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After 6 months, the FDA determined the outbreak of bacteria most likely originated from infested water used to irrigate the crop. A nearby Concentrated Animal Feed Operation could be responsible. In , federal inspectors cited Foster Poultry Farms more than times for failing to meet food safety standards at three plants in central California. Those plants were the source of drug-resistant Salmonella outbreak across 29 states and Puerto Rico that sickened people and hospitalized Public Domain cia pxhere, CC0.

Twelve million pounds of raw beef products possibly contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Salmonella were recalled starting in October of Despite being a dangerous pathogen, plants can sell products even if testing reveals Salmonella. Three million packages of popular snacks were recalled due to possible Salmonella contamination of the whey used in production. This shows companies should be more be diligent about inspecting their own suppliers.

This popular children's cereal was recalled after it was linked to a Salmonella outbreak. Later, the FDA issued two additional notices as some stores apparently failed to remove adulterated cereal from their shelves. Because these products are perishable and raw, a quick and efficient recall system is necessary because any delay risks more illnesses. However, the FDA found online companies and some stores still selling contaminated butter after the recall was issued. The food recalls illustrated by the case studies highlighted above raise concerns about the efficacy of current policies.

This has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination and inefficient use of resources. Gaps in public health protections, enforcement and inspection make it too likely that dangers will reach Americans plates with potentially disastrous consequences. Even if beef processors find salmonella in their meat, they can continue selling it until there's a major disease outbreak, and now, nearly people in 25 states have been infected with a strain of Salmonella linked to beef.

Skip to main content. AshTproductions: via Shutterstock. The food industry is responsible for producing safe food, and government agencies are responsible for setting food safety standards, conducting inspections, ensuring that standards are met and maintaining a strong enforcement program to deal with those who do not comply with standards.

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The Food Safety Modernization Act was enacted in , enabling the Food and Drug Administration, working with a wide range of public and private partners, to better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system. Food safety affects everyone, and although the United States' food and water system has many protections in place, food safety continues to be a public health concern.

Each year, 1 in 6 Americans is sickened by food poisoning, caused by bacteria or other pathogens in food.

Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 85 percent of all foodborne illness could be prevented if people handled food properly. More and more organic food is coming all the way from China. The word sustainable is overused these days, but spend some time on a well-managed farm, as I did, and you see how different it can be.

A sustainable farm is one that draws food from the earth without diminishing it—creating more energy, in the form of food calories, than it consumes, in the form of fossil fuel. Sad to say, many organic farms are far from sustainable, and the most sustainable farm I found—Polyface Farm in Virginia—is not officially organic. But here pigs get to live like pigs, chickens like chickens, and cows like cows—each according to their nature, and in a symbiotic relationship.

For it turns out that not only are you what you eat, but you are what you eat eats too. A farm like Polyface demonstrates there is a free lunch in nature: a way to feed ourselves without either emiserating animals or diminishing the earth. Indeed, this is a farm where the topsoil actually increases every year. Nothing else we do has as profound an effect on the health of the earth, not to mention that of our bodies.

I would also say food is a national security issue.


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One-fifth of the fossil fuel we consume goes to growing, processing and shipping our food—more than we consume driving our cars. Another reason food is a national security issue is that a highly centralized food system, in which 90 percent of our food chain passes through a half dozen corporate hands, is dangerously vulnerable to contamination, whether by terrorists or microbes.

But what is so striking about food as a political issue is that this is one issue where all of us can make a difference—even more than our votes, our food choices can make a tremendous difference on critical questions about energy, the environment and the economic health of our communities.

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How we choose to eat represents one of the most powerful, and hopeful, votes we have to cast. People often ask me what they should eat, but I usually answer their question with another question. What matters to you? What values do you want to support with your eating decisions? If you care about preserving farms where you live, then buy local.

