Wednesday, October 20, 2010

where do vitamins come from?

I have been reading a very interesting book entitled Twinkie, Deconstructed, My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats.

What amazed me was the complexity of processing in every box, bag, and jar of ready to eat food on the grocer's shelf. For every ingredient there is a long chain from farmers/miners to factories to make those substances into something edible. Many of the vitamins and minerals that make their way into pills and enriched flour are made in China, which does not bode well for our future security and health. This danger was emphasized today at this news:

China, which has been blocking shipments of crucial minerals to Japan for the last month, has now quietly halted some shipments of those materials to the United States and Europe, three industry officials said this week.

Our trade imbalance with China is so severe that any attempt to put tariffs on imported goods could result in a scarcity of One-A-Day bottles on the grocery store shelves or a return of such vitamin deficiency diseases such as beriberi (caused by an absence of thiamine, B1). What a mess we have found ourselves in today because of a 30 year transfer of manufacturing from the US to overseas. There are few items we really need to import from hostile countries, but vitamins are vitally important ones we don't think about.   

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