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Archives for Organic

The Ethics of Eating Meat

Jan
12
2009

This is the season for predicting trends for the coming year. Often when these predictions come to pass, they’re more fads than trends but there is one a growing school of thought that you may be vaguely aware of but which I think is at about the point the organic food trend was six years ago: humane meat production.

This trend toward humanely-raised meat tends to get tossed into the whole organic food thing and that’s certainly where its roots were, but I think the motivations for it have diverged and will continue to do so.

Most people choose to eat organically because they consider it a healthier alternative to produce doused with herbicides and grown in soil that’s adulterated with petroleum-based fertilizers. A few also like the fact that “organic” just seems better for the planet. And lot of folks started seeking out organic meat for the same reasons. But even vegetarians don’t form emotional bonds with their broccoli. Meat-eaters, on the other hand, can imagine a bond of some sort with a steer or even a pig. Remember the pot-bellied-pig-as-pet fad a few years back?

This identification with animals means that thoughtful meat-eaters must find a philosophical basis for their choice. In The River Cottage Meat Book, English chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall refers to the issue frequently in the book’s 500 pages. My friend, Chef Bob del Grosso (a professional charcutiere) addresses it often in his blog, A Hunger Artist. Our relationship to the meat we cook and eat is becoming more and more a subject of discussion among food professionals and foodies.

When I was growing up my mother would often invite her students from at the University of Tennessee out for a day of horseback riding and dinner. It never failed to freak the new ones out when we’d sit down to a plate of beef stew and compare how tough the meat from Brown Cow was compared to Mayberry. The concept of eating an animal with a name was hard to get past for many of our guests. And back then most of us were closer to our source of meat than most of are today. So how do you justify eating a steak that had a name, or even, as in the case of Mayberry, whose birth you’d been part of?

Some (the less-thoughtful, I would assert) believe we have “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Even many non-religious folks embrace this fundamental right to do as they please with non-human species. To me, that’s a phenomenally arrogant attitude – an example of supreme hubris.

My take is that I too am animal, different in ability but not in kind, from cows, sheep, lions, dogs, chimpanzees, and pigs. Cows and sheep evolved to eat grass, lions and dogs to eat cows and sheep, and baboons and pigs to eat grass and cows. I’m no more obligated by any absolute moral stricture to avoid meat than a lion or pig.

But I have different abilities from my fellow animals and two of them appear to be a more general sense of empathy and the capability to apply that empathy to abstract concepts such as ethical behavior.

The cattle we raised and ate when I was growing up lived good lives. They had plenty to eat and plenty of choice (given the opportunity cows will eat spring twigs, sassafras bark, and other things one might not expect). When the time came to butcher an animal it was prodded gently (more or less, cows are big and stubborn) into a truck, hauled to the meat processor, painlessly killed, and converted to steaks, roasts, and hamburger.

Did the cow’s life end early? Compared to what? Animals in the wild constantly face predation and being eaten alive by a lion can’t be much fun. Parasitic disease is far more common among wild animals than domestic animals raised on pasture and winters are brutal. Even though our cattle spent the entire winter outside we never lost one due to weather because they were uniformly healthy and were fed hay all winter. They had a good life and no being knows when it will die.

The majority of animals destined for supermarkets aren’t so lucky. A side effect of breeding lean pigs is a linked gene that promotes aggression – so industrial pigs have their tails unceremoniously cut off as piglets. Industrial chickens have their beaks cut off. Both live on a wire mesh floor that allows their waste to drop through to a holding area – they may not be laying directly in their waste (as industrial cattle do) but they can’t escape it either. A few months ago, in “No Prevention, No Cure” I linked to a video showing sick cows being abused with fire-hoses and forklifts at a commercial processing plant. This is probably more common than many of us would like to think.

Pigs and chickens and cows aren’t human and anthropomorphizing them diminishes rather than enhances their dignity. But they are my fellows on this planet and as such are entitled to respect. And so as part of my New Year’s resolution, I make at 25-mile round trip to buy some meat and plan to continue doing. I’ve seen Tracy Monday’s farm and it reminds me of where I grew up. And if I were one of his cows, I’d be tempted to trade a short good life his farm a longer but miserable existence.

