I don't even know if I should be talking about this. Not because I'm worried or have some concern, but because its an exhausting subject. Industrial egg production. I've been thinking about writing a post about it for a while, but every time I do I get this overwhelming sense of all the life being drained out of me. Why? Because its like beating your head against a wall.
Everyday I listen to the radio and everyday the egg recall comes up and everyday I think, I don't get why this is news. Yea that's right. Why now?
Every time I hear about spinach recalls, meat recalls, packaged green bean recalls. I think, duh!
Look, here's my thoughts, if 81% of the total population (this is all the urbanites, people dependant on outside sources for food) of around 310,118,00, drink from the same well, by gosh , if something goes wrong, some of those folks are going to be directly effected. How many dozens of eggs came from this one company. How many months did it take to track it to the producer?
I'll be honest. Salmonella is something we all have to live with, Every egg carton in America has cooking instructions and warnings to help prevent you from getting sick. We've seen it on menus at restaurants, a small warning down at the bottom of the page that reads "consuming raw or undercooked eggs can be hazards to your health" or something to that effect. We also live with e-coli, and a plethora of other critters that we've come to live amongst in our decision as a population to concentrate our food source in a limited way. We cram animals into small confined areas for economic reasons to create fast cheep food at grocery stores, fast food establishments and restaurants. We mechanize our food production to save even more money on labor and we separate ourselves so far from our food source that we're willing to believe the packaging or the brands like the eggs carton that reads "farm fresh" or "farmers Market". Now I know it sounds like it, but I'm not here to knock it.
If 81% of the population or more is dependant on buying their food from outside the homestead than I understand why and how this has happened. I understand the need for affordable food. Okay, so whats the big deal? If your going to support this food system than quit your bitching! cook your eggs, vegetables and meat well done! Don't rely on new government regulations to keep you 100% safe.
I have around 190 laying hens. I raise them on certified organic pasture, they're all free range, but even though the chances are really slim, even my hens are susceptible to coming into contact with salmonella. The difference here is, If you got sick and you know where the eggs came from, the reaction time would be immediate. an hour, a day at most. The chain of communication is extremely short. As short as a handshake. This is effective responsible food management!
I know you. I've come to think of you as my family, you help keep my farm going by buying my vegetables, eggs, lamb and cheese. We have a relationship. We have formed a bond of trust. I have watched your kids grow from little tad poles into little people. Why does this matter? Because like myself and so many other small local producers our focus is not primarily on production its on creation. Creating a sustainable food system, a way of life that we believe to be good.
Seriously, I don't mean to rant, or make anyone feel bad. I really don't, but if you opened your refrigerator or your cupboard can you say that you have a relationship with anything in it? do you know the human being who produced it? If you got ill could you just call them up directly and say I got sick and I think it came from your farm. If it were me and you did, I could react. I could call all of my customers in one way or another and make them aware of what happened. Find out if they too have also had a problem. More important I solve the problem immediately, not months or years but minutes. But in all fairness and honesty there are plenty of things in my cupboard that I don't have a fliping clue about. I can account for at least 90 % of my food and that is pretty amazing. But there are somethings that I really depend on, like rice, beans, olive oil, salt and some other things (wine), so I'm not trying to brag on my perfection, I'm anything but. But I really think about it. I have come to know and understand my choices and what they mean.
The excuse that there is not enough small producers to provide enough food for everyone is just hogwash. Every week at the end of the market I watch vendors pack up good clean food that hasn't been sold. I myself have taken home a lot of products only to either put them up for myself or compost them. So at least for the most part here in Oklahoma its not on the supply end. Its the demand end and its the consumers challenge of cooking and planning ahead, The challenge of taking the time to think about this. Some of us however really don't have a choice and that's a whole nuther story. But if you do have a choice, you can use it. Whatever you choose you have my respect not my judgment. You how I feel now.