After a recent trip to the juice bar at the Naples Whole Foods – a place, mind you, I usually avoid at all costs because they don’t explicitly label the ingredients in their prepared foods as being certified organic – I allowed my good judgment to be euthanized by the sweet-sounding clerk’s assurance that they use “mostly organic” ingredients, with the highly non-binding qualification: “whenever possible.”
Of course, my main concern with not buying 100% organic juice is the greater likelihood that the produce was grown in factory-farmed animal manure, or raw-human sewage, which is a breeding ground for serious, even deadly pathogens, and which may contaminate both the food grown in it, and the people who consume the contaminated food.
But, a battery of factors conspired against what I would like to consider my better judgment: 1) being fatigued by the morning outing at the Zoo. 2) knowing our favorite organic juice bar (at Food & Thought) was taking a much deserved day of rest. 3) being in the company of less “neurotic” and equally exhausted child-towing company … I just decided to shut up and give it a shot.
And so, with all my pre-purchase doubts happily behind me I sat down to an already half-consumed glass of raw vegetable juice, only to discover the following warning sticker staring back at me, declaring in CDC-speak that I had just engaged in highly risky, if not downright dangerous behavior:
“WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly and persons with weakened immune systems.” ~ Whole Foods Market
And then, to my dismay, I noticed that my sweet 3 year old daughter’s Whole Foods Almond Milk Smoothie also bore the same terrible warning, which needless to say was giving me a bit of indigestion as I contemplated the implications of the statement further.
First, I was a bit incredulous! “Really?? I just spent a good chunk of the remainder of my last paycheck buying a presumably healthy drink for my family, and I’m being told that it could make us terribly ill??”
Second, angry: “Good lord. I can buy genetically engineered (GE) food in this country (which shouldbear the skull and crossbones), without any label warning me of this fact, but I can’t buy an organic raw juice without being told that it may contain ‘harmful bacteria’ and could cause serious illness in my child because it was not pasteurized????”
Third, empathic: “I understand the heavily litigation wary context within which all consumer purchases now take place, and Whole Foods must be trying to protect itself against frivolous lawsuits…”
….nah, that explanation, while a convenient one and likely close to the official one I might have received if I had asked, just seemed plainly disingenuous.
Knowing that people have recently been threatened with arrest, or actually arrested in this country for selling raw milk products, made this situation all the more irritating. How can I go down a block to a highly-subsidized fast food joint and order and consume food that I should rightfully be required to wear a Hazmat suite to interact with, and yet they bear no warning stickers?
I think warnings like this require a certain dumbing down of the general public to be fully accepted without incredulity. For one, if the juice in that cup was truly produced from vegetables (as I was told) grown in organic soil, the bacteria found there in all likelihood would be highly beneficial to my health – not harmful.
In fact, if we pasteurized everything we ate, we would die from a lack of bacteria – probiotics – which are required to sustain the very infrastructure of our health. Pasteurizing a healthy food containing healthy bacteria, virtually guarantees it (and we who consume it) will become more susceptible to being overrun by unhealthy bacteria. Case in point…..
If RAW Milk Is So Dangerous, Why Does Pasteurization Make It Spoil?
Since the raw/pasteurized debate (to put it mildly) seems presently focused on milk, let’s look at the findings of a recent study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics titled, “Impact of pasteurization on the antibacterial properties of human milk,” which revealed that the pasteurization of milk – in this case, human breast milk – actually increased the rate of proliferation of Escherichia Coli and Staphylococcus Aureus.
The very justification for pasteurization of all milk is to reduce the transmission of infection, but pasteurization destroys naturally present immunological factors, as well as beneficial bacteria which keep the pathogenic strains in check. Pasteurization also denatures the delicately folded proteins within milk, increasing the risk for antigenicity, i.e. allergies, asthma, dermatitis, etc.
I guess what I’m most indignant about is the “homeland security” mentality that seems to suffuse every nook and cranny of our lives today. Food fascism purports to care so much about our health that it is willing to strip us of our constitutional and basic human rights just in order to keep us from making decisions concerning what we choose to eat and how we choose to eat it.
Between pure food freedom and absolute food security is a middle ground, and in that balanced, yet increasingly utopian place, cups of raw organic juice NEVER have warning stickers telling you that you could become seriously ill, perhaps even die, as a result of not pastuerizing them. I refuse to accept the implicit Pasteurian metaphysics and germ theory contained within that Whole Foods warning sticker.
It is the concept of an imposed universal pasteurization and not raw food (at least when organic), that scares me the most.We should have the freedom to live raw, or die, if you will, without being labeled and stickered into submission by exceedingly rare, worst case scenarios, i.e. “CAUTION: This straw could impale you.”
Thomas Jefferson said it well:
“If the people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”