Thursday, June 28, 2007

Watch What You Put In Your Mouth; You Don't Know Where It's Been

I've always tried to make sure my family ate good food so they would be healthy. I make a lot of their favorites from scratch, and I try to limit the amount of junk food that comes through here. But the U.S. government is making it much harder for me to buy food that I believe to be safe for my family because it has not required labels of origin on all food.

One of the results of the global economy is that we are inundated with food from other countries, where safety standards for food are at a much lower level than ours, if they have any standards at all.

Take apples, for example. According to this article:

Fifteen years ago, China grew fewer apples than the United States. Today, it grows five times as many - nearly half of all apples grown in the world.

This, of course, is hurting U.S. apple orchards, because the Chinese can undercut them on price big-time; they pay their pickers only 28 cents an hour. But it's also hurting us, because even though we can buy apples at lower prices, who knows what's in them. Pollution in China is terrible, and the chemicals in their air and water can't help but affect what's growing there.

I've written about problems with Chinese-made medicine and pet food, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are now concerns about Chinese-grown food. But the fact is that our supermarkets are being flooded with largely unchecked food from countries all over the world, and we can't always tell where our food is from because our government is not requiring producers and distributors to label the food with its country of origin.

To play it safe for our families, we need to:

  1. Tell our legislators to require all foods, whether raw or processed, to be labeled clearly with their country of origin.
  2. Inform grocery store managers that we will choose labeled food over unlabeled food.
  3. Buy produce from local growers whenever possible.
I realize that last option will cost more money than buying produce imported from China, but as the Chinese standard of living rises and so do the wages (up from 28 cents an hour), they will charge much more for their apples. By then our apple orchards will have been driven out of business, unless we do something now.

1 comment:

Jane said...

We have moved over the past couple of years to eating food grown as close to home as possible. I buy local Amish-raised chicken & local eggs. We eat the fish that Colin and the boys catch, buy Apples from local orchards and honey from local beekeepers.
There are holes, and there are times when we have to eat other food, but I'm doing more preserving this summer so that the frozen fruit and veggies we eat this winter are more likely to have come from our local organic farmer, as are our jams and applesauce.

And I'll be canning my own tomatoes. You can't get much more local than that! :)