Vote With Every Bite

August 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Baby Eco Trends @ 2:14 pm

The latest food recall got us thinking about the frequency of food recalls.  This time it’s 220 million eggs, but we all remember recent recalls on tons of ground beef, chicken products, spinach, pre-mixed salads, peanut butter, pet foods….  But did you know that food recalls occur far more often than what makes it to the evening news?

Did you know that just in this year there have been recalls on canned meatball products, canned soups, frozen chicken nugget products, canned tuna, popular breakfast cereals, potato chips, salami, granola bars, chocolate products, dried dates, tortillas, as well as at least 177 products containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) because of “potential salmonella exposure”.  HVP is a flavor enhancer & found in many processed food products and it’s not always easy to find it on the ingredients label.

Since the 1970’s, the number of inspectors & therefore inspections has decreased drastically while the production & importation have increased.  The Centers for Disease Control records 76 million cases of food borne illness per year!  It seems fair to say that our food safety system is broken & in need of serious repair.

While we as individuals may not be able to repair our food safety systems, we can (and do every day, even if we don’t realize it) send a message to food manufacturers & suppliers.  Every dollar we spend sends the market a message, a “vote” if you will.  When making purchasing decisions, it’s important to vote for the right products because manufacturers pay attention to our buying habits & position themselves to best compete for our dollars/votes.

With family farms disappearing at an alarming rate (Farm Aid reports that 330 farmers leave their lands every week), we have inadvertently sent the message that we want more factory farming, where the bottom line is the principal consideration.  Factory farms are highly subsidized & negatively impact our health, the health of our environment as well as the economic health of our communities.  They pollute our waters and create “dead zones” like the one in the Gulf of Mexico which measures 8,543 square miles – the size of New Jersey.  The agribusiness nutrient rich runoff depletes the oxygen in the water & robs sea life of its spawning grounds.

Fortunately, the popularity of farmer’s markets & eating locally grown foods is growing and an increasing number of consumers are voting for organically grown foods.  As more Americans become aware of the benefits of eating responsibly, we can take control of our communities and support our neighbors.  If the Black Sea (formerly the largest dead zone in the world) can be used as a case study, we know we can reverse the effects of agribusiness in the Gulf of Mexico.

If you have enough space & time, growing your own garden can be a very rewarding exercise.  Children love to help in the garden & it’s a great way to teach them about growing cycles and the importance of living in harmony with our surroundings.  Some communities allow chicken coups in residential areas and New York city is a great example of roof top farming & bee keeping. If your child’s school doesn’t already have a vegetable or herb garden, you may consider suggesting it and helping create this unique learning opportunity.

We are lucky to live in a city that has a farmer’s market during our growing season as well as a year round open air market in a neighboring city that makes eating locally/organically & seasonally a bit easier.  We have also seen the opening of a handful of restaurants that feature local/organic or raw foods.  There is also a Community Supported Agriculture group (CSA) in our county.  To find farmer’s markets, organic farmers, local beekeepers, healthy restaurants & CSA’s in your area, visit these sites for more information:

Local Harvest
The Ethicurean
Food Routes
Heritage Turkey Foundation
Sustainable Table
Backyard Beekeeping
Bee Culture
You Grow Girl
America The Beautiful Fund’s Operation Green Plant
Seed Savers Exchange
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

©2008 Baby Eco Trends. All rights reserved