By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
I thought I would share something a little different this weekend, a suggestion that might help each of us in deciding how to go about living healthy lives and returning to what we were given, and respecting who gives it to us. I refer today with one of the most basic elements of the gifts of the Earth–our food.
In my middle age, I have seen how we as Westerners have slowly but resolutely removed ourselves from nature into a humanity centric focus and perspective. We need to begin to devote ourselves to starting a little retrospective about how we used to live, and that somehow we still managed to get by.
There is a saying, “Do not eat anything that your great-grandmother would not recognize.” That statement says more than what appears at the surface. We look at what the diet was only seventy or so years ago and much has changed. Then, most citizens consumed whole fruits and vegetables and meats. Though at the time there was not the general knowledge of heart disease and some of the causes of pathologies as we have today, the quality of most of the food was certainly better in many ways than what the average American consumes today.
Another difference lies in the amount of packaged and heavily processed foods manifest in grocery stores. In my lifetime I noted how people shifted in that they now refer to food in ways consistent with marketed foods. Statements such as “let’s have Burger King, whoppers are on sale” or “We’re having Hot Pockets, Sunny Delight, and Hamburger Helper,” have replaced “I’d like tuna salad, and baked beans,” and “How about some eggs and fruit wedges?” If the food commonly consumed was not so detrimental as a whole toward good health this would simply be a matter of changing nomenclature but it shows however a worrying trend.
The unfortunate result of the marketing of processed food is such that over sixty percent of the food consumed by the American public is packaged. Most processed and packaged food is nutritionally deficient as evidenced by the contents contained.
Compare purchasing a filet of a particular fish such as cod. If the fish is filleted before sale there is little food waste and per dollar both the nutrition and caloric benefit are higher. Contrast this if you will a cod based “fish stick”. The fish stick offered to the public is often breaded with relatively cheap fillers such as flour and corn. Since shelf life, colorings, and flavor enhancers are important factors, a great many additives are included. Since there is little emphasis on the quality bar–though it is above what is considered to be safe in terms of food handling–the consumer has almost no choice as to where the cod originates. With concerns over farmed seafood in other nations having deficiencies, the maker of these manufactured foods care mostly about cost control. That is why fillers are added because pound for pound they are less money. When all this is factored in the actual amount of fish in the case of the fish sticks per dollar spent by the consumer is markedly higher in price than the natural product. He or she receives a nutritionally detrimental food as well.
The two demographics who lose the most in this reliance on processed food marketing is the poor and the young.
One of the strategies that is utilized by large processed food corporations is to offer what is proffered to be low cost foods where a large portion of the cost to consumers is in the form of advertising. The money spent in advertising costs detracts from the quality of the foods sold. The advertising targets these two groups to convince them that theirs is the best choice to offer. And when it is coupled with increasing food prices generally, those having income challenges and their dependent children resort to cheaply priced foods. But in actuality they are paying far more in terms of nutritional value than with ordinary dietary food. With sliding scales of food stamps offered to individuals often the amounts given are low enough that recipients often will not invest in a initially higher priced whole food, but will instead resort to ones for a lower price, with less nutritional value. And, the effects of income challenges can lead to a despair that can result in comfort foods being ordered more often.
Of course the other matter is convenience. We know what this involves so I will not discuss much of it. But anecdotally what greatly surprised me was yesterday I saw a boxed salad containing chicken, butter lettuce, condiments, and a few other veggies. The price was about five and a half dollars, however to my surprise the cost per pound was over seventeen dollars! This is just what happens with those having income challenges, they can afford the five and a half dollars, but to them a chicken breast, head of lettuce, beets, dressing bottle, and a various fruits seems too costly: especially when having to just scrape by each week.
On another note, there is the issue of where we are going with regard to commercial agribusiness.
