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Food Scare Of The Week

I’m sick of hearing about peanut recalls. Aren’t you? Well, it turns out that nothing in this bright world of ours is safe from contamination — not even potatoes.

The culprit? A wiley little bacteria called listeria. You know, the same pathogen they use to frighten us into cooking all our food. Everything must be cooked, say the food scientists. Nothing consumed raw. No raw milk. No raw vegetables. No soft cheeses. No sushi or smoked salmon.

It’s our job as consumers to cook the pathogens out of our food. They can’t help it if it’s dirty.

I’m tired of their excuses. And apparently, so are a lot of other eaters.

You can feel their frustration, their total lack of confidence in the FDA to protect them from anything. You pick it up while you stand in line at the grocery store overhearing conversation. These people are mad.

Now, more than ever, they are primed to turn to Real Food. They want to eat food they can trust and are starting to research how they can make that happen.

This is progress — a good thing.

One thing I don’t hear people saying is that we should stop selling potatoes. Or peanut butter. Or spinach.

But, in states all across the U.S. where the sale of raw milk is still legal, there seems to be a mysteriously strong, urgent, and powerful push to further restrict or totally ban the sale of raw milk.  It’s dangerous! They cry. It kills! It’s like playing Russian roulette!

Hogwash. It’s not any more dangerous than potatoes.

The truth is, the presence or absence of pathogens in our food supply is a matter of hygiene and cleanliness.  All these outbreaks of salmonella, listeria, and e-coli are the results of filthy production methods coupled with insufficient testing by the FDA and USDA.

My raw milk dairy is inspected by the USDA every other day. (Compare this to the peanut plant responsible for the most recent peanut butter/salmonella scare. It hadn’t been inspected since 2001!)

My farmer uses stainless steel collection tanks and hoses to milk his cows. The cow’s teats are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before each milking, as is all the equipment used to milk her.  My milk is safe.

So why do they test my farmer’s milk every other day, but manage to go 8 years (!) between testing a peanut plant?

Follow the money. Big government in the pockets of big agribusiness.

If you want good, clean, safe food, you just have to know where it comes from. That’s it. Go visit the local farm, ranch, or dairy. Talk to the farmer and ask questions. Watch them go about their work. Then buy their produce, meats, fruits, eggs, and dairy.

And always remember –  your food choices are revolutionary acts!

(photo by fortinbras)
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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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9 Responses to Food Scare Of The Week
  1. Anna
    February 22, 2009 | 2:12 am

    “your food choices are revolutionary acts”

    Amen, sista! Perhaps that’s why I sometimes feel like a Minuteman!

  2. Becks
    February 22, 2009 | 2:39 am

    Amen! Now if only there were more farmers in the middle of the city…

    Becks

  3. Kimberly Hartke
    February 22, 2009 | 4:31 am

    I had no idea that peanut plant hadn’t been inspected in 8 years! Thanks for that interesting angle on a national news story.

    Kimberly
    HartkeIsOnline.com
    another realfoodmedia.com blogger

    Kimberly Hartke

  4. Bryan - oz4caster
    February 22, 2009 | 9:24 am

    Food facism is on the rise as big bussiness pushes to regulate and legally harass small farmers out of business through NAIS, GMO, and food safety issues. Here in Texas, the state health department is now proposing to force every individual who wants raw milk to buy it directly at a grade A raw dairy farm. Furthermore, they are proposing to make it illegal to possess raw milk that is not properly labeled, except at home. I take kefir that I make from raw milk to work in an unlabeled jar. That will be illegal under the proposed new rules. These restrictions appear to be an attempt to force raw dairies out of business by making it so difficult for consumers that there won’t be enough business for the raw dairies to survive. With these new rules, they will be able to harass consumers as well as producers. Those of us in Texas need to respond loudly to the health department and to our state legislators to put an end to this nonsense and to have them make it easier for those who want raw milk, not more difficult.

    It’s big business that needs to be held accountable for food safety. Small businesses that sell locally should be exempted, simply because they have to produce a good and safe product just to stay in business. They are accountable to their customers, unlike large businesses. NAIS should apply ONLY to large operations. There should be no copyright for any kind of living organism, even if it’s man made through genetic modification. Food cleanliness should be focused on the large producers, as these are the ones far and away responsible for most food-borne illness.

    We vote with our dollars. Buy local, sustainable, organic, and pastured foods. If enough of us do it, we can revive small traditional farms and make our country healthier in the process.

    Bryan – oz4caster

  5. Jenny
    February 22, 2009 | 9:47 am

    Amen! I’m so tired of this nonsense too. Eating is now a political act. Periodically I like to throw a dinner party exclusively featuring illegal foods (latest version: http://nourishedkitchen.com/2008/09/foodbuzz-24-24-24-criminal-tastes-an-illegal-supper/) and you know what? No one has gotten sick yet.

    Jenny

  6. Anwen
    February 22, 2009 | 10:32 am

    I like this site!! The emphasis on natural whole food makes sense to me. I love studying the way people have eaten in the past, and the foods and lifestyles of the long-lived.

    Anwen

  7. Kyle
    February 22, 2009 | 11:38 am

    Hey!

    I’m your new biggest fan, thanks to your guest post on highonhealth.org. You and Fran are great. I’m 18 and I can’t always afford raw and organic, but sometimes I do manage, and I love it!

    All your Real Food posts just make so much sense! So thanks!

  8. Betsy
    February 22, 2009 | 4:18 pm

    “One thing I don

  9. KristenM
    February 22, 2009 | 5:31 pm

    Wow, thanks for all the inspiring comments, guys. We’re like a growing army of real food enthusiasts. We need a name.

    Becks — You may be surprised. Have you checked out the links on my Real Food Resources page to see what’s near you?

    Jenny — That has to be the best idea ever! An illegal dinner party! Woot.

    Anwen & Kyle — thanks for commenting and welcome to the community. Hope you stick around and keep sharing your thoughts!

    Betsy — I thought about that analogy, but it falls apart when you realize that the sale of cigs and alcohol is restricted (not totally prohibited, but restricted). And I want to ease the restrictions on raw milk sales, not tighten them or even let them stay where they’re at. I thought it better to compare raw milk to other nutritious foods that are sometimes dangerous than to compare it to something arguably always dangerous. Anyhow, the point remains — our system has a lot of double standards.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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