Food for Thought

The urban kid who has never been outside the confines of a city thinks that eggs come from the supermarket. It sounds so laughable and preposterous. But truly, these new generation kids cannot see and think outside the city walls. They have not seen a live chicken, nor how an egg is laid. All that they know is that the egg is an item on the shelves of a supermarket. The world of a modern urban child is so shielded. With all the conveniences available at the touch of the finger, the end is all that is sought. The means are of no value nor meaning. It is a ME and NOW syndrome that permeates all stratum of society in modern cities. To a certain extent, it is immaterial where an egg originates. Just like the burger in a fast food restaurant. What is in the burger is of no importance so long as the burger tastes great and the nutritional contents are meticulously labelled in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Calories: 520, Fat (g): 27, Saturated Fat (g): 10 , Trans Fat (g): 1, Cholesterol (mg): 85, Sodium (mg) 950, …..   looks good and we got what we need!

People are just too busy today. There is no time to prepare a hearty meal at home. When there is time to do so, often, the food ingredients are processed or preserved foods. They come in cans, refrigerated containers and typically contain artificial preservatives with names that make no sense to the average consumer. How about Ammonium Sulfate, L-cysteine, Titatnim Dioxide, Butylated hydroxyanisole, Butylated hydroxytoluene, Sodium Nitrite, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Bromate, Castoreum, Artificial Sweetener…? They are FDA approved, but noted with fine prints by nutritionists as “preservatives to avoid”. Natural Society reported that 80% of the processed foods are banned in other nations. Damned if we eat, damned if we don’t for there is little left if we avoid those with no preservatives in the pantry.

Food products from mass production facilities have been subject of food safety scrutineers. Reports such as these abound:

“First IKEA found traces of horse meat in their iconic meatballs in a few of their European stores. Now, Chinese authorities have found high levels of coliform bacteria in almond cakes. Coliform bacteria is found in fecal matter of many animals.” ( 5 March 2013).

“Fonterra, a large New Zealand dairy producer, apologized on Monday for the contamination of an infant milk formula ingredient with a potentially toxic strain of bacteria.” (New York Times, 5 Aug 2013).

“China’s food safety officials have once again come under intense scrutiny this week as the number of infants sickened by a batch of tainted milk powder expands daily. On September 17, Chinese Health Ministry authorities announced that over 6200 babies had fallen ill, many developing kidney stones, from drinking milk made from toxic powder. At least three have died, and more than 50 remain in serious condition.” (Time, 16 September 2008).

China again makes it to the world’s headlines with Reuter’s headlines (22 July 2014): “UPDATE 3-China food scandal spreads, drags in Starbucks, Burger King and McNuggets in Japan”. The list goes on…

Most food items procured from the supermarket shelves are produced or distributed by multinational vendors from all over the globe. What we are eating is often misrepresented by cool, often deceptive advertisements. In June this year, Coles, Australia’s huge hypermarket was fined by the Federal Court for misleading shoppers with claims that its bread and other baked goods were “freshly baked” when that was not the case. They were in fact frozen bread from overseas.The quest to bring cheaper food to the masses can easily be compromised with deadly consequences.

On top of these commercial corruption, pollution of the air, water and land  in industrialized nations is another downstream hazards to the food chain. In China, the problem is acute. Some of these photos taken in China are simply shocking (click to view). Scientists are also tampering with plant and animal genes to create what may become the greatest disaster in agriculture, animal husbandry and fishery. GM foods are highly controversial. But as the debates continue and law firms defending the GM kingpins enjoy the scuffles, the GM crops are slowly invading huge tracts of agricultural lands. Meanwhile, since the 2011 disaster, the Fukushima radiation spillage is mercilessly contaminating the oceans and atmosphere without easing. Will it be too late when these hazards become fully manifest a few generations later? Some may live to tell.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.