Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Submitted by Miss Danielle on Wed, 06/11/2008 - 11:34am.

Name the fast food chain, and I can guarantee they have a sign up that says "We are currently not serving tomatoes". I find this interesting because unlike our neighbours to the south, we don't have a salmonella problem with crops grown here in Canada (so far). Which brings me to today's rant.

150 Americans in 16 states have become ill after eating raw tomatoes. At first the concern was only in Texas and New Mexico, but now the warning has expanded to the entire country. The FDA has not been able to track where the tomatoes came from. There was a similar scare with spinach a few years ago. So why haven't we done something to address this problem? You can apply tougher handling/maintenance/growing terms on the farming industry, but if you can't track where the food is coming from, what good will it do? Instead, I feel it reinforces the idea of purchasing from local farmers.

The whole cost-of-gas/transportation variable aside (which will soon be changing what you find at your local grocer and up the prices far more than what we're seeing now), buying local allows for easier tracking of produce and containment when these things happen.

And why is my local fast food place importing tomatoes from the States when we grow tomatoes year-round in Ontario? THAT is what makes my blood boil. Especially in a time when our economy is faltering. You might be able to save a bit by importing produce. Fine. I can't imagine that will continue to be the case. Meanwhile, we're not supporting our own agricultural community.

The market is changing, and I'm seeing it on a local level. We have a farmer's market at a community centre not far from me, and a new one has just started (all organic local produce) just a few blocks away.

I thought it was interesting that a citizen who lived nearby raised a concern that the farmer's market would run our mom and pop green grocers out of business. I thought that was an unrealistic fear since a) the market is on a Thursday for only 4 hours and b) the local grocers would probably be able to clean up at the end of the day, buying up whatever is left at a discount and selling it in their shop the next morning.

Corporations, specifically food chains and big-name grocery stores, need to adjust how they shop. The rest of us are.


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