I recently read the salt blog and discovered an article dated September 5, 2013 by Maria Godoy entitled, Was Your Chicken Nugget Made In China? It’ll Soon Be Hard To Know. I was amazed at what I was reading. Our very own USDA just lifted the prohibition on processed chicken made in China; furthermore, the USDA will permit processed meat products to be imported to the U.S. without the country of origin. Paraphrasing, the article goes on to say that chickens raised in the U.S. and Canada will be shipped to China, processed into pieces parts, probably battered and fried, and shipped back to the U.S. Does that chicken get frequent flier miles?
I’m sure China has promised the best food processing facilities it can provide; moreover, I’m also sure the presentation that the Chinese factory owners provided to the USDA was impressive. China’s track record on food safety is, diplomatically speaking; challenged. Does anybody remember these scandals? Eleanor West of the Food Republic blog in an article entitled, 5 Food Safety Problems in China elucidates many of my concerns in a very articulate manner. In reviewing the Centers for Disease Control website, the United States track record on food safety is nothing to be proud of; moreover, like China, it is pretty shameful too. The objective of this particular post is not to spread fear and worry without a solution, but instead to increase awareness and to provide strategies for keeping you and your family as close to optimal health as possible.
Here are my observations, experiences, and suggestions:
- Most of the foodborne illnesses reported on the CDC website are from salmonella, which can be managed with fastidious attention to detail around hand washing, temperature control, and facility cleanliness. If you insist on eating chicken, you had better be a food warrior meaning, going on the offense when sourcing your chicken and on the defense when cleanliness, temperature, and food preparation are concerned. Eating in restaurants and/or eating factory farmed poultry are risky propositions at best.
- I have suffered through salmonella poisoning twice in my lifetime and I would not wish it upon anybody, it is absolutely awful. The diarrhea, headache, uncontrollable teeth chattering are some of the most hellish combination of symptoms that I have endured; moreover, suffering through salmonella is enough to compel anybody to make life changes.
- My suggestions are listed in order from least effective to most effective:
- Source your poultry from higher end grocery stores because they are less likely to buy from large factory farms.
- Buy your produce and as much of your weekly food at your local Farmers Market
- Buy heritage breed poultry from small family farms wherein you develop a relationship with that family farm and your knowledge and comfort level of how the birds are raised and cared for makes the prospect of eating them less risky.
- Adopt fastidious cleanliness and rigorous temperature standards for meat storage and preparation.
- Stop eating meat at home and when in restaurants.
- Stop eating meat and dairy at home and when in restaurants. A plant based vegan diet is easier to do than you think, healthier for you and your family, and quite delicious.
- Buy your produce from a local urban farm that grows fruits and vegetables in your neighborhood; for example, Yummy Tummy Farms.
The second core value of Yummy Tummy Farms is self sustainability and eating closer to where you live can address many food safety related concerns, not to mention environmental concerns. Foodborne illness and processed foods are linked in many ways; moreover, just by understanding that the more times food is handled the greater the risk for foodborne contamination means you understand more than the average consumer. I hope that I have achieved my goals of increasing your awareness and providing useful applicable tips to achieving optimal health. I will conclude with a question in an attempt to encourage some dialogue.
As you have become more aware of food, have you made any changes to your diet or the way you acquire your food? Please comment.