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More from the Food Safety Project – Co-managing for Food Safety and Ecological Health in the California’s Central Region

We should all be thankful for the hard work from the folks over at the Food Safety Project.  Here is a well-done piece on how to produce safe food while not ruining the environment at the same time:

Abstract

The safety of fresh produce persists as a pressing national issue. Farmers, environmental groups, and others are working together toward a common goal of promoting food safety and environmental stewardship. Members of these groups have expressed concerns that certain on-farm food safety requirements may do little to protect human health and might in fact damage the natural resources on which agriculture and all life depend. This report analyzes the state of the science behind integration of food safety and ecological health. Drawing from multiple sources – including more than 100 interviews with experts, observations at 68 farms, two large-scale surveys of growers, and a review of more than 250 scientific studies – the report provides the most in-depth examination to date of this topic. The main finding is that growers report yielding to tremendous pressure from auditors, inspectors, and other food safety professionals to change on-farm management practices in ways that not only generate uncertain food safety benefits, but also create serious environmental consequences. Environmental concerns include reduction of water quality, removal of wetland, riparian and other habitat, and elimination of wildlife on and near farmland. Many growers and a wide consortium of regional experts believe that “co-management” for food safety and environmental protection represents the optimal path forward, albeit one that faces several key obstacles. Co-management is defined as an approach to minimize microbiological hazards associated with food production while simultaneously conserving soil, water, air, wildlife, and other natural resources. It is based on the premise that farmers want to produce safe food, desire to be good land stewards, and can do both while still remaining economically viable. Although the report focuses on lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens grown in the Central Coast region of California, its findings reflect concerns across the nation.

Full Report (click on image)

  • Laura G Mills, Metz Fresh LLC

    Bill,
    Since February 2007, a network representing the agricultural industry, NGOs and natural resource and regulatory agencies on California’s Central Coast have been collaborating to address co-management challenges.Thank you, very much, for posting the Safe and Sustainable report and your story about it on your Blog. You’re efforts to share the co-management message are very much appreciated!