Posted by Kevin Weeks at 5:04 AM | Permalink

Milk: The Raw Deal

Dec
15
2008

A few days ago I received an offer to purchase unpasteurized milk for my pets from a local organic farm. For $103 I’d receive a gallon of raw milk once a week for 12 weeks. I’ll save you the trouble of doing the math: that’s $8.58 a gallon. I’m really fond of my cat, but not $8.58-a-week fond. Which is why I’m pretty sure this offer is an end-run around Tennessee’s laws preventing the sale of raw milk for human consumption.

It’s still very much on the fringes, but there’s a growing movement in this country promoting the health benefits of raw milk. But a little history first.

When our country was largely rural, raw milk was a common beverage, often produced by your own cows, but sometimes purchased from a neighbor. There were no mortality and morbidity survey from public health departments or the Center for Disease Control to track illness from raw milk but it’s certain no one thought twice about drinking it. Both of my parents, who were born in 1920, regularly drank raw milk as children.

But as our society became more urban, providing truly fresh raw milk became more and more difficult. Transportation was slow and there was no effective refrigeration. Perhaps worse, because the milk producers weren’t the friends and neighbors of the people buying the milk they were less inclined to be scrupulous about the quality. And even for well-intentioned milk producers, the inability to easily test for contaminants like campylobactor, salmonella, and e-Coli meant problems could arise. And, given all these factors, they did.

Food poisoning from raw milk sky-rocketed in the first half of the 20th century. In 1938 25 percent of all cases of food poisoning were associated with dairy products. In 1924 the federal Public Health Service began mandating pasteurization for milk sold across state lines. With the passage of this ordinance (and subsequent legislation in most states) incidents of poisoning dropped dramatically (although they still haven’t disappeared, as we’ll see) and the program was deemed a complete success.

Jump ahead to today. Transportation is an order (or two) of magnitude faster and everything is refrigerated. Testing for bacterial contamination is easy, cheap, and highly effective. And these days, even living in a metropolis such as New York City, you can know and learn to trust a milk producer if you take the trouble to do so.

Still federal and state governments remain strongly antagonistic to raw milk sales (22 states absolutely prohibit it and where it’s permitted sales are discouraged in various ways) and they are quick to point fingers at raw milk as a source of food poisoning. In 2008 three cases of campylobacter poisoning were blamed on raw milk from Hendricks Farms near Franconia, Pa. A single sample of the milk did turn up the bacteria – at the purchaser’s home. Additionally, two of those sickened had just returned from travels abroad. No other samples tested positive and thorough testing at the dairy failed to find the bacteria. I happen to have a friend (a professional chef) who works at that dairy and he tells me the food processing areas are as clean or cleaner than any restaurant where he’s worked.

In 2004 FDA Consumer published an article warning against drinking raw milk. Ironically, that same year 38 cases of salmonella poisoning in several states were traced to pasteurized milk but FDA Consumer didn’t publish a subsequent article warning of the dangers of pasteurized milk.

Raw milk advocates argue that raw milk is healthier and tastes better than pasteurized milk because the pasteurization process kills helpful bacteria (probiotics) as well as harmful bacteria and that the process also destroys helpful enzymes. True or not, there are people who want to drink raw milk. Presumably they’re aware of the risks – it takes some research to even find a source. And clearly pasteurized milk presents a risk as well.

Raw milk does taste better, but not so much so that I’m willing to pay $8.58 a gallon for it. But it’s ridiculous that in order to sell raw milk here in Tennessee, the farm near me has to emphasize that it’s for pets, not humans. As I said, I’m fond of my cat, as most people are of their pets, and if I thought raw milk was unsafe for me I certainly wouldn’t feed it to my cat. But at that price neither of us are going to be drinking it.

Posted by Kevin Weeks at 5:00 AM | Permalink

Sustainability Redefined

May
12
2008

Sustainability: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. – Meriam-Webster Online.

The definition above isn’t wrong, but, it seems to me, it is incomplete, at least when it comes to food (and probably everything else) since it’s too focused on micro-effects as opposed to macro-effects.

Feed LotTake, for example, the industrial-scale production of crops (such as corn) that we’re used to. It relies on man-made fertilizers, which are produced using petro-chemicals and we’re running out of the “petro-” part of that equation. So it’s not sustainable. Industrial-scale meat production relies on industrial-scale production of corn – also not sustainable. And the use of such products has a broader effect on the environment by contributing to climate change, another un-sustainable cost.

