Friday, August 10, 2007

Buy American

I know, it's used as a trite nationalistic phrase 999 times out of 1000, but it looks like it may be your best bet if you'd like to avoid contaminated, and possibly even poisonous food and goods. Not only is the government unable (or more likely incapable) of inspecting shipments, they are a major consumer of them in their prisons and jails. The fish you eat in your home or when you go out may well be contaminated with drugs, chemicals or even heavy metals. The same goes for shrimp, a majority of which are now farm raised Chinese imports in this country. Even vitamins and herbal supplements are at risk of contamination from Chinese products and components.

Many state governments are taking the initiative and imposing import bans on their own, after testing fish and finding unacceptable levels of contamination. While it may seem to be a case of protectionism, I can't say I find fault with states who take the decision to do the job that the inept federal government either cannot or will not do.

As a recent story shows us, China isn't exactly a nation overly concerned with environmental cleanliness and wholesomeness of their food exports. The bad part is that we may not even know what foods we buy contain Chinese produce, either in whole or in part, (as we found in the last year when pets started dying from a Chinese food component).

While the American food supply may have the occasional case of contamination from E. Coli, Listeria or even botulism, we do have a much better record and industry standards than the Chinese do. Our food industry moves as fast as they can to remove tainted products (yes, they don't want to be sued into oblivion or fined out of business).

Those who produce our foods are held to higher standards by associations, industry and themselves. Yes, our farmers may be overly subsidised, but they are still proud of what they produce. Our catfish industry is among the worlds most sustainable and healthiest and, overall our seafood is better and safer than that of any other country.

If we really wish to avoid a health crisis, brought on by tainted and unwholesome imported foods, then we are going to have to embrace a bit of nationalism. We're going to have to avoid Chinese food imports like the plague, especially where our children are concerned. Don't be afraid to ask where food, and its components come from, at restaurants and in stores. Read labels before you buy. Do your research on the web if you don't know where a food comes from or it is not listed and, when in not buy.

As with any matter of self defence, you are your first line of defence. Eat safe.

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