Professionally, I've always preferred the idea of being vertically integrated over significant outsourcing. But I'm not sure if that came from my first professional job or if self-sustainment has just been an important idea for me for ages.
Anyway I find it interesting that this idea has been rolling around in my head recently since a new case of Mad Cow Disease was found in the US this month.
They're saying not to worry, the surveillance process is working... that the meat was not destined for human consumption. Of course the video they show is of a cow falling all over itself and a kid suffering from eating tainted meat... So the words say don't worry, but the video says panic.
Last year there was a big issue with Listeria and Cantaloupe that was traced to a farm in my state and before that it was E-Coli and Spinach, Salmonella and Peanuts and then there's the whole pink slime thing... and so maybe the meat wasn't destined to become human food, but a rendering plant produces things like soap and ingredients for animal feed so maybe your dog could become infected.... and... well, it would be pretty easy to take this in a very alarmist direction. So yeah, it's pretty difficult not to be concerned about the safety of our food supply.
Certainly the less distributed the source of the food, the more likely issues will cause a bigger problem with the population. So I'm very happy that buying local and organic has been enjoying a resurgence lately.
I started buying organic foods when I was in college. I learned as a kid that you are what you eat and I did not like the idea of eating pesticides. When I learned about Farmer's Markets I started shopping there because it meant less transportation and pollution... and supporting local businesses is a good thing... and more plants mean more oxygen and less carbon dioxide. Finally when I had my own house, I planted my first vegetable garden because I like to watch things grow and home-grown always tastes better than store-bought.
Now, a few years later we've acquired a freezer and I've learned about canning foods. I still very much enjoy the process of growing plants but now my garden is much more about feeding us than it is just about something fun to do.
We're a long, long way from being fully self-sustaining. And the idea becomes daunting when you start to think about the meat you raise and the food you need to support that. So I am doing my best to trust that the government surveillance programs are working and that the food producers are making intelligent, long-term decisions while I continue to build my own farm.