THE CANTALOUPE CRISIS
The Truth That Dare Not Speak Its Name:
The Priority Can Be Safe or The Priority Can Be Local, But It Cannot Be Both
"Yet, we would say it is not shocking. We also would say that whatever the specific cause of this outbreak, the more general cause is the local food movement. More specifically, the willingness of large buyers to waive food safety standards so they can buy regionally."He says, "An awful lot of these cantaloupes wound up in Wal-Mart," which was peculiar given Wal-Mart's adoption of more stringent food safety standards in 2008. If Wal-Mart wanted to buy a safe cantaloupe, they wouldn't be buying a washed cantaloupe:
"What the California cantaloupe industry found was that one should not wash a cantaloupe. That moisture itself is the enemy of safety. California packers, who were proud of their wash systems, shut them off."But:
"Jensen Farms washed all its cantaloupes," even though, "the science says don't get them wet."And the outbreak does appear to be caused by a small producer who distributed locally:
So why did Wal-Mart buy cantaloupes from a small, local producer? Were they setting aside food safety standards in favor of a marketing angle?
"What we do know, though, is that the food media and food industry has been complicit in deceiving consumers into thinking they can have it all. The Wal-Mart buyer, or any commercial buyer, can make a priority of safe or he can make a priority of local. It is a deception to think he can make both his top priority."