Handling Information & Local Food Enconomy

A worry that many people have when purchasing food that has been packaged and/or processed at a distance is that we do not know who, where, and sometimes how it was done.  In many cases we may not even know if the company handling the food products were using safe practices, or even slave labor.

An example that came up on my Facebook feed recently: Slave-peeled shrimp exported to major U.S. Stores

When faced with the knowledge that cheap food often carries the price tag of cheap or forced labor, what can we do?  Understandably, if the purchaser themselves in a tight bind and can not afford an alternative, what is to be done?  A educated decision must be made for each family personally.

Beyond slave labor there are other issues relating directly with the food.  How many hands touch the food product before it reaches your plate?  How long does it sit waiting to be delivered?  What makes one brand truly different from another?  Ever wonder why when there is a big  E.coli breakout there are many different brands and stores with the same contaminated food product, all under different names?

“Shrimp can mix with different batches of seafood as it is packaged, branded and shipped. At that point, there’s no way to tell where any individual piece was peeled. Once it reaches American restaurants, hospitals, universities and military chow halls, all the shrimp from those four Thai processors is considered associated with slavery, according to United Nations and U.S. standards.

U.S. customs records linked the exported shrimp to more than 40 U.S. brands, including popular names such as Sea Best, Waterfront Bistro and Aqua Star. The AP found shrimp products with the same labels in more than 150 stores across America — from Honolulu to New York City to a tiny West Virginia town of 179 people. The grocery store chains have tens of thousands of U.S. outlets where millions of Americans shop.” – (from the AP article above)

The simple answer to many of these concerns is shopping locally.  If your community has local markets, that is one way to know for sure what, where, and who concerning your food. Of course, the most economical and obvious way to keep track of your food is to grow your own. From a tiny pot on your apartment balcony to a half-acre garden, growing your own food lets you know everything involved with what you are eating… and you will probably find yourself with enough to share.

Easy foods to grow on your own with minimal work:
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Green Beans
Basil
Cilantro
Kale
Mint

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