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Veronica Sun

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Is the food we eat killing us?

In the past, food was something that can keep us alive. Now, we have invented various ways to cook food. We enjoy eating. However, we cannot make sure all the food are safe. I don't know whether or not it comes to the same problem in other countries, but it do happen in my country. Some people treat food with harmful chemicals and some use food raw materials in bad quality. So, when I shop in the shopping centre, I sometimes get confused. "Which food can I trust ?" My friends and I always ask ourselves.
Do you have the same problem? If you have, do you have some solutions?

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    May 2 2014: hey veronica, if you want more time on this click edit and add more time, right now you have 17 hours.

    I would think you would want to read a book about this topic. I don't know if anyone has written a book about it in china that you can buy, I did find an American book called "Eating dangerously: why the government can't keep your food safe...and how you can." This is written by Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown. I looked and it is available on amazon.cn (amazon china). Probably some of the information in this book would apply to China. But it would be better if you could find a book about food in China, maybe written by Chinese.

    I have heard that tuna can be a dangerous food, and so can sausage, with sausage the meat can be spoiled but the spices cover up the spoiled taste.

    I don't have your problem because I live on milk, cow milk. Every day I drink about two gallons (7.5 liters) of cow milk, and don't eat or drink anything else. This food is rarely dangerous.
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      May 3 2014: Really thank u to remind me of the time. I will read that book. Actually, there are so many reports about it in China, but I just want to look at this issue from another angle.
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        May 3 2014: What kind of reports in China, on television, or in newspaper? Well, it's a complicated topic, so maybe it's better to read a book than only article. But, Veronica, you should read a book about Chinese food industry, it was stupid for me to give you that American book but I was rushing fast. Here is one http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/greed-for-profit-china-being-poisoned-by-its-food-industry-says-author-a-523988.html or if you can't buy that one, I would think you could find other.

        Hey, I have the perception Chinese people don't drink much milk. Here in the States, when a student comes home from school in the afternoon, they might pour a glass of cow milk and drink it for refreshment. But do they do that in China?
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          May 4 2014: Well, Chinese people do drink much milk. Most of them drink milk at breakfast or before sleep.
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        May 5 2014: kind of surprising, when I go to the English part of sina.com and search "chinese people drinking milk," I only get three hits: http://search.english.sina.com/?c=english&sort=time&q=chinese+people+drinking+milk. I wonder why so few?
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          May 5 2014: Well, if you try it in Chinese, you may get more. English is often used in international news.
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        May 5 2014: well,check out this chart, Veronica, you can put your arrow over any country to see how much milk they drink per capita (per capita means per person). Or you can look at the colors, the darker blue means more milk per person. But you can see Asia is very little, I wonder why? http://chartsbin.com/view/1491
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          May 6 2014: I don't know much about milk, but I searched it in the Internet and have found something interesting. You know, it's about less than 7,000 years people drink milk, but why the history of drinking milk is shoter than we eating or drinking other things? At Neolithic, human weren't able to digest milk and nowadays, there are still billions of people in Africa and Asia can't digest milk. That's because their bodies can't provide enough lactase.
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        May 6 2014: right, Veronica, but do you think if Asian people drank more milk their bodies would evolve to produce the lactase? After all, we see people in nonAsian countries drinking milk, apparently their bodies have evolved to produce enough lactase?
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          May 6 2014: Yah, but I think it will take a very long time.
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        May 6 2014: good point, Veronica. I just wonder why they didn't do it already, like the rest of the world?
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          May 6 2014: As what I've said above, some of them can't digest milk. So if they drink milk, they may feel sick. It takes people like your ancestors almost 7,000 years to accept milk and now can drink milk without any worry. So do people in Asia and Africa. Genetic evolution is a long and hard process and also they need some luck from natural selection. On the other hand, some countries in Asia and Africa are poor. People there can't afford milk. Also, the climate in some countries aren't allow the growth of grass, so people there can't raise cows
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        May 6 2014: well, the question is still why other races evolved to not get sick from milk, but Asian race did not?

