Friday, March 02, 2007

This Could Be Serious

Those who know me know that one of the cornerstones of my existence is peanut butter. I can do without a lot of things in the cupboard, but peanut butter is not one of them. As Bill Cosby said, "Man does not live by bread alone. He must have peanut butter."

So you can imagine how shaken up I've been these past couple of weeks about ongoing reports of salmonella found in ConAgra peanut butter products.

First it was merely Peter Pan and some store brand--Great Value, Good Luck, whatever it might have been--neither of which is usually to be found in my pantry. But now it seems to be spreading. Ice cream products. Questions about Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (Hershey's makes its own peanut butter, so, whew). And now comes the news that a kid in North Dakota has been sickened...after most of the previous cases have been confined to the South, especially Virginia. (The ConAgra plant that seems to have been the culprit is in Georgia.)

None of this has prompted me to take the pledge peanut-butter-wise. But it does give sober men pause: As more and more food production and processing seems to be controlled by a mere handful of conglomeroids, how long before a truly disastrous occurrence?

Having grown up in the Cold War, I've always assumed that the end would come in some great conflagration between nations. Now it might come from my grocer's case.


Relatedly, but lighter: Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Day, so I hope you're recovered from your revelry. One of the many things I've learned about peanut butter is that is is apparently very difficult to photograph. All of the NPBD e-cards that I contemplated sending to friends and other innocent bystanders displayed the most putrid, gray-looking photos of peanut butter than I couldn't bring myself to send a single one. Likewise, most of the news photos I've seen during the recent salmonella scare have had serious color-balance issues--or so I assume: If the peanut butter actually was of the color indicated in most of the photos I've seen, I can't imagine anyone eating it--not even me!

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