Lions and Tigers and Chinese Imports, OH MY!
Grocery chains are lining up to state that they are examining their policies on importing foods from China, reassuring consumers that all is well.
For example, as www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2008-02-10-trader-joes-china_N.htm , “by April 1, Trader Joe’s will phase out single-ingredient Chinese imports such as garlic, frozen organic spinach, ginger and edamame.” Phew! Aren’t we going to sleep well tonight?
But wait—turns out the elimination of Chinese products DOES NOT include the multi-ingredient products made with ingredients from China, which likely includes as many items as those made here in the U.S.
In other words, Trader Joe’s won’t sell any product with a “Made in China” country of origin seal, but all those others that have Chinese ingredients among others, well—they’ll just leave well enough alone. Yet we’re not really worried, because while we’re clear this is one of those things people are frightened of, it’s really less of an issue, and it distracts us from other bigger problems right inside the continental USA.
China is booming and yes, regulatory oversight isn’t where it should and will be. And, as more and more manufacturers turn their eyes and their production to the East, some problems will occur. Yet, if you think that means Made in China = bad, Made in America = good, hold your horses.
Let’s start under the kitchen sink. Some, but not most, you may realize that a large percentage of household cleaning supplies are considered so toxic by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) that they aren’t allowed in the workplace. Spray away Jane Doe, but heaven forbid don’t buy Chinese soybeans.
What’s more, are American companies and their overseas subsidiaries and plants all that concerned about us? Well, let’s think. Just recently, there was that pharmaceutical giant withholding data on its useless yet blockbuster drug. And how about insurance companies regularly denying legitimate claims to make fatter profits, while most trailers provided to people displaced by Hurricane Katrina were found to up to 40% more than allowable levels of formaldehyde off-gassing, causing a wide range of bronchial, skin and other illnesses.
And then there are the meat processors who under the mismanaged regulatory eye of the USDA have had more contaminated beef recalls than Britney’s been in rehab.
Okay you see the point, folks. What’s more, these are only the <i>E. coli</i>-infected, bad drug, cheating, profiteering shenanigans we know about. And the list could go on and on (if only we had an research intern).
So, government regulations here are better than those in China, we certainly agree. But when our regulators are increasingly the puppets of the regulated, tools of the lobbyists and other influence peddlers, you don’t have to look overseas to see things that need fixing.
We don’t want to sound the alarm, but please don’t be fooled into thinking Made in America means safe for you or your kids or your puppy, too. So be wise, but don’t get too scared. After all, for most of us America is the safest place in the history of the world. Yet don’t forget that what corporations really care about—really, really care about—is their next quarterly earnings report.
Whether it’s the tale of weapons of mass destruction, an invasion of terrorists taking over a Whole Foods near you, or the danger of Chinese imports, just breathe deep and for some of you, wise up too. Said another way, don’t buy the bullshit unless you enjoy the taste of manure.