Safe Food Practices: Finally Learning to Prevent Illness Rather than Treat It

By: Dylan Rodgers

As a culture, we always react to situations rather than prevent them.  Take obesity for example.  Our initial reaction to becoming over weight has been technological innovation for working out or going on unhealthy, fat reducing diets.  Only recently have we actually decided to educate ourselves in healthy eating practices.  It has taken us 2 to 3 decades to even identify the causes of our problem instead of their effects.

In a similar way, we have often dealt with bacteria infested food by recalling it once it has already made it to the market or the table.  Most of the time it takes the masses getting sick before industries will even consider spending the time and money it takes to test their foods.  This results in the public becoming a sort of guinea pig, in the country-wide experiment to find out whether food is even safe to eat anymore.  Once a large enough populous gets sick or dies, the companies take back their product and hope the next batch isn't so problematic.

Now that almost instant, world-wide trade has become a reality, bacteria and viruses cannot be contained within geographic borders, making food safety all the more important.  Luckily as we have become so culturally focused on our health, we have started to deal with the problems of food-related illness rather than its effects.

With the help of Food Corps and community gardens, children are getting necessary education not only in what foods are healthy, but also how to grow, cook, and store foods properly.  On the commercial end of the spectrum, cooperatives like Cherry Central have become leaders in the industry of food safety by banding together with companies around the globe to practice and promote safe food growing and processing techniques.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is also at work on the planet's health.  Their most recent endeavor is combating the unhealthy food preparation practices in Bangladesh where 76 percent of people don't wash their hands with soap before preparing a meal and 40 percent of people store and reheat food improperly.  The result is easily preventable food-related illnesses like diarrhea, the cause of over a million deaths a year.

As the world becomes more health conscious in food production, and health/nutrition education develops into standard practice, food-related illnesses could be entirely phased out.  What a day that will be!

Photo: invisible monsters

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