Food Is Bad For You

The food in this Shanghai restaurant got a glowing report.

There are disagreements from one culture to the next about what actually constitutes food.  For instance, many of us in western civilization don’t think insects even qualify as a snack, let alone a meal.  Elsewhere, locusts and ants are considered delicacies.

Within cultures there are differences, too; there are members of my own family who only eat vegetables, while another family member shudders at the thought of having to put a slice of tomato into his mouth.  These are simply questions of preference, though.  The universal truth is that no matter what you choose to eat, there’s a chance that it will make you sick.

Results of scientific studies are released almost hourly which support that conclusion.  The Centers for Disease Control recently stated that new strains of E. coli bacteria are mutating, causing a rise in food-poisoning cases.  Salmonella, the most common source of gut-busting illness, was to blame for misery in about 1 million Americans last year.

“Junk food”, the epithet applied to stuff that is deep fried or laced with sugar, is a familiar villain that most of us seem to ignore.  That may be because it doesn’t make us quickly (but temporarily) sick the way bacteria do.  The onset of junk-food illnesses is more gradual, but the effects are a lot longer-lasting than an upset stomach.

What got me thinking about the perils of food was a recent story in the Los Angeles Times about hazardous dietary ingredients in China.  Reporter Barbara Demick wrote that a woman in Shanghai had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table.  The woman woke up in the middle of the night “and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie.”  Experts blamed it on phosphorescent bacteria, which was something I hadn’t known I should be worrying about until now.

Science has proven that there are good reasons to avoid eating almost everything, which might lead one to believe that swearing off food altogether is the solution.  You’re welcome to try that approach if you like, but you should be aware that fasting, when conscientiously done (meaning no food whatsoever) is invariably fatal after a couple of months.  Similarly, the all-alcohol diet adopted by William the Conqueror is not recommended; he sustained fatal injuries when he fell off his horse.

So what should we do to avoid the risks lurking in our food?  Oh, you don’t really need me to tell you, do you?  The experts all say pretty much the same thing, and you’ve heard it a thousand times.   Consume smaller portions of healthier foods, exercise, wash hands before preparing your meal, etc.

Of course, you’re an adult and ultimately you’ll do as you please.  For safety’s sake, though, I urge you to learn from the Chinese and heed this new warning:  If your food glows in the dark, don’t eat it!

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5 responses to “Food Is Bad For You

  1. We passed on eating at many open air buffets in Taiwan, where meat would sit out in the heat without covers. A small mobile with ribbons would slowly fan over the display to keep away the flies – which still landed on the food anyway. Not too appealing.

  2. Someone needs to develop a battery-operated version of that fly fan you described — it would be ideal for family picnics. Maybe it could be mounted on a hat, to keep winged critters from joining the sandwich bite as it goes into the mouth?

  3. I just book marked your blog on Digg and StumbleUpon.I enjoy reading your commentaries.

  4. Tom,
    I am not proud of this but, I grew up in a home where NOTHING went to waste. Foods that were so old they couldn’t even remember their own expiration date were served without hesitation. Disgusting? Maybe, but the result is, I have built up a tolerance to bacteria tainted food. Case in point: Years ago I, along with many other folks, got salmonella from a popular restaurant in Chicago. It was all over the news. People where going to the hospital, churches were having prayer vigils, & EMTs were working overtime. And I knew I had it because anything I ate for about ten days went through me like a freight train. I couldn’t believe how quickly food could make that journey from top to bottom. (It reminded me to chew better.) BUT, I didn’t really suffer any serious symptoms. For me, it was basically a great diet. So maybe the answer is to build up your tolerance to the bad stuff. I’ve done it with politicians and it has worked out so far.

  5. You may be on to something with your theory about building up one’s tolerance to “bad stuff”. I’ve heard anecodotal evidence about missionaries and others who have been living for long periods in places with poor hygiene adapting to the diet there. It is when they return home, and resume eating their old favorites, that they get sick.

    Just for precautionary reasons, though, I intend to continue avoiding glow-in-the-dark food.

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