Sunday, October 4, 2009

Real, Safe Food Comes From Local Farms

Even though the Bounty of the Barrens Farmers Market was not "officially" open yesterday, ten of our faithful vendors did show up to make local food and goods available to the people of Glasgow. Since the Sustainable Glasgow gang was not busy setting up and taking down the canopies and other equipment necessary to make the market work, I got a chance to purchase plenty of local food and we prepared that food last night. We had a salad made from Joe Trigg's lettuce and tomatoes (which traveled no more that four blocks since he grows these items right in the middle of Glasgow!). We had late season corn from another local vendor. We had ground beef from Dry Branch Farm (grass fed beef grown on their farm just over the county line in Monroe County and slaughtered in a local facility where the ground beef came from one cow and was never mixed with anything else...more on this later). For desert, we had a slice of a watermelon from Bobby Groce's farm. This meal proved that you we can provide food for ourselves -- real food that is safe to eat and tastes better than anything we might normally purchase at a big box retail store.

Reading the New York Times this morning underscored the value of that meal and our movement toward establishing a vibrant and durable local food supply. I urge you to click this link and read the frightening story about the simple hamburger that so many of us commonly purchase in a big box store and innocently assume we can throw it on the grill and enjoy. After reading this, I fully expect to see more of you at our farmers market and purchasing local, safe, real food from our local farms and vendors. Our lives literally depend upon it!


John's Custom Meats said...

RE: The Times Story

You know I'm always on board with buying local. I would also add that the processor for the farm you purchase from will be the determinate for Ecoli contamination over the actual farm. A farmer cannot and should not guarantee you, the consumer that their beef is free from ecoli contamination unless they have the testing results from the actual processor to back up that statement. And in the majority of the cases, I expect they cannot do this.

In fact, all ground beef products should be treated as if they have some degree of ecoli within it. Thus the cooking requirements of 160 degrees F for all ground beef, as this is the lethality step needed AT HOME to ensure a safe burger. This lethality step should be used regardless of who you purchased the meats from. Some seem to be feeding a false sense of security that will inevitably lead to an outbreak locally that will tarnish to good name of local meats.

With that said, I cannot support the falsities in the NY Times story. It may help me sell more burger, but it is loosely based and at times completely devoid of facts regarding the meat industry and how or why the contamination occurs.

This is the type of journalism that I believe should not continue to mis-inform consumers. If you or anyone else would like to know how ground beef is created, both large and small, just ask an expert. We are always here to tell truthful accounts of the process. Regardless of whether or not it helps me sell more burger.

This article lost me at this statement "...Despite this, there is no federal requirement for grinders to test their ingredients for the pathogen." and it was all down here from there. I am in this industry and I know factually that this statement is completely false. My expenses for outside & inside lab tests, supplies, analysis, etc... are enough to prove that statement false.

There are multiple reasons to support local foods, but fear should not be one of them and in fact, it is not the farmer that you are purchasing from that can and will ensure that the beef you buy from them is safe. It is the processor they chose to take their meats too. Not all small plants run in the same manner and that fact should also be known.

If there is a moral to my story it should be this....the consumer can prevent ecoli contamination from beef meats at home. Use the lethality step of 160 degrees F and your grounds, regardless of where you purchased it from, included our own USDA processing facility store front or local farmers at a farmers market or roadside stand, and the burger will be safe for your family to consume.

For further Q&A regarding ground meats, please visit:

Accuracy is important to any local food system. False sense of security can be the downfall of such as consumers play a very important role in food safety at home.

John's Custom Meats, LLC.

John's Custom Meats said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John's Custom Meats said...

I must also add this VERY important side note:

Do NOT, I repeat do NOT purchase a whole muscle cut (ie, sirloin, round, rump, chuck, etc...) and ask the store butcher to grind for burger or grind the cut for burger yourself!

This is a NO NO! You are at a greater risk of contamination from doing this. REFRAIN from doing this at all!

Retail store butchers and their meat practices are not monitored under USDA and they are NOT subject to the same inspection testing requirements. Whole muscle cuts are also not subject to the same high level of testing that trimmings are subjected too. The whole muscle cuts by their nature are subjected to lethality steps at home just by the means that you normally cook them (ie. heavy heat exposure to surfaces from flame on grill, heat from oven, slowcooker, etc...)