Or rather who is getting feces in the food?
Its a simple question that needs to be asked by us Americans that eat stuff. It seems like every week there is another recall on this food or that. It affects meat eaters and vegetarians alike. There is shit in the veggies and the meat. Well, not actual poop nuggets, but the effluent is contaminating our food at an accelerated pace.
If you are sickened by this contaminated food, you can look forward to severe cramps, vomiting, bloody stools and diarrhea, high fever, and I’m sure, quite a case of bubble guts.
Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is present in the environment, foods, and animals according to the CDC. Although most E.coli is harmless and many times beneficial to the gut, Shiga toxin- producing E.coli is the culprit that causes sickness in humans. When there is a food recall related to E.Coli, you can bet it’s that tiny bugger causing all the grief, diarrhea, and death.
What did people do back in the day? Up until World War II, most people in the US maintained personal gardens for their vegetable consumption. This was common practice. Vegetables were local and seasonal due to the high rate of spoilage. Communities commonly had access to a butcher and locally sourced meats. The sanitation and food safety methods for centralized meat processing was addressed with the creation of the USDA in response to the communist manifesto, The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. Food safety recalls were unheard of. People ate healthy, nutrient rich foods and then died of infections from paper cuts. Yet we in the modern world, have had to endure numerous recalls for meat, spinach, romaine, and many other foods.
If you have been paying attention, you may realize that this has become a major issue for our country’s food system. I’m not here to argue causes or lay blame. I have some ideas about how to minimize our exposure to the that extra ingredient that we didn’t ask for. My answer to this is gardens and locally sourced meat.
Lettuce and leafy greens are some of the fastest, easiest vegetables to grow and there are many types and ways to grow them. They love containers. They grow just as well in the ground or a hydroponic system. The seeds are cheap and abundant. All you need do is water them and provide nutrients and sunlight. You can extend your growing season by sowing seeds in a container on a sunny window sill. Get creative. This is easy. Even the black thumb crew is invited. Start small and simple. Sow seeds weekly to keep your crop going year round. Keep your animals out of the veggies.
Another option is to get your veggies from a local farm or farmers market. Just be sure that the veggies at the farmers market were grown locally instead of shipped in from BFE. Understand that crux of problem comes from processing (washing) of the produce with contaminated (shit flecked) water and equipment.
Meat is another matter. E. Coli naturally occurs in animals. There are many theories as to why there has been an increase in these outbreaks, but it seems that husbandry and processing practices are the source. The feed and conditions for feed lot cattle are, by necessity, vastly different when compared to the conditions on a small farm.
I was well into adulthood before I became aware that meat is available from sources other than a grocery store. The local butcher seemed an extravagance for the monied crowd. But with the increased interest on ethically sourced meats and ‘slow food,’ locally raised and processed meat is likely available in your area. You may not want to look your food in the eye before you eventually eat it, but it is nice to visit a farm to gain an understanding and comfort with the food that graces your plate. Facebook, Craigslist, and local butchers are great resources to find these small farmers. Be sure to search for direct sellers at farmers markets and online. As we can see, slick packaging and dyed meats are no guarantee of safety. Give them a try.
In most cases, you will be purchasing meat in bulk i.e., a whole or half cow or pig. It’s also possible to buy ethically raised, free- range chicken this way. Bulk meats are cheaper than retail butchered meats. They are also tastier because of a tendency for small farmers to provide a more natural environment and natural food sources for the animals.
These are just a few of ways to start looking for fresher, cleaner, nutrient rich foods for you and your family. Ultimately it is up to us to fix the issue for ourselves. It will take some rejection of the status quo and that takes research and diligence. Take a look at the embedded links in this blog post. It’s not in anyway comprehensive, but they are a wonderful jump off point to your own search for the best food you can afford.
An escape from the suburbs and corporate America spawned a journey into rural living. Writer, wife, mother, and local chicken lady, join me as I fail, fail, fail! and learn along the way.