbelders said...

Oh yeah, to, "Tarazod Films" Looking forward to seeing Mad City Chickens. Bought it at North Haven Gardens in Dallas TX. said...

I read that article and was horrified by it. One of the perks of owning your own chickens is that I even feel free to make chocolate mousse the old-fashioned way - with uncooked egg whites. Wouldn't do that with store bought.

Granny Annie said...

The egg -- nature's perfect food. However I heard another scary report on eggs this week and it was basically about uncooked eggs but not catching the whole story it would scare you of any egg. Still a fresh free range egg remains nature's perfect food in my estimation.

eyecontact said...

Just saw 'Food, Inc", and wish more people would get wise about how we feed ourselves. Sustainable living is beautiful. Treating animals respectfully seems so obviously wise to me. We have a long way to go. But a few faint voices can generate a choir.

Caitlin said...

This incidents are what scares me to feed my family outside of home. Honestly, I have plans of just creating an organic garden in my own backyard.


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