Going Out for Chinese Food?

Eat in, Eat Local

China has become the Walmart of the world, and we can’t get enough cheap food! But at some considerable price.

From the spate of recent food contaminations and public poisonings, it’s apparent our system for insuring untainted vegetables and meats and canned products has its problems. They start early in the supply chain: the lowest bidder for many food products these days is China. Their prices are so low, in fact that they have driven American competitors out of business.

Ah, but isn’t that what makes the world go ’round–getting the largest volume for the least dollars?

However, there is the issue of quality, where the lowest bidder may also have the lowest standards for fish and fruits:

China’s less-than-stellar behavior as a food exporter is revealed in stomach-turning detail in FDA “refusal reports” filed by U.S. inspectors: Juices and fruits rejected as “filthy.” Prunes tinted with chemical dyes not approved for human consumption. Frozen breaded shrimp preserved with nitrofuran, an antibacterial that can cause cancer. Swordfish rejected as “poisonous.”

What we have resisted until now is buying Chinese meat.

But that has not stopped Chinese meat exporters. In the past year, USDA teams have seized hundreds of thousands of pounds of prohibited poultry products from China and other Asian countries, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced in March. Some were shipped in crates labeled “dried lily flower,” “prune slices” and “vegetables,” according to news reports. It is unclear how much of the illegal meat slipped in undetected.

But the demand for chicken “nuggets” by the opulent and corpulent of the first world will ultimately see Chinese poultry become “legal tender” at MackieD’s. Can you say salmonella?

So will locally grown chicken, fruit and vegetables cost us more? Yes. And much less. Quotes from Washington Post

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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