When people ask if we avoid pork these days, I tell them we don’t. When people ask if we’re not scared of contracting swine flu by eating pork, I tell them to go and educate themselves. This swine flu pandemic is scary enough without people confusing what’s real and what’s not. People avoided chicken at the height of the bird flu scare; now, they’re ditching the pork in their diet because of the swine flu. Let me tell you this: We just spent the weekend in Balay Indang and one of the best dishes we were served was pork spare ribs. Did we avoid it? Hell, no, we left the platter clean.
The irony is that many of those quick to condemn pork don’t even know what swine flu is. If they have converted to soy products in lieu of pork, I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to again ditch all soy products just as fast as they ditched pork once they read that the American Heart Association is no longer as enamored with soy as it once was, that the Israeli Health Ministry has issued a warning way back in 2005 that soy shouldn’t be fed to children and infants and that the French Center for Cancer Research says children below three should eat no soy at all.
The truth is, there will never be a lull in food scares. In the highly competitive food industry, any food warning affecting one sector will be blown out of proportion if it can mean higher profits for another sector. We’ve seen so many instances of this phenomenon that it’s surprising the public still hasn’t caught on with the gimmickry.
When the coffee industry started taking a backseat with the rising popularity of green tea, it practically reinvented itself by playing up on the alleged anti-oxidant properties in coffee. The same thing happened with chocolates, coconut oil, butter and sugar. Chocolates used to be considered junk food. Today, dark chocolate is heart-friendly. Coconut oil, and just about any coconut-based food product, used to be a no-no among health buffs. Today, virgin coconut oil is touted to be some kind of miracle cure.
It wasn’t all that long ago when we were being warned against the ill effects of butter on our health and people were being swayed to switch to margarine. Then, the dangers posed by the artificial ingredients in margarines became the target. The same thing with the war between the sugar industry and the manufacturers of sugar substitutes. I can go on and on about the food wars that have come and gone and it will all boil down to the same thing: food is business and competition knows no bounds.
Am I saying that the swine flu is just a figment of the imagination? No, of course not. It is real. But before panicking and drawing illogical conclusions, the wise thing to do is to inform ourselves about what’s real and what isn’t. Swine flu has been around for a long time but new strains are discovered now and then. What is it about the current onslaught that we we should know so we can keep ourselves safe?
My friend and fellow blogger Emer, a licensed physician, wrote a very interesting summary of facts and myths about swine flu in his blog and says you cannot catch swine flu by eating pork. In “Thoughts on swine flu,” Emer wrote: “You might catch it if you spend your days in close contact with real pigs in hog farms. So, you might still find it enticing to follow the recommendations of celebrity TV chef Anthony Bourdain and TIME magazine, that the Philippines’ Cebu Lechon is the best pig in Asia. Just don’t eat too much, especially if your doctor is trying to bring your cholesterol down.”
Is there are cure and a prevention? The swine flu is caused by a virus. There are no vaccines against viruses. That is something I learned very early on from my children’s pediatrician. There are medicines that can arrest the symptoms of a viral flu but that’s not the same as actually annihilating the virus. You can spent tens of thousands on drugs and all you’ll really get are placebos. You’ll be padding the bank accounts of pharmaceutical companies but you won’t be deriving any additional nor real health benefits for yourself and your family.
Just like other flu viruses, swine flu spreads with contact especially through bodily fluids. Like the common cold, if a person infected with swine flu sneezes or coughs in a public and people congested place, the likelihood that he will be spreading the virus is high. In the summer heat, you bump into a sweaty person infected with the virus, his sweat gets into your skin and you can get infected.
If the government is serious about lowering the chances of widespread viral infection, it can start rounding up people who spit and urinate on the streets and sidewalks whether behind electric posts or under some tree, and whether or not they are drunk, high on drugs or totally sober and lucid. The legal justification? Because these uncouth morons put the public in mortal danger, of course.