This recent massive egg recall stemming from one farm in Iowa reminds me of the benefits of buying from small, local farms where you can know the farmer. The particular farm in Iowa seems to be on everyone's watch list--it has been labeled a "repeat offender". They have had complaints about waste and pollution, complaints about health and safety, complaints about worker treatment and hiring illegal aliens, complaints about animal welfare, and I am sure the list goes on. And they have just paid the fines and kept on going not worrying about the consequences of doing so to anything else but their own bottom line.
I buy my eggs from the co-op or from the farmers market so I know what I am getting. I get some really pretty eggs with golden yolks and I have spoken with the farmers who raised the chickens in sustainable ways where the chicken gets to live a fairly reasonable chicken life before the eggs are laid and I get them home. I pay a lot more for them. Often more than 50 cents a piece. But they are worth it. Not only are the eggs better, but I prefer to pay my costs up front. Fewer externalities here.
This situation also reminds me that the FDA needs some teeth. Part of the reason they are ineffective is that they don't have the authority to do what they need to protect Americans from food borne illness. They need more inspectors and the authority to initiate and enforce mandatory recalls. And then we need a new farm bill that reduces the attractiveness of the option to have the kinds of factory farms and monocultures that these eggs came from and from which the vast majority of modern food borne illness outbreaks originate.
We need a new food culture in America. We need one that cares about the food in a myriad of ways from personal health to health of the plants and animals that make up our food to the health of the planet and the health of our communities. I have been reading MFK Fisher's wonderful collection The Art of Eating lately and came across this: "In America we eat, collectively, with a glum urge for food to fill us. ... We are as a nation taste-blind." She said this decades ago, but it still rings true. Most Americans eat to feed a biological need, not to savor the flavors possible. We need to act to make her remark false--learn about the Farm Bill at www.usda.gov and the FDA at www.fda.gov. Maybe write a letter, maybe talk to someone else you know. Maybe choose a little differently the next time you are buying something to eat. At the very least, at least for right now, know where your eggs are from.
What I Want
2 years ago