Nosestretcher alert: eating locally helps prevent foodborne illness?

The Globe and Mail, based in Toronto and self-proclaimed public record of all thing Canadian, used to be decent. There are still good people there, and some are my friends.

imagesBut this is just crap.

Jason Tetro, a similarly self-proclaimed microbiologist, writes that the first investigations in 2002 focused on comparisons between locally and organically grown foods and those sold in large grocery stores. The results revealed those who chose foods grown closer to home were more likely to have a safer supply with less pesticides, better food quality and, more importantly, less post-harvest handling, which is known to be a significant factor in foodborne infection spread.


By 2010, these differences were solidified as being the basis for better microbiological quality in local foods. Researchers searched for the reasons behind foodborne outbreaks and found links to several well-known problems associated with large-scale farming. …

The most meaningful comparison for consumers comes in the form of statistics. Outbreaks resulting from large-scale farming continue to grab headlines both in the media and scientific literature. In contrast, only a few outbreaks resulting from eating locally grown food have been recorded. In these rare cases, the problems were the result of a significant environmental change, such as a major rain storm or flood. There were almost no cases of local malpractice leading to infection.

This is bullshit.

The only meaningful comparison, statistically speaking, would be to compare incidence of foodborne illness per capita – on a meal eaten basis.

And then he cites the bullshit clean, cook. chill separate, ideology without the source food from safe sources, from farmers who know what they’re doing bit.