What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our food supply is killing us

Couldn't help myself; I thought this was hilarious!

The Debster is doing great. She is transitioning from the walker to a cane, and has regained most of the flexibility in her new knee. Her pain level has diminished a great deal also.

Now, for the "meat" of this post:

Bluntly put, our food supply is killing us. This is from a Federal Government website:
While the American food supply is among the safest in the world, the Federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually—the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. And each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
The US Dept. of Agriculture, responsible for inspection of meat and poultry, and the Food and Drug Administration, responsible for inspection of all other kinds of food, actually inspect only a tiny percent of the food that we buy.

Much of our food is produced on huge factory farms, and the number of traditional family farms dwindles more and more every year.

The vast majority of our seafood is imported from Asia. Tilapia, shrimp, catfish, and many other types are grown in huge fish farms all across Asia. These farms are NOT subject to the standards and limits applied to US suppliers, and often utilize known carcinogenic chemicals and additives. They are usually severely overcrowded and thoroughly unhygienic. 

Proposed laws and regulations attempting to stem the flow of tainted foods from foreign sources are usually gutted or even killed by legislators that are fearful to anger a trading "partner". 

Inside the US, large-scale food producers often go for years without seeing an inspector. And if a producer is determined to be producing tainted foods, there are few consequences. The worst that they will usually get is a sternly worded letter. 

What can you and I do to protect ourselves?

First and foremost, grow as much as possible for yourself. Even apartment dwellers can grow some foods using container gardening methods. Even a small yard usually has room for a garden, and techniques such as Square Foot Gardening can maximize output from a small garden.
(Stock photo from Google Images)

Even urban areas in the city will often allow for at least a few chickens, rabbits, and the like, although you would obviously want to check your local regulations. 

Very few people, even those on large rural homesteads, will be able to grow EVERYTHING they need, and will have to purchase some foods. As much as possible, buy from local farmers markets or even directly from the farmers. If you must buy from a supermarket, talk to the produce manager. Even large national chain-stores often use local suppliers for much of their produce and so forth.

Be picky about the meat and dairy products you buy. One good option is to patronize a local butcher. Make sure the meat he is selling is chemical- and antibiotic-free. You can save a great deal of money by buying a quarter or even half a cow. The up-front cost is obviously high, but the per-pound cost is significantly less than small packages. Perhaps splitting the purchase with a friend or few will enable you to exercise this great deal.

Make sure you follow safe handling practices. ALWAYS wash your fruit and produce, even if the package says "Pre-washed and ready to eat". 

Make sure your foods are thoroughly cooked, especially eggs, poultry, and pork.

Leftovers should be promptly packaged and refrigerated, not left sitting out for hours.

There is much that you can do to protect yourself from botulism, e. coli, listeriosis, salmonella, and many other types of food poisoning. Don't count on the government to do it for you, unless you actually enjoy playing Russian Roulette.

God bless,
Ron and Deb

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