Posted by: beyonddinner | November 17, 2008


There’s an editorial today in the New York Times about melamine contamination in China and the United States that discusses the dangerous levels of melamine contained in foods processed in China and the unknown magnitude of the problem in the United States.

This is the sort of thing that gets me worked up about our food system. For all the sick and dying babies out there who have been exposed to melamine, how many millions more will have exposure-related diseases later on in their lifetime that will be impossible to trace back to systematic environmental exposure to a man-made chemical that isn’t really necessary?

From the article:

On a more concrete note, melamine not only has widespread industrial applications, but is also used to buttress the foundation of American agriculture.

Fertilizer companies commonly add melamine to their products because it helps control the rate at which nitrogen seeps into soil, thereby allowing the farmer to get more nutrient bang for the fertilizer buck. But the government doesn’t regulate how much melamine is applied to the soil. This melamine accumulates as salt crystals in the ground, tainting the soil through which American food sucks up American nutrients.

Yikes! This is further proof about how broken our American agricultural system is. We’ve taken a sustainable process (growing food) that has evolved over millions of years to work really well in our ecosystem and have adulterated it such that what is supposed to nourish us will instead make us sick.

Well, it’s more reason for personal and collective action to try to change things.



  1. Right on. I think that the new president-elect understands how the dangers of our food system are intertwined with not only our health, but our economy, and our country’s future. I don’t know about you, but I think it will be a little brighter than most would have believed a few months ago.

  2. […] country.” It’s a good reminder and helps me understand why we get into messes like with melamine for […]

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