What’s in your food?

Last week, ABC News broke the news that our ground beef may not be 100% meat. Rather, a whistleblower has announced that the industry adds “pink slime” to the meat to make it add up to the proper weights. So what is this pink slime? Find out more here.

This is a major problems for US consumers who love beef. Other countries may scoff at the US, especially Europeans who absolutely refuse to eat anything genetically engineered, calling it Franken-food. But what about other countries?

Four years ago, news about tainted baby milk formula arose in China which caused an uproar in a country that prides itself on making cheap products and a central government that knows the best for its people.  Although I do not have any children, I would be outraged that substandard and poisonous foods are entering the market and the government is playing catch-up instead of preventing such foods from entering the market in the first place.

And did you know that there are no more natural bananas on the market? Wild bananas no longer exist, even in the areas known for bananas. Instead, most bananas are grown on plantations and cross-pollinated by the growers so that they stay green longer and for other qualities that make a “good banana.” I eat a banana every day for health benefits. When I travel or live overseas, I always try to eat bananas. Each place has slightly different bananas and all of them have slightly different taste. However, with the near extinction of the wild bananas, I wonder if I am contributing to the problem of increased dependence on genetically engineered foods.

There are other places where I am just scared to eat, not know what it is or how it is prepared. For example, we ate a lizard that was roadkill in India. We did the killing as one of our buses deliberately ran over the monitor lizard for food. Not that we were starving, but this was a delicacy that we could not pass up. While in southern China, I was offered turtle. Knowing the stories of how 19th century whalers ate giant sea turtle for food in an emergencies, I was reluctant to eat turtle. One tour guide said he was offered lion. Pass. While in Beijing, I saw stalls that sold fried starfish. Pass. The only place that I felt comfortable eating was Japan. Everything is served separated so there is nothing lurking in the rice. In Japanese BBQ, you cook your own meat.

In Hong Kong, most people buy fish fresh at 10am and serve it the same day. Frozen food is available but why buy that when there is a fresh fish market just down the street? I think the Europeans and Asians have it right when it comes to food; buy and make just only for a day or two. Don’t stock up. Even if they have a large fridge, it’s not always packed with food, especially left over food. Some cold drinks, some eggs and butter, and that’s it!

As I travel to Singapore this June, I am looking forward to eating new things and seeing how people live there. Thus, in July, I can answer the question: What’s in that food?

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