Digest – News: Flesh-eating bacteria, wallet-eating food companies, and eating, righteously

Makes your skin crawl: As previously reported here, a flesh-eating, antibiotic resistant bacteria is killing 18,000 Americans a year and is carried by 45% of farmers and 49% of pigs in Iowa. Nicholas Kristof’s piece concludes that we may be getting more than we bargained for in creating a food system that delivers cheap bacon. (New York Times)

They’re not asking NAIS-ly: The National Animal ID System, currently a “voluntary” program whereby farmers register their premises with USDA and electronically tag every animal to facilitate slaughterhouse-to-farm traceback, is not just impractical but ineffective. So why does the federal government want to make it mandatory? (New York Times) (See this post for background)

Ripoff at the checkout line: The price of raw food products is falling fast, but consumers aren’t seeing it at the grocery store. Wheat farmers are getting 68% less per bushel than they did a year ago and milk producers have seen their prices fall almost 40%, but a box of Kraft mac and cheese? 9% drop. You can guess where all the savings goes. (Chicago Tribune)

Missing the middle: In the American West, like the rest of the country, the number of small farms is growing – and the size of large farms is too. This growth is offset by a continued decline in mid-sized farms that have traditionally been the economic drivers of rural communities. As friend o’ Ethicurean Brian Depew of the Center for Rural Affairs puts it:”There are opportunities for these small farms serving niche markets, but there’s not an opportunity for the future of rural American in the continued demise of midsized family farm agriculture.” (New West)

Remember Sinclair: Everyone’s favorite liberal pundit Rachel Maddow gives historical context to last week’s New York Times article on the FDA’s failures to keep our food system safe, and argues for why government regulation — that is, enforced regulation — and publicly run food inspection systems are necessary. (MSNBC)

Two is better than one?: The House holds a hearing on the idea that our food safety woes will be solved if the FDA is split into two agencies…because clearly what we need to make food safer is not actual accountability, but double the bureaucracy. (New York Times)

Not righteous, but right: A review of Nicolette Hahn Niman’s newly released book “Righteous Porkchop,” a “friendly manifesto” about her own food education, with a little romance thrown in. (Sacramento Bee)

Change we can grow on: Unlike her predecessor, who required organic food to be served in the White House but didn’t publicize it, new First Lady Michelle Obama is using her platform to publicize the benefits of going local. Now if only she could get Sasha to eat her spinach. (New York Times)

4 Responsesto “Digest – News: Flesh-eating bacteria, wallet-eating food companies, and eating, righteously”

  1. Uhm… The studies I’ve read said that about 45% of the _pigs_ _tested_ at _confinement_animal_feeding_operations_ tested positive for _past_ exposure to MRSA in Iowa. That is rather a different than saying 45% of the farmers test positive for MRSA. That is a rather extreme extrapolation. It also ignores the fact that when they did genetic testing for the MRSA they found that it was more likely that it was being transmitted from the people to the pigs than visa-versa. Also of note is that the swine CAFOs make up only a small portion of the farms. The USDA says they’re about 200,000 in the USDA compared with their estimates of 1.4 to 2 million smaller farmers.

    *sigh* Sounds like the game of telephone where the message gets repeated and garbled. 

  2. Oh, I forgot to mention that the other thing I had read elsewhere on this study is that they were specifically going in to test where MRSA had already been detected which would create a highly biased sample set. To say it is 45% of the farmers is over the top. Most farmers don’t even raise livestock.

  3. Oh, while we’re talking about food safety (“Remember Sinclair”) it is worth noting that Vermont Governor Douglas has announced he intends to cut (cancel, eliminate, etc) the Vermont Department of Meat Inspection. See here:


    This is at a time of concerns about food quality, locally produced food and the lack of available slaughter and butchering capacity for area farmers.

  4. Dr M. Sullivan says:

    In late 2006, Dr. David Allie, a cardiovascular surgeon from Lafayette, Louisiana, learned that his 18-year-old son had been afflicted with flesh-eating bacteria in his upper neck and torso (40% mortality rate) and was not responding to the onslaught of antibiotics that were being administered.  Having successfully used the Microcyn Technology (www.oculusis.com/us/technology) to treat a broad range of infections (including MRSA and others) in diabetic foot ulcer and stasis ulcer patients, Dr. Allie decided to have his son treated with Microcyn as well.  Within 24 hours of treatment with Microcyn, the infection retreated and within a week his son was out of the ICU and on his way home.   Dr. Allie’s experience with his son is detailed in a video at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b0gp2C8R5E
    Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that can destroy skin and the soft tissues beneath it, including fat and the tissue covering the muscles (fascia). Because these tissues often die rapidly, a person with necrotizing fasciitis is sometimes said to be infected with “flesh-eating” bacteria. The most common type of bacteria causing necrotizing fasciitis is Streptococcus pyogenes.