An email about "The real cause of E. Coli in spinach" got me thinking, and I ended up writing this:
We should remember that as food production scales up, so does risk. It's nearly impossible to ensure that every person involved in a large-scale process is careful and concientious about the work they do. And when they make a mistake, the impact is likely to be wide-spread as well.
When we turn to local, independent food producers (like I do with my milk), we reverse that equation. We can get involved in our food sources. I met the cows over the summer, which was awesome. The food we get is fresher, more flavorful, and more nutritious. It travels much less distance, is handled & processed less, and generates less polution.
It makes sense that large-scale food be regulated carefully by government. At the same time, we need to be careful, as regulatory agencies can easily be co-opted by the revolving door, as regulations are never sufficient to guarantee safety (let alone quality!), and as rules can miss the relationship between risk, costs, and scale, thereby driving even more food production in to the less-safe realm of the multinational corporation.
I've been reading Sandor Ellix Katz' new book The Revolution will not be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements, and am really enjoying it. Every page I read gets me fired up.
I'm glad to be getting eggs, milk, cream, and butter via Stan the dairy farmer. The power of the "share" model is incredible. It makes direct-from-the-farmfood available to us, even in the face of regulations that don't fit, like a rule that says that it's dangerous to drink milk from a cow, unless it it first boiled, chilled, shipped, sold, shipped again, and sold again. Weird.
What else can I get via shares? I'd love some homemade sausages & bacon. Mmm.