We have seen the horrors of certain pesticides and herbicides in the past. I understand the need to be at par with market conditions, most heavily dependent upon price, but we have to ask ourselves as a species if focusing on the commodity futures market’s time frame is more of a priority than the health of our world and our individual general health. We averted a near disaster with neonicotinoids as being a probable cause of colony collapse disorder in bees. This could have decimated the fruit industry in areas of Europe and the Americas. Now, we are seeing studies that could be disturbing to human health with the increasing use of a Monsanto product commonly referred to as RoundUp.
Monsanto genetically modified crops to be resistant to the herbicide RoundUp (glyphosate). In my opinion, RoundUp is a scorched earth herbicide that kills nearly everything, except the GMO crop that was engineered to resist the poison. I have read reports of RoundUp being linked to diseases in people.
Eco Watch published recently well referenced article referring to several conditions they allege to be caused by RoundUp exposure. Here is an excerpt:
ADHD: In farming communities, there’s a strong correlation between Roundup exposure and attention deficit disorder (ADHD), likely due to glyphosate’s capacity to disrupt thyroid hormone functions.
Alzheimer’s disease: In the lab, Roundup causes the same type of oxidative stress and neural cell death observed in Alzheimer’s disease. And it affects CaMKII, an enzyme whose dysregulation has also been linked to the disease.
Anencephaly (birth defect): An investigation into neural tube defects among babies born to women living within 1,000 meters of pesticide applications showed an association for glyphosate with anencephaly, the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull and scalp that forms during embryonic development.
Autism: Glyphosate has a number of known biological effects that align with the known pathologies associated with autism. One of these parallels is the gut dysbiosis observed in autistic children and the toxicity of glyphosate to beneficial bacteria that suppress pathogenic bacteria, along with pathogenic bacteria’s high resistance to glyphosate. In addition, glyphosate’s capacity to promote aluminum accumulation in the brain may make it the principal cause of autism in the U.S.
Birth defects: Roundup and glyphosate can disrupt the Vitamin A (retinoic acid) signaling pathway, which is crucial for normal fetal development. The babies of women living within one kilometer of fields sprayed with glyphosate were more than twice as likely to have birth defects according to a study from Paraguay. Congenital defects quadrupled in the decade after Roundup Ready crops arrived in Chaco, a province in Argentina where glyphosate is used roughly eight to ten times more per acre than in the U.S. A study of one farming family in the U.S. documented elevated levels of glyphosate and birth defects in the children, including an imperforate anus, growth hormone deficiency, hypospadias (an abnormally placed urinary hole), a heart defect and a micro penis.
Brain cancer: In a study of children with brain cancer compared with healthy children, researchers found that if either parent had been exposed to Roundup during the two years before the child’s birth, the chances of the child developing brain cancer doubled.
Breast cancer: Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors. The only long-term animal study of glyphosate exposure produced rats with mammary tumors and shortened life-spans.
Cancer: House-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities in Argentina where Roundup is used, known there as the fumigated towns, found cancer rates two to four times higher than the national average, with increases in breast, prostate and lung cancers. In a comparison of two villages, in the one where Roundup was sprayed, 31 percent of residents had a family member with cancer, while only 3 percent of residents in a ranching village without spraying had one. The high cancer rates among people exposed to Roundup likely stem from glyphosate’s known capacity to induce DNA damage, which has been demonstrated in numerous lab tests.
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance: Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. There are parallels between the characteristics of celiac disease and the known effects of glyphosate. These include imbalances in gut bacteria, impairment in enzymes involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, mineral deficiencies and amino acid depletion.
Chronic kidney disease: Increases in the use of glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. Scientists have concluded, “Although glyphosate alone does not cause an epidemic of chronic kidney disease, it seems to have acquired the ability to destroy the renal tissues of thousands of farmers when it forms complexes with [hard water] and nephrotoxic metals.”
Colitis: The toxicity of glyphosate to beneficial bacteria that suppress clostridia, along with clostridia’s high resistance to glyphosate, could be a significant predisposing factor in the overgrowth of clostridia. Overgrowth of clostridia, specifically C. difficile, is a well-established causal factor in colitis.
