Today, I received my most recent update from New York Times via email. I am often glad to see this email, as it keeps me up to date on things that I otherwise would not consider. As a writer, it keeps me inspired. Nicholas D. Kristof is a writer for this newspaper. He also maintains a blog, On the Ground, that keeps a reader up to date on his articles.
Today, in his article called, Lettuce From the Garden, With Worms, he has reminded me that our food is not all that we think it is. When we walk through miles of aisles trying to select the perfect ingredients to make our latest culinary masterpiece or just buying cereal and milk, we should be aware that we are buy more than we bargained for.
Scientifically altered hens and mass overcrowding of livestock and fowl that are not allowed range roving or feeding greatly lessen the quality of the food we purchase.
It was only about seven or so years ago when I was visiting a friend who owned a few dairy cows whose milk she sold and some hens whose eggs she sold to feed her family, while visiting she received a letter from the local health department telling her to round up all of her hens and put them in a coop. On her farm, she had a few goats, some chickens, a couple of cats, and a family dog. It was an ideal place to raise a couple of children.
I spent hours and hours a few days a week helping her out just to be close to all that she embraced. I had a small farm too, but I did not have all that she had. My place was much smaller and easier to maintain so I had time to help her out, and I enjoyed it. We both watched the news about the bird flu epidemic and did not think much of it because we did not travel interstate or internationally, so we felt unaffected by it in general. Needless to say, we were both were surprised when she received a notice from the health department stating that all of her hens had to cooped up. There would be no more range fed hens allowed in that county to prevent the spread of this illness. We both did as instructed and ran around like lunatics chasing hens who had never been confined, who looked at us like we were chasing them with an ax, and collected each and every one of them and secured them in a confined area.
I clearly remember sitting on my grandmother’s front porch as a child and having my biscuit stolen by one of my grandmother’s hens. She too sold eggs to make a little extra spending money. When I went crying to her about the assault, she simply gave me another biscuit and suggested that I eat it at the table so that they could not get to it. I could not have been more than five years old. The age my grandchildren are now.
It is sad to think that they will not know the difference between range fed and mass produced food products. Unless someone does something to stop or at least regulate this form of food production, we are going to continue to walk through the stores and wonder if the item that was just took off of the shelf will be recalled by the FDCA or put one of our loved ones in the hospital suffering from ecoli bacteria ingestion or some other mysterious food born pathogen. I am afraid to buy food. I do it anyway because we have to eat and the government knows it. This is why they are slow to get the word out about food contamination and fast to get the story off of center stage. They know that we will eventually pick up another jar of “peanut butter” and take it home to feed to our families. We are taught to trust the food that is sold in the stores just the same as we are told to trust law enforcers. Why do we continue to let others be responsible for what we eat? I am just as guilty of this as others are.
I have only recently discovered that the food I choose to eat is one of the things that has made my health decline. I have not worked since December of 2007 because of health issues. Since I have logged in my food intake and wrote down which foods make me feel sick and avoided those items, I have been feeling better. I am hopeful that I may one day soon I will be able to work again. I am trying to take things one day at a time.
I am glad to know that there are people who make problems like this their priority. We would all be living in our own little bubbles, completely oblivious of the rest of the world if we do not take some time to read the thoughts of others. We don’t have to agree or disagree with their thoughts or meanderings, but it is good to know where others are coming from. People need people. Otherwise what will happen to us?