Better Safe Than Sorry
By being a smart shopper and taking some precautions in the kitchen, you can lower your family's risk of getting sick
One of Stout's members, Sage Van Wing, 29, created a website when she lived in the San Francisco area, challenging others to eat food grown within 100 miles of home for a month. In the first month, 800 people signed on to the locavores.com challenge. The list has now grown to 2,000 from around the world. Being a locavore wasn't as easy as Van Wing expected; she couldn't find local sources for salt, spices, or bread. Avocados were hard to come by, too. (Exceptions, she decided, are just fine.)
Not labeled. Eating local, or even domestic, is complicated by the fact that most supermarket foods aren't labeled by source. For years, consumer groups and domestic producers have battled for federal legislation to make country-of-origin labeling required for all imported foods. But those requirements have been applied only for seafood. Even if there were universal labeling, most consumers don't have time to bone up on the differences in agricultural practices from country to country so as to make labels of much use.
The bottom line: Consumers can take steps to protect themselves, but they can't do it all on their own. "Everybody ought to be screaming bloody murder on the lack of oversight of the food supply and talk to their government representatives," says Nestle. Acheson agrees. "I'd like company X and Y to say, all of this food is safe because we do X and Y," he says. Consumers are now pushing for more information about the safety of the food they eat. "And that's a good thing."
Meanwhile, Stout's reach continues to grow. Demand for the csa's products is now at the point where it's economically feasible to fly his veggies to 2,000 produce-hungry customers in Alaska, offering practically same-day service. "We are kind of local for southeast Alaska, where there are no farms whatsoever, "Stout says. "This is as close as it gets."
With Sarah Baldauf and Adam Voiland