Avoid the Salmonella Worries and Buy Local


Posted by Angela Guss - Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Around the time I was entering high school, my dad decided that my family would buy our eggs from a small farm nearby rather than the grocery store.

The farm had an unmanned shed along the side of the road with a hand-painted sign advertising locally produced, farm fresh eggs with a phone number for placing orders.

On your specified pick-up day, you would pull your car over, walk into the unlocked shed, leave your money in a tin can, cross your name off the pickup list, and take your eggs out of the cooler.

While other farms might not abide by this honor system to sell their goods, independent locally owned farms are now selling more and more of their products to the public through farmers markets, food co-ops, and farm stands like the one my family has used for years.

My dad was so blown away by the taste of the farm fresh eggs compared to the mass-produced grocery store eggs that he boasted about them to everyone he knew.

Farm egg and grocery store egg    Grocery store egg on left, farm fresh egg on right

And his enthusiasm extended to sharing the egg comparison test to others...

Whenever I had a friend stay the night, my father would would make my guest eggs the next morning, asking leading questions about how good they tasted.

He has even been known to conduct a blind taste test.

Unfortunately, my dad's zeal was lost on me because I don't like eggs... But I do buy eggs for baking purposes.

So when I heard the recent news about a salmonella outbreak, I immediately went to see if one of the contaminated cartons had made its way into my fridge.

Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms in Iowa have recalled half a billion eggs from food wholesalers, distribution centers, and food service companies across the country due to hundreds of people being infected with salmonella.

According to the CDC, a person infected with Salmonella Enteritidis suffers from fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to 72 hours after consuming a contaminated food or beverage.

This outbreak is particularly frustrating since new safety requirements for large farm egg producers became effective just a few weeks ago, on July 9th, in an effort to reduce the likelihood of a salmonella outbreak.

This, along with all the investigative media — The Omnivore's Dilemma, Food Inc, Fast Food Nation — about America's food and where it comes from, is certainly making it more difficult to buy anything from the grocery store...

At least for me.

I understand that buying locally doesn't necessarily mean that your food is sustainable or organic; but it does mean that you're supporting your local economy and the environment.

And it's not to say that your preferred local farmer hasn't used pesticides on his or her crops...

But chances are, you can actually talk with the farmer and ask questions about how the food was grown or how the animals were raised.

Small, local farms are usually run by farmers who live on or near the land, and who work to preserve it for future generations. This allows more green space in communities, nutrient rich soil, and better air quality.

Consumers who buy locally are giving their money directly to farmers and not to large corporations that use the majority of that money for transportation and packaging.

The average grocery store's produce travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farm and the grocery store. The transportation and measures taken to keep food fresh during this time releases an astounding amount of pollutants into the environment.

Industrial farms — more concerned with high volume production than anything else — use chemical pesticides, overcrowd animals, and spread excess manure on fields that creates noxious fumes and pollutes the water and soil.

Aside from all the arguments of local versus global, there is no denying that farm fresh just plain tastes better.

For more information on the benefits of local farming and how you can be a part of this growing food movement, click here.

Until next time,

Angela Guss