The article below points out the benefit of local food systems.
  • EATERS: get to know your local organic, natural and free-range growers (meat/ vegetable/ you-name-it) to reduce the distance, handling and processing steps between you and your food.

  • KCFC GROWERS: Keep on keeping on... :D


Beef recall highlights our tangled food web

Benjamin Miles
Monday, February 25, 2008

The largest meat recall in U.S. history, announced this week, exposes some troubling issues related to our food processing industry. Negligent monitoring, animal cruelty and greed all seem to have played a part in the reprehensible conditions exposed on camera. Another relevant issue that should receive attention is our highly centralized food processing and distribution system, which was highlighted this week in that most of the meat recalled was estimated to have already been eaten by the time the recall was announced.

In the name of efficiency, we have consolidated farms and streamlined crop production. Food is gathered together in large quantities and processed into food products, which are then packaged and shipped to grocery stores and sold at low prices. The efficiency of food production in this country is unmatched; however, I believe that we have neglected other virtues of a healthy society's system of food production.

We have been too successful in discouraging the diversified and comparatively inefficient producers of food. As our country has grown, so have the distances traveled by the food that we eat. Food grown by a farmer in Iowa might be shipped to Chicago and back to Kansas City before it lands (fully packaged) on the grocer's shelves where the farmer's neighbors can purchase it. Similarly, it's conceivable that beef raised on Shasta County grass and hay might have made the trip down I-5 to the offending slaughterhouse and then traveled back north to find its way into the cheeseburger of a local resident who grew up within sight of the ranch where the beef was raised.

Locally produced food, which is distributed and consumed locally, requires less fuel to transport the food to your plate. It has therefore reduced our dependence on foreign sources of oil, and has had a reduced impact on climate change. Local food is generally fresher, and it supports the working landscape of the north state.

Community-supported local food production also renders the community better equipped to deal with a genuine food crisis should one develop. Local food production offers alternate, and safe, sources for our diet if the large-scale distributors are temporarily unable to deliver safe products. We are fortunate that the incident this week was not a more imminent health hazard, but unquestioning devotion to centralized food production and distribution in this country leaves us dangerously vulnerable to such a serious threat should it ever occur.

Benjamin Miles lives in Redding.
E.W. Scripps Co.
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