I grew up in an environment where everything was at peace with man. It was an environment where nature respected man and man respected nature; an environment where drinking water from swamps, ponds and creeks never caused typhoid fever; a rustic countryside where farm work took the place of regular exercise. In such an environment, we ate organic food, planted with natural compost manure. Malaria was treated with herbs, wounds healed faster; there were limited cases of infections. On no occasion would you hear that any illness was terminal. I could not remember having any member of my community in the so called hospital for days, weeks, months let alone hearing that he/she died. The word cancer never existed, some would argue that it existed, but people did not know; that’s not rue; it never existed. Studies by Organic Consumers Association of the United States have shown that 80% of cancer related diseases are caused by environmental and food carcinogens (what we eat and what we breathe) poisoned food and polluted air!
Technological advancement has changed everything; man has caused serious damage to nature and nature has turned against man. Harmful chemicals are now used to grow food, including poultry and dairy foods. To an average Nigerian on the street, Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is a “big grammar”. But, it’s simply a situation whereby the natural process of reproduction in plants and animals are altered and bypassed. How do you explain that a chicken laid an egg without mating with a cockerel? That would have been an abomination! How does a chicken grow to a full monstrous adult fowl within a week? They are slaughtered and injected with more chemicals for preservation and shipped to us in the name of frozen chicken! It travels for months on the ocean, getting more and more contaminated. When it finally arrives, we look at it in admiration and call it orobo! Our eateries would serve them half done (you’ll almost see the blood gushing out or congealed). The roadside barbecue makers would slice them for you as you want; the stew from mummy’s kitchen would spill the aroma all over the place and we would salivate for it! The result is that 72 people die everyday in Nigeria.
In those days, we ate rice only on Sundays or special occasions like Christmas, New Year, Easter wedding celebrations etc. Today we eat rice everyday; some eat rice more than twice in a day. Rice has gradually become the commonest of all staple foods. The demand for rice has multiplied thereby encouraging a lot of people into rice importation rather than rice farming. We have no problem with rice importation if what is being imported is safe for human consumption. Before now, we had to contend with the fact that the process of packaging, preservation and transportation of rice made it unhealthy for consumption. Experts argue that some of the rice we eat are too old to remain safe. That is to say, they are expired. This is not easily noticed because they contain chemicals in the name of preservatives. For rice to also remain in a container for months makes it more dangerous for consumption. Now, we do not only contend with the dangers incurred through the normal process of packaging and transporting rice; we also now, have to ascertain whether what we’re eating is actually rice.
For months now, the news about plastic rice has gone viral on the social media. Ordinarily, one would dismiss that as a hoax; but no reliable authority has actually refuted the existence and circulation of plastic rice. A few media reports have it that the news of plastic rice (be it real or a hoax) has been in circulation since 2011 and even before then in Asian countries. A lot of online media reports pointed accusing finger on China based on some video clips released on YouTube claiming the existence of these plastic rice factories. Further reports show that many Asian countries carried out investigations to ascertain the authenticity of the reports. While some claim that plastic rice did not exist, others said their investigations affirmed its existence. An online publication by GMA News Online quoted a Professor from the University of the Philippines, Dr. Gabriel Alonzo as saying that there was a difference between a ‘fake rice; and a ‘fabricated rice’. While fake rice contains traces of plastics, fabricated rice is made from other foods such as corn and other consumable starch. He went on to imply that fabricated rice was safe for consumption while fake rice was not.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that fake rice has actually existed in these Asian nations. 90% of the rice imported/smuggled into Nigeria is from these nations. Rice is a serious contra ban today in Nigeria. Importation of rice is actually a serious crime; but, four out of every five bags of rice in most markets across the country are imported. How did they get to Nigeria? As the news of plastic rice circulates undisputed, the consequence is that more than 72 people will die everyday.
Do you mind buying locally produced rice? Do you mind eating locally grown chiken?
…to be continued