So…From Where IS Our Food Coming?

After church this morning, I stopped at Starbucks to get a coffee and a snack for the ride home.  One of the new menu items was a chicken sausage wrap with cage free egg whites.  I thought, hummm, that sounds good and wholesome.  I’ll try one.  Well, as I was munching through this delicious treat, I was surprised to see some paper stuck to the side of the wrap.  I pulled the car over to inspect closer.  My surprise turned to shock, for the paper was baked into the bread and on it were Chinese charterers:

 

I have no idea what the paper is for.  My guess is that it had nothing to do with the wrap itself, or even of Starbucks.  However, the Chinese characters on the paper could only mean one thing.  At least part of this wrap (the bread part) or the entire thing originated in China.  It was part of the bread.  It was not stuck there after the fact.  Now, perhaps somewhere in America, there is a factory that is turning out Chicken Sausage Wraps for consumption in America and for possible export to the Chinese market.  However, I find this scenario unlikely.

Since the recession began, I have been much more vigilant in looking for the “Made In…” tag on the items I buy.  You go to Wal-Mart and you can hardly find a product that wasn’t made in China.  But, I must say, I never even considered the possibility that American companies would outsource the production of our food to China.  Seriously, our food?  China has cheap products for several reasons, one of which is minimal government control and oversight.  How many things have been recalled in the US because of poor quality control in China.  Does anyone remember lead paint on toys?

I realize that we live in a truly global economy.  Our food comes from all over the world.  A lot of our fresh fruit and vegetables are grown out of country, particularly during the winter. But at least most of the imported food is whole foods.  Grains, whole fruits, whole vegetables, etc.  But there are certain things I expect to be grown in America.  Most of my meat. My milk. My eggs.

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I should expect my chicken wrap to be assembled in China and shipped across the Pacific, fresh to my table.  If I thought locally sourced food was a good idea before, I am more committed to it now.  I have already expanded my garden this year.  I have already expanded my flock.  I even grew a flock of broilers last year to put fresh chicken in the freezer. I now plan to double that flock this year.  Food from my garden, I know what went into the soil. Chickens and eggs from my backyard, I know what went into their mouths.  And therefor, I am much more certain of what is going into mine.

A century ago, a backyard flock made perfect sense.  And back then, almost all of our food was locally produced.  Today, who knows where food is coming from, or where it is going.  I can’t think of a better reason or time to get closer to the source of our own food by starting our own flock in every yard.  Let me know what you think…

Poultry Professor

 

 

 

5 Responses to “So…From Where IS Our Food Coming?”

  • Yikes! You know, I can sort of get over having all of our clothing and electronics made overseas. But knowing my food was made across an entire ocean, particularly food that’s presented as fresh, seems to be crossing a line. Your story proves that no matter how much the powers that be claim they have quality control in their Chinese factories, there’s always something that slips through. I guess you could consider yourself lucky it was just a piece of paper.

    On the plus side, the more our quality of life slowly deteriorates in the name of profit, the more people will realize they can grow far better, and far cheaper, food on their own. For some it’s just a matter of when the time needed to care for a garden, poultry, or any other livestock becomes worth the additional savings and quality.

    • I only hope it was only a piece of paper. What’s dangerous are the things we can’t see and the things that aren’t tested for. And you’re right. For many, it’s a time issue. But from my experience, I spend way more effort taking care of my dog, and he’s never given me breakfast.

  • wendy:

    Actually, that little piece of paper is called a Day Dot. It was applied to the outside of the sandwich packaging by the store’s employees when it was delivered by the central bakery. The purpose of the day dot is to ensure that the sandwich gets disposed of by the end of the next business day and you don’t end up with a past date sandwich. They are made of rice paper and are designed to dissolve. If they get moist from condensation, they fall off, which is how it l(unfortunately) got transferred to your food. The day dot has the word “Sunday” written in English, Spanish, French, and Chineese. The food was made in a regional bakery within a few hours of your home. Starbucks has them all across the country.

    And yes, there is food from Asia there: the coffee itself. Indonisian beans are my favorite.

    • Thank you Wendy for that insight. I’m guessing that the day dot has several different languages printed on it so that Starbucks can use them world wide. It’s also nice to know that the food is most likely being assembled in the US, probably from US ingredients. (Of course, since Hawaii is the only state that I know of that grows coffee, this daily treat must be imported.)

      However, seeing that little tag (dot) on my breakfast did make me think that I take for granted where my food comes from. In his book “The End of Overeating” Dr. David Kessler documents how the food industry designs food that is more palatable and profitable to assemble. He asserts that much of our processed food is assembled in foreign markets and imported. Even much of the food that we get in restaurants and think has been cooked on site. He also documents how much of the flavoring in foods we love get those natural tasting flavors from man made chemicals. It is a fascinating read and for me made me think more critically of what I am eating. It has also made me look for ways to get closer to the raw ingredients of the food I eat.

      Again, thanks for your insights. Keep the comments coming.

      Poultry Professor

      • wendy:

        The End of Overeating Eating was an eyeopening, nearly life changing book! I have eschewed restaurants recently based on that book, and shared it with several friends. Really.made me rethink my food and how I was feeding my family and myself. I have made many changes based on the spark it gave me.

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