Unless you’ve not read a newspaper or listened to television in a month, you probably know about the huge recall of frozen vegetables in our country. Due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination, CRF Frozen Foods has voluntarily recalled all of the frozen vegetables and products manufactured or processed since May 1, 2014 (more than 350 products including more than 40 well known national brands) at its Pasco, Washington facility. The facility is now closed. The list of recalled products is here.
Listeria monocytogenes is a microscopic organism that can survive very cold temperatures. It can cause high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In healthy adults these symptoms can generally be managed, but in people with compromised immune systems, including the very young or elderly and pregnant women, listeria can be deadly. Since 2013, seven people from three states have had listeria linked back to CRF frozen foods as a possible cause.
So what does knowing your producer and shopping small and local have to do with saving chickens and reducing waste? Lots. When produce is purchased fresh from an identified farm, if someone gets sick from the food, it can be traced and problems addressed with relatively little waste. Despite hours of internet searching, it was not possible to learn how many thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of pounds of organic and non-organic broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, edamame, green beans, Italian beans, kale, leeks, lima beans, onions, peas, pepper strips, potatoes, potato medley, root medley, spinach, sweet potatoes, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries were recalled and trashed as a result of this potential contamination.
And because these vegetables were included in Trader Joe’s Chicken Fried Rice and Costco’s Ajinomoto Yakatori Chicken Fried Rice, Petite Cuisine Southwest Chicken Firecracker, and Petite Cuisine Chicken Poblano Firecrackers, out of an abundance of caution, those items also needed to be recalled. That’s how knowing your producer, and shopping small and local can help save chickens. Who knows how many chickens died in vain because a huge processing plant supplied a huge market for products sold all across the country?
While there is economy in scale, and a nearby processing facility to quick freeze excess in season vegetables is something that many local farmers might benefit from, it will always be important to maintain traceability for the food that we eat. The best way we know to do that is to “know your producer.” At the Doylestown Food Market, we help make that happen.