Michael Ruhlman on food, bugs, and eating healthy dirt:
Of course there are real dangers from microbes— E. coli, salmonella, listeria can make people really sick. But you need to know when to account for them to prevent their growth (with help from McGee, I wrote a concise description of bacteria and their prevention in Sous Vide). It’s not very complicated and mainly a matter of common sense.
But all these immune disorders. All these allergies to foods that kids have today. When I was growing up, I never heard of a kid who couldn’t eat peanut butter. Now, I have close friends whose two boys are seriously allergic to so many foods, cooking a single dinner for all of them is near impossible. This is not another America-is-a-bunch-of-picky-eaters rant—the kids’ allergies are real. Ming Tsai, a chef, has such kids and has become a huge spokesman for understanding and working with these allergies.
But when did they begin and why? My guess is that they began around the time their parents began to consume vast quantities of industrial, processed foods. Sterile food. Food that can sit on a shelf for a lifetime.
There’s got to be something to this.
Sometimes I feel old, with 40 staring me down in less than 90 days, but I’m still fairly youngish. And when I was a kid, there was no such thing as a peanut allergy. Peanut butter was served at school and at day camp and everywhere in between, and not one kid dropped dead. Or blew up. Or even needed to go to the nurse’s office.
Today, peanuts are banned from almost every public place where kids congregate. And they are dropping dead.
Asthma is up, diabetes is up, Snickers are deadly.
What the hell happened?