While in the media the news items on one side are reporting progress on the E. coli source investigations and even managed to conclude the source was the sprouts, on the other side we are confronted with growing number of casualties every day.
I decided to approach the opportunity created by this superbug by looking at my food sources once again. While in the past the motivation to eat healthy, locally grown food was motivated by wanting to be different, now it is a need. We need to look at how our food is produced.
E. coli has caused the food industry to show its weak point. Just a rumor was enough to cause millions of cucumbers not to be bought anymore by the consumer. The cucumbers piled up and wagon loads had to be thrown away. What a waste! This happens while people are starving. It is clear that a product like cucumber that is mass produced in order to make a maximum of profit thanks to the abuse of land, cheap labor, use of chemicals, etc. has a single point of failure. The farmers ‘chose’ for the most profitable produce and now want money to compensate what they haven’t been able to sell instead of seeing that they were themselves responsible of choosing to produce this vegetable in large quantities, they choose to take the risk even if they might not have been aware of it. Just a matter of research and taking into consideration there is a single point of failure.
Now the German government had officially stated that all veggies except sprouts are safe. Nice, until the next wave of casualties will be reported in the news and we find out that the safety was based on an assumption. In other words, it will be very hard, if not impossible to track down the source of the contamination the way it is done now. Unless we start to understand that E. coli is going to take care of everything that is based on profit and greed. All food produced on a principle of greed will become a potential source of contamination.
We need to understand where the food comes from we eat every day, going back to the very source. If the food is mass produced we risk contamination. It will be a tough process since most of our food nowadays is mass produced. Even water, and especially bottled water but also the privatized tap water companies are at risk. Bottled water is a perfect example of how humanity managed to make money of a fundamental ingredient of life that should be available unconditionally to every living being on this planet. Same for tap water. Already for many years here in Italy we see that public held water systems are bought by privately held companies. Since these companies make profit a cost reduction is needed on a in many places very poorly managed water system instead of making investments to make sure the pipes are not leaking the millions of cubic meters of drinking water every year. To the consumer the change from public to private is brought as an advantage since it allows the ‘free’ market with lower prices and better service due to competition. The truth is more expensive water, less quality, unsafe for health.
To deal with this situation myself I started to speed up the process of growing my own food. It has already been my intention to provide as much as possible for my own food either grown in my own veggy garden or from a local producer. This year I am putting a lot of effort in the garden by adding more space for crops, monitoring thoroughly the growth of the plants, taking care of pests on a natural way, trying all kind of vegetables to establish which grows well in my garden and which not., Since I can not possibly grow everything I need, not only the quantities but also the variety I need to rely on other sources. A couple of friends can supply us with veggies, eggs, meat (rabbit, chicken). But, even though this is locally grown food in gardens that are held for personal use, there is a potential danger. Many tend to use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, manure from a farm where the cows might get special feed or antibiotics.
To me the E. coli threat is an impulse to start new initiatives involving my neighbors, making them aware of what is going on in a practical way and by working immediately towards a practical solution that is best for all. The first step is sharing our products and produce. A practice that works quite nicely. Yesterday I exchanged our cherries for fresh rucola and a bunch of winter tomato plants and today apricots and cherries for rabbit meat. Another step is sharing practical information about gardening that is specific for the area I live in. Sharing awareness in common sense is my practical approach to the food related issues we are facing now and in the near future.