How can you know? These are some of the greatest pleasures in life! The deeper I delved into the industrial food chain, the more I realized how expensive cheap food is, if you do a true accounting. That 99 cent fast food burger is cheap at the register, but its true cost—to the environment, to your health, to the taxpayer—is unimaginably steep. So cheap food is actually astonishingly expensive. The majority of us, though, can afford to spend more for honestly price food. Americans spend less than 10 percent of their disposable income on food—less than any people on earth the French spend 20 percent; the Chinese 50 percent , less in fact than any people in history.

Why do we assume that a five-cent egg, from a factory farm where the chickens lived in battery cages, had their beaks clipped off to prevent them from cannibalizing one another, and were fed pig meal, is the same product as a thirty cent egg from a chicken that lived outdoors and got to eat grass and insects as it was designed to do?

For all the difference in taste and nutritional quality, these might as well be two completely different foods. What was the most challenging moment for you? Shooting a wild boar and then eating it. Just how much I enjoyed it. My adventures in hunting and gathering were challenging, but deeply gratifying.

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To prepare a meal literally from scratch, even just once in your life, to follow a food chain all the way from the earth to the table, is to be reminded of something fundamental and beautiful but easily forgotten in our fast food world: that, whatever we choose to eat, we eat by the grace not of industry or the supermarket, but of nature. We need to defend food? Both encourage us to think in terms of nutrients, rather than foods, and both benefit from widespread confusion about something that should be quite simple: deciding what to eat. So the manufacturers add complexity and convenience and do just about everything to our food except leave well enough alone.

In fact, the scientists and the manufacturers are often allies. Both promote this idea that nutrients matter more than foods. Typically, the nutrition scientists highlight some amazingly important new nutrient, and then the manufacturers rush to reformulate food products to have more of that nutrient so they can slap a health claim on it. When did you start writing In Defense of Food and what was the impetus behind it? As I traveled across the country talking about that book, I found that readers were, first, astounded to learn what they were eating, and second, eager to know how they might change the way they eat.

I was surprised to discover how confused so many of us are about this most elemental of creaturely activities: figuring out a healthy diet. So I began researching the whole question of food and health to see if I could come up with a few simple rules of eating. To my surprise, I discovered that the scientists had less to teach us about eating healthfully than I expected—that the science of nutrition is still a very primitive science—and that there is a much more reliable source of wisdom on the subject.

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That wisdom is in the form of traditional foods, cuisines, and food cultures, which are the product of hundreds, if not thousands, of years of trial and error figuring out how to keep people healthy using whatever grows in a specific place. Culture has more to teach us about how to eat well than science. That was a big surprise to me.


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It not only was a national bestseller and named a best book of the year by five publications including The New York Times , but it also galvanized a new national conversation on food, as evidenced by regular news articles and food pieces that cite your book. Did the response surprise you? I was flabbergasted by the response. It told me that the culture was ready to have a new conversation about food and that people were deeply troubled by the American way of eating.

You never know when you start a book just where the culture will be when you finish it. But between the obesity epidemic, food safety issues like E. This is one of those cases where the personal is political, and to do the right thing for yourself is to do the right thing for the land, the farmers, the animals.

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You call In Defense of Food a manifesto and indeed it is much more opinionated and programmatic than your other books. Was it difficult for you to write this way? It was actually surprising easy to write this way. What I learned fundamentally changed the way I eat; this book is my attempt to share that with readers. Nutritionism is the predominant ideology about food in America.

Since nutrients are invisible—or visible only to scientists—it follows that we need expert help in order to eat properly.

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Another equally destructive assumption of nutritionism is that the whole point of eating is to advance our physical health. This is a very narrow and novel idea that, ironically, has done nothing to improve our health. To the contrary, our obsession with eating healthy—with nutritionism—has coincided with a decline in dietary health—with the explosion of obesity and diabetes over the past twenty-five years.

Nutritionism is ruining our health, not to mention our meals. That training is an indoctrination in nutritionism.