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Eggstremely Stupid

Classic quote of the day from the owner of the Wright County Egg farm when asked about the salmonella outbreak that sickened 1300 people:   “It’s a complicated subject,” the elder DeCoster answered when asked to explain how the contamination occurred.

Evidently, the "egg-sperts"  are confused, too: "Newly released reports pointing to years of positive salmonella tests at an Iowa egg facility have baffled some experts and egg producers."

Maybe I can help make the problem a little more understandable. 

With one sentence:

Any time you cram 15 million chickens into a building and use them to make food, you will have rampant disease, no matter how many tons of antibiotics you give them.

If this doesn't make sense to the experts, here are some pictures to illustrate the point:

http://www.all-creatures.org/anex/chicken.html

This is not rocket science.  The fact that the FDA and the CDC don't understand that you can't drop hundreds of thousands of chickens into a confined space and expect them to produce healthy eggs clearly demonstrates that more regulation is NOT the solution to this problem.  The FDA couldn't regulate its way out of a wet paper bag; it's a powerless organization.

The beginning of a solution would be to subsidize small farms that produce food using sane, humane and sustainable methods.  Where would the money come from?  How about eliminating the $20 billion in corn subsidies (which, incidentally, are turning our population into walking, talking balls of lard) and offering grants to small farms that produce food for human consumption.

The current food production system is an enormous threat to our national security.  Our population stands at about 307 million people.  Our food comes from about 2 million farms.  A vast number of these farms (400,000) grow corn...mostly feed corn for cattle or ethanol production. Another 350,000 grow soy. In the U.S., only four companies produce 81 percent of the cows, 73 percent of the sheep, 57 percent of the pigs and 50 percent of the chickens we eat.   These companies are all environmental disasters waiting to happen.

As we discovered with last month's recall of a half billion eggs, if a single food producer screws up, it screws up big.  The topic of discussion for the last 2 years has been "too big to fail." As it turns out, this applies as much to food producers as it does to banks.  We can't allow food companies to exist that are so large that a single mishap threatens the food supply of millions of people. 

The obvious solution is to create as much diversity and redundancy in our system of food production as humanly possible; in other words, encourage small farming. That way, if a farm (or region of the country) is affected by drought, disease, terrorism, or whatever, it won't threaten our entire food supply.

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