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Where our food comes from

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Very interesting blog and short video regarding "Food Inc"

Michael Ruhlman - Notes From the Food World -
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #2 of 12
Very interesting reading. As always Ruhlman is good and on target .Only one thing I question. Why give them ( USA and FDA) more power and jurisdiction when they don;t even inspect correctly now. Some places have not been inspected for years. We permit foods to enter the US daily and no inspection, or only 20% of what comes in is even looked at. What should be done in my opinion is take all the agencies responsible for inspections abolish them, then form 1 big agency to oversee everything. Give it the power to put the offending places out of business, and pay damages and huge fines which they cant take as tax write offs .Staff the agency with food people not a bunch of political appointee supervisors. :D
post #3 of 12
My threads so I can come back later and finish it.
post #4 of 12
A very interesting viewpoint that certainly has it's strong merits. There is certainly much to say and be said involving the topic but then again....even more to think about before it is said....especially for me. Plus it's hard to get every aspect of a point across without getting long-winded or "preachy". Inevitably something is going to get missed.

Mainly, for us, the whole situation is getting out of hand and things are too closely held to the heart or worn on the sleeve. Pretty much that means that there is no simple way to say exactly what we are feeling without ..........

We also have to wonder with what's been been said across the boards by so many already, especially with those that profit the most from what is said or written, if it appears as if we are just echoing or even worse not having an original belief in the subject. Without being able to affect change..... or at the least perceiving that we have the inability to affect change, this creates even more frustration for the situation.

Maybe it's a belief or it's just the way things appear...... that there are so many things these days where there is a certain amount of jumping on the bandwagon or issues taking on the appearance of being trendy.

We haven't read any of the books that are referenced in many of these discussions. Not that we don't want to or we wish to be ill-informed....... but it's mostly because we don't need a book or singular view point to show us what we can already see. We honestly believe there are some very serious issues involving our food. It also fills our heads with a singular......and in many cases sometimes extremists view point. With that said....... how can we make a rational decision for ourselves on what is fact or what is embellished. As long as an issue is over sensationalized or "embellished" with that "talking head" flair........... Nothing can truly be accomplished and when an issue as important as this is to all of us...... it makes it harder to affect change because there is too much extremism from both sides for those of us that truly want to make a difference to......... make a difference.

There are too many things to pinpoint a "main issue" but one that seems to be in the forefront is the issue of cheap food cheap. In this case cheap is really a truth and not just a generalization. Maybe if we weren't all trying to stay connected with cell phones, texting or even have some things that would have been considered outrageous selfindulgent luxuries by standards just 25 short years ago there wouldn't be a need for people to stretch themselves so thin there is a need for cheap food. On the other side of the coin......we seem to be experienceing an "In greed we trust" mentality that has become an accepted and almost expected personality trait.

Convenience for betterment is one thing and living to live with-in means is another but when a society has traded everything to have "everything" for what ever reason (I personally believe we are because the "Jones' " have it...............) then, as it was mentioned in another thread about meats......we have gotten exactly what we deserve.

Yes, the food industry is to blame and that's is implying all facets of it. But more over it's society that should be shouldering the blame as well. (There is more this statement but that's all I can say right now)

At this moment it's the Minority Extremes that are directing things. As one in the majority norm.........You want real change? Then........................ let's find some common (sense) and level (headed) ground to wage the battles and get things back on track.
post #5 of 12
Yes, the food industry is to blame and that's is implying all facets of it. But more over it's society that should be shouldering the blame as well. (There is more this statement but that's all I can say right now)'Old School'

Old school.
You and I have been around for a while, and if you recall when we were younger, there was no E-coli epidemics or Salmonella outbreaks. We must ask ourselves why? My theory is our food is being rushed to market at such a high pace that total inspection is secondary. Economics is behind this because the faster we grow and process and produce higher quantities, the cheaper for the manufacturer and the more profit derived. Our government has also failed us by vast breakdowns in the inspection process and newer lax rules, laws, and regulations. Example of one if E coli is suspected, the meat can be shipped to another place for cooking and then used. I remember years ago when we were inspected, if the inspector found anything close to bad he or she would douse it with amonia and supervise us as we destroyed it. Those days are over. For the sake of profit and convienence everything changes.
post #6 of 12
Senator Tom Udall just introduced a bill which gives the USDA power to initiate a mandatory meat recall. I don't know if this is good or bad, but imagine if you're going through dinner service and all of a sudden you find that your beef is part of a recall.
post #7 of 12

You're correct. There seems to have been a great deal of change since those days and it's not been good.

