A great number of small and medium-sized independent farms and processing facilities are the only assurance of a safe and secure food supply.

According to reports from CDC,

Cargill announced Wednesday it is recalling almost 36 million pounds of ground turkey products that may be contaminated with a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, a pathogen linked to at least 76 illnesses across the United States and one death in California.

The recalled meat came from a single processing facility in Springdale, Arkansas, but ended up in dozens of different ground turkey products sold nationwide under a variety of brand names including Honeysuckle White, Shady Brook Farms, Riverside, Aldi’s Fit and Active Fresh, Spartan, Giant Eagle, Kroger and Safeway

According to the CDC, at least one reported illness in Alabama resulted from this contamination.

The danger of so much food passing through a single processing facility should be clear. The possibility of the negligence of one person affecting dozens of states food supply is too great a risk and liability. We should also consider how vulnerable this shows our food supply is to a single terrorist who could intentionally poisons a facility.

It is not just in turkey processing either. For instance, according to this Washington Post article,

Just 192 large egg companies own about 95 percent of laying hens in this country, down from 2,500 in 1987, according to United Egg Producers, an industry group. Most of those producers are concentrated in five states: Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and California.

A resilient and safe food supply system would never be this consolidated. If our food processing system was decentralized, contamination from a single processing facility would be much more limited, localized and capable of constraint. As stated here:

The preservation of our independence and national security rests in our ability to revitalize family farming. A monopoly by commercial agribusinesses and corporate farms endangers our food to accidental and intentional contamination. Before 1940, only twenty percent of tomatoes were produced in California; today, ninety-five percent are. There is one hamburger plant which grinds fifty million burgers per week by itself. Another salad packaging plant, twenty six million servings of salad pass through its washers. One negligent employee, or worse, a terrorist could endanger millions of Americans. We have recently seen massive outbreaks of E.coli in spinach, salmonella in peppers and peanut butter.

A lack of competition and monopolization only breeds corruption.

Step into a grocery store these days and on almost every aisle there’s an item tied to a federal investigation: dairy distributors, egg producers, citrus firms and seed developers are all the targets of federal lawsuits or investigations. Starting next month, the Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will hold meetings to gather complaints and hear concerns over lack of competition in the dairy, grain, livestock and poultry sectors.

Relocalizing our food supply and decentralizing its production is also good for creating much needed jobs, too.

A powerful study entitled “The Local Food Impact: What if Georgians Ate Georgia Produce?” has recently been produced from the University of Georgia. While the study particularly emphasized Georgia, a similar answers would emanate if you ask “What if Alabamians ate Alabama Produce.”

According to the study,  if each household in Georgia spent $10 per week on produce grown in Georgia, more than $1.9 billion would be pumped back into the state’s economy. And for every 5 percent increase in local produce purchased, the state would see 345 additional jobs, $43.7 million more in sales, and $13.6 million more in farmer income.

Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls stated here: “I hope this study gets leaders state-wide asking why we don’t see every day foods for our Southern diets growing in the fields of Georgia.”

I asked here could Alabama not produce its own tomatoes? And here about eggs? This study examined the production-consumption gap for lettuce in Georgia.

. . .simply closing the gap in one commodity­, lettuce, for example ­could mean an additional $83.6 million of direct revenue to local producers.

What is the lettuce gap? . . .  the average Georgian eats about 30 pounds of fresh lettuce per year, or about 285 million pounds state-wide. Yet the state produces less than 245,000 pounds per year, which is less than one-tenth of one percent of the amount of lettuce that Georgians consume. Closing that gap would generate an additional $83.6 million in lettuce sales.

The study found similar gaps for other products:

$228 million gap for apples
$62 million gap for bell peppers
$46 million gap for a broccoli
$12.8 million gap for carrots
$124 million gap for pecans
$235 million gap for tomatoes
$93 million gap for watermelon.

UPDATE: A total of 107 people in 31 states have now been linked to the multi-drug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg ground turkey outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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