Can it be that Alabama doesn't have enough food? It must be, since I often see warning signs about food recalls at the grocery store. This week it was a ground turkey from Arkansas – months after scores of people became ill from it:
But Wednesday's recall announcement came almost five months after the first illness, when the USDA asked the meat giant to recall the massive amount of ground turkey, saying the meat was linked to at least 77 illnesses.
Because, of course, we don't have enough turkeys in Alabama?
Or maybe it's food scares about beef, lettuce, eggs, or even peanut butter… One thing a lot of these events have in common is that they are scattered over a wide geographic area. This makes it harder for food safety professionals to locate the source of the outbreak and even realize that one is in progress.
This is yet another reason we need to be supporting our local farms, farmers markets, and local agriculture. If our friends and family get sick, it's pretty easy to figure out how and why if their food is local. Furthermore, local farms and individual home gardeners are more likely to grow produce for flavor while commercial growers are concerned about marketability.
Hint… that's why supermarket tomatoes taste like… well… let's just say they pretty much suck in the flavor department.
As the blog Keating's Desk noted last week, we're experiencing a sharp decline in plant variety. This is more than just a taste or health issue: it's important for our national security:
As we have seen recently, a single negligent act at on plant in Arkansas is capable of contaminating food in 26 states. Imagine what the intentional act of single terrorist could do.
We limit the danger of catastrophic epidemics when our food supply is not so concentrated and controlled by so few agribusinesses and corporations. The National Geographic article reminds us of a famous historical episode when a country lost variety diversity: the Irish Potato Famine.
A number of LIA regular contributors are avid gardeners and many of us are committed to propagating heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. In the past, we've offered in the spring to share seeds with other gardeners and we'll do that again next spring.
However, it's handy to know how many seeds we need to save! Who's interested in heirloom field peas, watermelons, muskmelons, okra, and peppers? The cathouse garden can help you out. Who else in the LIA community has seeds to share? Amazingly, in today's food marketplace dominated by large agribusiness interests, saving seeds is an almost political act.
So let's get political! Let us know what you have to share and what you'd like to have!