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January 29, 2009

Reuse and Recall - thoughts on the food industry

Posted by Anna Bowen at 10:14 AM ET

As an aspiring organic gardener/farmer, and a lover of good eats, I'm always taken in by news about food. I just want to explore three things here: biodiesel, peanuts, and corn syrup.

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This morning it was reported that Calgary is thinking about manufacturing biodiesel for city busses out of beef tallow. The idea is that if the fuel is coming from cows, it's not coming from the fields -- a critique of much of the biodiesel innovations these days. Just the fact that there is enough beef tallow lying around is enough to make you look twice at your burger, but I suppose using all the parts of the animal is something I can get behind. Still other companies are using chicken fat and other leftover animal junk for fuel.

I am totally into alternative sources of fuel, but when we're resorting to the use of cows, the blubber from barnyard foul, and corn to fuel our transportation needs, it's always good to point out that we need to balance reducing our dependency on fuel with looking for alternative sources.

Yesterday, the US recalled masses of peanuts in a salmonella scare, after reports say that eight people have died of salmonella poisoning related to the nutbutter. Authorities have traced the scare back to The Peanut Corporation of America plant in Georgia. Apparently, this is one of the largest food recalls in American history.

If you're wondering how peanuts get salmonella (wait isn't salmonella just in raw chicken juice?) you're not alone. Patty Lovera, Assistant Director of Food & Water Watch, reports that salmonella sometimes gets into plants by leaking through roofs or from animal products being applied to fields (ok, manure, that's organic, isn't it?)

More interesting still, Democracy Now reports today that high fructose corn syrup, used to sweeten everything from jellyrolls to chocolate sauce, has been found to contain traces of mercury. I'm not suggesting that we need to stop buying fruit cups and cocopuffs, but the way that our food industry is streamlined amazes me. To get a grip on the proliferation of corn in our diets, I've heard nothing but praise for Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma


More entries on: Food Security and Agriculture


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