Is anyone really surprised that a batch of tomatoes contaminated with salmonella has made its way into the food supply? We’ve seen this before, and we’ll see it again. There are plenty of arguments against industrial farming with decent rebuttals to many of them. An indisputable fact about current agribusiness, however, is that sometimes it just might kill you.
We’ve seen it with meat, we’ve seen it with spinach, and now we’re seeing it with tomatoes. The practices of industrial agriculture mean that (1) food is more likely to become contaminated and that (2) when food does become contaminated, the damage is much more widespread. For now you can just skip that tomato on your Big Mac, but next week it might be in the special sauce and you just might be the one whose extreme illness or death alerts the mainstream media and begins the recall.
I, however, am not afraid.
Why? Because I wouldn’t touch those tomatoes with a 10-foot pole. To me, tomatoes are the spokesfruit for local eating. Tomatoes bought out of season at the supermarket are GROSS. They are grey-green, hard, mealy, and sour. And now, they’re poisonous.
So, I have to ask, WHY? Why do people insist on putting these bitter slices of wet cardboard on their sandwich? I only eat fresh tomatoes for a couple of months each year, but the tomatoes I eat are big, juicy, and sweet. And the anticipation and deprivation of the rest of the year makes them all the better. That’s one of the real beauties of eating seasonally:Eating is actually a lot more fun when you CAN’T get exactly what you want all the time.
I have never claimed that every single thing I eat is local and organic. The corn chips I had last night were undoubtedly rife with chemicals I don’t care to learn about. My produce, meat, and dairy, however – the things that can really make people sick – I always source carefully. I started doing this to reduce my carbon footprint and because the quality was so much higher. But now I think one of the strongest arguments for shopping and eating this way is safety.
I’m not terribly discreet with my feelings in this area, and I’ll often make a face when I see my friends buying fruit on the street corner. I usually just get a shrug and get dismissed like I’m a sandal-wearing hippie trying to sell my homemade candles.
But if people keep getting poisoned by our food supply, this may change. A few more deaths, and I may not be the crazy one any more.
Anybody want to buy a candle?