Saturday, March 31, 2007


Outsourcing: a Recipe for Disaster

The disaster that’s overtaken the pet food industry in the U.S. and Canada is a disgrace. Of course—but there are so many. The salad fiasco was a disgrace, too. The government’s shredding of the Bill of Rights, the war on Iraq and the covert war on American freedoms… I kind of wish they’d just hurry up and get it over with.

But, pet food—this week's avoidable disaster. Ultimately, the crucial thing is this: outsourcing. We have no real idea what happens with foods before they get to us. I don't believe that "organic" means the same thing to a field foreman in Guatemala that it does to me; we know many US-banned pesticides are in common use elsewhere; and w.t.f. does the US and Canada have to import wheat gluten, for God's sake! Because it's cheaper.

Around Madras, up by the Warm Springs Reservation, the big cash crop used to be peppermint, but now the peppermint comes from China—it's cheaper for the big corporations to buy it from overseas. Up at Redmond, just north of year, the big crop was potatos; now our potatos are coming from other countries, too. The corporations don't give a rat's turd for farmers here: all they can see is the profit line on the ledger, because that's what determines a company's value on the stockmarket.

Yesterday, I was looking around the on-line catalogue of the Folksways-Smithsonian records and when I glanced through the folk-protest section I found the title of a Barbara Dane album that says it all: "I hate the capitalist system."

'About 70 percent of the wheat gluten used in the United States for human and pet food is imported from the European Union and Asia, according to the Pet Food Institute, an industry group. One veterinarian suggested the international sourcing of ingredients would force the U.S. "to come to grips with a reality we had not appreciated."

"When you change from getting an ingredient from the supplier down the road to a supplier from around the globe, maybe the methods and practices that were effective in one situation need to be changed," said Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University.' <;_ylt=ApqiQRPCQCWq.2pcuzISCGZI2ocA>

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