        I don't think poverty is the answer, either. The last time I looked, Veronica, the average American spent about $9 a day on food. But I can live on two gallons of milk a day (7.5 liters) for $6 a day. So you see that milk is cheap food?

        Can you grow grass in China? I don't think that is the answer, either. For example, here in Southern California we don't have a lot of natural grass, we have to pump in water to grow grass. But still, even when you add the costs of pumping in water, milk is still a very cheap food, like I say, I can buy two gallons a day of milk here in Southern California for $6 and live on it just fine.
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          May 6 2014: Asian, European, American, African... We are in different races , so there are lots of differences in our gene. That's why Asia people did not. And about the price of milk, different countries have different prices. There do exist poor people can't afford milk. Also, different countries's people have different eating diet.
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        May 6 2014: well, you look pretty young, Veronica, do you shop for food yourself, or does your mom do the shopping? I'd like to ask you what you eat and how much it costs, but if you don't do the shopping you might not know how much it costs?
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          May 7 2014: Well, I'd love to tell you what I eat everyday, but you know Chinese food are various, it's really hard to list all of them here. If you go to a Chinese restaurant, you will find there are too much to choice. For example, patato, I searched the menu in Internet and I find there are more than 4000 ways to cook it. And, I can't count how many ways my mom knows. Basically, we Chinese have eight main regional cuisines. There's too much to talk about. I think if you have a chance to visit China it's better for you to feel them by yourself. It's really really complex. By the way, rice is always the first choice.
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        May 7 2014: well, do you do any of the shopping, Veronica? So I looked at the price of milk in Shanghai, and you are right, it is more expensive in Shanghai than here in California. A gallon of milk in Shanghai costs in U.S. dollars $5.47, in California it costs $3. Now I wish we could choose another food, do you buy the kind of fruit called oranges? I would like to know how much you pay for oranges, then I will compare to the price that we pay for oranges in California. If we find that oranges cost the same in Nan Jing, China as in California, then the question is why milk is more expensive in China but oranges are not.
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          May 8 2014: Orange costs you about $0.96 per kilogram here.
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        May 10 2014: okay, so that's about the same price as here in California that we pay for oranges. So the question is, why are oranges the same price, but milk is almost twice as expensive?

        If you like, we can compare a couple of other prices. For seedless watermelon, we would pay about $0.64 a kilogram, or 4.0 yuan? For Red Delicious apple, we would pay about $2.18 a kilogram, or 13.7 yuan. What is the rice you most commonly buy? What do you pay?
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          May 11 2014: Well, maybe because their are more milk produces in California and drinking milk is a habit there. But people here drink less milk than people there and we has less milk farms. Climate is different between Carlifornia and Nanjing. There're more grassland to raise cows in the North of China.
          Seedless watermelon is $1.28 a kilogram, and we eat more apples that grow here(I don't know it's variety in English ) than Red Delicious apple. My family eat the rice grows in south of China, and it costs $0.9 a kilogram.
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        May 12 2014: I don't know how much milk we produce in Southern California, where I live, Veronica. We don't naturally have grasslands in Southern California, naturally speaking, Southern California is a desert, but we human beings bring water in pipes from other states, like Colorado. But even with the costs of bringing in water, still our milk is much cheaper than yours. That makes me think you could have cheaper cow milk in China if you wanted it. Why does a smaller number of producers, or a smaller number of consumers, mean the price is higher? How often and how much cow milk do you drink, Veronica? And if it's not very much, what keeps you from drinking more, is it the price, or you don't like the taste, or what it is it? If it is the price, is there anything you could do to bring the price down?
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          May 13 2014: Well, I drink one or two glass of milk a day. It's something like a habit. I have this habit when I was young. I don't hate the taste of milk but don't like it very much. Just a habit. It's hard to tell what cause this habit. Actually, price is not a big problem for my family. We are willing to pay more money on food. Also, I have never heard any of my friends complain about the price of milk.
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        May 13 2014: what tastes do you like, Veronica? Can you say at all why you like those tastes better than milk? Do you think other Asian people would agree with you, that they don't like the taste of milk very much? Have you asked your friends about it?
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          May 14 2014: Oh,well, I like orange juice and coffee. Orange juice can give me good appetite. Coffee is my energy drink. Sometimes milk is too sweet to me. I think people in China prefer tea, may be so do other people in Asia.
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        May 14 2014: thanks, Veronica. Well, it's very interesting to me to hear about how you are in China. I would say for me milk does not seem that sweet, it is more mildly sweet. Can you tell me how or why orange juice gives you a good appetite, I have not heard that before. My mother was asking if you have a consistent supply of milk in the stores, let's say you wanted to buy more milk, would it be available in the stores?