Depression: Glyphosate disrupts chemical processes that impact the production of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite and sleep. Serotonin impairment has been linked to depression.
Diabetes: Low levels of testosterone are a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Rats fed environmentally relevant doses of Roundup over a period of 30 days spanning the onset of puberty had reduced testosterone production sufficient to alter testicular cell morphology and to delay the onset of puberty.
Heart disease: Glyphosate can disrupt the body’s enzymes, causing lysosomal dysfunction, a major factor in cardiovascular disease and heart failure.
Hypothyroidism: House-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities in Argentina where Roundup is used, known there as the fumigated towns, found higher rates of hypothyroidism.
Inflammatory Bowl Disease (“Leaky Gut Syndrome”): Glyphosate can induce severe tryptophan deficiency, which can lead to an extreme inflammatory bowel disease that severely impairs the ability to absorb nutrients through the gut, due to inflammation, bleeding and diarrhea.
Liver disease: Very low doses of Roundup can disrupt human liver cell function, according to a 2009 study published in Toxicology.
Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS): Sulfate deficiency in the brain has been associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Glyphosate disrupts sulfate transport from the gut to the liver, and may lead over time to severe sulfate deficiency throughout all the tissues, including the brain.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS): An increased incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) has been found in association with MS. Glyphosate may be a causal factor. The hypothesis is that glyphosate-induced IBS causes gut bacteria to leak into the vasculature, triggering an immune reaction and consequently an autoimmune disorder resulting in destruction of the myelin sheath.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: A systematic review and a series of meta-analyses of nearly three decades worth of epidemiologic research on the relationship between non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and occupational exposure to agricultural pesticides found that B cell lymphoma was positively associated with glyphosate.
Parkinson’s disease: The brain-damaging effects of herbicides have been recognized as the main environmental factor associated with neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. The onset of Parkinson’s following exposure to glyphosate has been well documented and lab studies show that glyphosate induces the cell death characteristic of the disease.
Pregnancy problems (infertility, miscarriages, stillbirths): Glyphosate is toxic to human placental cells, which, scientists say, explains the pregnancy problems of agricultural workers exposed to the herbicide.
Obesity: An experiment involving the transfer of a strain of endotoxin-producing bacteria from the gut of an obese human to the guts of mice caused the mice to become obese. Since glyphosate induces a shift in gut bacteria towards endotoxin-producers, glyphosate exposure may contribute to obesity in this way.
Reproductive problems: Studies of laboratory animals have found that male rats exposed to high levels of glyphosate, either during prenatal or pubertal development, suffer from reproductive problems, including delayed puberty, decreased sperm production, and decreased testosterone production.
Respiratory illnesses: House-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities in Argentina where Roundup is used, known there as the fumigated towns, found higher rates of chronic respiratory illnesses.
I have Parkinson’s Disease and I can tell you the condition is upsetting and frustrating. To read that others can develop this disease from simply consuming food is unconscionable and truly inhumane considering all the effort Monsanto and politicians put up to protect the chemicals that cause it. Why are we doing this to ourselves?
Monsanto denies that its product causes disease. Moreover it also claims GMO foods are safe. Apart from that argument that GMO is safe one then consider that with GMO foods it often follows that poisons come along for the ride.
Couple this with how governments, especially our own politicians, seem more than willing to do the bidding of Monsanto and other large food conglomerates to take choices away from the consumer, and to censor whether or not packaged and processed foods contain GMOs.
We featured an article in 2013 highlighting how a Washington State Citizen’s initiative to require GMO labeling of foods resulted in tens of millions of dollars poured in by a handful of large food and agribusiness corporations to defeat the process. Oregon faced a similar fight where the legislature voted to prohibit county governments from refusing the planting of GMO crops. Now, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to prohibit each of the states from enacting GMO labeling on foods. However, depending on the study followed, poll results show that between 60 and 73 percent of the public favors GMO labeling. Despite these clear majorities in the polls, politicians instead pay tribute toward their true constituencies in the matter, and it is not you and I as individuals. We do have government agencies such as the FDA and EPA, founded of course by politicians though legislation in the past. It is the lobbying of these agencies and many of our elected officials that do not have the capacity to say No to poor health and many environmental abuses. It became clear to me that..
