A few weeks ago, I wrote about how as a family we were trying to eat better and take better care of ourselves. I’ve also written several times about trying to shop local and patronize American products because it makes sense.
So, imagine my surprise when my wife brought it to my attention that the frozen catfish I bought locally at the largest grocery store chain in the area says “A Product of China” on the package. You have to look hard to find it; they aren’t exactly trumpeting this, but it is right there on the back. Catfish from China? Really? Catfish? I couldn’t believe it.
It turns out, that’s not an uncommon practice. The fish isn’t from China (I don’t think), but we send it there for Chinese workers to process it and then they send back. I still have a little bit in my freezer, but once that is done, it will be the last I eat it.
I have nothing against China directly and would really like to travel there. The culture and history there is amazing to me. On the other side of the coin, they have deplorable records on environmental and safety controls. Earlier this year, the smog and smoke in the air there made it nearly impossible to breathe in about one third of the country. Our own FDA has warned pet owners not to feed pet jerky treats from China to their furry friends, yet that same FDA allows Chinese companies to process our food. And it’s not just fish. The FDA is about to allow chicken to be processed in China as well. Even worse there will be no required labels for chicken processed in China when it is used in soup or nuggets or any other place you find chicken. And there won’t be inspectors present, either, to make sure the meat is processed to American standards.
It is simply amazing to me that the greatest country in the world and one of the largest economies in the world would allow our food supply to be farmed out to a country with sub-standard records on just about everything.
As a fiction writer, I think of worst-case scenarios that could put people in danger. Usually, then, the hero comes in and saves the day. How hard would it be for a pathogen of some sort to be placed into several million pounds of chicken nuggets and then distributed throughout the United States sickening children in every state? And I’m not making this story up.
January’s chemical spill and water crisis taught us a basic lesson that we need to jealously guard our basic infrastructure. If we don’t, we can get in trouble very quickly..