worship: church of the hermetically sealed

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People crack me up. Okay, and sometimes annoy me. And, since I include myself in the group titled People, I annoy and crack myself up too, so I can say so.

In expanding my local meat evangelism, I’ve been working in a nearby old school butcher shop.  My goodness, the things I learn from our customers are delightful, encouraging, fun and often disheartening.

I live in a rural area, so there are still some farmfolk who know their way around a churn of butter and appreciate a whole soup chicken, feet on please.

But more often, our customers are of the instant, quick variety. To them, thawing something out is just more complicated than they are willing to take on.

Le Sigh.

And this one: frozen is not un-fresh. It cracks me up that people don’t want things from our freezer case, even though they plan to take it home and pop it into their freezer. Huh??  

Commercial freezers do a far superior job with your meat than your home freezer will, and if we froze it, we wrapped it properly to maintain its freshness in your freezer.

Oh well, whatever. That’s just the illogical way our brains get stuck on ideas.

But the one that makes me scratch my head the most is this: the almighty faith we have that wearing gloves means everything’s sanitary. Somehow, people have faith in those gloves, but let me tell you, that faith can surely be misplaced.

Old fashioned frequent hand washing, with plenty of hot water and lots of simple, good quality soap is as healthy as it gets. Truly. 

Gloves, though sanitary looking, drag germs with them and tend to not be changed regularly. Often, food workers will wear the same gloves for hours, touching faces, noses, hair, trash and various food stuffs without noticing that their hands need washed.

Our American obsession with antibacterial this, hermetically sealed that, and gloves, gloves, gloves is a perfect example of how our brains have been hijacked by marketing, fear and suggestion.

We buy tons of products designed to sanitize that only live on to pollute and litter, killing wildlife, upsetting ecosystems and populating landfills. And lulling us into unhygenic behavior because of our complete confidence in store-bought products.

We also share a frightening lack of appreciation for the functions of good bacteria that are naturally working to keep pathogens at bay, and the benefits of allowing our immune systems to do their jobs.

Stripping your environment of all bacteria, both good and bad, weakens your immune system and conversely strengthens the pathogens. Go figure. All this time, frequent and liberal use of a simple bar of soap was all we needed.

Turns out there’s some truth to that old chestnut: “God made dirt and it don’t hurt.”

What gives you confidence in your food? Sealed plastic wrapping? Fresh before dates? Gloves? Does handmade give you the hygenic creeps? Do tell…

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11 thoughts on “worship: church of the hermetically sealed

  1. I am on the far end of that Jackie. I probably do buy an anti-bacterial soap for the sink but that’s the beginning and end for me. You’re right about killing all the bacteria and some of it is necessary. I love that you’ve been working at a butcher!

  2. Ahhh…you’ve touched on one of my pet issues! I’m always frustrated at the sense of society needing “antibacterial” soap. Soap is antibacterial by nature! Sure, the heavy duty cleanser has its places (healthcare, schools maybe…), but a bar of soap is good enough for me.

    I always feel just fine with our local butcher shop because the owner has been in the biz for 40+ years–gotta be doing something right! His shop is always super tidy and I see the workers taking proper food precautions. In contrast I get a little skeeved out in the traditional supermarket by twinkies that are shelf stable for 30 years and all the best by dates on products. Eep.

    Btw, I wish I could find a feet on chicken here. In SE Pa I’ve yet to find one. Might have to ask the butcher about that–I’ve never thought to do so until now. So, thanks for that idea!

    ~Trish

      1. Yup, I learned my lesson when I worked in a nursing home. Ended up with a staph bug that occasionally recurs. Blech.

        Great blog, btw!

        ~Trish

  3. My mother in law won’t eat the eggs from our chickens, only the ones in the grocery store. My sister says that’s because our eggs come from chicken butts but the ones in the store come in boxes. Hahaha, she doesn’t know what she’s missing.

    1. My family’s the same. My mother can’t get past the color of blue-green eggs… it took her years to make peace with brown eggs and I think that’s only because I shamed her into pretending…

  4. What gives me confidence in my food? Knowing where it comes from and then I’ll make up my own mind about their standards of hygiene. Forget the plastic wrap and the gloves and give me an old fashioned butcher any day.

  5. Educating consumers is a never-ending, often-disheartening task, exacerbated by the constant addition of new laws by lawmakers under the influence of big money. I am mostly frustrated and seldom encouraged by the people who administer these laws because their lack of understanding feeds the public frenzy over sanitation. Anne has it exactly right. Know where your food comes from and know your producer. Have confidence in your ability to decide what’s best for you and your own family. And by the way, this is a wonderful blog!

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