On a recent edition of NPR’s Science Friday Ira Flatow interviewed Christopher Weber, an assistant research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, about a study he and co-author Scott Mathews published in Environmental Science and Technology on whether or not “food-miles” matter. “Food miles” are a way to measure the distance a food travels prior to consumption and the authors were specifically interested in the effects of eating, say, asparagus from Chile in January as opposed to asparagus grown next door in May. In short, what are the effects of “eating local.”

They found that selecting locally grown food had relatively little effect on the impact that you, as a consumer, have on the environment. This study echoes the results of a New Zealand study that found that New Zealand lamb eaten in Great Britain had a lower environmental impact then British lamb eaten in Great Britain.

The Carnegie Mellon study also found that by simply giving up red meat and cheese one day a week and instead eating chicken, fish, or just vegetables you could have a more positive impact than by buying locally grown produce and meat all the time. Sounds simple, eh? You make Tuesday your dedicated chicken or fish night and you help the environment. Sorry, nope.

The study is flawed since it focused on large-scale agriculture. It assumed that my friends the Coles of West Wind Farms used the same methods for raising their cattle as ConAgra does. The Coles meat is grass fed. Their cattle still produce the methane and nitrous oxide (greenhouse gases) that ConAgra’s cows do, but they don’t use commercial fertilizer on their fields, instead they rely on the manure all their animals produce for fertilizer. By doing so they eliminate not only the direct costs of fertilizer for their fields, but also the indirect costs of the fertilizer used to grow grain and the transport costs for the fertilizer and grain.

Or, put more simply, actually determining effects – for better or worse – is incredibly complicated.

And determining effects is even more complicated because more than one area of expertise is involved. The Weber/Mathew study doesn’t even attempt to account for the medical costs of using antibiotics in chickens or beef or the economic effects of hog manure ponds on real estate. In fact, it’s focus was specifically on green-house gases. Important, yes, All-encompassing, no.

I’m not arguing against giving up beef and cheese one day each week nor that doing so won’t have a mild effect if everyone does so, but I would argue against substituting fish for that mac-n-cheese because wild fish stocks are collapsing. The California, Oregon, and Washington salmon seasons were canceled this year because wild salmon stocks are in such bad condition. And I’ll point out that even though chickens and hogs don’t directly produce methane, their manure lagoons do.

The bottom line: choosing to buy from local producers using sustainable agricultural practices will almost certainly have more of a positive effect on the environment, even if that effect is harder to measure, than, say, giving up a cheese burger once a week.

Posted by Kevin Weeks at 5:00 AM | Permalink

Class Foodfare

Feb
18
2008

Luscious leeks: A pearl-white bulb shading into emerald green with sandy soil still clinging to the roots. I miss them.

Click to view larger versionWhen I lived in Eugene, Oregon Saturday mornings were my shopping day. It wasn’t unusual for me to begin at 9:00 with a trip to the farmers’ market in downtown Eugene, where, during the summer months, I could find those luscious leeks, ravishing radishes, baby beets, and even wild mushrooms on occasion – all picked early Friday evening or Saturday morning.

Sometimes I’d also make a side trip to the fish market, where I could find fish caught, at most, a couple of days before. Then I’d head to Oasis, a local grocery store much like Whole Foods. I’ve always loving grocery shopping and Oasis was like attending Sunday Mass at the cathedral in Chartres. The store had any produce I couldn’t find at the farmers’ market plus an excellent meat department and huge cheese selection. (I understand that Whole Foods has since bought them out – a damned shame.)

My last stop was at the big chain grocery, Albertsons, for the staples such as detergent, milk, and toilet paper because these products were far cheaper than at Oasis. I was usually home by 11:30 having spent two and a half hours traveling no more than 10 miles but having had a chance to study Eugene – and American – cultural stratification.

The oft misquoted Brillat-Savarin actually wrote, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are,” a subtly different statement than, “You are what you eat.” These days it would be as true to say, “Tell me where you buy food, and I will tell you what you are.”

Eugene’s farmers’ market was manned by, for lack of a better description, hippies. In addition to the vegetable vendors there were people selling tie-dyed t-shirts, beads, drug paraphernalia, and all the other accoutrements of the 1960′s. I loved that market. Most of the customers were students from the university and other members of Eugene’s counter-culture. And the streets around the square were filled with wildly painted minivans and pickup trucks as well as a seasoning of well-used Volvos.