        I have noticed in the last two or three years that there seem to be some problems with food safety in China, in the news here we are reading about problems, more problems in China with food safety than in the U.S. Any idea why China would be having more food safety problems than the U.S., or why you are having more problems than in the past?
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          May 15 2014: Maybe because orange juice is sour. And every supermarket here supplys milk everyday. Of course you can buy more milk if you want more. About the food safety, it's really complex. Milk used to be one part of it. Today, technology is better than in the past. It's more easier for people to make fake. Manufacturers want more interests, so they may do things illegally, such as change some ingredient in food production.
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        May 15 2014: What do you mean by making "fake"? Do you think there are more cases of food poisoning in China than in the United States, Veronica, or not? I would tend to think that milk would be your safest food, well, I've been living on milk for five years now, and I have never gotten sick from it, but I think you could more easily get sick from other foods. Almost all the milk I drink is pasteurized, that means they heat up the milk briefly to kill the germs in it. Once in a while you can buy "raw" milk, that means it hasn't been pasteurized, there you have to be more careful until your stomach is used to it. Is your milk in supermarkets pasteurized? If you aren't familiar with the concept of pasteurization, it would be easy to find information, it is a process invented by a French scientist named Louis Pasteur for milk safety.

        I suppose you could raise some of your own food, then you might be sure it is safe. Do you have farmer's markets in China where you can buy right from the farmer, that might help you be safer. Also you could buy organic food, this is food that is made with fewer pesticides and fewer artificial ingredients. Also, you could read the packaging, well, here in the United States, the manufacturer has to list all the ingredients that go into each food, but I don't know if China has to do that. You could ask your government to make it a requirement that each food manufacturer list their ingredients on the package, as well as a way to contact them. Also, like I said, you could read books about the topic, really learn a lot. I would even say you could move to the country and become a professional farmer, then you would get closer to safe food.
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          May 15 2014: Yah, I think food in U.S. maybe safer than in China. We have the milk which is pasteurized, but do you know the 2008 Chinse milk scandal? Here's the link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Chinese_milk_scandal
          Maybe milk is not so safe in China, so do some other food. Food safety is a serious problem here. Fortunately, we have farmer's market and there's one near my house.
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        May 15 2014: hmm, well, that's disappointing, Veronica, I thought the people working with milk would have the highest ethics. Well, maybe you could study chemistry at school, that way you could test your food to make sure it's safe? Also, maybe if Chinese culture was more oriented toward drinking milk, they would care more about milk safety, maybe it happened because Chinese don't care that much about milk? Also, the wikipedia article says that the high government officials get to obtain their food from the organic farms with the strictest standards. Maybe you should find out where the high government officials get their food and you could get it there, too. Maybe you should become a food inspector, that is a job a person can have, you could be a food inspector and help to make things better. Maybe you could investigate how food is monitored in your area, does anyone check it for safety, and what are the standards they follow, maybe you could contact your local food inspectors and ask if they will let you visit their office or follow them when go to do their food inspection and learn how they do it. If you think you see problems in how they do it, you could ask them why they do it that way. Maybe there is a good reason why they do it that way, or maybe by asking you will lead people to a better way of doing things. Once you learn about local food safety you might have a basis for asking the larger government to change the ways they do things if you think there is a better way. Or do you already know something about how food is inspected, what do you know, and where might it become better?
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          May 16 2014: Well, actually, my major is English in college and not good at chemistry. However, I took Public Nutrition courses last term and it helps a lot. Especially, when I 'm shopping in the supermarket, I can understand more details from the Ingredient labe. I think some kinds of this courses need to be promoted in communities. And then, public opinion. China has a large population, so more people care about it more attention the government will pay. Fortunately, public have paid more attention to food safety than before since 2008.
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      May 3 2014: Greg,
      I am curious.....did you ever consider what is in the cows, which ends up in the milk you drink? Antibiotics...silage and grains that have been grown using pesticides, growth hormones....etc.? Pasteurizing may remove some of the "stuff", and I'm not sure about all of it. I also wonder about how many nutrients are left after the pasteurizing process. That may be why they fortify the milk with vitamins and minerals which are not natural to the product.
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        May 3 2014: wait, Colleen, isn't that a problem with much food you buy in grocery store?

