Food safety is always a concern…..

Science plays an increasingly important role in modern society. Without scientific research, we would not have the conveniences that we have come to depend on to carry out our daily tasks. There would be no cell phones or computers and our activities would be geographically constrained to an area dependent upon how far we could walk or ride a horse in a reasonable length of time. Health care as we know it would not exist and people would die of diseases we treat with a pill or prevent with a vaccine. It is fair to say that few of us would be willing to give up many of the ways in which scientific study has improved our lives.

While we depend upon the fruits of scientific inquiry to make our lives easier and healthier, we don’t use scientific analysis to make many of the decisions in our lives from those that are of utmost importance to those that are quite mundane. That is not to say that many people don’t depend on the rigorous testing and repair data analysis conducted Consumers Reports in the purchase of an automobile; they do. But when it comes to color and accessories, our personal biases come into play. If it were just about science, it’s a pretty good bet that there would be fewer fully-loaded pickup trucks and huge SUVs in suburban garages and driveways.

While scientific studies are critical to establishing the safety of everything from the drugs we take to some of the crops we plant to the pesticides we use on crops, those studies are not the only factors consumers take into account when they make their decisions on what foods to purchase. Religious beliefs, for instance, often play a role not only in the meats that various peoples eat, but also the manner in which the animals they do use for food are slaughtered. Both Islam and Judaism proscribe the eating of pork and prescribe the manner in which cattle, sheep and goats are slaughtered for food.

Any science about the nutritious qualities of pork is beside the point. Livestock producers who want to sell meat to members these communities would be well advised to focus instead on raising goats, sheep, and cattle. They will also have to make contact within those communities to establish systems that will assure that the animals are ritually slaughtered.

Tradition also plays a role in the food selection process. If you eat lutefisk, it is more likely than not you are of Norwegian heritage; haggis that you are of Scottish extraction; kimchi that you have Korean ancestry; budena that you trace your family to Oromia. Scientific studies may show how traditional diets are often quite nutritious, containing the recommended balance of various nutrients, but for most of us, what we eat is heavily influenced by the family in which we were raised.