Saturday, April 28, 2007

Eating Locally

Not everyone agrees with me, but I do think of North Idaho as a bit of food heaven. I know, having lived in both places, that cities like New York and Los Angeles offer a more vast and greater variety of food, some of it as organic as what I have in North Idaho. I guess the biggest difference here is that I'm so close to the origins of my food. Now, I certainly could not go long without spices, chocolate, cheeses, etc., from faraway places, unlike those mavericks of eating locally, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, who, having read that the ingredients of the North American's typical meal came from 1500 miles away, decided to eat only food grown within a 100 mile range of their home in Vancouver, Canada. I could do the occasional 100-mile dinner or 100-mile day, and I do try to eat locally produced food: Scottish Highland Beef, Yak, game, pigs and lambs raised by friends, eggs, fish, produce and veggies. So, at the height of spring planting, I think about local food, although lacking grain mills, exotic cheeses, and ocean fish, I still stretch beyond my 100 mile limit. But that may change....

Reading last week about all the problems we are currently experiencing with our global food supply, I have become even more concerned about what agribusiness is doing to the global food chain and more convinced than ever that a renewed emphasis on a local and sustainable food supply is not only necessary but attainable as well.

First we discover that the FDA knew for years about the possibility of, and complaints about e-coli in spinach and salmonella in peanut butter. Add that to the terrible situation with tainted pet foods: foods containing melamine which, until the pet food caused kidney failure in pets, was thought to be okay in low quantities. So much for the corporate quality of research for pet food. However, now it turns out that the FDA still thinks melamine in low quantities is not a contaminant for people....but oh, wait, it turns out that it may be, as 6,000 hogs, and perhaps some chickens from China have become "contaminated" by melamine and cyanuric acid. So the hogs will be killed but no word on the chickens....and especially no word on what consumption of these hogs and chickens would mean for people.

Hungry yet?

It turns out that China has been experiencing food contamination problems for some time, and the U.S. is just another case of what happens with poor quality control and product regulation. China's food problems should be worrisome to American consumers, especially those who shop at Wal-Mart, where one can now buy good old American, as well as organic food, imported from China. Thanks to overgrown, huge corporate monopolies, it appears that many of our food products may not only carry the potential to be contaminated, but are not even the product companies say they are! So much for organic!

Finally, I read about how bisphenol A (BPA) leaches from its polycarbonate baby bottle into the milk inside. The FDA knows this and has for years, but has not yet determined if that's bad for people. Right. We all now have BPA in us and many scientists have demonstrated that the chemicals leached from plastic disrupt our endocrine system, as so well-described and documented in first the book, and now the website, Our Stolen Future.

You know, eating locally is beginning to look more and more like something feasible and sensible. I hope that Idaho Democrats absolutely, and all other Idahoans as well, realize how valuable our natural resources, like our agriculture, water, air, forests and more, contribute to Idaho's ability to be a bit of heaven on earth.

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