The Coolest August in Years

I don’t have to tell anyone that this has been an unusual summer.  The unusually cool weather has extended green bean season, while parsley has suffered.  This kind of give and take is expected when the weather does strange things.  I count us lucky that tomatoes have been coming in well, since they really like it hot and sunny, two things we have not had much of this season.  On the foraging front, I’ve never seen so many mushrooms in such abundance.

Belonging to a CSA is great while the season is in full swing, but the season ends, the CSA ends, and each of us is relegated to either eating what we’ve preserved, or what we can purchase in grocery stores or the few farmers markets that operate through the winter.  Each year, the Environmental Working Group tests conventional produce for chemical residues and publishes the results to help consumers who are concerned with such things, make smart purchasing choices.  (link 1)

Of course, what can get sprayed on our food while it’s growing is not the only source for chemicals in food.  Processed food often has industrial chemicals used to color, preserve, or enhance flavors.  Most of those chemicals have never been tested for safety, and the FDA isn’t even aware of many of the chemicals used by food companies.  (link 2)  This is precisely the kind of thing that gets me all riled up.  I simply don’t understand how those who decide to use these chemicals can look in the mirror every day and feel proud of what they do for a living, which is to risk the health of those who eat their foods and essentially experiment on the American public.  It certainly doesn’t help that people loyal to industrial food are now holding important positions in the regulatory structures that are supposed to prioritize our health and well being.  Their loyalty insures them good jobs later on, and protect corporate profits instead of consumers.

I know that to read my rants, or to hear me talk about it, it might seem that I consider industrial food all bad.  While I find a host of serious problems intrinsic to industrial food, I don’t believe the industry is populated by evil people, nor do I think the companies who produce industrial food have to be bad.  Mark Bittman chimed in this week, noting that industrial food is not all evil.  (link 3)  The problems I see are often about misplaced priorities, but at the same time, these systems have produced economies of scale that are impressive from a purely business perspective.

Nashville Grown, the food hub I started almost a year ago now, has taught me many things about efficiency and running a food distribution network.  I have been forced to pay attention to and borrow ideas from certain aspects of industrial food.  The primary difference, again, is priorities.  That is how I keep myself from going down a path that makes my business part of the problem rather than the solution.  Part of the solution is to preserve food whenever I can, and to teach and encourage others to do the same.  This is a great week to put up corn and make some pickles.  Check the recipes. If you want in, corn is here!

Here are a few links that may interest you:

EWG list- http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

Chemicals in Food- http://www.livescience.com/38962-industrial-chemicals-in-food-not-safety-tested.html

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