Eating local is an awesome statement of a persons beliefs translated into a positive action.
Eating local helps artisan craftspeople, small farmers and boosts the local economy. Shopping local requires less energy for the food to arrive to your table and it is normally fresher than anything that can be purchased from a major retailer. However, many food items available locally do not fall under any kind of regulatory authority.
That means that these food items are produced in facilities that are not inspected for sanitation and safety. No one is checking to ensure that these foods are wholesome and not contaminated or that they do not contain allergens that could adversely impact consumers.
There is a push right now to limit regulation of foods produced in private homes and allow them to be sold in small amounts to the general public. These laws called "cottage foods laws" have been passed in many states including the State of Florida.
Some states allow baked good with non potentially hazardous fillings and frostings to be produced and sold due to the low water activity of these items. That does not mean they can not be contaminated in other ways. How are consumers to know if the person producing the item washed their hands prior to packaging or that their corgi did no lick the bag as it sat on the unclean floor? Did they wash the pans and bowls properly? Or were the leaking shells from the raw eggs sitting on the counter as the muffins were turned out of the pans?
This scenario may seem extreme, however, after several years of doing food inspections I can state with complete honesty that poor food handling occurs in permitted firms. When we are not on site for extended periods of time safe handling practices slip and when we do inspect the results can be disturbing. Permitted facilities that I have been in have had dogs in processing areas, small children playing in kitchens, no hot water, foods out of temperature, rodents, roaches and a plethora of other critical issues.
If those issues are present when we inspect who is to say that issues will not be in an facility that does not undergo inspection?
For the record I am not against cottage foods, I am against them not having to meet safety guidelines. In Florida people producing under the cottage foods law do not even have to take a food safety class. Additionally, producers make assumptions on what is acceptable to make and sell. Just because someone thinks their product is safe does not automatically make it so.
So until the next post if you are at a Farmers Market, Green Market or Flea Market ask where the product is made and what ingredients it contains. Do not be afraid to ask after all your health is just as important as eating locally.
Coming Soon: Local Food Raw Dairy and Canned Goods
I love life!
Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!