24 September 2006

Open Source Food

There's a fascinating story on WorldChanging examining the current outbreak of the potentially lethal bacterium E. coli O157:H7 in the US spinach industry. Interestingly:

A curious yet widespread claim is that, because some of the spinach so far identified as contaminated came from organic farms, organic farming is unsafe. It's a curious claim, because scientists understand pretty well where the O157:H7 is coming from: the bellies of factory-farmed cows. Their manure, as it turns out, is now crawling with the critters.

The piece then goes on to suggest:

But I think there's something bigger coming, which is a move towards not just buying local food, but knowing the backstory of the food we buy.


Here, the backstory is what happened to our food before we bought it. Who raised it? Where was it grown, and on what kind of land? Did the farmer use fertilizers and pesticides, or integrated pest management? Antibiotics or free-range grazing? Was the soil conserved, or is it eroding? How did it reach us, and how was the money we spent on it split up?

Another way of putting it is that food should be open source, not the current "black box" that has to be taken on trust - with sometimes fatal consequences.


Roberto JC said...

Spain has such a requirement with eggs.

Glyn Moody said...

Interesting - thanks.