- Christian Wright May 11, 2001 01:49 PM
I'm writing a magazine story on food fears. The idea was inspired by recent revelations about mad cow disease and the horrible TV images of mountains of burning foot-and-mouth carcasses.
I would like to hear from people who have changed their eating habits (particularly at restaurants) in response to news of infected flesh. Are concerns limited meat and only outside the US? Do you and your friends talk about dangers? Any new vegetarians out there?
I need specifics--like avoiding cheese in Lyon or roast beef in London--and reasons why.
I'm happy to hear from those who have studiously not changed habits, too....
While I don't censor too much of what I eat--I'm too much of an explorer--I realize that certain "food fears" arose some years before this "new" scare even hit the news.
Several years ago (don't remember when,) a documentary aired showing how chicken was processed. It may have been part of one of those "Sixty Minute-type" exposes. Watching the chicken parts pass by on the assembly line--and hearing about the fecal matter passing right by with them--I felt vaguely nauseas for at least a year afterwards. Even now, I find I feel "better" about an organic chicken--tho I'm still crazy enough to eat spicy, barbecued chicken at a street fair! I just don't THINK about it so much anymore. Silly me!
And, while I wouldn't go out of my way to order a nice plate of rare British beef at the moment--I can't honestly say I've changed my food habits in the past few months. Perhaps this is because I lived in England for ten years--and still have friends there who correspond all the time--so I've been kept very up-to-date about exactly what's going on.
What HAS bothered me terribly has been the "burning pyres" of animals. But then, others would say to me..."but you're a carnivore--you normally EAT them." To which I don't have much of a defense--except to say that if I followed my heart, I WOULD be a vegetarian!
Good luck with your article.
My daughter, 13, an 8th grader in Berkley, MI middle school watched a report on hoof and mouth disease in her social studies class. With that information, combined with mad cow disease, she's made a decision to not eat red meat--and she's succeeded since news of the infection started. No McDs, bacon, burger, steak, etc. I'm impressed with her discipline--however, it is the result of a food fear, as well.
Today's Wall St. Journal has an article in the Weekend Journal section on the impact that food fears and allergies are having on hosts of dinner parties and restaurants. Says that one out of three Americans THINK they have a food allergy (NIH).
I see no reason to avoid beef, even ground beef, here in London - cases of mad cow disease are negligible compared to what they were a few years ago, and a hundred-odd people dying doesn't begin to outweigh the greasy pleasure of a Quarter Pounder. I refuse to live in fear.
Latest news this morning is that a third of all foot and mouth cases diagnosed by vets in the field have proved negative on further lab testing. This means that thousands of animals have almost certainly been slaughtered unnecessarily. We are looking at an economic rather than ecological crisis.
I have not changed my eating habits at all because all the infected and not infected carcasses are burning in the fields, and are no where near the human food chain. Any particular aversion to beef in london for instance would be entirely inappropriate, not to say downright foolish.