Being a health advocate also means being a health skeptic. It means questioning where the newest info is coming from, who's funding it, and what's the spin on it? It means that I don't take the latest research at face value and that research has to fit in with other reliable scientific information cultivated by ethical sources. And sometimes it means you get paranoid.
How paranoid? Like so paranoid that you will only cook with locally produced garlic. Why? Because unless it's in season, 90% of the garlic that you will find in the super market says "Produced in China" on the package.
What's so bad about that? Welllll...there are a few Asian countries that don't have such a great record for food integrity. Now, let's not start talking about which countries have high integrity in regards to food, because the American diet has been on a steady decline since the industrial revolution and I really don't believe that the FDA or USDA are transparent or have our best interests as their number one priority. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and just assume our health is somewhere on their list. Europe seems to have a better track record. Okay, I digress.
So here's why I'm super scared of Chinese garlic. In Asia, in the last few years, there have been some pretty creepy food fraud scandals. From milk containing melamine in Malaysia to super-ball eggs that bounce in China, there is no shortage of food fraud news. Recent research from the international Oceana Study found that Thailand and Vietnam lead the world in fish fraud (counterfeiting, dilution and mislabeling of fish products). In 2010 a consumer advocacy group in Israel found that imported fish from China was being sprayed with water and a chemical labeled as E451 ( sodium tripolyphosphate) which is used in detergents (maybe they wanted the fish to be clean?) and is also used as a food preservative. It added substantial weight to the fish. Food fraud at it's best.
Hence my fear of Chinese produced garlic. I heard a rumor that it's water with waste water and bleached to look better but I haven't seen any research to confirm that. For now, I'll stock up on my locally produced, organic garlic and when that runs out, I'll go garlic-free until the next round.