You can no longer trust your health to elected officials. Self-reliance is your best option.
I have come to the firm conclusion that it is unfortunately folly to wait for change to happen. After decades of knowledge that certain food products are unhealthy, it was only this year that Trans-Fats–partially hydrogenated oils–were labeled by the FDA as being “food adulterants”, meaning that they can only be included in food with express permission of the FDA, effectively ending its wholesale inclusion in food. It is not enough to wait until this happens, your cardio-vascular system does not have that kind of time.
For myself, I made a commitment to my food health and that of my family. It really is not difficult and can be achieved through changes of expectations of food and to “go back to basics” as is often said of many things.
This is how I try to celebrate life through my food.
I prefer the Pescetarian Diet. Essentially this diet is a lacto-oval vegetarian with the inclusion of seafood. For the seafood I will only eat Wild Caught, mostly salmon, and occasionally other species of shellfish. Each year when the salmon season comes into being, I purchase an entire years supply for my family of fresh salmon, cut it up, and freeze it to be eaten for the next twelve months. I save great amounts of money in doing this as the price increases significantly throughout the year.
I purchase fish due to its inherent health benefits as well as because I enjoy it so much, but on the other hand I do not like what has happened with the beef and chicken industries. Did you know that much of the meat that you buy at grocery stores, specifically the kind provided from big food, has saline injected into it? The purpose behind this is it acts as a preservative and it adds weight to the meat. As previously mentioned with fillers, this is another form of filler to cut the production cost of the food and achieve a par market rate for meat. Most people would say no to the notion of having saline injected into their chicken breasts, that is why you have to practically have a magnifying glass to read the label where it reads that saline is put into the meat. As you know, excessive sodium leads to various pathologies and the water just rips you off.
Add this to all the other manifest reports of conditions of how animals are treated, antibiotics and other strangeness with food–land animals for me are best avoided. It is too easy and tempting for the producer to compromise the nutritional value.
Because of the vegetarian aspect of the pescetarian diet, it makes one more susceptible to impurities and adulterants added or used in the production of food. This is why I only buy organic foods. By federal law, an organic food cannot be a genetically modified product and must adhere to strict quality assurance to maintain trust and liquidity in this niche agribusiness. In doing this, expectations you might have will need to change.
You will need to understand that most organic foods will be smaller and not as pretty as corporate vegetables. Market forces and costs mean that you will pay more, though certainly not prohibitively so. But then you have to ask what “cost” means. Wealth doesn’t matter when your health is compromised.
Consider this: Why is it that we complain that the price of carrots costs a buck more per bag but we then go out to eat four days a week and spend fifteen dollars for one meal, or worse have fast food for eight bucks a meal and punish our bodies with junk food?
One truly rewarding source of food I just started using this year is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In short this is a local farm, run by locals, and shipped to locals. Their food is completely organic and GMO free. It is harvested and goes straight into boxes for each of the customers. It cuts out all the middlemen such as brokers, fruit sheds, and retailers. Each of these takes a big cut at each level. The farmer gets less in return. For me I bought one “share” for five hundred dollars. This provides my wife and I with vegetables from late May until the end of October. I can tell you, the food quality is fantastic. It tastes much, much better than what you can buy at the big box stores. The taste alone is worth it as you get a variety of interesting vegetables. You eat according to the season, which is what humanity did until relatively recently. Moreover, it keeps money in the local economy. I also like the idea of small owner-operated businesses. I also shop at the Mennonite store several miles away.
So I will conclude with a quick guide that has worked for me, it might be different of course for you based upon your situation.
