Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Food Safety Affects Land Use

Many of you have already read the recent compelling piece in The New York Times about beef safety.  The article chronicles the devastating story of a young dance instructor paralyzed by a virulent strain of E. Coli in a patty of ground beef packaged by Cargill.

Interesting, but why am I posting about this on the Land Use Prof blog?  It's because of a follow up piece  on Grist about why ground meat is so prevalently infected with this strain of bacteria. The author's conclusion is that in industrial food production, cows are consistently fed corn, which they cannot easily digest.  His advice, therefore, is to eat locally-grown, grass fed beef.  And there's your land use issue - how can we ensure there is enough agricultural land capable of sustaining enough grass-fed beef production to satisfy local demand?  I know that here in Athens our organic farmers and local meat suppliers struggle with capacity issues.  And even in this recession, productive agricultural land continues to be eaten up by sprawl.  Organizations like the American Farmland Trust are working hard to reverse that trend, by encouraging agricultural land conservation and changes in federal farmland policy.  What is your locality doing on this issue?

Jamie Baker Roskie

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