Fear of Eating by Paul Krugman

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/05/paul_krugman_fe . html
May 21, 2007
Fear of Eating, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times
Yesterday I did something risky: I ate a salad.
These are anxious days at the lunch table. For all you know, there may be E. coli on your spinach, salmonella in your peanut butter and melamine in your pets food and, because it was in the feed, in your chicken sandwich.
Whos responsible...? Some blame globalization; some blame food-producing corporations; some blame the Bush administration. But I blame Milton Friedman.
Now, those who blame globalization do have a point. ...[S]ince the Food and Drug Administration has limited funds..., it can inspect only a small percentage of imports. This leaves American consumers effectively dependent on the quality of foreign food-safety enforcement. And thats not a healthy place to be... [L]ast month the [FDA] detained shipments from China that included dried apples treated with carcinogenic chemicals and seafood coated with putrefying bacteria. You can be sure that a lot of similarly unsafe and disgusting food ends up in American stomachs.
Those who blame corporations also have a point. In 2005, the F.D.A. suspected that peanut butter produced by ConAgra ... might be contaminated with salmonella. According to The New York Times, when agency inspectors went to the plant..., the company acknowledged it had destroyed some product but...... refused to let the inspectors examine its records without a written authorization.
According to the company, the agency never followed through. This brings us to our third villain, the Bush administration.
Without question, Americas food safety system has degenerated... [S]ince 2001 the F.D.A. has introduced no significant new food safety regulations...
This isnt simply a matter of caving in to industry pressure... The ... United Fresh Produce Association says that ... without strong mandatory federal regulations..., scrupulous growers and processors risk being undercut by competitors more willing to cut corners on food safety. ...
Why would the administration refuse to regulate an industry that actually wants to be regulated? Officials ... are also influenced by an ideology that says business should never be regulated, no matter what.
The economic case for having the government enforce rules on food safety seems overwhelming. Consumers have no way of knowing whether the food they eat is contaminated, and in this case what you dont know can hurt or even kill you. But there are some people who refuse to accept that case, because its ideologically inconvenient.
Thats why I blame ... Milton Friedman, who called for the abolition of both the food and the drug sides of the F.D.A. What would protect the public from dangerous or ineffective drugs? Its in the self-interest of pharmaceutical companies not to have these bad things, he insisted... He would presumably have applied the same logic to food safety (as he did to airline safety): regardless of circumstances, you can always trust the private sector to police itself.
O.K., Im not saying that Mr. Friedman directly caused tainted spinach and poisonous peanut butter. But he did help to make our food less safe, by legitimizing what the historian Rick Perlstein calls E. coli conservatives: ideologues who wont accept even the most compelling case for government regulation.
Earlier this month the administration named, you guessed it, a food safety czar. But the food safety crisis isnt caused by the arrangement of the boxes on the organization chart. Its caused by the dominance within our government of a literally sickening ideology.
Bon Apptit,
- Bill
Coloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
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This does not belong here, but it was a good read.
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Why is this damn font so small?
This article does belong here because it is the very reason why so many of us grow as much of our own food as we can. We have no faith in the government to protect our health.
- Bill Coloribus gustibus non disputatum (damn type)
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wrote:

I have a large pot of collards simmering as I type this. No fear of pesticides. The lettuce from my garden for my salad is clean and free of human and animal waste. I'll eat well tonight.

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wrote:

Too many carbs?
Be Careful Charlie
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wrote:

A year ago, I bought something called "wheat bread" at local grocery store. It was sliced like bread, kinda tasted like bread. Was less expensive than other breads. My house is a single person dwelling. I ate half the loaf in a couple of days. Left the remainder in its original plastic bag on top of the refrigerator. Forgot about it. 2 weeks later, I decided to make a tuna fish sandwich. I reached for the "wheat bread" expecting major mold or something hard as a rock, or both. What I found was a few slices that were getting little firm but not hard. No mold. That scared me. So, I threw away the "wheat bread". I made a comment to my sister that I won't need any additional preservation for my casket after death. The food I'm eating is already doing that. Dave
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True, but it has nothing to do, in my mind, with liberals or conservatives. I don't trust government, period. Put the liberals in power and give them umpteen billions to protect our food supply and they'll do better than the conservatives, but not good enough to trust your life with.
Let's grow our own food, dig our own wells, purify our own drinking water, compost our own waste, and maybe one day we'll wake up and realize "what do we need the government for, anyway?"
Anyway, old Milt died, give the guy a break. He made mistakes, as do we all. If the Republican politicians would really listen to the core Libertarian philosophies and not just the parts they want to hear and/ or pay lip service to, things might not be so bad now.
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Sure it does. It reminds you of why you grow your own food.
Jan beef cattle rancher
--
Bedouin proverb: If you have no troubles, buy a goat.

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