Is our food safe yet?

This is just WRONG.

First they thought it was the tomatoes.

Then after months and months of seeing letters about Salmonella in tomatoes posted in supermarkets and fast food chains, they decided it wasn’t the tomatoes after all.  But not before the tomato industry was destroyed for the season.  Now they say it was the jalapeno peppers.  Really?  No matter, I have both tomatoes and jalapenos in the garden.

It used to be that America had safe food and safe water.  That’s what made us different from other countries.  Anyone who has ever gotten a dose of Montezuma’s revenge while enjoying Mexico’s beaches, or a touch of fever after eating the wild boar in Kathmandu can appreciate America’s tradition of eating food without having to take antibiotics afterwards. But all that has changed now.

Where is the government that used to protect our food?

Oh, yeah, that’s right. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary Mike Leavitt is busy these days trying to get contraception redefined as abortion.

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West Nile Virus speads under Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt

Last night my neighbor told me she was keeping the children inside because West Nile Virus had just been discovered in several of Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods, including this one.  Just a few streets over, they still didn’t have electric services restored after the heavy storms and rains that have swept through in the last few days.  And now, with more  standing water in the alleys and nearby nature preserves, we’re in for even more mosquitoes.  Sick, diseased mosquitoes.

Getting infected with West Nile isn’t like catching a cold either. Since the first two dead cows in 2001 confirmed that West Nile had entered the state, 94 people have died from the disease, just in Illinois.  While the epicenter of West Nile deaths has move westward form Illinois to Colorado to California, a hot spot remains in urban Chicago.

When I lived in Jordan back in 2000, there was an outbreak of West Nile virus in Israel just across the border, a 40-minute cab ride away.  I saw notices in the newspaper, films of mosquitoes on channel 2  (the only channel I could pull in), and after dusk chemical trucks spraying the streets on either side of Abdali bus station in central Amman.  Nobody died from West Nile in Jordan.

In the last 7 years, West Nile virus has entered this country and spread like wildfire, killing 94 people and preventing children from playing outdoors in the summer.  Where is our government?  In the past we have seen the federal government take the lead in controlling and even wiping out numerous diseases like influenza and polio.  It used to be that fearing mosquitoes was something that happened in third world malaria prone areas like Africa.  Where is the federal government now?  Oh, yeah, that’s right.  They’re busy trying to impose their religion on everybody else by trying to redefine contraceptives as abortion.

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