Anyone paying even half-attention to the news these days is probably tired of wondering if their food is safe. Yes, I'm talking about the dreaded peanut recall here. It seems the list of potetntially salmonella contaminated peanut products is growing each day, but while most everyone is talking about re-examining food safety regulations (and rightly so), it seems to me a potentially larger issue isn't being discussed.
You see, the peanut recall/scare is one of the best examples I can think of showing the dangers of shipping food across great distances. It highlights yet another reason why trying to eat locally whenever possible is important. The thing is, no matter how carefully food plants and farms are regulated, mistakes and accidents happen. That's life. Food sometimes becomes contaminated. It's unfortunate, but when it happens, it should generally be a relatively small problem. But obviously it turns into a BIG and national problem when a safety breakdown in a plant somewhere in Georgia is able to affect the safety of a good chunk of the country's food supply. It seems kind of silly when you think about it: one processing plant in Georgia has caused an entire nation to fear peanuts. If that plant had served only the local area or even only Georgia, the problem would have been much more limited, and much more controllable.
Things like this happen with produce too. Produce grown in California ends up in South Carolina. It ends up everywhere. And if a salmonella problem (or some other problem) develops on that California farm, it quickly becomes a national issue.
Maybe in all the national debate about the peanut recall, the question of shipping our food across the country (and often across the world) should be given at least a little bit of discussion. After all, it doesn't seem to necessarily be the safest way of doing things.
By the way - If you just can't live without peanut butter but simply don't trust what you find in stores, you can always make your own.