For those who purchased a pre-made gingerbread house from Whole Foods, Christmas Eve's massive recall was an unwelcome holiday surprise. In 23 states, these festive houses, made by Rolf's Patisserie of Illinois, were voluntarily recalled because of a staph outbreak at four holiday parties from desserts catered by the company.
While these types of outbreaks are indeed scary and give shoppers pause, they're not worthy of mass hysteria. More importantly, our fears could be completely alleviated if we weren't so lazy.
Here's the thing: gingerbread isn't difficult to make if you can follow a recipe. But that's the problem: most Americans can't or won't -- even when it comes to our health and our kids' health. We've become too far removed from our food supply and entirely dependent on the industrial food process. Most of us have no idea what we're putting in our bodies because we didn't produce it. We consume food/laboratory hybrid products full of ingredients we can't pronounce and trust that there's nothing wrong with that, despite the fact we have the ability to avoid all that.
So we've created a system where recalls like these are almost commonplace because it's harder to control safety and quality when your production and distribution system is massive and widespread. A single factory provides a product (like a gingerbread house) for stores in 23 states, and it takes just one employee with an exposed sore to expose who knows how many people to the staph.
The more vast and expanse our food system, the less safe it becomes for all of us because the less opportunity we have to investigate our food sources ourselves. When the massive egg recall in the Midwest (where I live) happened, I didn't bat an eyelash. I buy my eggs from one of three sources, all local farmers, two of whose farms I have personally visited. I know these eggs are safe. And, yes, I pay a premium for these eggs, but it's worth it to me because I know they are safe, they are higher quality, and I'm supporting local, sustainable agriculture. So we use less eggs because they cost more, but we're okay with that.
Most of us are busy: working, raising families, keeping homes, and serving the community. But we have to eat well to feed our bodies to be able to work so hard. Food is something on which we can't shortchange ourselves. If we want to consume safe food, we have to work harder at cooking real food from real ingredients that come from trustworthy sources.
Do food recalls like this concern you or are they just par for the course?
Image via 8136496@N05/Flickr