What is one of the most courageous things you will do today?
What is one of the riskiest things you will do today?
What is the most defiant thing you will do today?
All of the questions have the same answer- for you, for me, for your child, and for anyone you friend, tweet, or text.
The answer is eat.
I don’t have to follow that word with anything because it doesn’t matter if you are a vegan or a “beef and potatoes” fanatic. It doesn’t matter if you eat fast food or your own cooking. It doesn’t matter if you shop at the big box stores or the local farmer’s market. Any food can be contaminated, poisoned, spoiled, processed incorrectly, or cooked improperly. Most foods contain things we shouldn’t be consuming. And most of us eat things we know for a fact we shouldn’t be eating.
All this occurred to me recently when Gary and I were eating at a restaurant. I watched the waiters scurrying around delivering food to tables and I just thought “How trusting we are to think that our food is safe. And what an act of faith to put something in our mouths that was grown, harvested, packed, and cooked behind closed doors.”
These days few people have any idea what they are really eating or where it came from. Just since my generation was born we have become separated from our food sources by thousands of miles. My mother never looked at a label to see if our food came from Mexico or China. She didn’t worry about our hamburger patty containing meat from over 100 steers. She didn’t wonder if the spinach on our plate had e-coli. Nearly everything we ate came from our farm or from somewhere within driving distance of our town. The meat we ate came from an animal that had recently been grazing in the pasture or rooting around in the pen next to the house. Vegetables came from the garden or the local produce market. If there was something sprayed on our food or added to it we usually knew about it. If one of our animals was sick we knew better than to eat it.
Nowadays there is so much to worry about concerning food sources and production and cooking and serving that I really have to control my OCD tendencies and not think about all the possibilities. I have had food poisoning twice, both as a result of eating hamburger (years ago) so you won’t find me touching that anymore. But the safety of any food is questionable given the government’s allowances for insect parts, rat feces, hair, and other “defects” known to be in our food. The FDA states that "it is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects." I agree. And none of the defects are considered a health hazard unless the quantity exceeds their standards. But it makes me wonder…
And of course added to my concerns about safety is my anxiety about additives since I am on a very low salt diet. And I was talking recently with someone about the sugar in foods. We were both surprised to learn that there are 10 grams of sugar in a Quarter Pounder with cheese. Of course I’m very worried about the food our children consume under the local arches because it is so laden with salt and fat and sugar. That same QP has 1100mg of sodium. Think the little cheeseburger is better? Try 680mg of sodium and 7 grams of sugar. Oh, and if you are a sweet tea fan because you think it is better than soda- medium sweet tea, 45 grams of sugar, medium Coke 58. A minor improvement.
So be careful what you put in your mouth today. Bon appetit!