there is a whole lot that could be said about the e.coli thing. now that the spinach thing has gone from spinach to also lettuce, I was thinking about maybe saying something. Anyway, this whole situation falls neatly under several of the topics on the “things I feel strongly about” list, so I will try to restrain myself. Jesse over at Corduroy Orange has touched on some of the issues in a couple of posts, as well.
maybe bullets will keep me on-track, ordered, and without too much fist raising prosteltizing.
- I found out that the strain of e.coli that is responsible for the spinach sickness and deaths is a strain that can withstand high-acid conditions. incidentally, when you factory farm cows you create high acid conditions in their stomachs. cows don’t really eat grain alone very happily – it creates something called “feedlot bloat” which creates excess gas that inflates in the cows rumen and which can press on the cows lungs and suffocate them. this is one of the reasons why it’s GOOD that feedlot cows are slaughtered within a year. The grain also makes a high acid condition in the stomachs, which makes for some happy special evil strain of e.coli.
- the map that jesse posted says this very clearly, but it’s amazing that we are relying on the salinas valley in california for the majority of our produce. not only is this ridiculous, it’s unsustainable for a number of reasons: 1. we shouldn’t have all of our food eggs in one basket, so to speak. 2. fuel costs have been, until recently, going up superfast. these costs weren’t embedded in the cost of our cheap california produce, but they will be sometime! 3. I hear that the northern groundwater wells (primary source of irrigation for the salinas valley) are experiencing saline intrusion. which means, you know, that we’ve got all these eggs in a basket but it turns out the basket is really just a really big hourglass full of sand, and the sand is dropping out of the bottom of the glass, and the some day the eggs will come shooting out as well.
- if you haven’t read cadillac desert, you really should. the water rights issues in the west will only become more important as time goes by. and now that farmers are learning that they have to pay attention to the run-off from factory farms I can only see some complicated negotiations in the future.
- I think there should be a serious dialog about the cost of food in america.
- and while we’re talking, we might want to look into the ENVIRONMENTAL cost of food in america. I’m not just talking about food miles here, but also the unsustainability of an economy that always comes down to a dependance on oil – usually in the form of petrochemical fertilizers.
- I also think there should be a serious dialog about homeland security. The spinach situation reminds me a lot of the green onion hepatitis A outbreak when I lived in pittsburgh. we can’t just keep getting all this cheap food from around the world without dealing with the social and environmental consequences. who’s picking your food? are they being paid enough to live well? to be hygenic? to treat their own illnesses or to take time off of work when they’re contagious? if these aren’t issues of homeland security, I don’t know what is.
Anyway! not too bad, no? just a quick hop onto the ol’ soap box! so as not to just wave my hands around without offering any real solutions, how about CSAs? they say the personal is the political, and I see food as an extremely political issue. and with any issue, you have to decide where to start and start slowly. you can’t let the scope of the issue overwhelm you into non-action. I’ve decided to start by eating meat infrequently, trying to eat organic and grass-fed where I can, and by purchasing as much local and/or organic food as I can find and afford.