You are what you eat....
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but......
Please don't shoot the messenger....in this economy, all the food-related messengers have already been shot.
There is a new, obliquely food-related disease that no one is talking about....
Well, no one except dairy farmers, cattle ranchers, epidemiologists, the CDC and other alarmist folk like that.
Clostridium perfringens A is the dirty bugger.
Last year in America we had 76 million cases of diagnosed food poisoning. This is 27% of the population, by the way.
My guys in the local Environmental Health Department tell me that the number is probably off by half. Most of the time you think you have 24 hour flu....you have food poisoning. So think more like 100 million....or a third of the population.
Among the 76 million reported cases of food poisoning are 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths.
Given the 76 million cases of diagnosed food poisoning last year...guess what? Only 14 million have any cause that anyone can detect scientifically. Meaning that when you are actually food poisoned...pissing out your ass, puking for hours, sweating like a pig....the health system of the "greatest country in the world" only can tell once in five what your real problem is and what caused it.
And this means that 3,200 of the deaths due to food poisoning completely mystify the locals....
Last year, the "socialist" Obama crowd finally passed a law that allows the Government to intervene to directly remove foods, beverages and drugs that have been proven to actually kill and injure people, pets or plants. Before this year, the Government had no real role beyond messenger, and it was left to companies producing toxic, Shitzu-killing shit to fess up and recall their products on their own.
Or people killing shit. Less than 1% of the food we import from awesome healthy free-market places like China is even examined at all....much less even cursorily.
And, if something really bad was actually killing people...or pets....nothing could have been done beyond whining and wailing, and letting the consumer choose to buy something else....assuming the consumer even knew that all the Shitzus in town were expiring.
And the Republicans think this is a good thing....and that Obama is a socialist. Free Market! Free Willy!
Even in the cases where the Government raises the red flag...it is ridiculously easy to zigzag around the warnings.
A huge amount of the honey imported to the US comes from Singapore. Ever been to Singapore? It is really small.....gots lotsa buildings, all packed onto tiny islands....Not so many honey bees.
Chinese honey, which is banned from Europe, has been proven to be actually toxic at times, and manipulated chemically, laced with anti-biotics, diluted, filtered, reboiled into sugar syrup, etc.....
is just switched around after being shipped through Malaysia... and we all pretend it comes from Singapore. Imported by a company from Chicago, owned by Russians, incorporated in the Caymans, and which pays no US taxes on their profits....
Taxes are bad, see? Taxes and regulation stifle the great American entreprenurial spirit.
Ignore the thousands of American beekeepers who are struggling to keep their hives alive (hives which pollinate all our remaining fruit trees and the other crops that supply 25% of our food)......
In RepublicanLand, shitty chemically enhanced diluted reboiled tax-free Chinese honey is exactly morally and economically equal to organic American honey raised by a guy who pays American rent, wages and taxes to actual fellow Americans. Perfect. Apparently, objective reality has died the same slow death as irony.
Regular blog readers will know something of my obsession with Duncan Hines. Long before his cake fame, Uncle Dunkie was a traveling salesman....selling printed goods around Chicago.
This is in the teens.....1915 or so, and on into the '20's and '30's. At the time, traveling sales people had an insanely high death rate: not from highwaymen or car crashes....but from food
poisoning. There were no rules, and no laws. Think Upton Sinclair.
Free market. Guys died in agony, all the time.
Duncan was more than a little OCD....which saved his life. He could tell at a sniff and a glance if a cafe or restaurant was potentially lethal, and he kept a list of places that he could trust. Our boy shared this with friends, clients and colleagues. Slowly, word got out, and by 1936 or so he was able to privately print his list of recommendations and quit his day job. "Adventures
In Good Eating". (Despite his OCD, Dunkie was no prude: at least half his places were either taverns for cocktails, or cafes for hangover recovery.)
On our rare days off, Amanda and I take our trusty 1941 "Adventures" and travel around visiting the places that Uncle Dunkie approved back in the day. Locally: Mission Ranch, Normandie Inn, Los Laureles, Highlands Inn, Big Sur Lodge, Cademartori's.....
Duncan Hines had a huge influence on the swing of American food from the merely saleable....to the survivable. Not to mention...enjoyable.
But, looking at last year's food poisoning statistics above.....how far have we actually come?
Back to Clostridium Perfringens A. Aka: CPA.
CPA lives everywhere around us. 20% of us have it in our guts. Many animals have it. It lives in the soil. No one, not even the CDC, understands where the reservoir of CPA bacteria actually lives,
except that it comes from shit. Human shit and animal shit.
CPA is extremely resistant to heat. Normal restaurant standards of keeping food either below 45 degrees or above 145 degrees Fahrenheit will not stop CPA.
When CPA gets loose in a dairy herd, the mortality is Ebola-style....85% of the cows die in agony as their guts turn into bloody sludge. Vets can operate, manually strip the blood clots from
the small intestines of the cows and cut out the necrotic parts that have already died....but it doesn't matter. 85% die anyway.
Pig farmers....same deal. Horror stories of sows and baby pigs dissolving before farmers' eyes.
The really scary part is that death from CPA infection does not seem to be affected by toxic load. A fifth of us have the critter living inside us, and many of our food animals and pets have it as well.
CPA can appear in food, both prepared and raw....Most of us never notice. Patients can be fine with CPA for years and never know.....
But, when it gets you...it gets you. You might just be sick and poopy....or your internal organs could melt and you could die in screaming agony in hours in the best hospital on the planet.
There seem to be few risk factors, but there are some. It is anaerobic, meaning it grows in sealed, processed foods. Especially warm, sealed, processed foods. Mental hospitals, regular
hospitals, old folks homes and prisons are risk factors. Anti-psychotics are constipating and jack the ristk, and uber sterile food also jacks the risk factor. People on anti-biotics are also at risk, big time.
So......Wash your hands after you poop. Pray that your food handlers and house cleaners are doing the same.
Restaurant folk are trained to sing "Yankee Doodle" while they wash their hands.....or "Guantanamera" (it takes 15 seconds of singing while scrubbing).
So....... don't eat anywhere where the staff can't sing Yankee Doodle or Guantanamera.
Oh...stay out of prisons and mental hospitals...
If you can.
After having read 30 medical and scientific papers about this stuff.....at least.
Good food, good digestion, lots of happy bacteria living in your gut are the best defense.
Pro-biotics are a great call (millions of units, please), but so is real sauerkraut, actual cheese, real yoghurt, un-Pasteurized beer and wine......god forbid kim chee...
My Amanda is probably at least as OCD as Uncle Duncan Hines. We have three levels of sponges in our house, identified by either one, two or three corners clipped off: #1 is for dishes only;
#2 is for counter tops and stoves; #3 is for floors and doors. Amanda throws out the clothes she wears on airplanes upon arrival. Hotel bedspreads are Chernobyl, and don't even mention hotel carpets.
Me....I am more George Carlin in my approach to germs: "When I drop something on the street, I pick it up and eat it! I want my immune system to be the Delta Force of immune systems!
My immune system is fighting the fucking Food Taliban every fucking day! We are ready!"
Anecdotal evidence is anathema to scientists, but just sayin': Amanda has been down with the Cachagua Crud for two weeks, barely able to breathe. I am 61, with no spleen, and feeling fine.
So, anyway...I am whipped after turning the compost for a long hour in the sun today. I think I will have another glass of organic Heller Malbec, to go along with my Shoch Family Farmstead cheese. Helps digest the massive amounts of kim chee from lunch at Orient Express......
Here is George: