Your Monday Reading Assignment(s)

Remember a few years ago when tea was really big?  When it was supposed to be the “new wine,” meaning that overpriced, boutique loose tea leaves were the object of obsession for foodies and wanna-be foodies of the day?  (You don’t remember that?  Just take my word for it.  Stop spoiling the fun.)  I got caught up in that to some extent and was ordering interesting teas from exotic locales fairly regularly.

And then one day, in my loose tea, there was a bug.

A big, dead bug.

Who had crashed and bled-out (or oozed whatever it is dead bugs ooze) onto the tea leaves surrounding it.  Having paid more than anybody should ever pay for this (or any other) tea, I got right on the phone and demanded a refund and an apology, at the very least.  I got neither.  Rather, I was told, basically, “bugs happen.”

And with that, my zest for boutique teas ended.

Every time I read articles like this one I hearken back to that tea experience.  Maggots in your mushrooms? Yep.  Moldy applesauce in your kid’s fruit cup?  You got it!  Salmonella in your gravy mix?  Comin’ right up.

And the FDA, they’re OK with it.  The article is about “repackaging.”  Salvaging “food” that doesn’t meet FDA requirements and changing it in some way so that it does meet minimum safety guidelines.  For instance:

It might be something unappetizing, such as insect parts sifted out of cocoa beans or live bugs irradiated — and left behind — in dried fruits like dates and figs.

Or it could be something alarming, such as the salmonella Tennessee bacteria detected last year in huge lots of hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or HVP, a flavor enhancer used in foods from gravy mix and snack foods to dairy products, spices and soups.   Some 177 products were recalled in 2010, but bulk HVP products from Basic Food Flavors Inc. of Las Vegas, Nev., were allowed to be reconditioned by heat-treating the foods to kill the salmonella, according to the FDA. The reprocessed foods were then distributed and sold.

Now, I’m not here to hack on the FDA.  There are a lot of hard-working scientists and administrators doing the best they can there to keep our food supply safe (and not quite so nasty).  But they are under constant pressure from Big Ag, through political gamesmanship, to soften their rules.  Which plays out in less-safe food for my kids.  And that, friends, Pisses. Me. Off.

Go forth and read the article.   Goodness knows there’s plenty of literature on the topic, from Upton Sinclair to this MSNBC piece.  Come to your own conclusions, but remember, when you make excuses for why it’s OK to defund the FDA or that those mean ol’ federal bureaucrats need to back off small businesses like Con-Agra … it could be you that takes gets a mouthful of e-coli crab.  As the article points out, “If food is adulterated in an unacceptable way, reconditioning won’t fix it,” he said. “You can’t cook the poop out of it.”

Alrighty then.  Moving on to happier reading, I want you to go read this blog now (and then come right back here).  It’s written by a friend of a friend who has achieved incredible things through diet and exercise.  Her ongoing story and commitment to weight loss is nothing short of phenomenal.  It’s made even more so by the fact that she works as an event planner for an upscale restaurant.  She even tackles the whole being-vegan-at-a-restaurant thing.

Thanks, as always, for reading.  By the way, those little buttons you see below the post for Facebook, Twitter, etc.?  Those are there so you can share this blog with other people.  I like to write, but I like it even more when lots of people read what I’ve written.

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