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BARFBLOG: Food miles are fashionable; where's the safety?

06.aug.07, Doug Powell, barfblog

06.aug.07, Doug Powell, barfblog
Trying to include considerations of microbial food safety -- the things that make people barf -- when encountering the dogma of fervent foodies is an occupational hazard. Over the years I've been slandered, threatened with lawsuits and harm to my person. Taking on the natural-organic-local cabal -- including the Food Network which didn't like our analysis of food safety errors on cooking shows -- can be challenging.
So James E. McWilliams should be prepared for lively correspondence. McWilliams, the author of “A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America” and a contributing writer for The Texas Observer, writes in a N.Y. Times op-ed this morning that reducing food miles — how far food has traveled before you buy it — is not necessarily better for the environment.
"There are many good reasons for eating local — freshness, purity, taste, community cohesion and preserving open space — but none of these benefits compares to the much-touted claim that eating local reduces fossil fuel consumption."
"As concerned consumers and environmentalists, we must … be prepared to accept that buying local is not necessarily beneficial for the environment. As much as this claim violates one of our most sacred assumptions, life cycle assessments offer far more valuable measurements to gauge the environmental impact of eating. While there will always be good reasons to encourage the growth of sustainable local food systems, we must also allow them to develop in tandem with what could be their equally sustainable global counterparts. We must accept the fact, in short, that distance is not the enemy of awareness."
Brilliant. But once again, the notion of microbiological safety is absent from the discussion. How about sourcing food from the place that can yield the fewest number of sick people?