junk food


The last several weeks have not been good ones for those of us that eat. Not only has the first US mad cow outbreak happened, but a damning report was issued about the scary levels of PCB found in aquacultured salmon. Experts now recomend eating salmon only one a month. In December 2003, tuna was singled out for having very high levels of Mercury (eat it only weekly). Just when you start to think that the Vegans may be on to something, The Guardian reports trepidations (albeit minor ones) over Kiwi fruit, coffee and potatoes. Of ice cubes, the article says this:

«Even ice cubes could not avoid the wrath of the health inspectors. The Health Protection Agency found almost half the ice cubes that it tested in London bars contained bugs found in human faeces, with 5 per cent containing the lethal E.coli bacterium.»

Like any public issue, there are political forces at work on both sides of the “how clean does our food have to be” debate. Obviously, we’d all like to eat heavenly ambrosia and divine nectar but I haven’t seen that for sale at my Costco’s lately. Ideally these health scares will promote a round of general improvement in the care of livestocks, but I have low expectations for long-term improvement. Humans (and many other creatures, including the much-loved beaver) foul their environments. That is the unavoidable consequence of living. It is true that we, using our mighty organs of reason, can choose to live less rapaciously but that is unlikely to happen globally or permanently.

What’s needed is a new planet or at least new environments. It has been clear to me that we need to slip the silvery bond of this earthy sky and exploit new hemispheres. The future of humanity is not only in surviving hostile environments, but florishing in them. Like cockroaches. I suggest this seriously, without panic or malice. It has been clearly demonstrated that large populations of humans require a bit more resources (and dumping grounds) that one Earth-sized planet can provide. So what are we waiting for? Why not get down with our bad, greedy selves and begin in earnest the conquest and colonization of space? Waiting for the total collapse of the local ecosystem before starting a colonization program would be a fatal mistake.

Chew on that for a while.

[Original use.perl.org post and comments.]