What are we eating? Why are our banks flourishing? Who are those clearing cluster bombs? How will Brazil help in recycling Lebanese wastes? Where are some of the children who were caught in the crossfire? What about some music? These are some of the questions answered in this week’s selections from the Lebanese blogosphere.
Let us start with three existential questions posed by Mazen Kerbaj. In his artwork [to the right] he asks: “who are we? who knows? who will fill the blanks?”
Moving on we have Prof Rami Zurayk who begins one of his article titled “O Lebanese if only you knew what you were eating” with a letter that Antoine Howayyek, head of the Organization of Lebanese Farmers, sent to some ministers in the Lebanese cabinet asking them:
why are there no standards and no controls over the quality of the imported food products: fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products? Why does the ministry not do its job and operate or outsource the quality control at the borders?
The above mentioned letter raises many other points about trade, agriculture and local production. One of these points is:
There is no way to know the origin of products sold in the Lebanese market. Most products are imported and yet sold as originating form Lebanon. Each year, 5,000 tons of white cheese is imported and sold as Lebanese cheese. Lebanese law states that products have to be sold in their original packaging.
After discussing the content of the letter, Prof Zurayk concludes that:
Supporting local production through identifying origins may be the first step of something bigger, like food quality criteria. Imagine if we took a decision to clearly label GMO-containing foods. There goes US grain, US junk food, US soybean oil, and US confectionery. The bulk of our food import bill. Now the US masters will NOT be very happy with that, will they?