Another reason to eat locally

Violations at Foster Farms a reminder to purchase local foods

When is the last time you ate Foster Farms chicken? If you did so recently, there’s a chance you may have eaten foul fowl. Last week, the Livingston-based poultry processor’s operations were shut down for three days by order of the U.S. Department of Agriculture after inspectors found cockroaches at a hand-washing sink, among other places.

The company has downplayed the incidents, but a letter from the Food Safety and Inspection Service office in Alameda sums up the health risk accordingly: “This action is initiated based on egregious insanitary conditions observed in your establishment whereby products at your facility may have been rendered adulterated by violation of the Poultry Products Inspection Act.”

This is the second time in just a few months that Foster Farms has come under scrutiny. In October, inspectors had threatened to temporarily close the Livingston plant, as well as two other facilities in Fresno, due to salmonella contamination.

These incidents are reminders that the best sources for purchasing all of our food is from small-scale ranchers and farmers who are more accountable to customers—in many cases, their neighbors.

The meat purchased from factory farms may be cheap, but there’s a reason for that: inferior quality.

In Chico and the surrounding area, we have plenty of options for truly free-range beef and fowl, as well as some of the best produce in the world. The products are found at the local farmers’ markets and on the shelves at several local grocers. We are fortunate to live in such a thriving agricultural region. Take advantage of that by steering clear of factory-farmed foods.