This article appeared in today’s BarfBlog and pertains to emerging food safety perceptions, particularly those heralding the safety of products from small farms. Dr. Doug, the article’s author, points out that concept that these products are “safer” is really only a product of “wishful thinking” (I agree). Right now we lack scientific evidence to support or refute this, and thus this is solely faith-based.
Knowing your farmer helps you know about your food, yes. Where it came from, how it was raised, and related points — all are things more and more people want to know about their food. Yes, it can local economy. I’m quite supportive of helping small farmers increase their bottom line. I am also supportive of farmers producing foods for direct-sales have sufficient liability coverage, because there is no “guarantee” that their food is “safe.” This is especially true if the farm has no requirement to meet any level of production and processing standards. Considering this “safer-by-scale” only is a food-unsafe mindset.
The idea of such a comparative database is outstanding! I, too, have thought about establishing some data that relates to this topic. Awesome.
As for my specific experiences and concerns with this: I deal with meat — beef, pork, lamb — and I am constantly faced with the idea that somehow knowing the farmer, he or she can help ensure meat safety. Well, 1) usually the farmer has zero to do with the process of turning the cow, pig or sheep into beef, pork or lamb, and 2) prevention of pathogenic bacteria has very little to do with the farmer (yes, this includes grassfed-only farms). I deal with quite a few independent butchers. They’re essential to local meat meat production and have more to do with meat safety than the farmer.
Quick, related aside: You know, there are countless “new farmer” programs — everything is farmer, farmer, farmer. Why no “new butcher” programs? (Of course, there are a lot of “Rock Star” butchers, most of whom operate shops that buy sides of meat from somewhere, the slaughter having been done by someone else… The slaughter(wo)men need a name indicative of being more than a “Rock Star” – Suggestions? [OK. Done for now.]
BTW – I’ve added all the “stuff” in red below.
Are small farms incompatible with food safety rules?
Deborah Stockton, executive director of the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA), said today, “Small farms produce the safest food available, without regulation. … Just like family farms brought us out of the Great Depression, they can bring us out of the food safety problem and this recession, if they are allowed to thrive.” (<– maybe? they can bring us out of this “problem” if they have some food safety rules to follow. Otherwise, they could be making it worse.)
Sounds like someone is compensating for inadequacy issues and responding with exaggeration, like a 50-year-old in a Miata rag-top.
The idea that food grown and consumed locally is somehow safer than other food, either because it contacts fewer hands or any outbreaks would be contained, is the product of wishful thinking (<– just wish bacteria away).
Maybe the majority of foodborne outbreaks come from large farms because the vast majority of food and meals is consumed from food produced on large farms (emphasis added). To accurately compare local and other food, a database would have to somehow be constructed so that a comparison of illnesses on a per capita meal or even ingredient basis could be made.
NICFA is gonna lobby Washington, D.C. types and then hold a local foods feast for Congress tomorrow night. I hope no one gets sick – faith-based food safety is a lousy approach. (<– yes, lousy)