Monday, June 29, 2009

Another success story of industrial 'agriculture'

Check the ground beef in your freezers. More details here.


Mark said...

Are you suggesting small farms never have trouble with their products? Seems like you're making more of this than is needed. The meat was shipped out to markets, and out of concern for a possible problem, they recalled it. Because of the size of a company and the market, one can possibly argue that the larger scale made it easier to track down and isolate the problem.

Brian said...

I think it's fair to say that small farms have a lot fewer problems with their products, certainly a lot fewer serious problems.

This is due to many reasons. First, small farms by definition have a smaller reach.

Second, industrial farms use assembly line methods that boost production, but make them more susceptible to problems.

Third, industrial farms distribute their product via middle men who distribute to supermarkets, etc. This means that any tainted meat gets split up and can be going to countless different retailers.

If there's a problem on Smith Family Farm, you can just check your freezer and see if the beef is labeled Smith Family Farm.

This is why your last statement is dead wrong. A reporter (I forget if for CNN or NPR) explained how she called the beef company in question as well as many supermarkets how the ordinary consumer could tell if their meat might be affected. No one had any idea.

I know industrial agriculture is what we're stuck with for now. But it's really no coincidence that we have many mass recalls every year. It may be cheaper initially than the farmers' market but it's not without cost.

Brian said...

And one more thing... because of the diffuse and widespread nature of the distribution system, the company and some supermarkets are recalling ANY beef that was sold between a certain period. That means that a lot of meat is being recalled out of a hypervigilance of system. It also means a lot of safe meat is going to be wasted. That's why it's better to have practices that don't lead to a recall in the first place.

And I live in an area with a lot of family farms. I can't remember the last time I heard of a recall of meat or milk or anything else for a local family farm.