Monday, May 18, 2009

One more reason Cranky Cindy is grateful that she cooks from scratch

Food companies put the onus for food safety on consumers. New York Times article. (Michael Moss 5/14/09) By writing specific directions on packaged foods, businesses hope to shift the responsibility for contamination from the company to the consumer.

"In this case, ConAgra could not pinpoint which of the more than 25 ingredients in its pies was carrying salmonella. Other companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers, interviews and documents show."

Photo :Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times
"Banquet pot pies sickened thousands with salmonella in 2007. The corporate parent, ConAgra Foods, and others have decided to leave the “kill step” to eliminate pathogens up to the consumer’s cooking at home."

Interesting that this article is located in the Business section, and not, say, health.

I cook from scratch because I'm a good cook, not because I choose to permit business to shift responsibility for knowing where the ingredients come from, and how they are tested and processed to me!

The problem though, is that contamination is not simply in prepared foods, so maybe my crowing prideful sanctimoniousness is premature.

The recalls of Peanut Butter a while back and White Pepper last month leave me in a quandary. And as a from-scratch cook, (with prideful expertise in chicken with peanut sauce) should I install a lab in my basement?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

One cost of high energy

Mountain Top coal removal is rarely seen. You don't really see it while driving, airplanes fly over too high to see. Once in a while we hear a story about slurry leaching down toward a town or an elementary school,

...Harriman, Tennessee, where millions of yards of coal sludge broke through a dike at TVA’s Kingston coal-fired plant at 1:00 in the morning just two days before Christmas.

eds of acres have been destroyed, covered in the toxic sludge and at least two of the more than 12 homes in the sludge’s 400-acre path are now deemed inhabitable.

or this photo (opens larger in new window)

"In Raleigh County, West Virginia, about 45 miles from Charleston, just over 200 students attend Marsh Fork Elementary School. Though small, Marsh Fork is important to the folks in the Coal River Valley, and not just because it's the only school in the county with high enough enrollment to remain open. No, the fate of Marsh Fork matters more because it represents all the special interests and politics that have come to define life in the shadows of Big Coal.

Not 300 feet away from where children learn and play nine months a year sits a leaking, 385-feet tall coal refuse dam with a nearly 3-billion gallon capacity. Never mind the coal dust that has been found in the school. Never mind the drinking-water contamination that has been reported. If this dam breaks, it will destroy everyone and everything within 30 miles. So why are 200-plus children still making the trip to school every day despite the constant threat of illness and even death?

Because they have nowhere else to go."

but really, except for these occasional references in popular news, you have to choose to look.

So look at the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition site here. Click on the photos for amazing high resolution photographs. Then take a stroll through the website.

Or look through SourceWatch. This will be useful if you're a person who thinks I blow things out of proportion.

The Obama EPA is cracking down. Support them from the pushback from the Coal industry.

Clean Coal ought to start where the coal starts, not just how we burn it.