Shopping local offers food security

Contamination with salmonella heidelberg prompted Cargill to recall 36 million pounds of ground turkey last Wednesday.

To the Editor,

Contamination with salmonella heidelberg prompted Cargill to recall 36 million pounds of ground turkey last Wednesday. All ground turkey produced at their Arkansas facility from February to August of this year is subject to the recall and can be identified by the labelling code ‘Est. P-963’.

Salmonella heidelberg is a multi-drug resistant strain of salmonella which means it cannot be treated with many of the commonly used antibiotics – it is one of the dreaded ‘superbugs’.

The amazing size of this recall and the spread of drug-resistant diseases is directly related to the consolidated industrial food system supported and promoted by the government.

Hundreds of millions of pounds of meat are processed through single factories and shipped across the continent – when contamination does occur, the effects are widespread and it is difficult to localize the source.

Animals are grown in such close quarters that antibiotics are necessary for them to survive.

Antibiotics are also routinely given because they have been found to promote livestock growth and improve ‘feed efficiency’. Ninety-five percent of antibiotics used in our world are given to animals destined to become our food.

The industrial food problems are not limited to meat – you probably remember recent huge recalls in spinach and peanut butter.

It is time for us to wake up from the madness. We need to relocalize our food supply. Small-scale, local organic agriculture is the way of the future.

Government is not going to lead the way in changing our food system – there is too much money in the big businesses of agriculture lobbying for further consolidation.

But as consumers, we have the ultimate power.

When you buy local meat and produce, you are investing in the production of local food.

There are more than 750,000 residents on Vancouver Island. If we each dedicated just $10 a week to local food, that’s over $7.5 million invested in Island food every week – $30 million a month.

So, check your freezer for contaminated meat. And this week, try to buy something local. Better yet, do your shopping at your local farmers’ market.

Chris Semrick

Nanaimo