Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So where did all that food come from....

In an effort to try and eat more sustainable and local foods, I have decided to try and document at least one meal per week.  This meaning that I am trying to trace down where my foods really come from, and how they were produced.  I may not find all the answers that I am looking for since the research is really only going to be done via Internet (although I wish I had the time and resources to venture across the land and explore farming like Michael Pollan).  My recent obsession of food findings is in fact due to Pollan; I have finally finished reading Omnivore's Dilemma - a fantastic read on how, why, and where our food really comes from. Pollan travels the country, interviewing many farmers, and documenting the industrial and pastoral food chains.  I definitely recommend this book if you haven't already read it.

While I was cooking my last blog meal- "The Irish Feast", I made note of the producers/manufacturer's of all the ingredients.  I'm listing the store names in case any of you interested readers shop at these same places, or buy the same brands, you will have an idea of where your food is coming from too.

Trader Joe's Note:  Quite a few items are from Trader Joe's - it's hard to get exact information since they have their own private label, however, they say that "Our customers can be assured that all products in Trader Joe's private label are sourced from non-genetically modified ingredients."  They also list that there is NO MSG, added trans fats, nor artificial colors or flavorings in any of their products.

Trader Joe's Butter
Apples - Organic from Washington Domex  - tree fruit company that hasn't gotten any bad publicity as far as I can tell - that's good!
Parsnips- from Meijer - no producer name??
Onions- Organic from Peri and Sons Farms in NV  (rec'd score of A from BBB (Better Business Bureau)
Seasonings- sources unknown
Garlic- Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, CA  (garlic capital of the world FYI) - claim to use heirloom seeds; largest producer of garlic in the country...hmmm
Chicken Stock- Organic from Trader Joe's
Sour Cream- Organic - Meijer
Parsley- USA Little Bear Brand - of which I just read that their curly parsley and cilantro were both recalled in Dec. for positive testing of salmonella - great..

Meijer Naturals Old Fashioned Oats - No GMO's is the only thing I can get from this label
All-purpose flour, sugar, and baking soda - Trader Joe's
Rosemary - Infinite Herbs - whose website gives no info on how or where the product is produced
Milk - Kilgus Farms, grass fed cows with feeding pasture rotation; does not sell outside a 100 mile radius :) (and only 50 miles from my home- maybe I should take a drive out!)
Beef - Triple S Farms (local farmer whom I have met and like- still waiting to get out to his farm this spring)
Potatoes- Russets from Idaho ??
Carrots- Local from Blue Moon Farm
Peas - Organic from Meijer

Some good, some bad, some I'm just not too sure where it came from, which can be a large problem with store-brand or private-label items.  These grocers and distributors what to make their own niche in the organic market, but at what cost?  These private labels are anonymous by their own nature.  According to The Cornucopia Institue
"Our research indicates that the vast majority of organic eggs for private label brands are produced on industrial farms that house hundreds of thousands of birds and do not grant the birds meaningful outdoor access. If these grocery chains want to truly express a commitment to organics, and communicate this tangibly to their customer base, we would encourage them to specify on their label which egg producers and cooperatives they are "partnering with" and to fully participate, transparently, in The Cornucopia Institute research study and scorecard."
Now I really can't wait for spring/summer to arrive:  fresh produce from the garden and the farmer's market!
Good luck in you own shopping endeavors.

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