Total Pageviews

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Food Rant

I recently started a subscription to Acres magazine after a 1 year hiatus from it. I see it has a new format and a lot of articles on the state of raw milk with several anonymous mentions in a couple of issues of the farm I hold 2 cow shares with. It seems the Streits are the only cow share farm left in southern Ohio. With a new governor and head of the ODA things are looking better for raw milk sales in Ohio. But nothing is writ in stone and things could stay the same (ODA's intense hostility towards all cow share programs) or even get worse.

After all, this raw milk deal is stepping lightly on the toes of Big Dairy and Big Dairy has an incredibly low tolerance for having its' toes stepped upon. So they start smear campaigns and get the state dept of Ag goons out there to stop any and all farms from selling raw milk and thus taking a small piece of the dairy sales pie (of which Big Dairy wants 100% ).

I fear what we are seeing with raw milk will soon enough start happening with those of us who grow and sell produce. The e-coli, salmonella, campybolactor (what a fun disease to say), etc., etc.. outbreaks in our veggies I believe is designed to scare folks off of local produce. Oh sure, all of these outbreaks (that's right 100%) have occurred only on produce megafarms and zero % have been from organic farms, despite the lies coming out of the corporate owned which in almost every case in 2006 wrongly blamed organic produce for contamination. But there have been whisper campaigns that are questioning the safety of locally grown food. The argument claims that the big farms/packing plants have HAVC protocols in place and get their produce tested for contamination all the time and the small farms do not. The fact of the matter is the big farms are supposed to have HAVC protocols in place but as it turns out most do not and most farms do not send samples of their produce out for testing on a regular basis. The other argument is because small farms are so small they do not have a customer base large enough to tell if they were contaminating their customers. Whereas the megafarms, with millions of people eating their produce will know instantly if they have a contamination problem. Instantly, that is, if your definition of instantly is 6 to 12 weeks.

Face it, eating food produced in large quantities is a real crap shoot. All it takes in one worker with dirty hands to contaminate tens of thousands of pounds of spinach or lettuce. A lot of these produce farms are sharing aquifers with mega dairy farms and that means the irrigation water is likely contaminated with bovine fecal matter. the proof of this is the fact we keep seeing the same kind of contamination-E-coli 157H7 which comes from two sources-cattle fed grain, either from a feed lot or an industrial dairy-and humans. the spinach that was found contaminated in the fall of '06 was grown on a farm that abutted a large dairy farm. the "experts" can tell us that the source of this contamination is from wild pigs but any sensible person can plainly see that the contamination came from other industrial agriculture (i.e. the factory milk farm next door)

Now, eating food from a small farm is quite safe in comparison. On our farm, for example, because we do not use raw manure for feeding the soil the risk of contaminating our food with any of the industrial contaminants is nil. Granted, a bird flying overhead could hit a tomato or head of lettuce but that can easily be washed off (actually most of that produce is never sold, we eat it ourselves). And because we minimally process our food and sell most of it within 24 of harvest the vectors for contamination are simply not there (one theory of why e-coli was so bad on the spinach was because it got to incubate for 10 days before it was sold).

But there are plenty of shills on the web and writing news releases saying the opposite. they tell us locally raised food, especially organically raised food is dangerous. They are lying through their teeth but that is what they are paid to do. because like Big dairy Big produce does not like seeing any of its' profits, no matter how small, taken by us little guys and eventually they will get the State Dept of Ag to act in their favor.

The number one reason produce gets contaminated and not fit for eating is because of bad practises by the consumer. Too many people will use the same knife and cutting board that had raw meat on it to cut up their veggies. DON"T DO THAT!!! It is worth it to have several knives and cutting boards on hand if you are cooking both meat and produce. A $100 investment can save you tens of thousands of dollars and weeks of feeling like you will die.

The good news is we humans are not nearly as weak and sickly as the news media and Big Pharma would have us believe. I am willing to bet all of us have been infected by some form of food born pathogen and did not even realize it. If we had symptoms at all they were almost unnoticeable. We have to realize that as long as our food is grown outdoors and processed by underpaid workers (almost everyone who works in agriculture is underpaid) there is going to be some microscopic critters on our food that have the potential to make us ill. But as long as our immune system functions well we have little to worry about. Of course, in these days of the Big Pharma drug dealers trying to convince us all that we need to be taking a cocktail of pharmaceuticals several times a day and being fairly successful we have fewer and fewer healthy humans who can ward off sickness caused by food born pathogens and thus we get more and more serious and far reaching outbreaks.

1 comment:

Jose said...

Good rant :)
People are just starting to realize the consquences of our choices, but there are already efforts underway to confuse customers by getting the organic label for produce. Most of us dont understand that most organic produce is still product of industrial farming.
Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" has a good analysis of the situation.