By Jennifer BB
There hasn't been a national freak out the way there was last year around the recall of E. coli infected spinach but food recalls are still occurring and there have been two within the last month. The first was a recall at the end of August related to spinach infected with Salmonella and the most recent was last week's Dole recall of E.coli infected mixed salad greens. Discrete signs at our local Wegman's Supermarket and a Google search gave me the low down on the latter but I'm left wondering if this is just becoming ordinary news these days. "What beautiful weather we're having, hey, shame about that spinach recall."
Meanwhile, as I contemplate this year's garlic planting I heard the NPR report about next year's projected garlic shortage. Oh didn't you hear What with all the export problems China has had lately, it is pulling some of its garlic exports until they can insure its safety for consumption. What's next? What kind of wake up call do we need to make some changes in our food production and distribution systems? Meanwhile, we as a nation are ravenously hungry and California growers already know they won't be able to meet the demand for garlic that will result from China's pull out.
As this year's Eat Local Challenge draws to an end I'm left wondering about our real chances for survival should there be a real food emergency. I'm beginning to understand the urgency and importance in forming not just local but regional networks to work for food sustainability such as the one currently forming in Central New York. Hardly a week goes by that I don't hear about efforts to improve our sustainable food system, support farmers, or get fresh produce to under served communities and yet rarely do these groups seem to be at the same table. But we're beginning to work on that.
For the Eat Local movement to grow and prosper it will have to build upon the foundation of individual transformation that participants and readers of this blog have experienced and it will need to grow quickly. As I envision weekly postings of what's not safe to eat in our local supermarkets, it seems to me that the Eat Local movement doesn't have the luxury of taking its time. It may have started out as a way of enjoying fresh, delicious food but now eating within our respective regions to whatever extent possible may turn out to be the safest way to enjoy food--period.
Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows writes Cookin' in the 'Cuse, a blog about good food and sustainable living in Syracuse and Central New York.