The haste in which things make their way to shelves is an issue but it's only part of it. At no time can I remember so many small things coming together to in playing the role they do with our food and safety. Actually it's not just isolated to the food industry and there are too many "small things" to list so this can be comfortably read that..........I really don't know what to say or how to approach it. Mostly because it's a thought process and ideology so deeply rooted in our culture now. Funny (Ironically), the whole situation is so deeply rooted it reminds me of a cartoon our daughter would watch involving a cucumber and weed. Through the power of the media and other venues it's sproted life and is now running amuck with everything.

IMHO I believe we've moved long past the 60's activist style of doing things....or put a different way......another decade long, overly self indulgent temper tantrum and Rabble rousing ..... to get things accomplished. do you do that when so much of the issue(s) was spawned by the activist extremism of the 60's. If you look at things.....we have been so one extreme side to the other since 1968 that we have lost all our middle ground. Actually it may be long before that things started say.....1953 but 1968 is when it all hit the fan. Frankly I don't want to live thru 1968 again.

Yet, I can say that the whole situation angers us, it frustrates us and it baffles us and yes....we seem to recognioze that something has to be done. Prefferably involving the words common (sense) and level (headed). But...... what (and how) that's the 64 million dollar question(s).
post #8 of 12
When you have Government, Money, and greed you arn't going to get much safety. The peanutbutter thing should be an eye opener to everyone, NO ONES REALLY WATCHING.....................I grow my own garden, Raise my own Black Angus Cows for myself and my food service. WE also raise pigs and I'm off in a few minutes to pick up my new Rooster and hen................................You really don't have to put up with the Bullshot, Do somethng about it.........................Go in with a few people and raise your own animals, produce, fruit............We also have 5 apple trees and one peach tree.................You should have seen the Tomatoes I brought to work this morning. Everyone asked for extra Tomato on everything at lunch........Bill
post #9 of 12
You're so right. The only personal solution any of us can accomplish is to either produce as much of your own food as you can or if that isn't possible get yourself connected to local producers. We buy almost nothing except dry goods and some fancy produce items like mushrooms at the grocery store. Everything else we either raise ourselves or trade for with others nearby. A quarter of a steer gets me a summer's worth of the produce I don't raise myself and a winter's worth of keeping squash. There are local producers and CSA's sprouting up in communities all across this country. Americans are now able to reject the garbage in stores, if they're willing to do the legwork.
post #10 of 12

where our food comes from??

Very Simply,
One third of your mouthfull is pollinated by honey bees.
post #11 of 12
Ed's right.. we are in such a rush to get things to market these days that we've sacrificed the quality and that is why we have the E-coli and salmonella outbreaks: haste.

My father retired from the USDA, fresh fruit & vegetable division, and the # of inspectors out there now would amaze you... In my dad's time (Ed.. I'm in my late 50's) they had 6 inspectors in the Hunt's Point Market in NY and now I bet there's about 2... budget cuts. So what does that do the 'quality' of what they can inspect or 'what' they can inspect? Diminished capacities for sure.

My father (now 81) is still amazed that we have no standards for seafood and the USDA meat guys are just as shorthanded as the produce ones so the shortfalls cost us all. The worst part is those shortfalls can kill people and the packing houses don't care... it's all about profit. Grow that steer faster; put more tomatoes on the vine; get it to market as fast as possible. If there's a problem, ship it and if we get caught, we'll recall it.

Is this a reality? Yes, very much so and it would be great if you could look and see e-coli but you can't... The meats look fine, smells fine and tastes fine but that bacteria exists. It is scary...
post #12 of 12
Having spent a year in Japan, in an almost insanely foodie-focused city (Kyoto), I've learned some things that change the way I think about these problems. I agree with almost everything that's been said thus far; I'd just like to add a few notes.

1. The most disturbing thing I've seen lately is the official statement that there is no known evidence to suggest that organic or free-range chicken is in any way healthier (w/r/t salmonellas in particular) than ordinary mass-produced. What does this mean, precisely? Well, when you dig down, you find some things:

A. The studies that have been done on a significant scale, with no exceptions that I know of, have simply assumed that everything labeled "organic" or "free-range" was equivalent. This is valid, actually: if you're trying to instruct the consumer, you want him or her to know what that label means. But the real question is not what the label means, it's whether salmonellas and other serious contaminants are increased (in whatever sense) by mass-production practices. And the studies have made no attempt to investigate this. So we have no evidence about the actual question.

B. Which means, of course, that the statement is true: there is no such evidence. Which doesn't mean that mass-production farming is safe or wise or anything of the kind, only that it hasn't been studied.

