Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 63

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE protecting yourself and protecting your children because you are going to accumulate it if you eat it. The General Accounting Office (GAO) is a non-partisan government agency whose job is 100 percent to audit the operations of other government agencies. They’re the watchdog. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that their work isn’t absolutely top of the line. There is a recent GAO accou nt of FDA and USDA food safety, which can be accessed for free online.11 In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration tested less than one tenth of 1 percent of imported shipments. You need to realize that we don’t test our imported foods for pesticides. You often hear the call for smaller government. This is smaller government. We don’t do much inspection in slaughterhouses for bacteria anymore. Government is supposed to get smaller, taxes lower. We don’t fund USDA inspectors at the border. If you’re buying food from overseas, you have to presume it is entirely untested. Other countries have different pesticide laws than we do. You might be cautious when you buy things, and look at where they are coming from. And ask yourself if it is a country whose reputation is one that would make you really happy to eat its food or not. We just don’t test it. A brand new report, the statewide water quality toxics assessment report for Oregon, can be accessed online.12 The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality conducted it. Most surface water in the United States has never been tested for pesticides, flat out. No one has ever done it. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality decided it was important to test the waters in the state. And this is what they found: there are lots of pesticides in the Willamette River. This suggests, in terms of eating fish, you should be a little cautious about eating fish from this basin. It’s going to have pesticides in it. It also depends how you cook it. This quickly gets to social justice issues because who is out there catching fish to consume? It’s not the folks who can go to New Seasons and buy the Alaskan cod fillets. It’s the people who don’t have much money who want some fish to eat. Unfortunately, there are also some significant differences depending on the cuisine background you have, in terms of your pesticides exposure. Most 11. U.S. Government Accountability Office, Food Safety: FDA and USDA Should Strengthen Pesticide Residue Monitoring Programs and Further Disclosure Monitoring Limitations (October 2014), accessed February 2, 2016, 12. State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Statewide Water Quality Toxics Assessment Report (April 2015), accessed February 2, 2016, 60