I hate being sucked in, I usually do a pretty good job of avoiding it but I have been officially sucked in – I have purposefully kept my blog light hearted because these are the things I want to remember when I am old as well as trying to be somewhat informative as to the how's and whys we do what we do on our farm; therefore I have tried to steer clear of political issues having to do with agriculture BUT -
enter the term “pink slime” – I truly find news media scare tactics unprofessional (i.e. swine flu – nothing to do with hogs but who would be shocked and horrified at the term H1N1?) So whose attention is the media going to attract with the term “boneless lean beef trimmings” – absolutely no one!
The whole issue of food is in dire need of perspective. Food borne illness is not a new subject, but today the sources are not as easy to detect as even 50 years ago because we are a global food world now more than ever. It used to be that if a family member got sick from food it was easy to trace because you simply recalled what was eaten and went to the cellar and removed the source! Food rots, bacteria thrive on that – it is why we call it perishable! But we must also consider the alternative and how far we have come!
Our great grandparents would be amazed at the selection at our local stores year round. They ate what was available at that moment and what they were able to preserve. Now I will admit that I prefer a garden tomato to a tomato bought in town on Nov. 15 – but isn’t it wonderful that I can even get one in November!
People are very distanced from their food, particularly meat. Slaughtering animals for food is a very messy, dirty, risky deal. Meats such as boneless lean meat trimmings are not new. People have been trying to utilize the “whole hog” for century’s. Eating high on the hog means getting the loin chop, the premium parts. The peasants figured out how to survive on the scraps and make them edible.
“boneless lean beef trimmings” – this is using everything but the moo and oink at it’s nutritional best!
Try what your ancestors had to do – butcher your own animals and raise your own vegetables – it is truly hard work – food is perishable by nature. Always has been. That is where the risk comes from, whether it is handled in a mega plant, in the back of a farmers market truck or from your own garden straight to your table - it is prone to bacteria, our "industrialized" system has just figured out ways to make process our food to be safer and keep longer. The food processors have the burden of handling the 97% (or more) that is actually our food supply. Local is a luxury – one that I like but I do recognize it as just that, a luxury and therefore I don’t think we can overly criticize our industrial system that now allows the majority of our population to pursue things other than toil in the fields growing food for our family’s. A hundred and fifty years ago a housewife spent all year budgeting and planning her food supply month's in advance just so they could make it thru the times of the year that nothing would grow. And while we blame the industrial nature of food processing for illness’ and outbreaks, that is not always who is at fault. In recent memory there was an outbreak of e. coli in organic spinach that was eventually traced to wild animal droppings prior to the crop being harvested, this could of just as likely been your garden!
EATING LOCAL IS A LUXURY!
There are 6 billion people now and it is estimated to be 9 billion to feed by the year 2050 (and the number of acres of production ground is decreasing). The world will have to grow more food in the next 50 years, than has previously been raised on this planet, as there are more people alive today than has ever lived. And so far, agriculture and our industrialized food system has been up to the challenge. Food security in the US is at an all time high and hunger in the world is from distribution and economic difficulties. While I like local, the world, including us in middle America need mass quantities of easy to transport and store food.
So if you chose to only eat locally or vegetarian or organic or grow all your own food – I say “Go For It” (absolutely no sarcasm intended, seriously) feed YOUR family the way you choose, that is the great thing about America – but don’t make those decisions based on scare tactics by the media! And if you live around me and want the names of some great people who raise and sell freezer beef just email me I would love to give you their names and numbers!
As for me and my family I will be headed to the grocery store for the majority of our food- we are lucky in that we have a freezer full of our own pork and during the summer I will most definitely be making trips to Taylor's Farm Market for in-season vegetables and I know where to buy beef locally when I am not in a hurry - for that I will be buying my hamburger at the grocery store - but I don’t have a green thumb (odd for farmers, I know) so while we can grow thousands of acres of corn, soybeans and wheat to help produce food for the world, a garden I can not grow – but I TRUST AMERICA’S FARMERS (I know a few personally) and I trust the USDA to provide safe food for my family!
P.S. I could not of written this without the help of my co-writer, reviewer, 2nd conscience and amazing husband - Chris