Have the egg-warning emails been flooding your inbox like mine? “Steer clear of eggs!” “Stop eating eggs!” “Dangerous egg recall!” The panic is spreading. We had it over spinach. We had it over ground beef many times. And now we have it over eggs.
|local egg picture courtesy of the Daily Green blog|
But stopping eating eggs for a few weeks is not the answer. Because if we do that, it’s only a matter of time before the next breakout occurs. And next time, it might be milk, or baby carrots, or another staple.
It’s time for us to wake up, and demand changes be made to our food supply. And the best way for us to demand those changes is with our wallets. We need to be aware of what we’re buying, aware of what we’re putting in our mouths and our children’s mouths. Organic used to be a fringe term, and now it’s carried by Walmart. Bovine growth hormone (rBGH) used to be in most milk bottles, but now BGH-free is stamped on most milk, even non-organic. BPA-free containers used to be impossible to find and manufacturers claimed there was no danger, but now most baby bottles are proudly labeled BPA-free, and the FDA recently admitted that it might be harmful. As mothers and consumers, we have the power to make companies change products to make them safer. We talk, we blog, and most importantly, we control the majority of our families’ budget.
At the end of Food, Inc, a farmer makes a powerful, yet simple statement that has haunted me ever since, especially when I price-scan the products on my supermarket shelves. He said something to the effect of, “Of course we can grow food that is healthier and better for you. But you have to be willing to pay for it.” As long as we keep buying eggs on price alone, looking for a dozen under three dollars, we will encourage men like Jack Decoster to continue packing hens into tiny cages to produce the cheapest eggs possible and to lobby the FDA to keep salmonella vaccinations optional. Yes, free-range eggs are more expensive than conventional eggs, but they’re produced in a cleaner, more humane way and I feel safer buying them.
|fresh corn picture courtesy of the Daily Green blog|
As consumers we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about the food we put in our mouths. There is no simple answer, no magic organic label that can be slapped onto food products to assure us they are safe. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are perfectly safe to be purchased from your local non-organic farmers, products like corn, onions, pineapple and asparagus. Bottom line is that we vote with everything we choose to put in our shopping baskets and we need to be conscious of those choices. My shopping habits are varied. I buy local, I buy organic, and I buy processed foods, but regardless of what I’m buying, there is one constant: I buy aware. I try to stay on top of big health news and try to use my common sense, knowing that an apple that was picked at a nearby farm or an egg that was laid by a hen that had actually seen the sun at some point in her life is going to be a good food choice.
Buying aware and with common sense is all that we can do in the face of these frightening recalls. But it is a much more powerful thing than you can even imagine.