- Pescetarian diet
- Organic, non-GMO fruits & vegetables
- No food from China, which has had issues with quality
- use high quality olive oil
- Do not add salt to food or consume salty foods
- Avoid refined sugars
- Do not consume fruit juices (they’re loaded with sugar)
- Drink water instead of pop, coffee, milk and such with meals
- Make food from scratch, enjoy cooking, it is Life!
- Avoid completely processed foods
- Generally, consider a nutrition label on a food product as a warning label. Buy whole foods instead
- limit grains and breads
- limit milk products
- Only eat at restaurants on a seldom basis. Remember, restaurant food tends to be made of cheaper, wholesale food: even at more expensive restaurants. It also tends to be high in sodium and fats. Restaurants do try to give the best for their customers, most of them at least, but costs and market conditions often influence them otherwise.
- Enjoy food, for those who believe it is one of God’s gifts of life.
My hope is that you and all peoples will enjoy the great bounty and variety of foods the various parts of the world have to offer you. It is a healthy choice if we can accept alternatives to what modern life forces upon us. Every culture and people contribute to us all with their culinary tastes. We can share a table with each other in sharing these gifts.
Every one of us can share something for the benefit others. My contribution is to suggest wearing a pair of cheap swimming goggles while slicing onions; you can then say goodbye to stinging, watery eyes.
bon appétit !
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.
42 thoughts on “Returning To Basics: Thinking Of Food As Life”
Great article, Darren.
The part about leaky gut leading to MS is not limited to just that one autoimmune condition. Pretty much every autoimmune condition is the outcome of a leaky gut.
When I was in high school and college, I worked in corn fields. I wonder if a small part of why I developed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune condition) is because of glyphosphate and other residual chemical exposure. On that note, I recently learned that glyphosphate residue can be found on convential sweet potatoes. Sheesh! Yet another food that I need to purchase or try to grow organically.
For those interested in learning more about the degree to which what you eat can affect and improve your health, I highly recommend Dr. Terry Wahl’s TEDxTalk about her experience with MS.
Karen, I have a quixotic idea about school lunches. Firstly, kids need to be given more time. They literally have 15 minutes or so to eat when you cut out the waiting in line, getting to and from. I would also have kids involved w/ the food preparation. I always had my kids in the kitchen, doing prep work, getting their input, teaching them about food. Make that a class. Have different grades rotate into the kitchen alternately for a one hour class helping to prepare and serve the food to their peers. They’re not getting this @ home.
That’s exactly the problem with government becoming so intrusive. They end up mandating nutrition guidelines that are outdated.
For instance, it is now mandatory that daycares and schools serve low fat or non fat milk. Such milks have powdered nonfat milk added to it to improve the blue color, but these fats are highly oxidized and unhealthy. Non fat milk, a byproduct of manufacturing cream, has been used for decades to fatten hogs. Plus, the one size fits all approach does not fit all kids. My own little boy is very active, and spends most of his time playing outdoors. He doesn’t need to lose an ounce of fat, and yet the schools would be forced to put him on a diet with low fat milk and low calorie lunches.
Well meaning but ineffective healthy lunch programs mean that schools now have the healthiest trashcans in the nation. The guidelines are too strict and don’t allow schools to prepare healthy lunches that the kids will actually eat. It doesn’t matter how nutritious the lunch plate is if it doesn’t get consumed.
The Cornish Cross is not my favorite breed, because it troubles me that we’ve developed a breed that is for the most part unable to survive to maturity. And they’re bred to always be ravenous, starving, famished. Watching them eat is either hilarious or disturbing. Kind of like if I get my hands on the rare Mounds bar. Most people don’t free feed them like all the other breeds because they’ll eat themselves to the point they get too heavy to move. But you are right that with the right feed and exercise, the meat itself is healthy if harvested at an appropriately young age. And I’m sure that your birds taste far superior to those raised in factory conditions. After about 10 weeks, stress hormones could increase as the bird becomes too heavy. They provide an economical advantage because they dress out so large at such a young age, which is why people favor them.
