I tripped over this commentary as I looked over my Google alerts this morning. The notion of putting a bar code on very piece of leafy green so that it can be traced back to the field in which it was grown in case of some kind of contamination strikes me as another high-tech means of locking a barn door after the horse has left the building. It is only feasible because someone has some computing power they want to use. I like technology. I love my computer and other conveniences but it seems to me that this is just another means of attacking a symptom rather than the underlying problem. I agree with the author that the better way to handle things is to get a better handle on animal wastes which have been the major source of contaminants. As far as the argument about farmers markets and local growers--well we haven't seen any lettuce, little in the way of cabbage, and the only other greens were attached to turnips or beets and totally wilted. Most of the farmer's markets are open air and they don't have the refrigeration needed to keep the produce crisp and fresh.
On the food front, here is another interesting article. The author points out a number of well-taken points. We do have to understand how we came to the point where we find ourselves now. Most of the changes in how we get and handle food came incrementally, and without any notion of consequences that would rise later and bite us in our collective behinds. Often someone addressed a legitimate problem and concern, introduced a solution, and only later did we realize that the solution created a whole new set of problems. Our use of technology will always do that. The 'green revolution' did increase crop yields but that has allowed for a massive increase in population and, when we inevitably outstrip the technology, the crash will be even more severe than the famines that originally led to the technology in the first place.
I had a couple of other interesting thoughts while reading that article. The author quoted a part of the talk where the speaker noted that in 1900 people spent half of their time and half of their money getting and preparing food. In 1900, about half of the population lived in rural areas and were engaged in farming. If my grandparents were in any way typical, they had a large garden from which they obtained most of their vegetables. They also raised most of their meat animals. Their chickens produced eggs they ate and their cows produced the milk they drank. They skimmed the cream and made their own butter. They didn't worry about e coli or salmonella on their greens. They didn't worry about contaminants or toxins in their canned goods since Grandma had canned them all. Very different time. Today even farmers get most of their food from the local supermarket. Another point that struck me is more of a personal one. Given the jobs I have seen and the current pay scale my little container gardens seem a much more satisfying use of my time than working to buy cans of watery creamed corn, woody asparagus, and peas or beans with stems included. Or vegetables and/or fruits with large doses of salt or high fructose corn syrup. Perhaps we would all be healthier if we did spend half our time growing and preparing our own veggies.