What happens when you focus on the price of melamine but not its value?

Recently the FDA issued an import alert which allows detainment without inspection of “all milk products, milk derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk from China due to the presence of melamine and/or melamine analogs”. The FDA notes that this is a a recurring problem: “In 2007, bulk vegetable protein products imported from China were contaminated with melamine and melamine analogs, apparently from deliberate contamination.”.

It’s educated speculation that food processors and national inspection agencies around the world engage in behavior like this guided because of the failure of a profit-first mindset to address the real needs of the people. When one is motivated primarily by profit instead of our mutual well-being they make decisions to increase the “apparent volume” of food by adding water and adding melamine “in order to inflate the apparent protein content found in the product”. Similar choices are made when passing laws: why else would the US tolerate laws that allow Texas cattle ranchers to sue for “false defamation of perishable food” and “business disparagement” (these laws became more famous when Oprah had Howard Lyman on her show and said “It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!” after Lyman spoke about how the cows were treated)? Why tolerate an FDA that doesn’t inspect every cow when mad cow disease breaks out like the US Government Accounting Office told us the FDA failed to do back in February 2001? Why is the US so tolerant of melamine-laced products on the market at all?

The same could be said for worker abuses which lead to sweatshops and low prices at shops like Walmart. The big difference between these problems is that it is harder to convince people whose media feeds them a steady diet of self-centeredness (distractions including celebrity news instead of real news, ads blaring “low low prices!” instead of “living-wage workers!”, and political debates that only allow corporate-vetted candidates to name a few) to speak up in favor of someone else’s health instead of their own.

How much are your retail store “savings” and the free-market religious myth worth to you relative to your health and the health of others?