Are Tomatoes From Local Farms Safer?

Mistakes can be made at any size operation, scientists warn
By Kate Rockwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2008 10:02 AM CDT
Crowds of people line up to buy Arkansas grown tomatoes at the Farmers Market, Saturday, June 14, 2008 in Little Rock, Ark.    (AP Photo/Mike Wintroath)
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(Newser) – Salmonella-tainted tomatoes that sickened 228 people in 28 states may be a boon to the local-food movement, but Newsweek takes a look at whether "locavores" should be so smug. Equating smaller farms with safer practices—and long-distance shipping with more time for bacteria to infect food—more produce-lovers are turning to farmers’ markets. Sales rose almost 20 percent in recent years, but scientists warn that local doesn’t guarantee safe, and mistakes can be made at any size—or distance.

"As a scientist, I cannot say smaller is better," one expert told Newsweek. "It''s just not that simple."