Food recalls, contamination, problems in the "food supply"--these are fairly common news items these days. It is unfortunate, to say the least. I wasn't even going to comment on the latest salmonella outbreak, but the story of billions of eggs being recalled remains at the top of the newscast.
I wasn't going to comment because we have been here before. In fact, if you dig a little deeper you'll find recalls and questions about our food safety are being raised all of the time. This time it is eggs--but remember the spinach scare of 2006? Did you miss the spinach recall last month? Beef, chicken, pork--they've had their day too.
But here's what really got me: when I heard the story being pitched as a problem with the FDA and our system of inspection I nearly lost it. The problem isn't whether we have enough inspectors to catch the problems in the food supply--the problem IS the food supply.
As commenters on my previous post have stated--we are so glad we have access to good local eggs. Many of us, even when not purchasing eggs produced by organic feed supplemented, pasture raised hens, have access to, and can afford to buy local eggs. Why would we buy eggs from Iowa? Why would we think confinement factory chickens would only produce problems concerning meat chickens and not the eggs laid by the hens?
I know that buying local eggs is no guarantee against food-borne illness. But I also have the email addresses and phone numbers of the three farms that produce the eggs I usually purchase so if there ever was to be a problem it wouldn't take too long to get to the bottom of it.
I just have to wonder, how many recalls, sick people, and wasted food will we have to endure before we realize that our "conventional" food system isn't working? Small family farms--as much as I rely on them--aren't the total answer to feeding the voracious American appetite either, but between these two poles there has to be a better way.