Monday, September 29, 2014

Nick Reetz
Comp 3
Spoiled
Nicols Fox
HarperCollins, 1997
380 pages

"The key word to put back into our complex relationship with food is respect- for the lives of animals, for how foods are grown and harvested, for the conditions of those who do the harvesting and the preparing, and finally, for ourselves and our families and what we put into our bodies." (378)

The second half of the book Spoiled by Nicols Fox continues in a very similar way to the first half of the book. It resumes talking about the food from which we get diseases, but switches to different diseases and different sources, such as getting Salmonella from chicken, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as Mad Cow Disease, from beef. However, as the quote suggests, it begins to mention the respect we should have for our food, between preparing it correctly, treating it right while it is still alive, and keeping it fresh. This connection was fantastic to the first half of the book, where the author talked about "the right way" to prepare food in her opinion and her families opinion. People got sick less often from food when Fox was a child than now, partly because of the respect the prepared had for the food being prepared. Food was always cooked well and done, and this led to the bacteria inside being killed off. Bacteria like Salmonella.

Salmonella is a disease causing bacteria most commonly found in poultry, especially chicken eggs. When a person is warned not to eat raw cookie dough, it is because of the danger of contracting Salmonella from the raw eggs in the dough. The author points to the living conditions and the slaughter process as large reasons for the spread of Salmonella and other infectious diseases. According to Fox, the process allows contaminates to be spread very easily. Feathers are plucked after bleeding, making feather contamination extremely likely, and the same set of mechanized fingers used to pluck chickens can be used on thousands of chickens. If that first chicken had a dangerous bacteria on it, the rest will too.

The living conditions also play a factor, as chickens live in close proximity to each other. Having thousands of chickens in one large coup is not uncommon. With many chickens in a small area, disease is likely to spread extremely easily, and because chickens themselves do not contract certain diseases, they can go completely unnoticed. Thousands of chickens can all be infected at the same time, with all of them having the potential to cause disease to the person who eats it. This goes back to the respect we should have for our food. If we give the chickens better living conditions, don't produce them in such large quantities, and test them to make sure they are safe for consumption, we can cut down on the number of disease contracted from such foods. This doesn't just apply to chicken, this applies to all foods. Whether it be beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, or fruit, we need to do a better job of making sure our food is safe to eat and providing good conditions for the food before and after harvest. Perhaps we do a better job today than we did nearly 20 years ago, but there is always room for improvement.

Overall, I have a decent opinion of the book. I think it was well written, with good examples, good facts, and it seemed to flow very nicely, However, I feel like it dragged on and on. It could have been ended 100 pages sooner and not have lost anything. It continued with more and more facts and evidence that simply added padding to a solid argument. Again, the book seemed to have a scare tactic to it, trying to press for that safe food initiative by intimidating the audience. It is a good book with a good concept and out of date facts, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in disease and the food chain.

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