My second stop, Oasis, attracted the upper crust – folks who might have once been hippies but now prefer late-model Volvos and BMWs to the beaters of their youth. I suspect that unlike me, most of Oasis’ customers could afford to also buy their laundry detergent and toilet paper there. Price wasn’t an issue for these folks.

Meat and fruit bought and paid for, I was off to Albertson’s along with pretty much everyone else in town: farmers manning Ford F150s, schoolteachers driving sensible Mazdas, bank tellers in foolish Buicks, and Latino farm workers nursing sagging, nondescript trucks. Critics of movements like as organic farming, purchasing locally raised products, and the Slow Food seem to have a single gripe that appears in several different forms but boils down to: Local/organic/slow food is expensive and is therefore elitist – and the parking lots seem to support this thesis.

I’m going to skip over the presumption that there’s something wrong with being elite (don’t we all strive to excel in some way?) because it’s not really the critic’s point. Their point is that buying an organic carrot or a locally raised steak is a type of classism and those engaged in it are putting on airs they don’t deserve. They argue poor people simply can’t afford such food and to assert they should eat it is to be guilty of arrogance.

I can’t say that some classism doesn’t exist; I don’t know everyone’s motives for their purchases. But from what I can tell it’s not common.There’s nothing elitist in caring passionately about food, about cooking, about sharing their knowledge and expertise; successes and failures; love and passion with others — whatever one’s social position may be.

I’m a pretty typical foodie. I didn’t set out to cook for a living, I simply fell into it when my old job of editing computer programming magazines disappeared into the Internet vortex and I figured that 40 years of experience in front of my stove might pay for something to put on that stove. It does, barely. Last year I made less than $20,000 and yet I bought most of my vegetables during the summer at the farmers’ market where I paid about a 10 percent premium over the grocery store (largely due to my tomato addiction). During the year, I buy a significant part of my meat from locals at an average 25 percent additional cost. I do this mainly because I think the food I buy tastes better but also because I do care about our ecological, financial, and social environments. There are plenty more like me.

Next week I’m going to be doing a talk at a local community center. My audience will be pre-adolescent to pubescent girls from low-income families. I was asked to talk about being a personal chef and I’ll do that, but I’ll do it while giving them a cooking lesson and, I hope, a view of food that’s good even if not loaded with salt or sugar. I’ll also pay for the ingredients out of my pocket. I’m no saint, but this matters to me because the real issue isn’t class, it’s education. It’s knowing how to create magic when dollars and time are sparse.

So, if you shop at run-down marcados in the Hispanic section of town and are a regular at farmers’ markets, if Whole Foods is on your route and you buy local meat and eggs every Friday off the back of a farmer’s truck in a vacant grocery store’s parking lot, then you are a member of a genuinely elite group: Those who care about what they eat. And that ain’t about class or cash, baby. It’s about good food – regardless of what you drive to find it.

Posted by Kevin Weeks at 5:00 AM | Permalink

You Say Tomato

Jul
9
2007

Last week I mentioned that my first BLT of the year is what I regard as the true arrival of summer. At this time of year I eat at least one, and sometimes two or three tomatoes a day. I make a variation of the Italian insalata caprese using feta instead of mozzarella. This Greek take on the Italian specialty is my most-common lunch during the summer. Then there’s that wonderful Southern treat, fried green tomatoes.
Click to view larger versionI dip slices of green tomato in buttermilk, dredge them in seasoned cornmeal, and pan-fry to a golden brown. They’re crisp on the outside, and silky on the inside. You may know that tomatoes are botanically a fruit, not a vegetable, but the flavor of fried green tomatoes makes it obvious that tomotoes are a fruit. The nature of their sweetness and acidity is closer to a green apple than a green bean. Gazpacho, the tomato-based cold soup, is another must-make summer dish. I also like to broil tomatoes topped with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano — a supremely easy and mouth-watering preparation.
One reason these tomatoes are so mouth-watering is the presence of monosodium glutamate. Yes, that roundly derided Chinese-restaurant additive known as MSG occurs naturally in both tomatoes and parmesan cheese (as well as beef, oysters and a lot of other foods), so parmesan-broiled tomatoes pack a double wallop.
From the 19th century we knew our tongues had receptors (taste buds) particularly sensitive to sweet, salty, bitter and sour. These are the basic tastes. But research begun by a Japanese scientist, Kikunae Ikeda, found we have a fifth set of taste buds. These receptors detect something Ikeda named umami — think of it as “savory.” The interesting thing is that we’ve evolved taste buds for only five types of chemicals and glutamate is one of them. It must be important.


