Maybe I shouldn't talk about buying meat from your local farmer when we're all out for the year. That's just mean, isn't it?
And yet as I was perusing the USDA website (which proves how lame I really am), I clicked on the Find current food recalls link and was horrified at the sheer number of recalls in the past few months. That's right...I said months. Then I figured out that I was looking at only the open recall cases, meaning the USDA hasn't found all of the recalled product yet. Isn't that reassuring?
There is a second link that leads you to the Recall Case Archive, which means the recall is complete and they've taken all of the product off the supermarket shelves. Phew!
And because I am known to be a caring and generous soul, ahem, I have graciously combined these two lists for your reading enjoyment. (I only included page 1 of the closed cases.)
July 19, 2007, Canned Meat Products, C. botulinum, OPEN
Nov 1, 2007, Totino's and Jeno's Frozen Meat Pizza Products, E. coli 0157:H7, OPEN
Nov 15, 2007, Double B Foods, Inc., Frozen Sausage Roll Products, Listeria, OPEN
Jan 5, 2008, Mark's Quality Meats Ground Beef Products, E.coli 0157:H7, CLOSED
Jan 12, 2008, Ground Beef Products, E. coli 0157:H7, CLOSED
Jan 26, 2008, Chicken Products, undeclared allergen, CLOSED
Feb 1, 2008, Bacon-wrapped Beef Tenderloin Products, undeclared allergen, CLOSED
Feb 17, 2008, Beef Products, problem unstated (which worries me even more), CLOSED
Mar 2, 2008, Frozen Chicken Entrees, Listeria, CLOSED
Mar 3, 2008, Frozen Chicken Entrees, Listeria, CLOSED
Mar 4, 2008, Gourmet Boutique Meat and Poultry Products, Listeria, CLOSED
Mar 14, 2008, Chicken Gibliets, adulturated, OPEN
Mar 29, 2008, Frozen Chicken Products, mislabeling, CLOSED
Apr 4, 2008, Frozen Cattle Heads, prohibited materials, OPEN
May 3, 2008, Gourmet Boutique Meat and Poultry Products, Listeria, OPEN
Only 16 products in 10 months. Not bad, right? Except that they don't include the sheer poundage of the nasty food that is complicit in the above recalls. Nor do they include the brand names the food is sold under, except for one or two.
So, let's see. I could have a banquet of Listeria, E. coli, and botulism. I could partake in a delectable feast of cow head with prohibited materials. I could ingest a few undeclared allergens...I mean, what you don't know won't hurt you, right? (Right??) Or, I could just eat something that claims to be something else. No harm, no foul.
I read a list like this and never ever want to set foot in the supermarket meat isle again. But when we take ruminants, stick them in a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation), and feed them genetically modified grains, plastic "fiber" pellets, "recycled" chicken manure, distiller's grain (ethanol byproduct), and maybe a little hay here or there, E. coli 0157:H7 is what results. When we lock thousands and thousands of chickens together with only 0.8 square feet of space per bird, who's shocked if a little Listeria winds up on our chicken nuggets? And when we forget about the pots and pans in our kitchen, and only reheat the "canned meat products" on our pantry shelves, we submit ourselves to the industrialized quasi-kitchens that process millions of canned products daily. Who knows what contaminants lurk in those kitchen-factories?
I'm not judging, people. After a quick look at my own pantry, I found canned corned beef, for pity's sake. That stuff looks and smells like dog food when you open it. But for the sake of our environment and our health, we have all got to get away from the sad, demoralizing, inhumane and unhealthy meat industry and back to the small family farms that were traditionally the backbone of our country.
Small farms like ours can have contamination problems...of course! But cleanliness and herd health are much easier to manage when you're working on a small scale. Contamination is easier to track down and correct when things go awry, I might add. I know of not one local farmer who trucks in plastic pellets or chicken manure to feed his beef cattle....these things don't happen on a small-scale farm. They happen all the time on CAFO's. Not to mention the growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics.
Seriously. Find a local farmer. Ask them if you can buy some of their meat, be it chicken, pork, beef, duck, lamb, goat, mouse...OK, not mouse.
Now go. That's right, go.
Go do it. Call a local farmer.
Really. For your sake and mine, for the environment's sake, for the animals' sake, GO!
You can thank me later.