Monday, July 30, 2007

Artificial Pizza Topping

Ben and I made a disturbing discovery today at Albertson's: among the bags of grated cheese hung huge bags of "artificial pizza topping," which looked suspiciously like grated mozzarella but had virtually no recognizable ingredients. It is quite possible that a) this ingredient has existed for ages and b) this product tops most of the big-company pizzas we order, but either way, the discovery was new to us and struck us as an all-time food production low.

When I was shopping for produce the other week at the local market down the street, I found a box of blueberries from "Disney Farms" -- what could be more disheartening than to think of Disney not only taking over a huge chunk of the entertainment world, toy production, children's clothing branding, and travel, but also to now be meddling in FARMING?!

And I can hardly give Silas a bath without doubts and guilt about baby soap because of a study I recently heard about that most baby bath products (all of the ones that smell good) are manufactured through a process that releases carcinogens into the soap.

As far as clothing goes, yes organic cotton or bamboo is incredibly soft (and exorbitantly expensive) but at least clothing is safe territory. Wrong again! Apparently the cotton we tend to buy and wear goes through a whole series of its own poisonous treatments before it touches our skin.

And then, of course, we have dairy products with antibiotics, vegetables with pesticides, processed deli meats, hormones in chicken and beef.

We accept SO MUCH because it is convenient and inexpensive and any detrimental affects are far enough away that we can convince ourselves they don't exist. I live in Orange County, and worse yet, 100 yards from a freeway. The air here has a reputation of being some of the worst in the nation, and in fact, many days there's a low-lying swath of smog at the horizon to lend a visual aid. But do I move? No. Because I love the beach and weather, my friends and neighborhood, and can believe that the sun and breeze makes everything all right.

The complacency is terrifying, really.

Like so many, I pick and choose; I buy organic milk, try to wash my vegetables decently, shop for deals, and carry on with my life. Do my half-hearted efforts make any difference? Are my complaints about how out of the way and expensive organics are (the 3 markets within walking distance sell very few organic anything) absurd because really the quality of the food we put in our bodies should be invaluable?

There have been stories in the papers lately about the Nicaraguan field hands protesting banana plantation owners' use of the poisonous DBCP pesticide in the 1970's. How much is actually known and denied, swept away for profit by those in charge? It's hard to imagine people consciously harming others by withholding information, and yet again, it is not hard at all...

For us, for them, for survival -- What is enough?

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