Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Chicken Mafia Clamps Down on Traceability

Sometimes it amazes me that the desperately fragile human race has managed to accumulate such numbers globally. After all, there is danger around every corner and, potentially, in every egg. That's right, that miracle of nature, the egg, seems like it must be wreaking so much devastation upon humans, that Canada has decided that every egg, pullet (adolescent hen) and every egg laying chicken must be traceable.

Now I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of safe food systems but I wish to add my voice to those few who are screaming for people to recognize that the ways to efficiently ensure the safety of one's or one's family's food is to grow it oneself or develop relationships with small scale farmers and food processors who will grow and process it for you. I just don't see how adding more and more bureaucracy and complexity to the system will make it safer. That logic just doesn't add up as far as I can see.

I know this likely means higher costing food. Small scale farmers don't have "volume" sales that industrial producers can rely upon, nor do they have access to subsidies that industrial scale producers do. As such, industrial farming makes its money from subsidies derived from taxes, not from fair market pricing reached through a relationship between producer and consumer.

There are so many things in our western society that need fixing, desperately. But I agree with the notion that the most important might be fixing our food systems. To do so would likely relieve a lot of other problems as well.


Teresa said...

Wow! I hope that doesn't come here. There is already such a push to trace every bit of livestock that the records are getting unbelievable. I agree we don't need to add more.

Liz said...

Ah, the power of big business.

linda said...

The FDA is also cracking down (no pun intended) on egg safety. They are requiring that industrial farms test their eggs for salmonella as well as store eggs properly during transportation. Farms with fewer than 50,000 birds have until 2012 to comply. Based on my source, I am unclear about issues of traceability but with all that testing, I assume that traceability is most likley built in.My source is Food Network Magazine and the short blurb celebrates this news because you know....those Caesar salads are no longer dangerous to eat.

Jerry said...

I don't have a problem with industrial farms having stringent guidelines and monitoring.

I came across this article from 2004 discussing salmonella in eggs:

I admit that I was unaware of the development of this strain of salmonella but I would bet money that it "found its way into the ovaries of chickens and eventually into their eggs during the latter half of the twentieth century" via some horrible enclosure operation.

linda said...

I also was unaware of the relatively late introduction of salmonella. I agree that something about enclosed factory farming encouraged it.

I also have no problem with regulation of industrial farms but ideally, I would rather see them closed down entirely because of the cruelty aspect involved.

What I don't like about the new regulation is the "farms with less than 50,000 birds" part. To me, 50,000 birds is still a too large enterprise but what about smaller farms,about the size of yours? Could your family afford the testing?

Jerry said...

I doubt we would fit since we are less than the official egg producer size. I doubt the US has that kind of flexibility though.

Jerry said...

I agree though. I'd like to see them gone as well but I'm not sure most people understand or contemplate the logistical implications of removing them quickly.

I do not say this to suggest that they shouldn't be removed, just that it won't work unless its thought out and prepared for.

linda said...

Agreed. However, what will the corporations who own them do to jump through loopholes if they have fair notice just to keep going on as usual? It isn't going to happen either way. The logical way to deal with them is to tighten laws against animal cruelty.

You are also correct about the fact that the FDA will count farms like your families(and smaller) into the equation.

Jerry said...

The corporations we're talking about tend to create their own loopholes via their political control. And then they also work very hard to shift public view to the smaller operations, the amish, etc etc, using their clout to focus the legal system away from themselves.