Only In The Pet Food? Hogwash!

Only In The Pet Food? Hogwash!

ByGroovy Green Apr 25, 2007

Do you think the chemical that has been killing animals all over the country hasn’t made it into the human food stream as claimed by the government and food corporations? Do you want to bet on that?

Salvaged pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical was sent to hog farms in as many as six states, federal health officials said Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if any hogs that ate the tainted feed then entered the food supply for humans.

Hogs at a farm in California ate the contaminated products, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Officials were trying to determine whether hogs in New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Ohio also may have eaten the tainted food, the FSIS said. Hogs at some of the farms — it wasn’t immediately clear which — have been quarantined. link

Yup, it turns out meat from my very own state has been contaminated. Of course it’s been quarantined. I’m sure none of it will make its way into your grocery store because regulatory agencies catch 100% of these types of problems. Tell that to the guy who was killed last year when he ate spinach infected with E. coli or the hundreds of people who got sick after eating ConAgra peanut butter infected with Salmonella. And these are non-meat products. Raw flesh has a much higher potential to support dangerous bacterial and viral diseases.

This latest food problem however stems from a chemical, melamine, found in imported Chinese vegetable proteins.

The FDA also said it planned to begin testing a wide variety of vegetable proteins at firms that imported the ingredients to make everything from pizza dough to infant formula, and protein shakes to energy bars. The ingredient list includes wheat gluten, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein and rice bran.

My guess is this stuff is going to start showing up everywhere. It’s a cheap way to get protein products to test higher in levels of protein. In other words it’s a way for food cartels to make more money by cheapening our food. Really though I see it as a symptom of a much larger problem; our growing disconnect from the food we eat and the farmers who raise it and the soil and the water and the other natural systems that support our lives. We can shut our eyes and go on eating McChicken sandwiches, we can gamble and bite down on plastic wrapped spinach and we can pray to God that our infants aren’t drinking contaminated formula. Or we can make change.

Politicians, Democrats and Republicans are falling all over themselves to suggest bailing out farmers who lost their crops to unseasonably cold weather this spring. What strikes me a silly is that none of them are linking these two problems. On one hand you have farmers in trouble because they grow only a small number of different kinds of crops and on the other you have an increasingly dysfunctional food processing system that is making people sick. The answer seems to be a relocalization of food and a diversification of the crops local farmers grow. I love farmers and I feel for those affected by the Easter freeze, but continuing to subsidize monoculture while we turn over more of our nutritional sovereignty to companies who make us sick is foolish and dangerous. Farmers need more than a bailout check. They need rational policies that support their ability to feed people healthy food locally. They need a way to stay small and compete with food corporations that have hijacked our nation’s food supply. Throwing only money at them is an insult and it will only lead to more sick people and more farmers devastated by an increasingly volatile climate.

The recent revelation of yet another contamination of industrial human food is just one more item on a long list of the reasons my family is growing more of our own food and buying more of what we don’t raise from people we know. This change isn’t happening instantaneously but over time we’re relearning how to eat (and cook). It would be nice to see some politician publicize this type of thinking. Unlike ConAgra however, I can not afford to buy one. So for now I’ll share my experience in hopes that it inspires others and we’ll all get to watch AgriBizCorp sicken more Americans as it slowly crumbles under the weight of resource depletion, energy descent and the degradation of our soils and water.