I have a personal preference for heritage breed preservation intended for small farms rather than factories. We’ve allowed factory farming to weaken the gene diversity in poultry. A case in point is the ubiquitous Rhode Island Red. The vast majority of RIR chicks you can get are pale imitations of the deep mahogany, well formed, handsome birds of the heritage standard. And the factory designed ISSA brown lays like a maniac, but for only a few years until they’re totally depleted. That said, I also have interest in some of the new birds being developed, like the Aloha Chicken under development.
Jeff, Eggs were vilified by the idiot govt. “food experts.” I eat eggs 4-5 times a week. My wise doc here in Wisconsin told me just what you did about getting local eggs from a farmer that feeds and treats his chicken properly. And, the govt. tries and stops that. The farmer who I buy from used to have his eggs @ a local meat market for sale. The govt. stopped that. So, I just drive the extra 8 miles to get them directly. A waste of fuel and time.
We co-evolved with our food sources. We evolved to eat foods in their natural state, most of it with very little to no sugars. All the highly processed sweetened food we eat these days is not what we evolved to eat. For the most part, we ate what we could find. Generally this meant we ate a wide variety of foods from whole grains, to flowers to fruits to tubers to insects to meat; most of it consumed raw. There is evidence that the development of cooking actually affected our evolution as humans. If we didn’t eat what was available, we starved to death. We need to eat more like what we evolved to eat.
At home we eat a wide variety of whole foods and do our best to avoid the prepared and packaged foods that are so readily available. We have a large garden where we grow a lot of food for immediate consumption and long term use during the cold winter months here in Wisconsin. On top of that, we raise our own chickens for eggs and meat. The quality of the eggs and meat are related to what the chickens eat despite the breed of the birds. We have never had need for antiboitics for the chickens to grow and prosper. We do use the Cornish Cross for the meat birds based on an economical need to produce more meat with less feed. However, everyone who has had our birds have said they have never had chicken taste so good and they want to know what the difference is. The difference is how the birds are raised with good feed, clean water, fresh air, sunshine, and lots of care.
Or you could avoid the problem entirely and get all your protein from seafood, as Darren suggests. 🙂
Oh, and since I often introduce chickens into unrelated topic, I can happily segue easily here:
Conventional poultry is often the Cornish cross bred not to survive past about 8 weeks old. They are bred to have such tremendous sized breast meat that if they become fully grown they cannot walk. They are prone to leg problems, heart attacks, and basically they act like elderly decrepit birds that need to be put out of their misery while they still peep like chicks. It’s considered a kindness to process them at 8 weeks, because letting them live past 10 weeks of age is cruel and unusual. What we think of as a normal sized chicken breast is not “normal” at all. They are not genetically engineered, but rather the result of breeding. It takes educated animal husbandry to keep them healthy until 8 weeks of age, and if they are fed improperly, they will literally lie in their own feces all day, unwilling or unable to heave themselves to a new spot.
So on the topic meat and poultry, another benefit of finding a local supplier is that you can find heritage birds, or other breeds that are natural and healthy. Not only will your meat not be injected with saline, but the birds themselves will be healthier.
Riesling – your Italian aunt sounds like she had the same fabulous, wicked sense of humor as my German grandmother. I’ll bet they would have got along famously.
Nick – that description of the grave vine shaded picnic table brought back memories of my Italian vacation with my sister. Great food and great people.
Isaac: That’s funny! I just roasted a chicken a few days ago in my Romertopf clay pot. So succulent and absurdly easy.
One thing I would love to see grow, pun intended, is community gardens, and gardening workshops for the poor. When I struggled financially, I was young and ate terribly. Mac & Cheese, Top Ramen, and other worthless, high sodium junk food. If I had it to do over again, now I would know how to eat whole foods on a budget, but at the time, I had no idea, and I also wanted something quick, because I worked more than one job.
