One big reason restaurants in China are getting away with illegal, addictive ingredients.

Next to pizza, there is perhaps no food more universally celebrated in the U.S. than Chinese.

GIF via "Jersey Shore."

Orange beef, kung pao chicken, GENERAL TSO'S, Y'ALL... Chinese food (or, at least, what many of us consider Chinese food) is some of the most diverse, tasty, and addictive stuff on the planet, and I'd argue that it's well on its way to replacing the hot dog as our national food in America.


In China, though, there's a specific reason behind the habit-forming quality of the food: poppy seeds.

Photo by Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images.

Those little black things that you're used to enjoying on a bagel actually come from the opium poppy plant, and they can contain traces of highly addictive alkaloids found in morphine, codeine, and cocaine. Because of this, the sale of poppy seeds has been banned in several countries around the world, from Taiwan to Saudi Arabia.

Chefs at dozens of restaurants in China have been adding poppy capsules to their heavily flavored foods.

The New York Times reported last week that 36 restaurants and snack bars in China were busted for using poppy capsules in their food, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase "addictively delicious." They were putting poppies in dishes like hot pot and fried chicken, and even mixing them into their sauces.

It's one of the dirtiest secrets of the Chinese food industry.

Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The seeming complete lack of concern for customer safety displayed by the owners of these restaurants is pretty upsetting. "It's quite effective," one poppy seller told Xinhaunet. "Many small-scale hotpot restaurants frequently buy from me. It keeps the customers coming back for more."

The worst part, though, is that poppy capsule consumption can have terrible long-term effects on health. According to Zhao Lan, a doctor with the Third People's Hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan, consuming large amounts of poppy capsules can lead to ill effects from chronic intoxication to long-term nervous system damage.


Well put, Mr. Situation. Well put. GIF via "Jersey Shore."

This rampant problem goes back to one key issue facing China's food system: lack of governmental regulation.

While the penalty for using poppy capsules in food may not seem that significant (up to 15 days in prison and a fine of up to $455), this drama is a sterling example of why government regulation matters everywhere.

Here in the U.S., it's a sad truth that we know very little about the foods we put into our bodies on a daily basis (just ask Michael Pollan about that). Instead, we trust that the businesses selling them would never do anything to intentionally harm us.

But imagine if a major fast food chain could sell us whatever they considered to be "burgers," or imagine if nutrition labels suddenly became a thing of the past! It would be salmonella-infested chaos.

Government regulations do actually protect us, the little people, from being exploited by the businesses we place our trust (and cash) in.

We tend to look at political issues like regulation as black and white, but the reality of regulatory systems is far more complex. Yes, our government may be frustratingly inefficient and wasteful at times, but it can also serve as a reassuring presence in the face of injustices — you know, like it was created to do. To put it in "Game of Thrones" terms, government is basically our Castle Black, protecting us from the horrors that lie beyond The Wall.

So that Five Guys burger you had for lunch that didn't make you sick? The Chipotle burrito that didn't give you E. coli? You can thank government regulation (and the efforts of the CDC) for those. Ain't that right, Pauly D?


GIF via, you guessed it, "Jersey Shore."

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less