With all the bigger-is-better, too-big-to-fail, merger mania that has swept the country in the last, say, 25 to 50 years, we have lost knowledge of where our food comes from. Many of these large companies don’t want you to know, and don’t want to be burdened with the requisite record keeping to let you know. After all they may not know the exact source and composition of the grain fed to those cows, and which feed lot the cow was at before a piece of its flesh arrived on a white styrofoam tray encased in plastic wrap. The concept of traceability is something many of the food mega-conglomerates would rather not encourage.
I often attempt to buy at least some of my food from trace-able sources, and this is often not easy to accomplish. Mega-stores like Whole Foods are probably no better, and it could be argued are actually complicit in the attempts to reduce traceability and consumer knowledge of food sources and composition. Many so called organic products are actually distributed and packaged by some of the largest agricultural entities in the world. Just look at the organic spinach fiasco from 2 years ago propagated by some of the biggest food companies. All you have to do is look at who owns who and you realize that real spinach grew in the ground and needs to have the dirt and sand washed off in a sink. It doesn’t come pre-washed, in little plastic bags pumped full of just the right amount of inert nitrogen and product, then shipped from the Salinas Valley in California to Washington state via Texas. Similarly the peanut butter fiasco of a couple of years ago doesn’t lend any feeling of a safe or trace-able food chain … even companies like locally owned Cougar Mountain cookies were misinformed about the provenance of the peanut butter they were purchasing.
A few years ago, I tried to alter at least some of my buying habits to enhance my knowledge of the products I was purchasing, and the companies that made them, and the chain down to the farmer level. As at least some of you know, I make bread, and lots of it. A natural place to start, no?