Community and individual gardens are the Victory Garden of today – both for better nutrition and eating on a budget. I would love to see organic gardening classes proliferate anywhere that people are struggling financially. Anyone can start a compost pile. And a packet of seeds costs $2. My granny always gardened in her small backyard. She would give away bushels of tomatoes. She grew up as a farm girl, and did not know how to function unless she was gardening, quilting, and baking pies. I so admire that kind of self reliance.
I would also like to see more Farmers Markets accept nutrition assistance, like EBT.
I think this is one of my favorite articles all year. Thank you. And I am so sorry to hear that you have Parkinson’s. Have you noticed any improvement in your symptoms in relation to your diet?
It is so true that many common chemicals are neurotoxins. One of my former co-workers lived with his grandparents when he got out of the army, while he attended college. He noticed that he began getting tremors that just would not go away. Then he was in the kitchen one day when his grandmother noticed an ant on the counter. She took out her can of ant spray, and completely coated the kitchen counter with it, while the spray also wafted over the bowl of fruit she had out on the counter. Being a science major, he investigated the ingredients, and discovered that it contained several potent neurotoxins. After his grandma promised to stop using it, his tremors went away.
It pains me to think of how many toxins children are exposed to en utero from the combination of household exposure and conventional foods.
Our current generation of insecticides, like neonicotinoids (related to nicotine) get incorporated into the plant’s tissues. They do not wash off. No blast of water in the sink will remove them. They persist in soils for years, so untreated plants can still incorporate it into their tissues. Even after they were discovered to be highly toxic to pollinators, they were still deemed safe to use in wind pollinated plants. However, the pollen was so toxic, that merely drifting on the wind to neighboring flowers was sufficient to poison bees. And that’s what we feed our kids.
GMOs utilize viruses to insert DNA segments from a completely different species into another. Since genes can affect others far up and down stream, this can have unforeseen affects. Aside from the health problems they produce, they have also led to the downfall of the small farmer and seed collector. A small business in rural areas were the seed collectors. They gathered seed for the farmer to re-use the following year. Monsanto makes that illegal patent infringement. If you buy GMO seed, you cannot save seed, but must buy it annually. If you do not choose to buy Monsanto, but your neighbor 5 miles away does, and his wind pollinated crop contaminates yours, then Monsanto’s lawyers will show up, test your crop, and then sue you in court, and win, for patent infringement. Then they are forced to buy Monsanto’s seed if they want to grow the same crop. I would never choose to financially support any company that would force farmers to buy their seed. And GMO wind pollinated crops, which by definition cannot be contained by property lines, is utter madness.
GMOs now produce livestock, such as corn, alfalfa and beet pulp. So the conventional meet you buy consumed GMO feed.
Another note on CSAs – there are also CSA meat producers, or those who sell shares of meats. Since mercury contamination can be an issue for pregnant women, especially, and seafood, you can still add healthy meat and poultry by finding a local supplier. Then you can tour the facility, ensure they have high quality animal husbandry, and find out what they eat.
A friend of my husband’s is an organic dairy farmer. His cows are straight out of the Happy Cows commercials. When we visited his place for Oktoberfest, we past so many conventional feed lots that just STANK. They were packed with cows, and the mountains of manure were disgusting. And yet, when we got to his dairy, there were open, rolling green pastures, very low density herds, and they literally walked themselves in to be milked. In a single file line with no pushing! They ate their goody bucket while they got milked, and then strolled back out. And his milk was tested so thoroughly that it was healthy and safe. He wanted to get into raw dairy, but that’s so hard to do here in CA. Even though it’s tested at so many levels, properly prepared raw milk is safer than the scallions that were picked in the fields that are easily contaminated by poor hygiene.
I also have a friend who raises a few hogs every year to sell as hog shares. They get plenty of exercise, organic feed, and according to her, they “have only one bad day.”
There are evangelicals on all topics. The Billy Graham of food just did a Sunday sermon. “Everything in moderation” sums up a wise approach on most subjects.
