Pushing the edge: a hodgepodge

I wrote recently about Springfield's horseshoe sandwiches using them as one example of things in our society's food frenzy that I don't want to join in. Since then I've run into a number of other examples and, fortunately, some opposition to these. I'm going to quickly describe a few of the trends I view as potentially dangerous for those of us who want to stay slim (or become slender) and remain healthy.

One article described how high-end restaurants are experiencing a boom, in some case having up to 30% more business. I read that with perhaps a touch of envy, but decided that the trend for fancy dining came from abundant crops and cheaper prices for strawberries, wild mushrooms,and some varieties of carrots.  Those things I can buy for myself in the farmer's market or the supermarket

My greater concern came from reading two articles on foods being offered for sale that offer much greater risks than fancy restaurant meals. One was on bushmeats, illegally-imported flesh that comes from bats, monkeys and rodents...considered by some to be delicacies and apparently smuggled into the NYC area. Now you may not live near the New York City so this may appear to be of distant interest, but those strange meats have been found to contain a strain of a virus that is distantly related to HIV and many scientists think that consuming such products is how humans first came to be infected with HIV.

Then there's the unpasteurized milk debate. Public health officials (my Dad was one of those), are absolutely against drinking "raw milk," though its advocates claim it has many health benefits lost when the milk is pasteurized, defined as being heated enough to kill harmful bacteria.  In March the FDA reported twelve cases of sickness in the Midwest that apparently were tied to a dairy selling "raw milk." The agency is reviewing its policy on hard cheeses made from raw milk. At present you can purchase those if they are aged sixty days or more. Fresh cheeses made from raw milk have also been linked to disease out breaks.

So you make your choices and decide for yourself. There's a range of food available from the exotic to the expensive to the somewhat mundane. Just remember, to start with, that prior to 1938, when pasteurization became the norm, cow's milk was responsible for a quarter of all water- and food-borne illness. And bushmeat may have led to our current HIV epidemic. As for fancy restaurants, I'll save them for special occasions.

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