Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Food (We) Eat

Is anyone really that surprised by the salmonella outbreak triggering the largest egg recall in the nation’s history? Not me, which is why I pay a little more for eggs from naturally raised, uncaged breeding hens. We are the only Western nation that packs hens so tightly into battery cages they “cannot flap their wings, nest, perch, bathe, or perform any natural behavior other than egg production. Their excrement piles up on the floor inches below their feet. While still chicks, their beaks are blunted on a metal wheel, or chopped off entirely to prevent them from pecking each other to pieces out of panic and frustration. Some chicks are kept for breeding, and often unwanted male chicks are ground up alive.”

All of this, of course, in the name of the Almighty Dollar and corporate profits. As reported, this recall could have been averted were the regulations proposed ten years ago by the FDA adopted sooner and not blunted by the Bush administration, leaving people like this to his own deregulatory devices, in charge of the nation’s food supply. Meanwhile, in those evil socialist countries of the European Union, battery cage confinement for hens has been banned in several countries and will be phased out completely by 2012. And we are slowly poisoning our children, compromising their immune systems, with growth hormones and antibiotics fed to our food supply -- cattle, pigs, dairy, hens, fish -- in huge corporate farms under horribly cruel conditions.

Not to speak of all the food we import from completely unregulated countries: China with its recent outbreak of tainted powdered milk and, of course, high concentration of lead in toys for America’s kids. And how about food and weight loss supplements -- Does anyone read labels carefully? The Bush FDA couldn’t even police food and drug safety within our borders; its clueless Consumer Product Safety Commission director did not know what to do with adequate funding; how was it expected to check the safety of Chinese imports?
While the CPSC struggled to keep up with its workload last year, President Bush requested an increase in its fiscal 2008 budget of $550,000 -- an amount so small it would have forced the agency to cut another 19 staffers. Congress approved a hike from $63 million to $80 million.
The Bush legacy of defunding the FDA, the CPSC, gutting safety inspections farmed out to state subcontractors, a virtual deregulation insanity, including lax oversight over the food and pharmaceutical industries -- Well ... its chickens are coming home to roost.

But wait! We’re not even talking about coal mining (Rand Paul says federal safety regulations are not needed) and the BP Gulf oil catastrophe.



Lula O said...

Have you seen Food Inc? You'll never want to eat meat again. I love Pollan.

Carlos said...

It's on my list. My dilemma is, I like to snack while watching a flick, and I'm highly suggestible ...