Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Know Where Your Food Comes From

From Haleakala Times

This week’s Food and Drug Administration warning to avoid certain tomato varieties which may carry salmonella, is a reminder, as tomato season begins in many parts of the country, that eating from sources close to home that you know and trust is one way to avoid exposure to widespread foodborne illnesses.

“With the growing number of salmonella cases linked to huge farms and packing plants, now more than ever it is important to know who is growing your food and the conditions under which it’s grown,” says Gloria Cohen, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine. Richard Ha of Hamakua Farms says, “Besides being grown by your local farmer, the vast majority of Hawaii grown tomatoes are Food Safety certified.”

The FDA has determined that homegrown tomatoes are safe to eat. Tracey Ryder, co-founder and president of Edible Communities, Inc., the network of publications dedicated to the local food movement across North America, says that, for many proponents of local eating, the next best thing to homegrown is locally grown on a small family farm. “If there is a problem with a locally grown crop, consumers can trace their food back to its source very quickly,” says Ryder. In the current case of salmonella in tomatoes, FDA officials have been trying to located the origin of the outbreak since May. “We’ve seen this exact situation before with industrially produced food,” says Ryder, “and we’re likely to see it again.”