While watching the evening news last week, a horrifying story caught my ear. Indiana State Police had found a food truck carrying meat and produce to Indianapolis area restaurants that wasn’t adequately refrigerated. In fact, the trooper claimed that the smell of rotting meat was overwhelming.
The story went on to mention that food trucks carrying spoiled product has become a serious problem this year because of the drought and drivers’ attempts to save fuel by keeping refrigerated compartments at higher temperatures.
Then this morning, my husband forwarded yet another story about food that was destroyed because it hadn’t been kept at a safe temperature in the delivery truck. This disgusts me on so many levels, but honestly, it wasn’t something that I’d ever thought too much about until now.
As a kid, I remember hearing stories about eggs that sat on pallets in grocery stores waiting to be stocked. As I got older, I didn’t worry about it too much because I’ve eaten a LOT of eggs in my life and I’ve never gotten sick from consuming them. The fact of the matter is though, when we eat at restaurants or buy our food from the store where it’s refrigerated, we have no idea how that food was treated before it comes under our control. It also never occurred to me that the practice of raising a thermostat to save fuel would be common place. It’s no wonder we have food safety issues in this country!
By knowing where our food comes from, we have a much smaller chance of experiencing problems like this. For instance, if I buy beef or produce from the family that also happens to take me to church every Sunday, I know how the food is handled, and if there were an issue, I’d know who to talk to.
By getting as much of my food as possible from local sources, I can be assured that it’s spent almost no time in transit from the farm to my table. Paying a bit extra for that added benefit (as well as the many other benefits that we see from supporting our local farmers and ranchers) is definitely worth it to me and my family. I only wish more people shared our view.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that all food that isn’t local is poison. I’m certainly not saying that all local food is manna from Heaven. My family isn’t in a position to buy every last bit of our food from local growers. That doesn’t mean that I can’t be more aware of problems that I never envisioned so that I can be more informed when I make purchases for my family. I’ll certainly see my trips to the store in a different light, and I’ll use even more scrutiny when sourcing the real food on which my family’s diet is based.