Food in the News (aka Our National Eating Disorder)

Sometimes it is hard to to get your head around all the important issues concerning food in America.  Lets face it, no one who thinks seriously about how we as a nation produce, transport and consume food can help but be concerned.  GMO’s, massive fish and bird kills, overfishing, tainted spinach, salmonella in chickens, beef tacos that are on only 35% beef, rampant obesity, diabetes almost the national disease…seems like most of what you read or hear is discouraging.  It is almost easier to ignore the national happenings that effect our food supply, to shut our ears to all the bad news.

At the same time, when I do read an article about something that affects our food, its hard to know if you are getting the complete story.  There is so much information available, it is hard to connect up all the dots on any given topic and feel like you have a balanced and informed opinion.  How much time can one person spend surfing the web for contrasting points of view?  Honestly, even as a food professional, as someone who spends a lot of time thinking  and reading about food, feeling fully informed is a daunting proposition.

Of course, as individuals, and as residents of Washington, its possible to seek out food of very good quality from local farmers and artisan producers and to thereby feed ourselves well.  With our access to farmer’s markets and high quality food products made by local artisans, why should we be concerned?

The truth is that developments in the other Washington and around the world can and do have a major impact on our ability  to eat well right hear in the Northwest.  To site just one example, new regulations being considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could end the ability of Washington artisan cheese makers to  produce unpasteurized cheeses (look for a posting on this topic soon).  National happenings have a funny way of coming home to roost.  If I am going to eat well, I need to be better informed.

For this reason, I will be including Food in the News as a regular posting.  I would like to share interesting articles on subjects that impact the way we eat as a means of starting a conversation.  I will, of course give my opinion (who doesn’t love to give their opinion?) on these topics, but the whole idea will be to expand the discussion and bring in other points of view so as to arrive at a fuller understanding.     To that end, I hope you will also share your opinion, along with links to other ideas and other sources of information.

One caveat right from the beginning: I am not a scientist.  Nor an expert on food safety, food regulation or food policy.  I am a cook, and as such,  someone who loves to shop, to eat and drink well, to support local farmers, local artisans,  restaurants and vendors.  Therefore, I have strong opinions  about almost any topic bearing on food.  However, they are just that, opinions.  Not expert opinions, just mine.  Because of that, they are likely to be incorrect or incomplete and they are subject to change with the input of new information or changing events.

But that is the whole point of the exercise.  I want to hear other points of view, to have my opinions challenged, to find new sources of information, to hear about things I didn’t know were happening.  That is how I learn best.  I will let you know what I think, and what sources I base my opinions on, and I hope you will do the same.

Because, in the end,  I believe that there is nothing wrong with having strong opinions about what you put in you our your family’s mouth.  And I don’t believe that only experts have the right to strong opinions.    Experts in America have given us GMOs and trans-fats and processed breakfast cereal and cheese-like processed food product.  Maybe its time for the input of non-experts.

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