When The FDA Goes Astray
My brother Eben has a food blog, urbanmonique (see the link on this one) and he recently wrote about threats to the American artisanal cheese movement from the FDA. When I read more, I was totally baffled. Shutting down an entire industry because they age cheeses on wooden racks? Wow, really? And, if the FDA continues on its indicated course, no more imported cheese that don’t meet these new safety regs? ACK!!
When I think of the sumptuous cheeses I’ve enjoyed in France, Italy, Spain and Greece, some of which have been aged in caves, buried in ashes, wrapped in leaves, and so on, it’s hard to fathom why a wooden drying rack poses a genuine threat to food safety and American heath and well-being. If these time-proven practices are acceptable in the EU, which in general has far more stringent health safety rules than America does, why not here? Here’s the fuller story:
When I first heard about this, I remembered reading an article in Science News years ago that said that wood somehow kills off bacteria and wooden cutting boards were actually safer than plastic ones, which I disliked anyway on hippy principle. However, when both my mom and my late husband experienced life-threatening illnesses, I switched over to color coded plastic cutting boards in an attempt to make my kitchen as safe as possible for their compromised immune systems. Turns out that actually was a good idea, since that old Science News article was based on pretty sketchy “science.” Here’s the scoop on THAT (thanks to Eben for passing it along after I mentioned all this to him):
Well, dang. So much for accepting “science” without thinking simply because it fits with my own assumptions. (Hmm…where else might this happen?) Despite the better research results, I do still use wooden cutting boards with bread, which I often bring to the table. And were I an artisanal cheese maker, as my brother is, I would continue to age my cheeses on wooden racks.
I also use my colorful plastic cutting boards, as much to avoid cross-contamination of flavors as for any presumed protection. In my system, the white cutting boards are use for sweet things only; fruit, candied ginger, etc. No onions, garlic, etc. are allowed, so those flavors won’t carry over as I cook. Green is for vegetables, blue is for fish (think ocean blue), yellow is for poultry, and red for meat.
Raw Can Be Nasty
Even though meat and poultry rarely enter my kitchen, I do cook them for others on occasion. Thus, I prep any raw flesh on the proper piece of plastic and put the cutting boards in the dishwasher after use. (I tuck them along the side on the bottom rack so they don’t flop and block water from reaching other stuff, or run them with the metal mesh filters from my stove hood fan, which get pretty greasy.)
I find it fascinating that handling meat, something I did for many years without much thought (other than choosing to eat organically raised animals), is now seriously repugnant to me. Is it part of maturity? Deepening spiritual awareness? Becoming a wus?
It feels as if this new awareness of the connectedness and holiness of all life has something to do with being in close touch with the big cycle of life. Each day, I spend time caring for my aging mother, who is starting to float away down the long river. I also get to spend time with my darling grandbaby, who turned one year old last week. He is bursting with life force and curiosity and ingenuity and intelligence, burgeoning even as Mom is fading. Both stages of the cycle seem equally important right now, worth experiencing as fully as possible.
Battling The Big One
In case you aren’t totally bummed out yet, here’s a tidbit to get your dander up (or so I hope). After Vermont officially voted for mandatory labeling of any food that contains GMO ingredients, Monsanto responded with a law suit, claiming that such a law is unfair and imposes an unjust financial burden on food producers and manufacturers. Aided by an alliance of national trade unions (did you even know there is a Snack Food Association formed to keep health warnings from inhibiting sales of junk food?), Mighty Monsanto is suing the small state of Vermont.
To help fund Vermont’s legal defense, a group called The SumOfUs is inviting help from all over the world in the upcoming legal battle. Monsanto has used lawsuits for decades to squelch opposition, ruin defiant farmers, and manipulate legislation. Vermont is inviting folks who really, really, really dislike the Monsanto approach to join the battle, on THEIR side. If you want to help, check out this link:
If you are so moved, click on this one:
Yes, I’ll chip in $1 to help Vermont
Feel better now? Me too.