I like to cook, and like a lot of foodies I know, my fridge and freezer are littered with little bits of the miscellaneous ingredients that make for interesting food creations and experiments. In the freezer, there are little bags of assorted nuts in various shapes: filberts, pecans, walnuts, almonds (sliced, slivered, whole, raw, roasted and salted). There's a bag full of fist-sized lumps of homemade chorizo, a smallish baggie of keffir lime leaves (essential to a good Thai-style curry), bread yeast, some beef short ribs for soup. The door of the fridge contains the usual assortment of condiments: mustards, jellies, pickle relish, homemade maple syrup, olives, pickles, Worcestershire sauce, curry pastes.
The fridge door also contains a dozen bottles of assorted Asian staples, all of them picked up at one of our local Asian groceries. I love wandering around these stores and sifting through the endless varieties of sauces, noodles, teas, fungi, and what-have-you. I don't really buy the exotic stuff, but I do keep on hand some of the basics: Thai fish sauce, a couple kinds of soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, chili sauce, black bean paste. All of this is imported. I haven't really paid attention to where it comes from.
This morning, I laid in bed listening to a story about the growth of foods imported from China and the questions about the safety of some of that food. It's not just pet food, of course, it's people-food, too, and it's not always possible to tell when you're consuming imported food. This is because in addition to finished products, China exports a lot of ingredients used to make the stuff we buy. FDA inspects only a tiny fraction of the foods we import. Without going into detail, it was a little spooky.
So I'm thinking about placing more importance on buying food from closer to home, even though it might cost a bit more. I can't give up oyster sauce or curry paste, but there has to be a domestic source for the stuff. That might not guarantee the safety of the product, but maybe it improves my odds.
Link to NPR story.