Friday, January 09, 2004

Food Safety

Where do you shop for groceries? I shop all over the place. I shop at chain grocery stores, at specialty gourmet stores, at farmer's markets. You name a place to shop, I've probably shopped there. I'm not alone in this habit. I noticed some time ago that people seem to want cheap--as in Costco and high quality such as you find at local farmer's markets or high end specialty shops. So they shop all over the place. But thinking about quality and price brings to mind a very frightening topic in the news these days--mad cow disease.

I was in Great Britain a while back when the scandal was hitting the high mark. The most terrifying thing about the British situation was that in an effort to avoid hysteria, the government assured people the beef was safe, when in fact it wasn't. It's the uncertainty that's really scary; not knowing what to believe. What we know for sure is that the practice of feeding cattle to cattle that gave us mad cow disease in the first place has been outlawed in the US and Canada since 1997, but we are still finding cows born before 1997 that are infected and our own government refuses to tell us where the meat was sold and to whom, at least here in the Bay Area.

To me it all comes down to quality. What price are we willing to pay for quality? You can have your food safe or you can have it cheap, but cheap, safe AND high quality may be more illusive than we've been lead to believe. Corners will be cut when the pressure to lower prices is so intense. It's that very pressure that lead to feeding cattle animal parts in the first place. This is certainly not the first industry where this has happened. Just remember the Ford Pinto.

Whether it's irradiated foods, dairy products from hormone dosed cows, or mass produced meat, my suggestion is this: think about what you buy. Think about where it comes from. Think about what has to happen for you to save money. Try to feel as good as you can about what you buy, and not just because you're saving money or getting a great deal. Feel good about it because if it's good for the farmer and good for the environment it's probably good for you too.

Eat well!