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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Our view: Smart eating

The Spokesman-Review

If you haven’t started scanning your food purchases for a “Made in China” label yet, you probably haven’t been following the news lately.

This spring and early summer, Americans discovered one threat after another in products coming from China. In March the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found animals were dying from contaminated wheat gluten in imported pet food. In May we learned to beware of Chinese toothpaste sold in the U.S. containing a chemical used in antifreeze. And late last month, the FDA blocked imports of catfish, shrimp and other farm-raised fish from China, too.

Fortunately, the remedies extend all the way from Beijing to Washington, D.C., to the Inland Northwest. Chinese food producers, of course, need to clean up their act. The FDA should carefully scrutinize Chinese imports and move swiftly to protect Americans. Congress should consider legislation to require origin labeling on food. And shoppers in the Inland Northwest should avoid the temptation to passively sit back and watch the action.

Instead, consumers can deepen their awareness about the safety of their food and examine where it comes from. They can join a growing trend to buy locally and organically whenever possible.

The alternatives range from demanding more regionally grown and produced foods from your supermarket to shopping at the region’s farmers’ markets and growers’ stands to seeking out new options. These include community-supported agriculture programs that provide boxes of fresh produce and new stores and delivery programs.

One of those, a Spokane business called Fresh Abundance, began three years ago with a home-based plan and a $1,000 loan. It now has a small store on the South Hill, selling organic and whole foods, often locally grown, and its owners report it has 900 members and an annual revenue of $500,000.

Many Inland Northwest residents are discovering the joys of dining on products that even their great-grandparents would have recognized as food – our region’s fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, grains and meats.

The No. 1 reason for making that choice, of course, transcends food safety concerns. Think of an heirloom tomato, sliced open on a hot summer day, intense with flavor. Think of the fresh sweet cherries and raspberries that local farmers harvest. This is the food that tastes best of all.

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