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Deadly Food

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Food Scares Getting Worse
We Can Only Blame Ourselves

By James Donahue
With all of the recalls of meat, dairy, fruit and vegetable products from our grocery shelves these days, you must be wondering what is going on.

In one week alone, I found stories about recalls of cold cuts and hot dogs, milk and milk products, cookie dough, raisins, egg rolls, fruit snacks, head cheese, and even parsley. Then there were scary stories that warned about contacting the E.coli bacteria from eating apples with breaks in the skin and a lawsuit by people who ate a tainted breakfast cereal.

This problem is getting worse and we have only ourselves to blame. We have lost our respect for the Mother Earth. We have forgotten how she nourishes us. Family farms have nearly disappeared and even home gardens are no more than summertime hobbies. We are trusting, instead, on commercial enterprise to stock our grocery stores with the food we want.

Sad to say, we have become an overpopulated world with its food supplied by corporate farms and major food processors who, in their attempt to make as much money as possible with available resources, are using tactics that make the things we eat unsafe. They employ resentful, underpaid people to harvest, process and package our food, which opens the door to plant sabotage. In their effort to keep profit margins as high as possible, some unscrupulous businessmen also have shown they are willing to take a chance and dump
questionable food products on the open market.

Can anything be done? Probably not. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration, which was established to inspect food-handling plants and make sure things are clean and safe for consumers, now is devoting too much valuable time chasing a non-existent "drug problem" in our vitamin and health food stores. Its overworked, understaffed food inspection department no longer has the means to do the job it was created to do.

It is not that I defend government controls on anybody. I am an advocate of free enterprise, and I do mean FREE. But we have a bizarre development occurring these days in the United States, which makes free enterprise almost impossible to find. Small entrepreneurs, especially in food production, are being driven away by tight government controls and big business monopolies. Not only is government making it difficult for the new business to succeed, if and when it becomes established, any successful young enterprise is quickly swallowed up by the larger competitor.

Corporate takeovers are so common now I can foresee the day when one giant mega-corporation will own everything. I live in a rural farming community and can see the effects of it on a grass root level. People who were born and raised on the family farm still live on the old homestead, but they are working for a big
food conglomerates. Pigs, cows, chickens and corn are mass-produced on thousands of acres that have been absorbed by these big corporations.

When anything is made like that, the old-time feeling of personal pride in quality workmanship is lost.

Not that factory food processing was ever as good as home canning and freezing of things grown in personal gardens. I knew a man some years back that worked for a pickle packing plant. He told me privately that he would never buy that brand of pickles, and  probably would never eat commercially canned pickles. He told how underpaid workers spit in jars and even urinated in the pickle vats when the boss wasn't looking. We heard a similar horror story from a girl who worked in the kitchen of a restaurant famous for its chicken dinners. She said she saw kitchen help urinating in the soup before it was served to the customers.

When that kind of behavior goes on in our food processing plants, small wonder that we have
E.coli, salmonella, listeria and who knows what other dangerous bacteria showing up on our dinner plate.

The commercial farms, themselves, have been adopting foolish practices that can only signal trouble. In an effort to trim costs and raise profits, the farm workers around the world, only a few years ago, began grinding up bones and other waste meat products and putting it back into animal feed. They reasoned that it was an excellent source of protein that was going to waste. In a sense, it was making cannibals out of the animals.

Mad Cow Disease, which struck first in England and is suspected to also be present in the United States, may have been caused by feeding sheep parts to the cows. Sheep have a similar brain disorder called scrapie. It is my belief that scrapie, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cows, and Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) in humans are all the same disease. In all cases the brain develops holes that look like swiss cheese, the victim goes insane and dies.

What is scary is that the same feed also was being fed to chickens and pigs until quite recently. The outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in England caused everyone to rethink this practice, and the feeding of animal parts was recently banned in the U. S. But was it too late to stop an outbreak of CJD among humans? The disease takes about 20 years to develop. We may all be infected. We will know in a few years.