“How to Pick
a Peach”

Traditionally, the pulp and seeds are removed from tomatoes when cooking with them; the conventional wisdom was that this part of the fruit was tasteless. But Heston Blumenthal, a noted London chef, noticed that this pulp was far from tasteless and, because he has long been involved in exploring the chemistry behind food, he asked Donald Mottram of the University of Reading to run some tests. It turns out that the seeds contain as much as eight times more umami than the flesh. It also turns out that vine-ripened tomatoes have more MSG than force-ripened tomatoes — no wonder local tomatoes are so much better tasting.
In other tomato research, a ten-year study conducted by Dr Alyson Mitchell at the University of California, Davis, has found that organically-grown tomatoes have higher levels of flavonoids than conventionally grown tomatoes. Flavanoids are anti-oxidants that are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Although the evidence appears clear that organic tomatoes do contain greater amounts of flavonoids, it’s still unclear that flavonoids (also found in chocolate and wine, by the way) actually do reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. In fact, it’s still unclear that organic vegetables offer any health benefits, although eating them certainly can’t hurt.
Irrespective of any health claims, even the proven ones, about tomatoes, they are one of the great flavors. Were there a pantheon of flavors, just-picked tomatoes would enjoy godhead. Me? I’m just enjoying what Russ Parsons, author of How to Pick a Peach, calls a “delicate and temperamental” fruit at the only time of the year that fruit can be truly enjoyed. And if I’m healthier as a result, I’m willing to pay that price.
You can leave thoughts, comments, and observations here.

