Seriously, eat like your life depends on it. Because your life does depend on it. And it’s not just because you need to eat to stay alive. And it’s not limited to the types of food you eat because we all know deep fried Twinkies aren’t the secret to longevity. Really, we all need to consider where a food comes from. Why? Because of this:
Eat Like Your Life Depends On It
“More illnesses”…More. That’s right, this is an existing recall from April and now it’s expanded. So, since the initial recall, more people have fallen ill.
Oh, and there’s this:
In fact, there are currently 24 active food recalls as I write this post.
How can you minimize your exposure to contaminated food? Buy fresh, buy organic and buy local. While really there’s no absolute, infinite guarantee that any food you buy is completely and will always be safe. For instance, in the case of the romaine lettuce E. Coli contamination, it could have resulted from a bird doing its business as it flew over the farm. There’s really no way to prevent that. But you greatly minimize this risk by buying fresh, organic and local. I wouldn’t be surprised if the E. Coli didn’t even come from the farm, but from the processing plant after the lettuce was picked. Commercially grown produce is handled by many different sets of hands, so to speak. You have the initial picker, the truck loaders, truck unloaders, forklift operators, sorters, trimmer, packers, washers, more truck loaders and unloaders, etc. Now imagine of one of those individuals didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, or after taking their dog for a walk that morning? There’s your E. Coli. Buy local, while not totally eliminating the risk, greatly reduces it. Buying produce from your local Farmers’ Market and you might actually see the person who picked and washed that bag of lettuce you will use in tonight’s salad.
Animal products are another story when it comes to food contamination. It seems as though commercially raised animal products (meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, etc) almost invite contamination. A lot of the conventional animal products we buy in the supermarket come from CAFOs – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Wow, two of those words, “concentrated” and “operations” are enough to induce salmonella just by reading them. When I see “concentrated” I think of cows stuck in small stalls.
Hey, how about that, I’m right…
And “operations”. That’s like a factory right?
I’m 2 for 2!
And as you can probably figure out, the goal of such operations are to maximize profits by keeping costs low and minimizing the time to raise, slaughter and process the livestock. One way to accomplish this is to get the livestock as plump as possible as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, feeding these animals their natural diets don’t play well with this equation. Cows grazing grass and chickens pecking away at seeds and bugs take too long to plump up. Many years ago, farmers figured out that feeding animals a grain based diet reduces the amount of time it takes for animals to reach the appropriate weight for slaughter. Unfortunately for these animals, grains are not part of their natural evolutionary diets. Sound familiar? And, I honestly didn’t think this was true, but sometimes candy is slipped into the feed too.
So, a combination of tight quarters and an unhealthy diet, it’s no wonder these animals, that we eventually eat, get sick. It doesn’t take much of a leap of faith to believe it’s possible for whatever feedlot illness infecting these animals makes its way into our Bubba Burger.
So, why is buying local, organic and fresh better? For starters, organic will guarantee that no pesticides or hormones were used at any point of the plant’s or animal’s life. Fresh means no artificial preservatives were used which ultimately means your lettuce wasn’t sitting on a shelf for weeks before it makes it to your plate.
But what I think is most important is the local aspect. Your chances of eating a quality cut of beef or head of broccoli are much higher if you buy from a local farm. Since they don’t have the same financial resources as food manufacturers supplying Walmart, they have to rely sole on the quality of their product to support families and wellbeing. A salmonella or E Coli scare could be disastrous to a local farm. So, they take the extra steps and avoid cutting corners to guarantee what they sell you is safe and healthy.
For meat and poultry, many local farms will do everything they can to raise their livestock in their most natural habitat with their natural evolutionary diet. This not only makes the animals healthy, it will make you healthier.
In addition to the nutritional benefit of buying your food from local farms, you actually get to meet the person who raised the chickens laying the eggs or picked the pepper you used in your omelette. Sometimes you’ll meet their families as well and see how your supporting their way of life. What I really love about knowing my farmers is they are so passionate about their products. You can ask them anything and they will never hesitate to provide any knowledge they know about the food you’re about to eat. You may even get some tips and ideas on how to cook the food as well.