C. Why hasn't it been studied? Well, who would finance such a study? And what would be the various control groups?

D. And why does this lead to the conclusion, quoted in various places around the web, that salmonella is an intrinsic part of the chicken's physiology and cannot be eradicated in food? Shouldn't the fact that Japan, for example, has essentially eradicated it in the food supply, be indicative here?

E. Since "organic" and "free-range" basically mean nothing consistent, sure, it's quite true that they also mean nothing consistent as regards contaminants. So what? That tells us what we already knew: the terms mean nothing consistent. It tells us nothing about whether better practices might not contain and control these diseases.

F. A truly sick thing is a suggestion, from some federal agency or other (I forget which). The current breeding cycle of chickens, and the breeds from which they started, produce market weights around 4.5 pounds in about 4-6 weeks, as opposed to the old days when you needed twice that time to get 3 pounds. Tasted better, of course, but who cares? Okay, but the problem is that now your chickens come to market with the pores in their bones open, which means that when you roast them the blood is liable to pool at the knuckles, making the joints bloody well above safe temperatures (i.e. well above 170F, even as high as 185F depending on cooking method). So the suggestion? Convince the customers that bloody chicken is a good thing --- it worked with beef, didn't it? I call that sick, I don't know about you.

2. The cutting-board running battle (plastic/rubber vs. wood) really tells us only one thing: hygiene inspectors and the rules they live by are raving b----s--t. Somebody decided that it was just common sense that rubber was better than wood on the hygiene front, and now many jurisdictions ban wooden cutting boards in professional kitchens. The fact that in this case there HAVE been studies, and they have shown precisely the reverse (no, wood is not magic, but it is significantly superior in this regard), has changed nothing. Many jurisdictions also ban wooden handles for knives and other tools. Why? Hygiene. Isn't that obvious? Sure, scientific studies have invalidated this obvious conclusion, but that's no reason to change practices.

3. In Japan, when you see fish labeled "for sashimi" it usually refers to a cut. Sometimes, it means that the fish has not been previously frozen for a long time, if it's a fish that suffers when so treated. It doesn't mean "really, really fresh." Why? Because ALL fish is very, very fresh. That's a given. If it's not fresh, you throw it away: it's not food. (Bear in mind that many fish (e.g. tuna) flash-frozen deeply at sea is fresh: it doesn't suffer a lot from the treatment, and it comes to you pretty much as fresh as at sea.) So how come when you see "sashimi-grade" here, that means "really fresh"? Because most of what you get is not fresh, and in fact not food by Japanese standards. Fair enough, they pay more, right? Well, no. Actually, fish is about 1/2 to 1/3 the US market price, across the board, for good quality. You can go up-market as high as you like, of course, but a $6 whole sea bass (about 1.5 kilos) is impeccably fresh. Good luck finding that in Boston, for example.

So what do we conclude? Americans have learned that fresh doesn't matter. Season doesn't matter. What matters is that what I want for my dinner tonight is available now. Okay, fair enough I guess, but in the 1970s or 80s the trade-off was that you got the stuff cheap. Chicken and fish were cheap, albeit not of great quality. Now it's expensive and of the same or worse quality. The fact that people in many large, industrialized countries are not facing the same situation tells us something: it tells us somebody is making a lot of money on this. Who?

Well, the oil companies, #1. Because in order to make the system work as currently structured, everything has to be shipped back and forth across the country. And there are so many others. We've got a system in which there are zillions of middlemen and everyone at the ends is suffering. But nobody knows this, because we've been well trained to think that if we pay a bit (or a lot) more we get the good stuff and it's wonderful. Frankly, a top-grade organic, free-range chicken from Whole Foods is pretty mediocre. The chicken bars I frequented in Kyoto wouldn't have served that stuff, or at best they'd have apologized a lot. But because it's priced high, and it's got those sexy labels "organic, free-range, cage-free," and because it is in fact better than the dog food Frank Perdue serves up, we think we're getting just as good as it's possible to get in the real world.

So everyone's happy: the rich foodie idiots think they're eating wonderfully; the rich eco-green-types think they're saving the planet by dumping fuel to move "organic" foods around the globe; the rich corporations get richer; the ordinary person can buy anything right now and it's almost affordable so he or she can pretend that this is a wealthy middle-class lifestyle; and the farmer who's willing can buy into a conglomerate and get handouts for maltreating foodstuffs. Who loses? Sure, we all lose, but if we all lose together we just call the glass half-full and like good Americans tell ourselves that it's okay.

But don't worry. If we all listen to Alice Waters, we'll all set up cottage gardens and grow everything ourselves. Sure, we'll have to quit our jobs, but that's fine because we're all wealthy white people anyway and can afford to have poor brown people do the work for us, right?

Okay, rant off....
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