The ominous subtitle of Eric Schlosser’s bestselling “Fast Food Nation” is “The Dark Side of the American Meal.” There is one food poisoning and contamination scare after another from beef to spinach to peanut butter to ground turkey. The latest is cantaloupes. You know the line, “It must have been something I ate.” Indeed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food safety problems now account for roughly 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths annually. The growth of local food, community gardens, closer to home food networks, community supported agriculture subscriptions, and farmers’ markets are increasingly popular alternatives to industrialized agriculture. At the same time the economic crisis limits choices for many families. The healthiest foods can be costly. How can we create a sustainable and affordable food system?
Joel Salatin is a pioneer of chemical-free farming and an advocate of local food. He runs the Polyface Farm in Virginia. He is featured in the bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma and the Oscar-nominated documentary Food Inc., as well as Fresh: The Movie.