Food is God until it isn’t when science ‘improves it’. 99.9% of what people eat I consider poison. The best foods are organic heirloom pasture raised. Produce has been made to LOOK “beautiful”, uniform, factory produced at the expense of actual value to your body. Same with breads, meats, etc. Do you know that in order for chicken to have that nice pink color they are fed ARSENIC?
Also pasture raised is the best, Corn is a completely unnatural diet for a cow and as I understand it they would DIE from it if not slaughtered first. RAW organic milk, butter, and cheese from pasture raised cows HAS what our bodies need to make strong teeth and bones. Pasteurization kills/makes dead so much of what we consume. I could go on and on.
And don’t tell me you “can’t afford it”. Nothing makes me sicker than to hear that! My income is literally poverty level and that is how I eat!! Yes, yes, I “sacrifice” much to eat this way, but that’s MY problem, isn’t it? I can always make more money but I cannot make more health out of dead substandard food. Wake up people or you will be just another sick American statistic. Did I say AVOID at all costs genetically mutated food? I cannot people believe people eat that sh*t and give to their children and animals. Americans are the most brain dead people on the planet when it comes to their food and drink. Diet Coke anyone? .
Sorry, I have to go this route: Food production and consumption = methods of population control? See the following links:
Governments utilize certain methods in order to stabilize its’ population:
As usual Darren, thank you for a nicely written article.
On the state of home cooking, fast food and diet in general, Michael Pollen wrote for NY Times Sunday magazine in 2009 an article titled “out of the kitchen, onto the couch”.
A very interesting read and history of food in the U.S.
Jerry, My local PBS doesn’t have Nick Stellino but I’ve seen him when traveling to other TV markets. I like him.
Steg, Absolutely. Hell, even before we started walking upright people have eaten together and just connected w/ each other. Kudos on leading by example. And Amen on it being voluntary and encouraged. That’s the only way.
Chef Nick Stellino makes Chicken Scaloppini. The pans he uses in video look like they are Teflon coated. Yummy.
Nick, I think the family dinner ritual is so much more than teaching about eating (and I think you feel the same way). It just so important to connect with your family.
I agree the gardens are excellent. When new people moved in to our neighborhood this summer they could not believe someone would do something this nice for the public (they come from NYC, like most new arrivals.) Everyone says it’s a great idea, we love you’re doing it- and I say- wouldn’t it be awesome if every family did even just one plant out front? People can coordinate to get a real variety around the streets, it engenders community relations, good feelings and peaceful progress.
I lead by example, and I would never ask anyone to do anything I was unwilling to do myself. I say put your life where your mouth is. It could catch on- the way all good ideas should catch on- without a government mandate. Voluntarily.
Steg, Community gardens are a great thing. My bride’s church has a large area and they allow people to garden. Asians and Mexicans are really into gardening. Black folk used to be, but it ended w/ the WW2 generation for the most part.
Great thread. I live in the Dairy State and we eat WAY to much dairy. Unless my bride is making batches of cookies, a pound of butter lasts us 4 months. I do not drink milk. I do eat yogurt and some cheese, but no much. When I first moved to Wisconsin I was disgusted by the amount of butter and cheese they put on stuff. If you go into a rural diner and order pancakes you better tell the waitress “butter on the side” or else there will be half a stick plopped down on the top of the stack, Pizza, “fugettaboutit.” The cheese is 2 inches thick! I don’t know how all these Cheeseheads aren’t constantly constipated. I guess you get acclimated.
Another thing w/ teaching kids how to eat. We always had family supper. Now, if there were sports, or my bride or I were on the road working, then it would just be whomever was home. But, Sunday supper was a must. You better have a GOOD reason to miss it. When my kids would see Tony Soprano insist on his kids be @ the Sunday meal they would bust my balls. The pressure was substantial because many of my kids friends come from the all too typical eat on the fly families. We had an hour, from 5:30p-6:30p where no phone calls were taken or made. The kids cleaned up after the meal.
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