Here’s this week’s column up at BlogHer:
I mean, really. Salmonella-roasted peanuts? Vegetables full of E. coli. Corn syrup leaking out of broken thermometers into our cereal? Or something? What’s the big deal? The fact is, you’re 42 times more likely to be hit by a car on your way to the supermarket than to be poisoned by your groceries. I mean 41 times. Aaaaand now make that 38.
I don’t mean to trivialize the situation. As of today, contaminated peanut products were responsible for 575 illnesses and eight deaths, leading to one of the largest food recalls of all time. I’m not insensitive. I’m just saying it’s all relative. It’s nothing compared to the 30,000 anaphylactic reactions and 200 estimated deaths per year from eating perfectly good nuts and shellfish. There’s no need to panic!
What’s that? Okay, somebody just chimed in that more than half of these illnesses happened to children. So scratch the peanut argument. It’s going nowhere. Let’s just put adult faces on the numbers from now on, shall we? Like last year’s salmonella-tainted tomatoes from Mexico that sickened 1,200 people. That’s a lot of people, but it’s not like anybody died. At least, nobody could prove it was from the tomatoes. People die everyday and sometimes it’s just their time.
If you reach way back in your memory to 2006, you may recall that spinach sullied by E. coli killed three people and hospitalized a whole bunch more. Everyone was all, “How could this happen? Didn’t you wash the spinach?” And we were all “No, the label said you didn’t have to. That’s why we bought it.” And they were all, “What? Don’t you know we just slap some words on the label in whatever order is going to sell the product? Where’s your common sense?” And we were all, “I…don’t…know...”
The point is, that was dumb. You can’t ever believe anything anybody tells you, especially if it’s printed on a label. My kids tell me they don’t need a bath, and do I believe them? No. I plunge those little bundles of E. coli into soapy water no matter what they say.
But enough about filthy humans. Let’s talk about downer cows. Last year, more than 143 million pounds of beef were recalled, not because any person got sick but because the cows themselves were sick. And not just because they were sick, but because someone snuck in with a video camera and taped the sick cows being forklifted over to the slaughtering area. It’s weird because, if that videotape hadn’t surfaced, we never even would have known about it. All that beef would have been in circulation. Beef from cows that may or may not have carried mad cow disease, 37 million pounds of which were headed for school lunch programs. It’s also strange how sick feedlot cows get even though they’re pumped full of antibiotics night and day. It’s almost as though there must be some kind of explanation.
But, who cares about the cows? If we gave a crap about the cows, we wouldn’t be feeding them our leftover manufacturing waste products. What we should really be upset about are the puppies and kittens. Sixteen animals died and 14,000 got sick in 2007 from pet food contaminated with melamine from China. In fact, if it weren’t for that, it’s entirely possible we wouldn’t be paying any attention to our food supply whatsoever. It’s a well-known fact that people treat their pets far better than the rest of their families. Other potential facts: China’s unscrupulousness and our own government’s seeming inability to safeguard our food pipeline.
And do you know what’s funny about that? Now, even China doesn’t want our peanuts.