Americans are eating more crap than ever before. And, I mean that both figuratively AND literally. We are increasingly relying on imported foods from less developed countries – primarily because it’s cheaper – where sanitation standards are lax and feces contamination is common.
Seafood and fresh produce are of particular concern. A recent statement issued by the American Society for Microbiology pointed out that most of the cases of contamination involving imported food in the U.S. are related to exposure to fecal matter. And it’s no wonder when you consider some of the farming practices. For example, according to coverage in The Vancouver Sun, “in Thailand, chicken coops with as many as 20,000 birds are often suspended in rows above ponds used for farming shrimp and fish. The sea life feeds on the chicken waste that falls in the water.”
The article also states “food producers in China regularly use untreated human and animal waste for feeding farmed fish meant for eating and for fertilizing land to grow produce.”
And, our under-funded FDA cannot possibly monitor everything coming across the border, so buyer beware.
If that’s not enough to compel you start finding food that’s grown closer to home, consider these facts:
- The average mouthful of food travels 1,400 miles from the farm to our plates.
- Food from local farms is fresher and closer to ripeness, has used less energy for transport and is less likely to have been treated with post-harvest pesticides.
- Buying local products also supports regional farmers and preserves farmland.
Local is simply better for us and better for the planet. I challenge you to make at least one meal in the coming week that’s made with as many local ingredients as you can find. If you’ve never tried before, it may sound difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy and fun (especially if you get your kids involved)!
Get started by using these tools:
- Eat Local created by the Natural Resources Defense Council
- The Eat Well Guide
- Eat Healthy (enter a specific ingredient into the search box to find delicious recipes)
Once you’ve tried it, come back to this blog and share your experience and what you made in the comments!