This is not "food safety."

Like the dinosaur I am, I have a seven-day subscription to the dead-tree edition of the local paper. Yes, it's available online, but the paper version has stuff the e-version does not, including the funnies. I mean, what's the point of a morning paper without the funnies?

Another thing the dead-tree edition has is inserts. Since Wednesday is the day the food section of the paper comes out, we also get, once a month, a free magazine called "Dash," claiming to give us "Simple, Fast, Delicious" recipes. Whatever, I like recipes, so I flip through it.

In the February Dash, which arrived in this morning's Herald-Times, there was a question from a reader regarding her French Silk Pie recipe. The recipe, she said, called for her to beat in four eggs, one at a time, but that the filling was not cooked after adding the eggs. Was this safe, she wanted to know?

Side-stepping the question of whether the other ingredients in the pie, no doubt including sugar and flour, were safe, I was horrified by the Dash editor's response. Oh, no, she said, those eggs were not safe! The pie was not safe! She needed to either find a recipe that called for cooking the filling, or she needed to try this super-easy recipe for a chocolate pie that was safe-safe-safe: Mix instant chocolate pudding with Cool Whip, spoon into a pie shell, and chill.

Let me get this straight: A combination of:

SUGAR, MODIFIED CORNSTARCH, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, DISODIUM PHOSPHATE (FOR THICKENING), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SALT, TETRASODIUM PYROPHOSPHATE (FOR THICKENING), MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES (PREVENT FOAMING), RED 40, YELLOW 5, BLUE 1, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, BHA (PRESERVATIVE)

And:

WATER, CORN SYRUP, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COCONUT AND PALM KERNEL OILS), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM CASEINATE (FROM MILK), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, XANTHAN AND GUAR GUMS, POLYSORBATE 60, SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE, BETA CAROTENE (COLOR).

plus some milk is "safer" than raw eggs? This, when it's estimated that something like one in every 25,000 uncracked, properly refrigerated eggs is contaminated?

What is this hysteria? Am I crazy to think that it's at least in part fomented by the food processing industry, to convince us that packaged, processed food is our salvation?

I use raw eggs. I often make my own mayonnaise, and other dressings that call for raw eggs. I make That Nice Boy I Married smoothies with raw eggs in them. Shocked? Really? Ask yourself how many times you refused to lick the beaters after making a cake, or scrape the bowl after making cookies. Didn't that batter, that dough, have raw egg in it? I'm betting that raw egg was one of the few truly nutritious ingredients in that cake batter or cooking dough.

Let's keep our eye on the ball, folks. Yes, Louis Pasteur's discovery that microbes are the cause of many common diseases was one of the great breakthroughs of medical science. But as we've learned since, microbes are hardly the only cause of disease, and in our time, and in the industrialized world, they're not the most common nor the most deadly cause of disease. It's the stuff we consider "food" that's killing us.

Buy the cleanest food you can. Keep your body strong. But don't eat processed crap in the name of "health."