        I would think many nutrients, because it's certainly keeping me alive and thriving.
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        May 5 2014: thanks much. Well, I got interested in the Maasai about 18 years ago, I read maybe a book or two and I felt like I "got it," so I just stuck with the understanding I got from those books. But I appreciate the detail in your references, Colleen, it enriches my picture. But it still seems like the cow is paramountly important to the Maasai, for example in Maasai religion there is a belief that God gave all the cattle in the world to the Maasai. Somehow the cattle got dispersed to other tribes and peoples, and sometimes the Maasai will go in at night and slip cattle out of the pens of other tribes (called "cattle raiding"), but they don't feel like they are stealing them, they feel like they are taking back what god gave them. I would imagine this conception shows how important cattle are to Maasai?

        Well, honestly, it took absolutely no "getting used to." I went from an American typical diet to living on milk let's say in a day, and I immediately felt as well-nourished on milk as I did on typical American. But I felt physically better, I believe milk is easier on the cells because it is food that has been thoroughly broken up in the body and stomach of the mother. For me now, there is something rather spiritual about milk, it gives me a lightness of mind and spirit I really appreciate. I had a couple of Muslim neighbors for a while who said that in the Koran milk is considered very spiritual food.

        You have children, correct, but you don't talk about them much on TED? Did you breastfeed them, how was that?
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          May 10 2014: Actually Greg, I've mentioned my kids (now in their 40s) quite a lot in conversations where it seems relevant.

          I believe most experts agree that a mother's milk is the most nutritious for babies, and in keeping with the topic question...("Is the food we eat killing us?").....I would say that mother's milk is not killing their babies.
        • May 15 2014: Masaai cattle are grazers, not trough fed. This makes a very big difference in the quality of products derived therefrom.
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        May 5 2014: sometimes i'm a little dubious about that "you need this and that nutrient" stuff, Colleen. Here is a link to a book called Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf. This is the "Bible" of the U.S. government relating to nutrition, they would use this book in preparing meals in government places, such as schools, military bases, prisons, and so on. If you read footnote 61, it comes somewhere in chapter four but the page number might change according to the size of your type, you'll see a suggestion that some recommended nutrients are more important than others? It seems possible that all milk is hitting the most essential ones?

        The book gets updated every five years, so a panel of experts called the DGAC (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) is working on the 2015 edition. Anyone who's interested can get at least a little involved, here is where they take public comment: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2015/comments/
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          May 10 2014: We've had this conversation before Greg, and I still do not agree that milk has all the essential nutrients needed for the body to function well. I have not seen anything that substantiates that information.

          According to the information about the maasai, which I posted the links to, it is very possible that a body adjusts to the food that is eaten.
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        May 11 2014: well, what do you think adjusting to an unusual diet involves, Colleen? For a while you would feel weak on the diet, and then you would feel okay? Well, honestly I can't remember how I transitioned to this diet, I believe it was overnight, that I went from a typical American mixed-solid-food diet to this milk diet overnight, and there was no period of transition, that I immediately felt as well-nourished as I did on the typical diet, but I had less pain. But if a diet really was a problem because of missing nutrients, could you ever adjust to it, wouldn't you always feel something bad from it? But there is no downside to this diet, it is all positive.

