Monday, May 01, 2006

Over the weekend, the news media highlighted the subject of food poisoning from bagged lettuce. All salad ingredients are possible food poisoning sources. The people working in the kitchens are not always washing their hands before preparing the salads. Thus, uncooked food harbors the bacteria and poisons that can't wait to make us sick nearly to death. And with food poisoning, you wish you'd die!

I do wonder, however, at the timing of the media's announcement. Here we are wondering what to do with immigrants in this country at them same time we find out kitchen and farm workers are not as clean as we need them to be. Immigrants are likely to be in any restaurant kitchen and most certainly farm workers at all stages of the food chain process. Kitchen workers are always blamed for food poisoning in restaurants, usually because of faulty hand washing, but occasionally for food prep or food storage problems.

Is it a coincidence that we are now pointing the finger at immigrants, pointing directly at their lack of cleanliness and lower health standards? We point the finger now? Just at the same time we want to lock the borders? Strict immigration laws will now result in better health for citizens, less food poisoning opportunities?

Here's another perspective: food poisoning isn't all bad. We need it to strengthen our immunities to worse things.

"In this sense at least, a little bit of food poisoning is probably a good thing. It helps us to keep up our personal immunity as well as our capacity to respond to outbreaks, and serves the crucial role of reminding all participants in this shortened, more visible, food chain about the inherent risks of eating our environments. Finally, in order to begin to bridge the gulf of estrangement between consumers and their food-environments, I would recommend that every housing development be required, for educational purposes, to incorporate a small mixed farm, and an abattoir, and that all agrifood researchers be required to shop for, and prepare, their own meals for a minimum of one year." An Agroecosystem Perspective on Foodborne Illnesses, by David Waltner-Toews, DVM, PhD,

I never would have thought of THAT! Definitely not what I'm thinking while I'm puking my guts out after eating bad food. Incidentally, I have never contracted food poisoning from lettuce or salad. Once from cabbage slaw. Once from sprouty type salad.

I did not hear any news people mention the fact that dirty kitchen habits of immigrants cause the tainting of lettuce, and they usually don't leave us to jump to those conclusions on our own. Maybe it was just a coincidence. After all, food poisoning is good for you. Funny, I didn't hear THAT on the news.

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