xenophobia (plural xenophobias)
- An unreasonable fear of strangers or foreigners.
- A strong antipathy or aversion to strangers or foreigners.
What does this have to do with the health food world you may ask?
Well, if you would have asked me that five years ago when I first started my business, I would have replied nothing, but today, i can say for sure that it is becoming more and more common in the food industry.
I am not sure how it started or where this new 'trend' came from exactly, but in the past few years I have seen a huge rise in the aversion that some people seem to have, almost fear, of food that comes from from certain countries, in particular China. I know that people who are spreading this, actually believe that all food that comes from China is contaminated, but is this rational? Is it based on fact? Is it based on science?
Over the past year I have noticed the emails getting more popular and the attitudes being stronger about not eating ANYTHING that comes from China. I had one person just the other day, drop a bag of our goji berries on the ground when he found out they were from China like they were going to harm his hands. It was shocking behaviour. I really had to take a minute to compose myself after that happened and it really made me want to try to understand this a bit deeper.
I think that possibly it started in 2007 when China had that horrible pet food recall. And then the baby food issue came up after that. I agree, these are horrible things, but don't they happen in other countries also? I mean, how can we forget mad cow disease... Not even that long ago Kirkland Signature brand of chicken breast got recalled due to Listeria contamination, and who remembers the deaths that happened after people ate contaminated Maple Leaf processed meats.
I guess what I am trying to say here, is why is it okay when it comes from our country, but bad when it comes from China?
I mean, how can anybody say that food from a whole country is bad? It just doesn't make sense to me. You can show toxic reports that say a certain Chinese spice has contaminants in it, and then you can find another report that shows you the same toxins found in grapes from California. I can say this as a fact as I have seen many toxic reports for food, some products that I wouldn't even consider purchasing from the United States due to toxic levels found. Some toxic reports show non-organic wildcrafted products are cleaner than their certified organic counterparts.
What do the Chinese know about health anyway?
They have only been curing disease for centuries. Chinese herbal medicine can be traced back to 5000 years ago creating one of the oldest and longest standing health care systems ever in the world. The basis is complex and much more than I want to go into this blog post, but in a nut shell, not everybody with the same disease is treated with the same medicine. They understand that the presentation of the disease will vary from person to person and the whole is treated instead of the symptoms like we do here in the Western world.
Yet, we know more, we know better, our way is best... and how is that working out for everybody? How come America still has higher cancer rates than China? And we are worried about eating their goji berries?
Sometimes I truly believe that all of this fear and worry is much worse than the actual food can be!
These are just examples of a few conversations that I have had with people but there are plenty more. It has to change. I am even running into people not wanting to purchase certain foods from other Middle Eastern countries now. We have to stop this. We have to realize that the people spreading this kind of information have other motives. Just think about how a certain person could be benefitting from this? For example, Natural News is a huge factor in creating this kind of fear in their readers, and what would they have to benefit from you only buying the best and the most pure products from... hummm... them perhaps?
We have even gotten sucked into this, switching over a few products to different countries because people didn't want the other ones anymore. As a business owner, it is my job to do my best to provide my customers with what they really want, however it is also my duty to educate and inform people about food. Stamping good and bad countries is wrong. Regardless of what our perception of what that country is. Of course, we always have to be aware of bad practices and pay close attention to chemical analysis of food, but there will always be companies trying to pass one over, skip steps to doing things properly, from ALL countries. I won't mention any names but just last year an American company was caught selling a product high in Aluminum Sulfate bringing this ingredient in the US as a description of "Battery Acid".
I really hope that maybe if you are one that suffers from food xenophobia, you will think twice now before shutting the door to a whole country. There are many companies out there testing the food they bring in, most of which we buy from, so there are many people out there looking out for your best interests!