        When I say this diet helps people, it's a little different from the way we think of help. Usually we think of help as active, for instance, if you're drowning, and a lifeguard saves you, that's active help. But the milk diet, I believe, helps you more by not hurting you. Here's an analogy: you're standing on a sidewalk, and there are two people in your vicinity. Person A comes up and hits you, causes you pain. Person B doesn't do anything, they don't hit you and harm you, nor do they give you a massage and give you pleasure. Could we say person B helped you? Well, person B didn't actively help you. But compared to person A, we probably could say person B helped you, they helped you by not harming you. In my experience, person A is like solid, mixed food, and person B is like milk. Solid food is just more difficult and hard for the body to deal with. Whereas milk is much easier to deal with, and not as irritating and clogging as solid food, and so helps you by not hurting you.

        It seems like I can't convince you to try it, and if you don't have significant pain there might be no motivation. Do you have any pain? Of what sort? Very possibly if you went to the diet you would see the pain diminished. But I guess a person has to balance their values, for some there is so much ..................
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        May 11 2014: pleasure in solid mixed food that they might be willing to endure some pain to get that pleasure.

        Were you able to look at that footnote? Here it is: "61. Food sources of shortfall nutrients that are not of major concern for public health (e.g., magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C) can be found in Chapter D.2 of the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, found at www.dietaryguidelines.gov." I think the suggestion here is that certain recommended nutrients are not that important. Maybe that's why the milk diet works in spite of being low in some nutrients?
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      May 3 2014: Greg
      Is it kind of diet or something? I am very curious about it.

      Some nutritionists say that people are the only mammal that using milk for life. It would be healty if the milk is "human" because the human body poorly absorbs calcium from cow's milk, and can not be processed casein completely, and casein can cause a lot of diseases.
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        May 3 2014: Jelena,
        I was not familiar with "casein", so I looked it up...

        "the main protein present in milk and (in coagulated form) in cheese. It is used in processed foods and in adhesives, paints, and other industrial products."

        GREAT.....used in adhesives, paint and other industrial products!!! I'm not so sure I like cheese so much anymore!!! LOL:>)
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          May 3 2014: Hello Colleen,

          You really made me laugh. :-)
          I just saw your previous comment, and that made me think, that it's maybe better to use that milk (full with pesticides, antibiotics,hormones) in to this purpose (for adhesives, paint etc).

          It better to use milk from "first hand" - when you know how somebody takes care about those cows, and what those cows eat. I had grandparents on the village,they fed their cows only with grass and hay, and the milk I drank there has nothing in common with industrial milk...
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        May 3 2014: Farm fresh is the best for anything we eat....right Jelena?

        Every process (canning, freezing, shipping, packaging, etc.) causes fresh produce to lose some nutrients, so I think it is better to pick it from the garden when ready to eat:>)

        P.S.
        There are also lots of very nutritious herbs and vegetables growing wild in most areas of our world:>)
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          May 4 2014: Of course it's right Colleen :)

          And it's true that there are a lots of very nutritious herbs and vegetables, and it's the main reason why I like raw food and salads.
          Even when we cook, food is loosing her nutritional properties, I can only imagine how much does industry process is destroying food and its nutritional properties.
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        May 3 2014: Well, it is my lifestyle now, Jelena, I have some health problems and I do better if I just live on milk than when I eat solid food. But it is very good for weight loss and maintaining the loss, I easily and with great pleasure maintain at about 165 pounds on this lifestyle, I am six feet, one inch tall, you can see that is a very healthy weight.

        I got the idea from the Masai tribe in Kenya, who are famous only for living on milk and beef from their cows. But I only use the milk part because I find milk more refreshing than beef. I think this milk lifestyle would help many people with many diseases, including major diseases like AIDS and cancer, and I am trying to interest the medical establishment in testing it.

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