Couldn't forget about this story about the worthiness of allegedly independent inspections being done by food companies.
The fox guarding the henhouse is the most appropriate allegory to describe this tragic scenario, but even if the fox were in charge, the chickens would be healthier (until they meet their end via the fox).
Relying on private sector auditors on paper is a bad idea, but the story goes into more detail about conflicts of interest.
Or as David Acheson, former assistant commissioner for food protection at the FDA under George W. Bush, puts it: "It's a business strategy, not a public-health strategy."
If you are looking for a really scary paragraph (and Halloween is soon upon us):
In fact, most foodmakers, even those with problems, sail through their inspections, said Mansour Samadpour, who owns a food-testing firm that does not perform audits. "I have not seen a single company that has had an outbreak or recall that didn't have a series of audits with really high scores," he said.
Audits aren't helpful if they don't catch what needs to be caught to not have serious problems.
The article also notes two other disturbing trends. Food companies often choose auditors based on price, and the beauty of hiring the fox, er, auditor is that since you know when the inspection will be, you can prepare accordingly. Reminds you a bit of the inspection that Greg Kinnear's character gets in "Fast Food Nation."
We have been told that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 would get diabetes at some point. This would be the fruition of that trend.
Diabetes, especially type 2, has been escalating, most prominently in the United States. The U.S. is the country that consumes more high-fructose corn syrup than any other country (though Canada and Mexico sadly are catching up).
Now we do know that high-fructose corn syrup isn't the only reason; but can we at least consider that there is a correlation?
Of course, with the inmates running the asylum, going the conventional route in eating will likely lead to bad consequences down the road. And diabetes is only part of that struggle. It's one thing to die early, but diabetes is a disease that can maim long before it kills.
The problem with eating junk food or food that is bad for you is that the category of food has become worse itself. As Michael Pollan noted, if you make your own junk food, you'll be better off.
The food revolution can't just be a bunch of well-minded films, books, and even a First Lady. The change that needs to come also can be seen in smaller battles, such as a soft drink made with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup or a parent appealing to a school to serve healthier lunches or increased sales in farmers markets.
The United States has the most inefficient health care system in the modern world — right now. Imagine how much worse this will get if the CDC is even remotely close in its predictions.
Fighting hunger seems to be an individual thing. There are many individuals that do a tremendous amount to thwart hunger. Even though we live in a country where food is plentiful and cheap, there are many who don't get enough to eat.
But the work of these individuals might feel like bailing out a flood with a teaspoon.
For the fourth straight quarter, I made a trip to the food bank to drop off some food. This is an ongoing quest to do something spread over the whole year instead of just focusing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. After all, people don't suffer from hunger in the last six weeks of the calendar year.
The amount I gave has been slightly shrinking, mostly because I don't have as much funds as normal, thanks to this ongoing recessive depression. But I do try to do my part.
And there are non-profit organizations that do amazing work. But it never seems to be enough to solve the ever-increasing problem.
What we haven't seen is help from corporations. True, some of them have struggled, but quite frankly, a lot of them have money to lend a hand. And even if they don't want to put up their own money, they could at least draw attention to the cause.
This is why I was so impressed with the Purolator company in Canada. For those who don't know Purolator, and I'm one of them, it's a delivery company in Canada.
And I saw this first-hand in Hamilton, Ontario as the company had organized a food drive at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL game (Canadian football) in September.
This isn't to say that Purolator is the only company helping out in this cause, but the way Purolator is going about this is something to behold, and praise.
The United States considers itself to be the most generous country in the world. And among individuals, this spirit thrives now more than ever. But corporations need to step up and make a difference. Since the Supreme Court has declared corporations to be people, these corporations need to start acting like Americans do and be generous, especially in rough times.
If a delivery company in Canada can step up, there should be plenty of American companies that can do the same.
Those who appreciated the chicken salad sandwich scene in “Five Easy Pieces” will enjoy the following story.
While the scene in “Five Easy Pieces” is an analogy about power in society and the new guard vs. the old establishment, literally, the scene is about getting what you want to eat in a restaurant.
I arrived in Baltimore a little sad since I was up there on the one day that the Lexington Market wasn't open. But I was delighted to see Ethel & Ramone had a booth at the outdoor farmers market underneath the highway, east of the market in downtown Baltimore.
In my first trip to Maryland, I wanted to have as much crab as I could, getting the true sense of this seafood selection. Usually, crab is mixed in with something else, such as a crab cake.
Ethel & Ramone was selling breakfast sandwiches, Cajun style: egg, Andouille sausage, and vegetables, kind of an omelet sandwich between two pieces of ciabatta bread. And the $7 sandwich could be as is, or you could add crab for a $2 charge.
Now the sandwich did sound good by itself, and would have been nice to wrap up and take with me. But I saw this as the optimum time to get a true crab experience. So I asked them if I could get just a crab sandwich, nothing but crab.
While they weren't used to this request, they pleasantly went along. The guy said he'd have to charge me $9 given the price of crab. I thought the whole point was that crab was local, but I smiled and said sure. His point wasn't unreasonable, and we were all in a laissez-faire attitude at the moment.
The person making the sandwich misunderstood the request, and they tried giving me a sandwich with egg and crab. I politely pointed out that I just wanted a crab sandwich, nothing else. Everybody was cool, and minutes later, I had exactly what I wanted.
Even though I waited to eat it until I was in Oriole Park for the baseball game, the sandwich was totally worth the effort and wait. They added a bit of the Old Bay spice that you see everywhere, and I added a little bit more from the canister inside the park.
In the Midwest, you see crab but it doesn't taste like this: simple, clean, and very nice. I was very happy.
When we go out to eat, and we want something unusual and offbeat, some can get intimidated by wanting something that is off the traditional path, whether that is asking to not having something fried or not cooked in butter.
But we have a right to food prepared in whatever way we can get to stick with our eating plans while out. Push for a side salad instead of fries if that is what you want. You won't get every request, and you won't always get people as nice as the ones at Ethel & Ramone in Baltimore, but you'll never get what you want unless you ask for it.
As the folks at Ethel & Ramone said when it pointed out that I wanted something different, “Different is good.”
There is no right way to finding the balance of food, just your way. My typical breakfast is whole wheat spaghetti with homemade sauce, sautéed mushrooms, and a naturally low-fat Italian cheese sprinkled on top. Works for me.