Reuters is publishing a report about the state of the water in China and in a nutshell only half the water in the country is drinkable and almost 25% is unfit for any use.
Thanks to massive pollution only half of the standing water in all of China is considered drinkable. They tested the water and there was some bad news and good news: only 49.5 percent of the water was fit for drinking and bathing but that was up from 48 percent last year. (note that these are standards set by the Chinese government so who the hell knows what this really means compared to other countries water standards).
They note that they have six stages of water cleanliness. The first three stages are considered “safe” for drinking and bathing. That’s where that 49.5 falls in.
Another 26 percent falls into category 4 and 5 which means it’s only fit for use in manufacturing and agriculture. The other 24 percent falls into category 6: UNFIT FOR ANY USE.
Again, who the hell knows exactly where these standards are actually enforced or what corners are cut in the consideration of the testing. China has long allowed manufacturing plants to dump anything they want into the public waters and have looked the other way while their agriculture industries use pesticides, toxic chemicals and fertilizer like water.
These are some of the reasons I’m so concerned about where food comes from. I haven’t been able to find a specific statistic or anyone who is actually doing the testing but I would be willing to bet that the food coming out of China is 20-50 percent higher in pesticide resedue and toxic chemicals then any food on earth.
I spoke with a fellow who’s company was importing a food product from China and they had made a private arrangement with the farmers not to use pesticides or toxic chemicals and fertilizers on the plants. To assure this they tested the food for residue once in china and then again at their plant in the United States.
I asked him why they didn’t have an organic certification with all this effort and he laughed. He said that they only thing an organic certification from the Chinese Government means is that your check cleared and you made a high enough cash payment to the right guy. That’s it.
When looking around at foods in the store I’ve started to be thankful for the Country Of Origin laws that the USDA have passed. But it’s not all great and fantastic. Here’s what the USDA says is covered in this:
Food products, (covered commodities) contained in the law include muscle cut and ground meats: beef, veal, pork, lamb, goat, and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng. Regulations for fish and shellfish covered commodities (7 CFR Part 60) became effective in 2005.
That leaves a lot of stuff out— as many pet owners can tell you with the recent contamination of components of pet food coming from China where they are cutting corners on quality and what screw ups they were making in what they are manufacturing.
Back in 2007 around North America, Europe and South Africa owners started reporting renal failure in pets. This was traced back to a contamination of the wheat gluten sold to the pet food manufactures from a company in China. Contaminated with… melamine.
What is melamine? Oh, it’s something you’d really enjoy having in your food. Wikipedia describes it like this:
Melamine is described as being “Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure may cause cancer or reproductive damage. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant.” However, the short-term lethal dose is on a par with common table salt with an LD of more than 3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight
I’m not a doctor or a chemist, nor do I play one on TV, so the rest of the article talks about the debate over the amount a person could take in and all that. You can see the Wikipedia Article On Melamin over there to find out some details if you are interested.
Oh, by the way it wasn’t just pet food: in 2008 chinese milk and infant formula was contaminated with melamin.
What’s the point? China is exporting food products around the world. They are doing so with plants that are drinking polluted water, probably saturated in pesticides and chemicals and animals that are eating that same level of pollution and passing it along in their meat.
The latest number I could find was from 2008 and at that point the Congressional Research Service said in their report on “Food and Agricultural Imports from China”: (click that to read the PDF report)
China is now the third largest source of U.S. agricultural and seafood imports.
That was about 3 years ago and I can’t see that it’s gone down.
We know that the USDA hardly has time to monitor the food being grown and raised in this country and most people are of the opinion that China doesn’t give a crap so who’s looking out for the food we’re eating?
Fresh and frozen vegetables and meat and nuts is all okay to label so we can avoid chinese products but I have to wonder these days where the “store brand” food is being made. Where is that really, really cheap box of cereal you just bought at WalMart or Target come from? For that matter, where’s the assurance that box of _______ you buy wasn’t outsourced to some chinese factory?
Where is it grown and manufactured and who the hell is paying attention to what’s in the components?
We need to have that information and if the manufacturers are smart they’ll start putting it on packaging and labels…. unless they have a reason not to want to do it. Which is my way of saying “oh yeah, what do you have to hide?” even to companies that don’t have anything to hide but need to come forth, give their customers the information and I guarantee you it will result in bigger sales and long term loyalty.
So think about this the next time you are shopping for food and maybe touch base with some companies with the question: Where was this made? What’s in it? and we’ll see which company has the balls to answer.