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A little knowledge is a . . .

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Alton, thanks for spending some time here with us this week. I have a story to relate, and a couple of questions that spring from it.

The other day, while shopping at the local grocery, I watched as a woman in surgical gloves wrestled a whole chicken into a polythene bag she'd obviously liberated from the produce department. Still begloved, she twisted the bag shut and laid it carefully into a sequestered corner of her cart. "Well," I thought, "What's reasonable to me isn't necessarily reasonable to everyone else," though she had breached protocol by leaving the gloves on while handling the bag -- again, to each her own. But then she proceeded down the counter, laying her besmirched silicone on a pack of pork chops, one of lamb shanks, and in particular, fondling a chuck roast which had caught my own eye. More than one of these items went into her cart, opposite the chicken, nestled among the romaine and Cheez-its.

Question 1: I thought of you, of course, when I first spotted the gloves. Here's a perfect case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. And as I watched this Typhoid Mary work her way down the aisle, I wondered, to what lengths do you go to ensure that the whole story gets out -- in a comprehensible manner -- on an episode of Good Eats? And do you worry that you might be making things worse if you fail?

Question 2: What's your assessment of the danger that raw poultry represents to the American consumer? Do you think the government is doing a reasonable job of educating the public in such matters?

Question 3: Is there a proper way to ask a lady to remove her surgical gloves that won't get you a rubbery, germy slap in the face?

I guess that's five questions. Skip the last one if necessary.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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The correct way to address typhoid Mary is to report her to the manager of the meat department.

You sir, have tapped into my deepest fear. That somehow, despite my research and relative thoroughness do something on Good Eats that actually makes things worse. It’s the fear of every producer and network which is why we’re all required to carry something called “errors and omissions” insurance…a kind of malpractice coverage for television people. I have spent many a sleepless night, wracked with paranoia that someone will use my work to do damage to themselves…but then I’m more paranoid than the average guy.

As for poultry, it’s scary stuff but it’s not nuclear waste. What’s funny/ironic is that your lady of the latex gloves was actually making things worse while trying to protect herself. She would have been better off simply bare-handing the chicken and following up with a dab of sanitizer.

That said, I wouldn’t have minded her post-poultry gropings so much because the way I see it, I’d be cooking all those meats anyway. But that’s just me.


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