Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Killer Popcorn

Have any of you heard of the dangers of microwave popcorn? I first read of it at Pureland Mountain, though I can't link to the post anymore. On Saturday, I heard a story on NPR about the dangers of working at popcorn plants. The danger comes from the butter flavoring that is added to some microwave popcorn, and the danger is to the employees who work there. Some people have died, and many others are suffering from serious health effects to their lungs. Some popcorn manufacturers have voluntarily imposed safer methods of making their popcorn, while others are ignoring the danger, and I suspect won't make any changes until federal regulations come down. Unfortunatly, our government is failing us here, because no such regulations are on the way. All of you folks who say that industries should be left to 'do the right thing' and keep government out of it? Go work in a popcorn plant, OK?

Does this mean that we need to give up popcorn? Or that we need to break out our old hot air poppers, or use the stove? Maybe this is good for Jiffypop? I don't know. But it seems to me, if the danger comes from the butter flavoring on your microwave (by the way, they have yet to test whether making butter flavored popcorn in your own home is safe or not), then a very easy (and tasty) solution is to buy plain, unflavored popcorn, pop that up in your microwave, and add your own butter.

Think you can't make a difference? Think one little person doesn't matter to the health of these workers? Remember the tuna/dolphin issue? Nowadays, it's quite difficult to find canned tuna that isn't 'dolphin safe', and all because consumers refused to buy tuna that was caught using nets, nets which also resulted in the drowning deaths of dolphins. Changing the fishing industry around was expensive, far more expensive, I would think, than no longer adding a flavoring to popcorn kernels. And yet they did it, because the power at the checkstand was strong. I happen to think that all life is important, that dolphins are worth saving. But I also think that human lives are even more important and valuable, and if all it takes for me to not be complicit in damaging people's lungs is to melt some yummy butter on my stovetop once in awhile? I'm more than happy to comply.

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