Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One more reason to be a locavore (or E. Coli is A.Ok with the USDA)


A locavore is a person who puts buying locally at the top of her priorities when shopping for anything. Barbara Kingsolver wrote a book about extreme locavory - her family spent a year eating nothing that was not produced within a few miles of her home, each family member claiming an exemption for something non-native to Virginia, coffee for one, chocolate for another.

Buying organic is good, but not so much if your organic bib lettuce had to be shipped in a petroleum- based plastic container the size of a baby bathtub across country on a diesel truck or train.

Thanks particularly to nationally centralized chains like Wal-Mart, it becomes more and more difficult by the day to purchase local meat. Yes, it can be done but it takes a lot of leg work and planning.

Today I read a report that the US Department of Agriculture allows millions of pounds of E.coli tainted beef to be sold in the US. The loophole allows pre-cooked meat with E.coli to be sold to the general public and to schools. USDA officials don't believe an E.coli outbreak will occur from the cooked meat, but some inspectors claim this year's rise in cases is due to the practice. In addition, it raises the possibility that allowing E.coli inside processing plants will also contaminate raw meat.

Pre-cooked hamburgers use the suspect meat. So too, does any of that convenience food busy moms and dads lean on--those crock pot dinners, pre-cooked stir fries and so on. Burritos, taquitos-any frozen food you buy with pre-cooked beef inside could be tainted.

From the Chicago Tribune: "
"The government keeps putting out that we've reduced E. coli by 50 percent and all of that," said an inspector. "And we haven't done nothing. We've just covered it up."


The reason that locavores are safer than others is that small, local processing plants are much, much less likely to be involved in meat recalls and tainted food. Like everything else in the free trade movement, meat that comes from processing plants that pay skilled workers decent wages are better on many, many levels. This is just one.

11 comments:

fairlane said...

I have a suggestion. I know it's crazy, but hear me out.

Stop eating meat.

Thank you.

If you have a craving for flesh, how about eating a couple of Wingnuts instead?

They're about as intelligent as cows.

Dr. Zaius said...

I don't know, I've always thought that the E. coli was the best part of a burger. I think you have played down some of the many benefits of E. coli - for one, it's high in protein!

Tengrain said...

Nice post, and it is something I believe in.

You might want to check out local CSAs (community supported agriculture) - some programs have ranches with sustainably raised and humanely treated animals included.

Regards,

Tengrain

Ed said...

There is a guy who sells grass fed organic meat at the east side farmer's market which, sadly, is closed until spring. This time of year, you can get his meat at a store in downtown Paoli, not too far from Madison. I forget the name he sells it under, but Luminiferous Ether would know.

Jess Wundrun said...

fairlane: thank you for the tip. However, we know with certainty that wingnuts are tainted.

dr. z: apes have very different stomaches than we do, I guess!

tengrain: last year we bought a half a cow from our CSA guy. We saw said cow and where she was pastured before they sent her to the butcher, from whom we picked up the meat.

ed: also look in the advertisements in Sustainable Times. There is a butcher called Artamos Meats on Odana Road, who sells organic, sustainably raised meat, but I can't afford them. I will spend more on a chicken at the farmer's market in the summer.

Randal Graves said...

I always love the inevitable "we/he/she/it/they doesn't believe that x will destroy y" that's invaded every kind of discourse. An unrelated subject, but there was a story here in the local paper about some structural problems of a heavily-traveled bridge and there it was "they don't believe it poses a threat." I love it.

dguzman said...

I'm with Fairlane on this one; I rest so much easier knowing that The Kid is eating her PBJ sandwiches instead of that e-coli-laden dreck they serve at her school cafeteria. I still miss BBQ, porterhouse steaks, and beef fajitas, but I sure don't miss having to keep an ear to the radio to find out if my grocery store is selling tainted meat.

Your willingness to see the cow and buy local is admirable. I promised myself that the only way I would ever meat again is if I killed it myself--which I could never do!

Randal's got a great point--no one ever thinks it's a threat until it happens. Then they say "there's no way we could've known!" Grrr.

dguzman said...

I'm with Fairlane on this one; I rest so much easier knowing that The Kid is eating her PBJ sandwiches instead of that e-coli-laden dreck they serve at her school cafeteria. I still miss BBQ, porterhouse steaks, and beef fajitas, but I sure don't miss having to keep an ear to the radio to find out if my grocery store is selling tainted meat.

Your willingness to see the cow and buy local is admirable. I promised myself that the only way I would ever meat again is if I killed it myself--which I could never do!

Randal's got a great point--no one ever thinks it's a threat until it happens. Then they say "there's no way we could've known!" Grrr.

TheCunningRunt said...

I've been espousing "The Hundred Yard Diet" during the growing season here in Massachusetts:

It's the Hundred Mile idea, without being dogmatic (the dogma keeps a LOT of people from trying it,) plus every week I eat something wild which I pick along the roads and trails on my way home from work.

Free, organic and local!

PS, I especially agree with one of your points:

My local Coop refuses to sell produce which isn't Certified Organic. So they carry organic apples from New Zealand, but won't sell uncertified but ORGANICALLY GROWN veggies from our own town!!!

Bumms me out, it does.

Jess Wundrun said...

Cunning: we get a lot of pick your own produce from a local farmer who rolls his eyes at the idea of certified organic.

To me, sustainable is the key word, not organic.

I am trying to grow apples, and I can tell you that it is next to impossible to grow organic apples. They are just too attractive to invasive bugs like Japanese Beetles that don't have enough predators.

Suzy said...

What a bummer of a co-op! Can you begin agitating? After all, co-ops are member owned, right?

Jess, I have not been to Artimos Meats, so I can't say where they get their meat from. I plan to make a trip out to the Paoli store soon. They can be found on the web at
http://www.naturalmeats.org/. I think they may also do home delivery, as does Artisan Foods.

I've been veg at various times in my life, but I like meat AND it is a simple way for a busy working person to make meals. I don't eat flesh every day ... the other thing is, I wear leather shoes. Don't see a whole lot of difference.