Digest: Garbage — it’s what’s for dinner! Plus, two views on food safety
"We are what they eat" — and it's even more unappetizing than you think: Forget melamine and cyanuric acid in animal feeds — we should be at least as concerned about the "business as usual" ingredients routinely fed to U.S. farm animals. This op-ed discusses the authors' Environmental Health Perspectives paper on the health effects of ingredients such as rendered remains from slaughtered animals (including those excluded from human consumption); animal excrement; animal fats that may contain dioxins and PCBs; food contaminated with rodent and roach excreta; byproducts from drug manufacture; and plastics. "We should not assume that food animals can detoxify and make safe whatever we feed them," they conclude. (Baltimore Sun)
GPS + RFID for food = RIP to me: What to do about food safety? More technology! "Cheaper information technology is already making it possible for companies (and inevitably governments) to mark and trace the provenance of all products and ingredients through their supply chains. All products will one day be accompanied with records tracing their origins from mines, forests, fields... to final consumers. Companies will immediately flag any break in the chain of provenance and demand that suppliers authenticate their goods." We're not sure if this is utopia or hell, but we do know it's not a future that appeals to us. (Reason Online)
Risk management and eating: David Gumpert gently explores the statement made in the Times by the mother of a young E. coli victim, that “You live in the United States of America and this isn’t supposed to happen.” The woman, who has decided that the best way to protect her family is to rely on white grains and canned vegetables, is becoming the symbol of our food-security ills, the solution to which is that we (our government, corporations, etc.) must eliminate all the bacteria in our food, no matter what or how. Gumpert doesn't think technology is the solution. (The Complete Patient)
Be my guest-worker: A union that represents farmworkers opposes the guest-worker provision in the plan the Senate will debate, saying it takes permanent jobs and turn them into short-term jobs, opens the door for more exploitation of the temporary workers by companies, and favors high-skilled workers over low-skilled workers with family in the United States. (Des Moines Register)
A taste of green heaven: Greenwich Village's Birdbath bakery weighs local versus organic ingredients, and was built and designed with environmentally friendly materials. “You couldn’t convince me that the meaning of life doesn’t include waking up and having a perfect pastry and cup of coffee,” says baker Maury Rubin. “I’m not a religious person. It might be the closest I get.” Amen to that. (New York Times Magazine)
Vegetarians win: Mars abandons plans to use animal products in its chocolate (BBC News -- thanks Aryeh!)
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