As we hear stories about stocks falling and turkey recalls, it’s tempting to just put a pillow over our heads. But those issues still face us as we emerge from our “den.” Over and over I hear worries about jobs, jobs, jobs and how the government isn’t doing enough. For most of us facing these challenges, we’re finding our way to move forward, through garage sales, second jobs, expanding on a crafting idea.  But for many people, those answers aren’t easy to come by.

What if there was a community kitchen where people could make cookies to sell? or lemonade?  What if we bought furniture that was built to last for generations? How would that affect our economy?  Rather than have one employer that hires thousands of people, what about hundreds of small businesses that hired a few other people? Having grown up outside Detroit in the 1970’s I’ve seen what happens what the “one horse town,” turns up with a lame horse.  Thank God Detroit is turning itself around, but it’s taken a couple of generations to do that. How many people lost their jobs along the way?

When I heard about the ground turkey recall I sighed “Here we go again.”  Here is a food that is growing in popularity because of its health benefits, being condemned due to careless handling.  Now, for those of us who could grow our own turkey, we have personal power in how safe our meats are.  We can make sure we get things cleaned properly, stored properly, and discard that which we’re not sure of. But that’s not the majority of people. Most people need to know that their food is safe. How do we do that?  Choices.  People can buy it from the farmer themselves and grind it themselves. People can buy the ground meat from an inspected facility. But right now we buy it from a “anonymous source.”  The butcher doesn’t know where it came from. We probably never see the butcher ourselves. And there is no accountability

With Federal dollars at a premium, doesn’t it seem proper to concentrate the inspectors on the processors that feed the most people? In this case Cargill voluntarily recalled the meat before anyone was named. Kudos to them! We need to see that happen more often. The fact that the FDA and USDA has no power to order a recall seems silly,  if indeed they are using good science in making their decisions. To me it makes sense to fund the food inspectors properly and give them enforcement power to protect the largest number of citizens, rather than try to ban small producers and make it more difficult to produce high quality food.
I applaud the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,” program. Those personal relationships allow more people to find quality food that is raised with care, rather than manipulated through bar codes.  I finally heard the FDA state something that we all need to remember.  The ground turkey, ground beef, or whatever, is not going to make you sick IF you cook it properly.  Now, let’s teach people what that means. Not with a thermometer that we can sell, but with visual and tactile tools like our ancestors have had since they learned to cook.  We have the power to control things. We can make our lives better. It’s not going to be the way it has been for years, but realistically that didn’t work, we just didn’t notice.  It’s going to take individual choices, personal responsibility and community cooperation.  That’s what we’re trying to do at NCSC. Want to learn how? Help us show you?

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