Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of 2009: Revisiting "The Burger That Shattered Her Life"

The second half of the blog I started to repost yesterday:

More on "The Burger That Shattered Her Life"
(October 6, 2009)

Judging from The New York Times article about Stephanie Smith I discussed yesterday, it’s pretty obvious that Cargill could care less about our health.

If Cargill won’t answer questions from The New York Times, do you think the company will be responsive to questions from regular people like us? Shouldn’t we be protecting ourselves and demanding something better?

Let’s think about it another way: We know the name of our doctor, yoga instructor, kids’ teachers and plumber. Why don't we know the name of the people who grow our food?

One solution is to buy food from small-scale producers. I buy a lot of my food from farmers’ markets, where I’ve had the opportunity to develop relationships with the people making and growing what I am eating. They are responsible citizens who I can address fact-to-face, not a multinational which, even after I listen carefully because the menu options have changed, still won’t answer my basic questions about their products.

I understand that everyone doesn’t have access to farmers’ markets and the grass-fed ground beef pictured above. (The farmer who sold it to me knew the name of the steer it came from.) But better quality products are becoming more available in neighborhood supermarkets.

And if your store doesn’t carry meat and dairy products devoid of hormones and antibiotics? Start demanding it does, and get your friends to do likewise. If only one person a week asks, the store owner will turn a deaf ear. If 20 people a day ask (and leave the store without spending any money), the store owner will be purchasing better-quality products very, very quickly.

Too time-consuming? Think about Stephanie Smith’s fate and how ten minutes of work and an extra dollar or two may prevent the same nightmare from repeating itself.

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