Friday, June 20, 2008

Consumer Confidence?

I think maybe consumer confidence is an oxymoron. I certainly have very little.

My confidence in the foods I buy at the market has reached an all time low. Admitted it has been eroding for some time. In 1981 I discovered rather painfully and almost fatally that the ingredient sulfur does not have to be mentioned on a product label because it is not added to the final product deliberately.

Sulfur, which an alarming number of people are deathly allergic to is a "hitchhiker" on any corn byproduct. It is used on corn to prevent it germinating while it is waiting to become corn syrup or corn starch, etc. And it does not go away in the processing. The incident of the emergency ward alerted me to this little known fact. There has been a very strong lobby to try to get it listed for decades now. Until then I and millions others like me just simply avoid products with corn in them. And dehydrated fruits, and artificial creamers, some sugar substitutes, etc.

I had become used to this process when I discovered a sensitivity to petrochemicals. Also obliquely named on product ingredient labels. Sun block gives me sun blisters of mega proportions. Hand creams cause rashes not heal them, etc. Then came pet food. After losing my aging cat at about the same time my other two got put on an organic diet. The dogs are on the only dog food that has not been named in a recall. I avoid lettuce and spinach in plastic bags and have devoted part of my sun porch to a green house for tomatoes.

When beginning my spring garden this year I discovered the problem with seeds. Burpee and other seed companies are treating their seeds so not only do they not germinate for longer than the one season for which they are purchased but the plants grown from these seeds are sterile. Does this sound like we are painting ourselves into a corner? I live in an area where Anasazi beans discovered in pre-Columbian pottery can be planted and they grow. Now we have genetically altered plants and animals that cannot reproduce.

I am growing my own lettuce, spinach, chard and herbs as well as the tomatoes and sweet bell peppers. I am looking for a good general hunting rifle and have plans with my neighbor for a deer hunt this year. I am also splitting a pig or lamb with her grown by one of our animal raising neighbors. I have my eye on a little chest freezer and thankfully never got rid of the pressure cooker. Back to canning I think. What I don't raise myself I can get from the local farmers' markets. And I buy organic any product I cannot get locally like milk and cheese.

Oh, yeah, they could be mislabeling organic products. But I did read that there is a higher likelihood that organic products will be produced locally. Translate that to mean not Mexico or China. I urge all food producers in Canada and USA to label their products clearly as to point of origin. I find this raises my level of confidence in the product. And I avoid any highly processed food because that increases the chances of some ingredient coming from China or Mexico which does not have any product controls or safety, nor any EPA oversite. That is why the companies moved there to manufacture. It is not all because of low cost labor. Well, I'm not buying.

Now what are you going to do? I am shopping local and shunning global.