Thursday, December 28, 2006

Cloned Meat and Milk: A little too Gargamel for me!

This Thursday (the 28th of December) the US FDA took a big step towards approving the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring without special labelling. They found that meat and milk from cloned animals were virtually indistinguishable from normal animals. Now, I am no food scientist. But this all seems to be a terrible mistake for the conventional non-all-natural/organic meat industry. While they will no doubt see financial gain from breeding then cloning super Über-livestock, I can only imagine that such mad scientist techniques will only drive a lot of "on the fencers" over to shopping in specialty/health food stores.
It does surprise me that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - BSE (aka Mad Cow Disease) didn't teach the industry any lessons. I am sure that feeding animals ground up dead animals of the same species seemed like a good idea at the time. And I don't remember seeing any special labels telling me which animals ate their own. I am just so glad that I work at a health food restaurant and can buy my family's meat from reliable natural sources. I assume the news cycle will not report on this whole thing that much and no one will notice until an entire generation gets some kind of new super cancer from eating too much DNA from essentially the same animal (or whatever else might go wrong.)
You have to love the fact that there will be no special packaging. This is because they know that sales would be in the toilet if they actually told us what meat is cloned and which isn't. To me it is an unethical trick, and it just further reduces my faith in humanity.

That's just my .000002 cents worth. I'll step down from my soapboxnow.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Health Food Store: Friend of Foe?

Is the local health/specialty food store your blood brother in the war against American food culture, or is he a secret agent sent by “the other side” just to take your money and make you look like a gullible hippie? Well before we talk about this, let’s define Health Food Store.

When I talk about Health Food Stores, I include any store, no matter how mom and pop or huge of a corporate affair, that sells hard to find items, products marketed as organic, and usually the highest quality of all of the above. I am talking about: Harry’s, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Trader Joe’s, Earth Fare and the many others doting our landscape with more and more frequency.

Just to lend authorial credence to myself, I am the culinary specialist at one of these health food stores, and have worked there for years, not to mention being an avid shopper of these stores starting circa 1996. Basically, I love health food stores. I feel like I am being dipped in baptismal waters every time I walk through those doors and am hit with the slight smell of fresh fruit, brewing coffee, and essential patchouli oil. However, after having worked in one for so long, I feel it my obligation to help my fellow man navigate those deceptively uncalm waters.

Do Health Food Stores over charge their customers? Yes. Is there a certain amount of hocus pocus to a lot of the items sold under fancy monikers? Hell yes! But do the wonderful and magical aspects of these stores outweigh their cheekiness? In my opinion, yes they do; and ten fold at that.