Over the past few months I have written a few posts (like this one) in which I discuss the importance of eating real food.
These posts have each been met by one or more people saying, “I’ve been eating this way my whole life and I’m OK. I think you are making too big of a deal about it.”
Let me begin by saying, I understand where you are coming from! I have only given “real” food any serious thought at all in the past year or so and, even with strong feelings about it, I often cave in to things like frozen pizza, fast food and lunch meat because they are cheap and easy and… let’s face it… awesomely delicious.
Go ahead, real foodies. Tell me your cauliflower patty is JUST as tasty as a Big Mac. I don’t believe you.
Anyway… I digress…
The point is, I understand.
Further, I would like to say that if you were raised on a steady diet of Poptarts and Bar S hotdogs (you know who you are) and you now make an earnest effort to add some canned peas to your pasta I applaud you! All progress is good progress!
And I recognize that it is virtually impossible to live in our modern society without ingesting SOMETHING that SOMEONE says is “toxic.” For example, I switched from a popular brand of canned beans to Meijer brand organic canned beans and was feeling pretty proud of myself until someone pointed out that canned goods almost universally contain BPA. Well… again, all progress is good progress. I can only do so much.
So, now that I’ve said all that, please allow me to say this:
Unless you are under the age of 20, you have NOT been “eating this way your whole life.”
American food has changed DRASTICALLY in the past generation!
In the past 50 years, the nutrient and mineral content in our food has decreased drastically. Selective breeding, genetic modification and poor treatment of the soil itself means that we have larger food, that is more carbohydrate-intense but lacking in protein, amino acids and as many as 6 key nutrients. (Click here for more)
In the past 2 generations, mercury levels in seafood have doubled. (Click here for more)
The first GMO (genetically modified organism) food (a tomato) was marketed to the public in 1994 – a mere 18 years ago. They were touted as the perfect solution… plants would yield a higher production, bigger fruit, and be more resistant to drought and disease. The problem is that some research shows that the human body does not recognize these new creations as food. The result is damage to the kidneys and liver and digestive tract, poor metabolism of the nutrients, and more. Worse, some studies show that the effects of GMOs are cumulative through generations (see picture, below). If that is the case, we don’t know what it is doing to our children and their children because the first generation of people who have eaten GM foods their whole lives are only just beginning to have children of their own. None of this even touches on what happens when the animals we eat are fed GMOs. If they are affected on a very basic, cellular level, and then we eat that “tainted” meat (eggs, milk, etc), how does it affect us? (Click here for more) The fact is that there simply has not been enough research done on GMO foods to know if they are safe. Maybe they are fine. But there is a good chance that they are not. For that reason dozens of countries have partial or total bans on the use of GMOs or they require companies to label their products if they have been modified. The US has no such restrictions or requirements because it would be too expensive for the food manufacturers. Don’t even get me started on the politics of THAT! Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Since the 1950s the use of antibiotics in farm animals has skyrocketed. The result? We now have “super bacteria” that are resistant to antibiotic treatment. This means that now, when we get sick, it is MUCH harder to treat than it was 50 years ago because the drugs we have are no longer effective. (click here for more)
In 1993 rGBH was introduced to milk-producing cows in order to produce more milk from each animal. This hormone has been linked directly to an increased risk for breast, prostate and other cancers in humans. Again, the children who were raised drinking this milk are only beginning to reach adulthood. The effects of this drug on the animals that provided their food will only begin to show up in the next 10-20 years. By then, a whole new generation will have been affected. (click here fore more)
A cow, treated with rGBH, now infected with mastitis.
I could go on and on telling about new additives, drugs, science, etc that have been introduced in relatively recent times.
There is another side of all this, as well.
What do all of these “advanced” farming practices do to our planet?
They result in massive soil erosion the pollution of ground water, the disruption of local ecosystems and more. In turn, that results in the need for MORE chemicals, genetic modification, etc which results in more problems, and so on. (click here for more)
And where are we, as a society, in terms of health?
Life expectancy in Americans is actually decreasing. Children born now can expect to die at a younger age than their parents and grandparents. (more)
In 1958 1.5 million people were diagnosed with diabetes. In 2010 there were nearly 19 million people being treated for the disease. (more)
In 1962 about 13% of the population was considered obese. Today those numbers are fast approaching the 50% mark. (more)
Liver, thyroid, breast, testicle cancers (all mentioned above as being connected to pesticides and GMOs) and more have increased steadily since 1992. (more)
Rates of autism have increased by an astonishing 78% in the past 10 years. (more)
Mental disorders are on the rise among young people. (more)
The number of women struggling to get pregnant and maintain their pregnancies rose 40% between 1982 and 2002. (more)
Is it coincidence that, in the same time period that we have altered our food in nearly every conceivable way we have watched our population’s incidence of health issues rise exponentially?
The solution (or at least progress toward the solution) lies in organics.
Organic food, by legal definition can not contain any GMOs, artificial chemicals or preservatives, hormones or antibiotics. Organic food goes through minimal processing. (There are exceptions, but the rules generally follow those guidelines.) And if a farmer wants to label his food “organic” he must farm in a way that gives back to the earth as much as he takes out.
Some researchers have tried to say that organic food is no more nutritious than “conventional” food but this article from US News explains very clearly the fallacy of the famous study in question.
When all is said and done, I again have to say that any nutritious food (fruits, veggies, lean meats, eggs, milk, etc) is better than none. I know that, for some people, the luxury of spending even a few extra dollars each month is just not possible. I get that.
But for many, we are making a conscious choice to save money on food so that we can spend it on the latest technology or the nicest name brand clothes or…. so so many other things.
If there is even a CHANCE that all of those health concerns can be minimized for your family by simply purchasing one brand of apples instead of another, isn’t it worth a little sacrifice?
It is time for all of us to open our eyes and be aware of what the food industry is pushing on us because, if you are an adult, the fact of the matter is you have NOT been eating like this your whole life and, chances are you are NOT OK. Chances are you are suffering from cancer or diabetes or digestive issues or attention problems or arthritis or migraine headaches or sleep disorders or fibromyalgia or some combination of the dozens of diseases linked to “frankenfoods.”
One last thing: one person said that they had no issue with the pesticide and GMO companies because they provide jobs and contribute to the economy. In response, I have to ask, how much has the exponential increase in sickness cost our nation? Where will our economy be when the resources of our land have been plundered to the point that the very ground under our feet becomes toxic? What job is worth stealing years of healthy living from the current generation of young people?
I’ll climb off my soapbox now. Thanks for reading today’s hippie rant. Here’s to a tomorrow full of healthy nutritious food!
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!