Apr 27th, 2007
Need another reason to buy food locally or at least food produced in the U.S.? How about the fact that almost 99% of all the food imported is not being inspected by the FDA. One of the FDA’s primary responsibilities is to ensure a safe food supply for this country. But ,the agency is overworked and understaffed. Consider this, last month they found 850 shipments of grains, nuts, fish, vegetables, spices and oils to be be tainted by filth, unsafe colorings, toxic pesticides and salmonella. Remember, they only inspected 1.3 percent of the total amount of food imported to the U.S. The amount of food imported is expected to increase over the next year, while the number of food inspections are expected to decrease to 1.1 percent.
It is estimated that the average American eats around 260 lbs of imported food per year in some form. Much of this food comes from Mexico and Canada, but an increasing amount of it is coming from China. We have seen the problems when tainted food is imported from China and released into our food system. This time it affected our pet’s food, what about the next time? With very little food being inspected and nearly $70 billion dollars worth of it being imported annually, this can be bad news.
So you want to know where your food is coming from? Good luck! The Farm Act of 2002 mandated that certain types of food be labeled based on country of origin. Fruits and vegetables are still not required to be labeled. It really turns into a catch-22…the food is not being inspected for safety and we can’t avoid it because it’s not labeled. And…if labeling is required, the food may be processed into other food (e.g. wheat gluten) without our knowledge. This makes it difficult for the consumer to make an educated decision on the food they want to put into their bodies.
There really isn’t a silver bullet answer for avoiding imported food, unless you live on a farm and only eat the food you grow on it. The next best thing is to buy from known local sources like farmers markets and grocery stores that buy locally. It may be difficult to avoid imported food altogether, but reducing our intake of it will certainly help. This is a perfect instance of "less is more".