The Global Food System Isn’t Safe: What to do About It

Posted on Jun 29 2011 - 2:26am by Mike Lieberman

There was an article in The Atlantic called The FDA Details Its Struggle to Regulate Imported Foods.

In the article it goes into details about the current global food system, the reasons why the FDA cannot ensure it’s safety and regulate all of the imported foods.

Here are some facts for you from the article:

  • Between 10 percent and 15 percent of all food consumed by all U.S. households is imported.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all fruits and vegetables are imported.
  • 80 percent of seafood is imported.

The majority of the produce that we are eating, comes from outside of the United States. Again, this begs the question – where is our food coming from?

The amount of food being imported is also on the rise. In the past 7-10 years that number has increased by around 10%.

Here is the part of the article that caught my eye and ear the most:

…in 2008 the FDA would have needed “1,900 years to check every foreign food plant at its rate of inspections at the time.

Obviously that much time wasn’t spent checking and inspecting the food. This is how the outbreaks and food borne illness occur. I guess all that matters to the FDA is that it’s cheap and one of their friends is getting paid.

So when you are at the grocery store, supermarket, bodega, Whole Foods or where ever you get your food from, this is something that you should consider.

This global food system just ain’t safe. It’s not working and built for our safety. The FDA has pretty much said that they can’t handle it to ensure our safety. Therefore we have to ensure our own safety. Who better?

How can you take your food safety in your own hands? Glad you asked. You can:

  • Start growing your own food.
  • Shop at your local farmers market and ask the growers questions.
  • Join your local CSA
  • At the very minimum, if you are shopping at a local grocery store, buy organic. That’s a pretty safe bet.

We as consumers and individuals have the power to take a stand and make a difference with our purchasing power.

What’s your thoughts on the global food system and what do you do to ensure your food safety?


  • Sarina

    Your first sentence has two typos. 

  • Dyhana

    organics form other countries aren’t really inspected either, they rely on 3rd party verifiers from the region, which usually means someone from the farm growing the food, ….. it’s in their own interest to say, sure the process was organic, it gets more money at market. I either buy American organic or from a local coop that actually has a staff member that travels all year to check out the farms abroad to see if they’re really doing what they say

  • Mike Lieberman


  • Mike Lieberman


  • Mike Lieberman

    Good call on that.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Good call on that.

  • Anonymous

    sounds a lot like the EPA. way too much to regulate and no resources to do so. 

    wash your food and don’t buy any of that prepackage veg (lettuce, spinach, etc). 

  • Juanita Wright

    I don’t think there’s much chance of our food becoming safe, no matter where it comes from, until we ALL do something and stand up to the big money guys.  And how’s that going to happen?  We have to do all we can to educate and impress on everyone how important safe food is.  Look at all the diseases and sicknesses that come from unsafe foods, GMOs and fast foods, unhealthy fats and all the crap our kids are consuming.  And then, after they’re educated, they have to go through the difficult process of breaking the habits they’ve lived with most of their lives.  It can be done.  I read packages and eat all I can that I grow myself or that local farmers grow.  If I have to buy produce at the store, it gets really washed.  I also practice good cooking habits and eat and serve healthy foods to my family.  We can also contact our representatives on all food issues.  At least let them know who they need to be accountable to for their actions.  It is us!

  • Mary C.

    The global food systems sucks and sadly most people are oblivious to it. So, if more of the public was exposed to it’s problems that could really get the ball rolling…

    Food safety. Well, in my situation it’s tough. When I buy my own food I try to find local, organic and minimally processed foods. I wash it alot. I’m putting more effort into making my garden produce a staple of my diet (sometimes I fail), it’s been a learn-as-I-go thing.
    The toughest part is I live with family. Mom does the majority of the household shopping, and dad splurges a bit at Costco with a friend. A god portion of my prepared meals are made by mom (cause y’know mom wants to feed you till you burst) and I don’t get much say about how it’s prepared or with what since I don’t have any food allergies. They don’t understand the reasoning behind organic or the problem with GMOs being in almost everything so they don’t want to spend the extra effort or money on organic foods or different stores. They also highly value being able to pick out whatever they want to buy when they want it so a CSA won’t do :/ And I wouldn’t eat a whole box a week on my own to validate enrolling in a CSA.
    It is improving though. When I can I buy organic or at least all natural and non-GMO products to replace my parent’s for them so they can’t complain about the cost. Usually they don’t notice a downgrade in quality so they accept it.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Unfortunately can’t wash away the chemicals.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Exactly. It’s us continuing to reach out,  raising awareness and leading by example.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Your first sentence is very quotable. I love it.

    That’s the crazy part is that organic is priced fair. Conventional foods have so many external costs that people are oblivious too that make them artificially cheap.

  • Mary C.

    hehe, glad you like it. By all means, go ahead and take it :9

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks bro. Much appreciated.

  • john carraway

    As long as farming is controlled by big business and the corrupt gov’t agencies, there is little chance we’ll ever see any improvement in food quality, especially with GMO’s being forced on farmers worldwide. We must support and the other organizations fighting for the survival of organic farming worldwide.

  • Mike Lieberman

    True dat. Thanks for the link.

  • Mar’ah

    I love this post!  My grandparents and great-grandparents had massive beautiful gardens, but since my mom and dad’s generation wanted everything easy and pre-packaged, we no longer have the land to grow those huge gorgeous gardens.  There is a whole generation that somehow forgot to pass on some very necessary information regarding our health. 

    Stinks when that happens.

    So, now, the hubby and I are saving for even a little bit of our own land to start rebuilding the idea of The American Dream and that is a healthy life for us, our kids and our future grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

  • Mike Lieberman

    That’s what’s up!

  • Niteflyrwoman

    I bought some food from a local grocery store last year. It was like a papaya and to keep it down on the low I’m not gonna say where it came from BUT…. the thing tasted just like it had gasolene sprayed on it.It was disgusting I threw the whole thing out.Smell first and then buy.When I got it home and out of the bag I smelled something funny and silly me thought it’s ok.So be careful if you do choose to buy from another country.