The whole issue of food is in dire need of perspective. Foodborne illness is not a new subject, but today the sources are not as easy to detect because we are a global food world now more than ever.
It used to be that if a family member got sick from food it was easy to trace because you simply recalled what was eaten and went to the cellar and removed the source. When food rots, bacteria thrive. That's why we call it perishable. But we must also consider the alternative, and how far we have come.
Our great grandparents would be amazed at the selection at our local stores year-round. They ate what was available at that moment and what they were able to preserve. Now I will admit that I prefer a garden tomato to a tomato bought in town on November 15, but isn't it wonderful that I can even get one in November.
People are distanced from their food. Try what your ancestors had to do – raise and butcher your own animals, grow all your own vegetables. It is truly hard work. It was a full-time job for wives 150 years ago.
Not only are you responsible for plants and animals during the growing season, but once the crop or animal is food, it's perishable. To be able to feed your family during the non-growing season takes a lot of preparation and planning.
The food processors have the burden of handling our food supply. And while we blame the industrial nature of food processing for illnesses and outbreak, that is not always who is at fault.
In recent memory there was an outbreak of e. coli in organic spinach that was eventually traced to wild animal droppings prior to the crop being harvested. This could have just as likely been in your garden.
There are 6 billion people now and it is estimated to be 9 billion to feed by the year 2050 while the number of acres in production is decreasing. The world will have to grow more food in the next 50 years than has previously been raised on this planet.
So far, agriculture and our industrialized food system has been up to the challenge. Food security in the U.S. is at an all-time high and most hunger in the world is from distribution and economic difficulties.
Do I think GMOs are the answer? I couldn't tell you. But what I do know is that we have to continue moving forward – education must be based on facts, not fear tactics.
The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.