I don’t know what’s in your salad, Krugman

And apparently you don’t know either. Sorry if you don’t have TimesSelect, but basically, Krugman addresses our food system’s problems thus: “Who’s responsible for the new fear of eating? Some blame globalization; some blame food-producing corporations; some blame the Bush administration. But I blame Milton Friedman” [who “called for the abolition of the food and drug sides of the FDA” and “help[ed] to make our food less safe, by legitimizing what the historian Rick Perlstein calls ‘E. coli conservatives’: ideologues who won’t accept even the most compelling case for government regulation.”].

And then goes on to say that our compromised food system is the result of failings in regulation (the FDA has neither the jurisdiction nor the resources to ensure that all that stuff coming over from China (or the Ivory Coast or Chile or wherever New Yorkers’ and Ypsilantians’ food comes from these days) is safe to eat.

[On a sort of related note, why hasn’t there been more talk about all the tainted drugs and dog food that have been traced to counterfeiting in China? There’s mention, and maybe I’m just not very cognizant of what’s going on, but you would think this would prompt, I dunno, more of a reaction from the public or lead to calls for more local sourcing. Which is really the issue with Krugman’s piece, but I’m getting to that.]).

He also points out how the FDA seems powerless to really do all that much about agribusiness giants like ConAgra, who aren’t really required, it seems, to explain themselves when their products are suspected of contamination.

I’m not even going to get to the point of his piece here, because I think, what he’s really not getting, is that the reason his salad might be a “risky” lunch option is that he’s not getting any of it from a source he knows (and trusts, obviously) — doesn’t even know just where that lettuce came from (because nobody is required to tell us in this country). It might require a little more time on your part, but maybe, Mr. Krugman, you should think about getting your lettuce from the farmers’ market (directly from the people who grew it — they can even tell you how they did it and would probably love for you to see where your salad came from) or a CSA (ditto).

What’s most disturbing about your salad, Mr. Krugman, besides the fact that you don’t seem to know where it really came from, is that you don’t seem to care that you don’t know.

[Update: Irene notes that Krugman does make a good point about the FDA and the need for more regulation, and I don’t disagree. However, he (and I and probably you, if you’re reading this) can afford (on many levels) to make food choices that make this of less import.]


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