Sunday, March 21, 2010

why the recalls scare the bejeesus out of me

In today's news: Health care vote, injustice, war, harassment, celebrity gossip and then a tiny, tiny little note: oh by the way, some food is bad. And then I walk in the grocery store and see the recall signs. All. over. the. store.

I don't consider myself a righteous foodie. I can't afford to be... I work on a cook's wages. I eat things out of boxes, love me some gummi bears dipped in bad chocolate and have been known to succumb to the lure of cheese food. I am not a locavore, vegetarian or vegan, don't spend my ducats on organic bananas and I know that my chocolate is imported from far away lands and I am ok with that. I won't go to someone else's house as a guest and criticize them for the same things. That is just bad manners, as I understand them.

But I'm noticing that it is harder for me to buy meat from the store. I'm more likely to pick from the fruits and vegetables that are in season, or, even better, from my local farmer's market. I find myself planning on spending more on food, and buying less. Some of this is the natural result of educating myself, but mostly, its a cross between fear and revulsion.

Pepper: one of the oldest known spices, and at one time considered a medicine for among other things heart disease, toothaches, (ironically) indigestion and diarrhea. Black pepper is the unripe pepper berry which is cooked(!) and dried into what we know as the peppercorn. So how the hell can it be tainted with salmonella? How can a food additive, HVP, (once again made from a cooked product, and used in processed products) cause so many things all over the country to be pulled from the shelf and yet receive so little attention from the media? Oh yeah, no one died. And yet there are such crazy rules and regulations surrounding things like raw milk cheese production that if I wanted to make my own cheese from my own milk in my own home for myself, I would be doing something illegal in some states.

Our food system is completely messed up. And somehow, I feel like this has happened in my lifetime. Sure, the roots were there before I was born, and there are things (read: chocolate) that I benefit from in the current system, but somehow food has become dangerous. Food has become Unhealthy.


So how do we fix it? I don't know. It's too large a problem, on too large a scale. I have a hard time figuring out how to deal with it in just my household alone, living with someone who is a classic soda and junk food-fueled geek. He still gets his soda, I don't drink it. I try for a higher quality of junk food, or try and find healthy options that fit the bill. But it is hard. And I'm saying this as someone who knows how to cook, knows what to look for to ensure I'm getting good food and is willing to put in the effort to do so.

What are the options for everyone else?

That's what scares me.

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