Monday, August 25, 2008

Food, food everywhere -- but what's fit to eat?

There have been two really disgusting developments in the world of big business foods. First, the FDA, in all its wisdom, has decided that it is acceptable to irradiate our lettuce and spinach, etc., to save us from the nasty bugs that can wind up on raw vegetables from improper handling. Currently, the law says that irradiated food has to be labeled, but since there are so many of us wacky, paranoid consumers out there who don't want things like irradiated food, they are talking about changing the law so that irradiated food won't be labeled. So, in the land of the free, we won't be free to choose natural food, because we won't know which lettuce is natural and which has been zapped.

And if this follows the path of the milk industry, it won't be long until natural spinach is a thing of the past. Zapping will be required for all produce, and the only way to get natural produce will be to grow you own. It's ironic that I've been planning a blog on raw milk. I was going to say that any raw food can make you sick if handled improperly, but most of us eat raw food on a daily basis, like lettuce. No one is going to suggest that you cook lettuce to make it safer to eat. Well, maybe not cook it, but now some companies are going to start irradiating it.

I know it sounds crazy to say that someday non-irradiated produce will be illegal, but raw milk is illegal in many states today. Both situations are the same -- proper handling procedures make raw milk safe to drink, just as proper handling procedures make raw spinach safe to eat. Rather than admitting that the human factor makes food unsafe, the FDA says raw food is unsafe. Since it's tough to control millions of minimum-wage workers who handle produce and milk cows, it's easier to pasteurize milk and irradiate produce.

The second disgusting development is a result of the skyrocketing corn prices. I've blogged about it before. Those corn prices are affecting all of us. Fewer farmers are planting other crops, such as hay, since the corn is more profitable. And the lower supply of hay means the price is going up -- simple economics, right? Well, what do you think the beef ranchers are going to do when their #1 feed ingredient doubles in price? If you're not sitting down, please have a seat. I feel like Dave Barry here as I say, I am not making this up. If it didn't come from the Wall Street Journal, I'd say this is really too ludicrous to be true.

Where do they get such ideas? Can you just picture Billy Bob and Rufus down at the local bar after a hard day working in the feedlot ... Billy Bob is complaining about the high corn prices, and as he takes a swig from his longneck, Rufus starts to complain about his kids getting overweight.

"But what do you expect? You know, they got them vending machines all over the schools, selling kids candy and potato chips. Sometimes that's all they have for lunch! But what can you do? You give 'em lunch money, and you figure they'll buy a cafeteria lunch, but then they go eatin' all them potato chips and M&Ms!"

And then Billy Bob gets an idea -- a terribly brilliant idea! He thinks aloud, "How do you suppose the cost of potato chips and candy stack up against the price of corn?"

"Well," Rufus says, "buying bags of candy and potato chips would be mighty expensive, but maybe we could talk to the folks who makes that stuff and see if they got something, you know, some kind of by-products that they could sell us cheap. It sure ought to fatten up the cattle."


melanie said...

Oh, honey...excellent start...but you should have gone further! Those "by-products" are already a huge part of feed-lot beef (what the majority of unsuspecting consumers are eating and the restaurants all use) Those cows are fed stale baked goods, candy bars, chewing gum, garbage and more in order to have them reach slaughter weight in less than a year before the ulcers and cancers they get from their heavy corn diet kill them or make them unable to stand and therefore difficult to get to the butcher. People should watch an excellent documentary/movie entitled "King Corn" if they really want to understand the evil of government-subsidized corn....(Sorry, did I push you off your soapbox? How unsportsman-like of me...)

Deborah said...

I almost got into King Corn. I even had the code copied (for the trailer on YouTube) and ready to paste into my blog, but then I decided that I should save it for another day. It's a great documentary, but I was afraid the post was getting a little long.

King Corn had its own website last year, and I was able to buy a copy of the DVD. I can't find the website now, so maybe they took it down. The DVD should be available through Netflix though. I highly recommend it.

No, you didn't push me off my soapbox. Feel free to hop up here anytime. There's enough room for both of us.

Nancy K. said...

chocolate chips??

What a sad, sad world we live in...


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