24.01.2014 § Leave a comment
A few years ago, I was surprise to hear my gastroenterologist tell me that 100% of Asians are lactose intolerant. So I have been drinking soy milk all this time. Today Brentano’s intern introduced me to Lactaid, a milk that is lactose free. She said she has been drinking it for two years. Really? I got curious and immediately started reading the carton.
I don’t know when I started this habit of reading labels. I grew up in an era when we bought food by weight or by pieces from local markets. If you bought pork, the butcher would weigh the meat and tie a string of raffia on it so you could carry the meat without touching it. The packaging material included large leaves, like lotus leaves. Old newspaper was a luxury since it cost money to buy newspaper—although come to think of it now, that would have been the most toxic packing material you could have in those days. We would go to the deli next door to buy our daily supplies with our own bowls, go to the produce market to buy vegetables and put them in our baskets without any packaging. No plastic bags, no labels, nor would we know where the food was produced. My mother told me about how she bought sesame oil in her youth: They would bring their own bottles to the oil shop with its big drums of oil, and the shopkeeper would weight the sesame oil and shoot the oil through a funnel into her narrow necked bottle.
The Lactaid milk carton listed no information regarding the farm where the milk was produced or where it was packaged. It just listed a website. We check the website, but there was no information on there either. At this point, our intern got nervous and told me she was going to stop drinking that milk until we found out where the milk was produced and who was making it.
I called the US Food and Drug Administration and ask them if it is a law to label the origin of the food. She said it is not required to list where the food is made if it is a US product. If it is imported, it is necessary. So, since the carton did not label where the milk is made, it must be a US product. Whew, why don’t they just say US product on the carton to save us all this time?