Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Safety Part I: Food

Please read

According to this report, food inspectors in Russia and other government officials are so corrupt that they have implemented a new solution: get rid of all of the food inspectors so that they cannot solicit brides from the local supermarkets or grocery stores. Again, my roommates and I looked at each other in fear with two things on our minds: 1) WTF and 2) What are we going to eat?

Although we have lived here for less than one month, we have come to accept the irrational/rational divide in Russia. This phenomenon reflects the "culture shock" of different values, ways of thinking, and ways of life. In the US, what may be standard and unconsciously accepted as good practice is either revolutionary or repulsive in Russia, and vice versa. For instance, at certain intervals during the day, the state public library opens all of its windows and floods the library with freezing, frigid air in order to "sanitize" the rooms since, of course, everyone knows that cold air kills all the germs in the air.

We experienced a similar (ir)rational occurrence in class today. Our professor is convinced that if the heater in the room is on, then we will fall asleep. I had to convince her that no, we will not fall asleep, but our heads will not be able to work if we are frozen! She reluctantly allowed me to plug in the rectangular metal heater, and blamed the heat for our grammar mistakes for the rest of the session.

Food insecurity throughout the world is a global threat; however, usually this crisis is the result of food scarcity, not the government banishing all inspectors because of the high level of criminal bribery. With my very Americanized mind, I have to ask if there is a better way. But for Russians, this is the better way.

I confirm what I was thinking this morning: From birth, we are slowly dying, but in Russia, we are slowly dying more quickly.

Only in Russia, only in Russia.

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