Another problem has been our new trade agreements with Mexico and other third world countries, where we import low-cost food that is not grown and harvested under strict U. S. government standards. If fields, for example, are fertilized with human waste, how great is the risk for hepatitis infection? When the farm worker in Mexico picks an apple or head of lettuce after just urinating behind a bush, and not having a place to wash his hands, do you really think you want to eat that food?

This is the danger that is coming to you on your store shelves every day. It may be waiting for you in your refrigerator at this very moment. It is E.coli on the plate. It will give you big stomach ache, diarrhea, and, if your immune system is weak, it might even kill you.

What can you do to protect yourself?

I advocate becoming a vegetarian. I have believed for some time that meat products are not only unsafe, they are difficult for your body to digest, and totally unnecessary to maintain good health. The old argument that you need meat for protein is a lie. First of all, you don't need as much protein as the meat industry would like you to believe. Secondly, the protein you get from vegetables is not only easier for your body to digest, but it goes to work faster and makes you feel good.

I don't have the statistics in front of me, but I once had someone explain how raising a steer for food production is a foolish waste of natural resources. The amount of food consumed by that animal from the time it is born until the day it is slaughtered, would feed more people, per capita, than all the meat cut from its bones.

Unless you have your own dairy cow pastured in the back yard, I also suggest that you stop drinking milk and eating dairy products. In addition to the threat of Mad Cow Disease, a recent study indicated that milk may contain mycobacterium paratuberculosis, a bacteria linked to Crohn's Disease. There also have been recent cases of listeria showing up in milk and dairy products. There are good tasting substitutes made from soy beans and other vegetables to fill this void. Try non-fat non-dairy coffee creamer on your breakfast cereal. It tastes as good to me as half-and-half.

I also believe eggs are suspect. So-called egg substitutes are available but they are quite expensive and, we find out, they are still just eggs with the yokes removed. When you use them, they don't work well when you bake. Giving up the egg is going to be difficult. We haven't stopped eating them yet ourselves, although we think we should. Cook eggs thoroughly if you are going to continue eating them. No more dipping toast in eggs fried sunny-side up.

Our policy at home now is to cook everything we eat thoroughly so as much bacteria as possible is killed. We buy frozen concentrate fruit juice because we believe the freezing kills harmful bugs. I have experienced enough stomach pain from drinking tainted fruit juice from unfrozen containers?even some marked "pasteurized." The juice may have been pasteurized, but I am never sure the container it is poured in is really clean and untampered with by plant employees.

If we make a salad, we make sure the lettuce is pealed back several layers, and then washed thoroughly. More likely, we munch carrot and celery sticks, radishes, cucumber slices and other fresh vegetables served on a plate. We never eat fruit or vegetables that can't be pealed.

Never drink tap water. Most of our water, even from private wells, is contaminated now. The only safe water, we find, is distilled. The distillation process involves boiling the water, turning it into steam, and then catching the steam on a plate where it reforms into water again and drips back into a clean bottle. You can buy your own home distiller, or purchase distilled water in the local store. Shop around for good prices. Distilled water can be purchased these days for about 60 cents a gallon.

Don't eat in restaurants unless you know the kitchens are ultra clean and the place has a good reputation. The news reporters I used to work with in Arizona jokingly rated restaurants by the number and degree of abdominal discomfort they got after they ate in them. I believe eating out anywhere these days is like playing Russian roulette.

This may sound like paranoia, but we have suffered enough in recent years from being slightly careless. For example, my wife, who is a licensed laboratory technician, recently developed severe abdominal cramps after drinking bottled water she thought was safe. It had a good brand name on it, but was filled with bacteria just the same.

As our world gets more and more crowded, and as growing pollution problems continue to generate global warming and weather pattern changes, food will be in even shorter supply. The problem of safe food can only be expected to get worse instead of better.

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