Posted by Kevin Weeks at 5:00 AM | Permalink

Summer at Last

Jul
2
2007

Whatever the calendar says, as far as I’m concerned summer doesn’t begin until the first BLT of the season. Although regional tomatoes have been available for several weeks, they’re only slightly better than the cardboard versions shipped in from California, and the BLT must wait until I can get perfectly ripe tomatoes at the local farmers’ market. That red-letter day finally arrived.
Click to view larger versionOne of the problems with farmers’ markets, though, is the hours. For instance, when I lived in Sacramento there were half a dozen markets each week, but unfortunately all but one took place during the workweek. Those hours make them difficult for people with jobs to shop at, and even if you can leave work to visit a market, you don’t want to leave a bag of fresh produce sitting in a hot car all afternoon, and some things you want to refrigerate immediately.
When I moved back to Knoxville there were two markets in the area, one on Tuesday afternoon and the other on Friday afternoon. Things have improved and there are now five markets, including two on Saturday mornings. Because I don’t have a real job (meaning 9 – 5) the afternoon markets work for me and I love going to them and seeing what’s new, chatting with the farmers, and swapping cooking tips with the other customers. It makes me feel very much a part of the community. But I’m lucky (or unlucky according to my creditors) in that my schedule is my own. For those without this blessing there are CSAs.
CSA is an initialism for community supported agriculture. The noun is used to describe farms that offer subscriptions to their crops. They’re a sort of co-op. You sign up in the spring, typically paying in advance for an entire summer’s worth of fresh produce, and then each week you receive a box of veggies. The veggies reflect what’s currently in-season — lots of greens in May and June, squash and tomatoes in July, corn and melons in August, apples and hard squash in the fall.
There are two big advantages that CSAs have over farmers’ markets. First, some CSAs deliver and, if not, pickups can usually be scheduled on Saturday or even Sunday making CSAs more convenient for working folks. Second, the price of a subscription is usually cheaper than buying the same items at a farmers’ market. (Note, farmers’ markets are often accused of being more expensive than supermarkets. Although this accusation is generally false, CSAs can be real bargains.)
CSAs also offer an element of fun because you never know exactly what you’ll be getting. Sure, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash will be in the box, but the tomatoes might be Cherokee Purples or Candy’s Old Yellow. The cucumbers could be the size and shape of baseballs. Plus, there are often completely unexpected items in the box. A friend of mine up in Maine just received a bunch of baby turnips. Another friend found cardoons in her box.
On the downside, when you subscribe to a CSA you’re putting yourself in the same boat as the farmer. We’re experiencing the worst drought ever recorded here. This follows a warm winter that encouraged early blooming. Then a week-long cold spell killed the buds. I’ve seen this bad weather reflected in less produce and higher prices at the farmers’ market, but I don’t have a financial investment in these folks. If I were a CSA subscriber I’d be suffering too.
There don’t seem to be any CSAs in my area; I’ve looked, but fortunately going to market is no problem for me. However, if you’d like to buy more local produce and farmers’ markets aren’t a good option, you might want to investigate CSAs.
A Side Note
A few days ago I ran across this blog post by Kate Hopkins at Accidental Hedonist. It was a response to this post by Laura Moncur who pens Starling Fitness, which, in turn, was a response to Hopkin’s post on her perception of the Asheville, North Carolina, food community.
In essence, Moncur accused Hopkins of being a food snob because Hopkins advocates supporting local farmers and restaurants. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary a snob is, “one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste.” I suppose offense is where you find it, but accusing someone of snobbery because they think buying from small business people — whether they’re farmers, restaurant owners or filling stations — is a good thing strikes me as absurd. Besides, it’s hard to take seriously the opinion of someone like Moncur who thinks: “Food is meant to keep me from passing out from hunger and low blood sugar.” Right, and sex is only for procreation, and music and art are a waste of time.
Perhaps I’m a snob too. Then so be it. I do think supporting local businesses is, in general, a good thing. More specifically and as I keep emphasizing, locally grown food tastes better — even if it’s the same variety of tomato grown in California or Chile — because it’s picked at the perfect point of ripeness and delivered without the trauma of traveling thousands of miles. I don’t advocate giving up pineapple or coffee because it won’t grow in your area. I don’t even advocate driving 30 miles to buy a local cucumber if you can save gas by running down to the local supermarket.
But I’m telling you, that local cucumber will taste better than the one at the supermarket and the ribs at your local barbeque joint will taste better than the ribs at Applebee’s. And the money you spend on a local cucumber or ribs will more directly benefit your local economy (and so, indirectly, you) than the other options. So as I see it, buying local products, whenever feasible, is a win-win situation.
You can leave thoughts, comments, and observations here.

Posted by Kevin Weeks at 5:00 AM | Permalink

Efficiencies of Scale

Apr
2
2007

“Nationwide panic from a 50-acre field.”
This was a recent headline on a blog named The Ethicurean that I regularly read and, although hyperbolic (I’m not sure “panic,” is the most accurate term), the headline nevertheless makes its point. What isn’t hyperbole is that a single 50-acre field resulted in deaths and illnesses in 26 states.
Think about that for a moment while you look at this map of validated outbreaks of e-coli related illnesses spread by the spinach grown on the field in question.
Now imagine 50 acres — an area not quite a mile in circumference. An area most of us could walk all the way around in about an hour — I know that because I grew up on a 43-acre farm. It is a tiny piece of land (unless you’re digging post holes) and yet it affected people in over 50 percent of the American landscape. How does this happen?
I read the just-published, 50-page report produced by the California Food Emergency Response Team under the aegis of the California Department of Health Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Assuming the report is accurate, and I have no reason to think otherwise, it appears that the packer has good to excellent procedures in place for sanitation and for identifying and correcting most potential problems in the greens it processes.
Ah! Must be the grower’s fault.
Well, no. Cattle were fenced out, although wild animals (including pigs) had access, but this isn’t generally a problem. After all, most crops are exposed to wild animals unless they’re grown in a green house. And it turns out the cattle in the immediate area were actually feeding on pasture, not confined to the cesspools called feedlots (a problem I suspected was the root cause when I wrote The GAPs Gap). The grower was seeking “organic” certification and so chicken manure was used for fertilizer instead of petroleum-based products, but it was properly sterilized.
In short, everyone from the packager down through the grower, to the company producing the grower’s fertilizer, appears to have done as good a job as one could hope for when humans are involved. There are some elements that need to be addressed. For instance, the packager only samples for bacterial contamination once a month, and daily would have been better. But the reality is you can’t sample every leaf.

(more…)

Posted by Kevin Weeks at 7:00 AM | Permalink

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