I was digging around in my fridge the other day, trying to find some interesting leftovers because I was too beat to start making lunch from scratch, having just come in from splitting up a bunch of wood. I found some macaroni in a margarine tub that didn’t look too slimy, and threw it in the microwave. Some of the other stuff didn’t look too healthy, maybe that’s why my fridge smells kind of ripe lately, so I thought I would do a bit of fridge-cleaning while I was waiting for the macaroni. I dug out a container of what might have been gravy, kind of shrunk and cracked and covered with blue mold. I roasted a chicken last Christmas, must be left from that. Too bad, I like chicken gravy on bread, especially for a bedtime snack, but I’ll have to toss it out. Dog will like it. Ever notice, dogs can eat stuff that would kill you, and think it is good. So if the poison in that spoiled food doesn’t hurt dogs, but will kill people, should we believe anything they learn from testing on mice?
Anyway, I found some pickled herring left over from Easter, but it looked and smelled as if it might crawl out of the jar, so it is more dogfood. And some olives from the same party, but they looked ok, so I was cutting them up to add to the macaroni, when in comes Joe. He looks at my cooking effort, and says ‘no thanks, I already had lunch, but I might suck up a beer.” Then he thinks for a while, and says “radiation, that’s the answer.”
“Great”, I say, “but what was the question?”
“Your spoiled food, you dunce”. I just ignore terms of affection like that. Then he explains that there is more food spoiled in the third world than is ever eaten by people, in fact, most of the time more of the food we send to starving countries is spoiled than is eaten. We Canadians have developed technology to sterilize food by irradiation. It is sealed in plastic pouches, then zapped, sort of like a microwave, but shorter waves. This sterilizes it so thoroughly it will keep for years without a fridge. The food is good, better than if it is pasteurized or sterilized by heat, because it doesn’t lose its vitamins or flavour, just the microbes and fungus. And of course it isn’t radioactive any more than a microwave makes it so. And the process is very cheap. “Imagine”, says Joe, “how much energy we would save if we didn’t need fridges or freezers, and how much good it would do the environment”.
I ask “So if it is such a winner, how come we aren’t doing it? I don’t recall seeing anything irradiated down at Safeway lately”.
Joe roared “because the academic city do-gooders, in their ignorance and prejudice, are so paranoid about anything nuclear that they won’t let it get off the ground. Apparently they see nothing immoral about preventing use of a technology which could save millions from starving, or sickness from eating spoiled food. Of course part of their religion is that there are too many people in the world!”
Sorry I asked.