The recent listeria outbreak from cantaloupe demonstrates one likely cause of large-scale occurrences of serious illnesses linked to tainted food: the long and winding road what we eat takes from farm to fork.
A cantaloupe grown on a Colorado field may make four or five stops before it reaches the dinner table. There’s the packing house where it is cleaned and packaged, then the distributor who contracts with retailers to sell the melons in large quantities. A processor may cut or bag the fruit. The retail distribution center is where the melons are sent out to various stores. Finally it’s stacked on display at the grocery store.
Imported fruits and vegetables, which make up almost two-thirds of the produce consumed in the United States, have an even longer journey.
“Increasingly with agribusiness you have limited producers of any given food, so a breakdown in a facility or plant or in a large field crop operation exposes thousands because of the way the food is distributed,” says Dr. Brian Currie, an infectious disease specialist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
Systemic relocalization of our food production must be preferred to greater technocratic-regulation. Accordingly, we need to exponentially increase the number of producers and farms.
Fewer and larger farms and companies dominate food production in the country. That has driven some consumers to seek out farmers markets and locally grown produce. Supermarkets now highlight food grown nearby, while farmers markets have soared in popularity.
Unfortunately, the article only suggests and encourages greater technical solutions rather than real systemic and structural changes . As I wrote before,
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 great number of small and medium-sized independent farms are the only assurance of a safe and secure food supply.