Last week I had the opportunity to take care of a friend’s chickens, and as a result have a lovely supply of fresh eggs. Frankly, this couldn’t have come at a better time given the insanity of the current egg recall. Half a billion eggs and counting, a situation that is not only affecting families, but restaurants and other food-based businesses in a spreading wave of totally preventable illnesses.
Ground Beef, sprouts, baby food, cookie dough, spinach, peanut butter, pistachios, chinese dairy products, frozen steaks, green onions, pepper, potato chips… All of these things and more have been recalled in massive amounts over the last several months.
Every time it happens, people express surprise that in this country there’s no effective watchdog over these huge companies who supply so much of our food. People are “shocked” at the conditions that food animals are forced to endure. People clamor for more legislation and more guidelines, even though there is not enough manpower to enforce the laws already on the books. The corporation responsible for this latest scramble has a track record of violations and abuses so long it makes your head spin that they’re even still in business. Clearly it isn’t more laws we need, it’s a healthy dose of common sense.
Some people say the solutions to these problems are to simply stop eating eggs or meat, however that list above should show you quite clearly that food safety issues are not exactly cut down some vegan battle line. The true answers to these sorts of problems lie in allowing people to regain more control of their food supply. Instead of these monster farms and processing facilities, we need smaller, more regional farms. People should be encouraged to grow as much of their own food as they desire, even if it is in their front yard, which of course, brings me back to those chickens I got to take care of. While I, and this neighbor are lucky to live inside the limits of a city who never bothered to outlaw urban chicken keeping, neighbors mere blocks away are finding that they are unable, through shortsighted laws and restrictions, to take more control over their own food supply. There was a little bit of noise last year about reversing such ordinances, but sadly that bill never made it out of committee.
Now, of course not everyone can, or wants to grow their own, and that’s fine. However, for every person who either gets their own hands dirty, or makes the switch to smaller producers, farmer’s markets and CSAs, the burden on our corporate food chain is lessened, making it that much easier to keep a watchful eye on.