Digest: Garbage — it’s what’s for dinner! Plus, two views on food safety

“We are what they eat” — and it’s even more unappetizing than you think: Forget melamine and cyanuric acid in animal feeds — we should be at least as concerned about the “business as usual” ingredients routinely fed to U.S. farm animals. This op-ed discusses the authors’ Environmental Health Perspectives paper on the health effects of ingredients such as rendered remains from slaughtered animals (including those excluded from human consumption); animal excrement; animal fats that may contain dioxins and PCBs; food contaminated with rodent and roach excreta; byproducts from drug manufacture; and plastics. “We should not assume that food animals can detoxify and make safe whatever we feed them,” they conclude. (Baltimore Sun)

GPS + RFID for food = RIP to me: What to do about food safety? More technology! “Cheaper information technology is already making it possible for companies (and inevitably governments) to mark and trace the provenance of all products and ingredients through their supply chains. All products will one day be accompanied with records tracing their origins from mines, forests, fields… to final consumers. Companies will immediately flag any break in the chain of provenance and demand that suppliers authenticate their goods.” We’re not sure if this is utopia or hell, but we do know it’s not a future that appeals to us. (Reason Online)

Risk management and eating: David Gumpert gently explores the statement made in the Times by the mother of a young E. coli victim, that “You live in the United States of America and this isn’t supposed to happen.” The woman, who has decided that the best way to protect her family is to rely on white grains and canned vegetables, is becoming the symbol of our food-security ills, the solution to which is that we (our government, corporations, etc.) must eliminate all the bacteria in our food, no matter what or how. Gumpert doesn’t think technology is the solution. (The Complete Patient)

Be my guest-worker: A union that represents farmworkers opposes the guest-worker provision in the plan the Senate will debate, saying it takes permanent jobs and turn them into short-term jobs, opens the door for more exploitation of the temporary workers by companies, and favors high-skilled workers over low-skilled workers with family in the United States. (Des Moines Register)

A taste of green heaven: Greenwich Village’s Birdbath bakery weighs local versus organic ingredients, and was built and designed with environmentally friendly materials. “You couldn’t convince me that the meaning of life doesn’t include waking up and having a perfect pastry and cup of coffee,” says baker Maury Rubin. “I’m not a religious person. It might be the closest I get.” Amen to that. (New York Times Magazine)

Vegetarians win: Mars abandons plans to use animal products in its chocolate (BBC News — thanks Aryeh!)

3 Responsesto “Digest: Garbage — it’s what’s for dinner! Plus, two views on food safety”

  1. chip says:

    The GPS-RFID-GDS stuff is on its way to becoming pretty widepsread with food, even produce. If you really feel like doing it, you can already track a plum back to the distribution center, truck, packing house, grower, orchard and crew from which it came.

    It won’t address any underlying problems with the safety of our food supply. But I think it will be a powerful tool for those who are concerned with the system of food production in this country (“What it is we’re eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table.” etc.). It’s another form of labeling. And I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the need for a system of food production that doesn’t require GPS/RFID than to use that GPS/RFID to show how we get our food now.

  2. Anna says:

    Better RFID than irradiation! Immediate and targeted recalls possible with that technology. There is no kill step for e.coli for fresh foods, except boiling or irradiation so far. If this could keep my food more natural (that is non-irradiated) I’m all for it.

  3. GPS-RFID has NOTHING to with Food Safety and everything to do with the manipulation and centralization of this Nation’s food supply by large corporate Agri Business and Special Interest Groups.
    RFID is certainly not about food safety nor is it really about “tracking disease”.
    If it were about “tracking disease” then I can assure you Creekstone Farms would not have sued the USDA over Mad Cow testing.

    Please see:


    The best known RFID scheme is NAIS – the National Animal Identification System.

    NAIS is a VERY big deal to me and many other small farmers in the US and I’ll go to prison before I’ll ever comply with mandatory RFID.

    Mandatory NAIS & RFID is a threat to Civil Liberty – the 4th & 5th Amendments of the US Constitution in particular.

    The USDA has backed away from NAIS because of the uproar. Lots a angry small Farmers with pitch forks! :-)

    Please educate yourself about GPS-RFID and do not be the dupe or stooge for Factory Farming and greedy Corporations.