How is it possible that there are no consequences for poisoning our food system? You’ve probably all read about the recent horsemeat scandal that has rocked Europe, but that is minor disaster compared to the corrupt system that is our entire food industry. It is nothing short of catastrophic and rotten to the core. We sit upon a hotbed of immoral, dishonest and unethical practices that we should rather expect from far less developed countries than our own. Needless to say our system requires an entire overhaul of its standards and one that needs its base ethics rewritten.
What started as a little research into the misleading labels on food products has turned into a mini investigation of the many mouldy facets of the whole industry. Whether we look into the strange practices in our food chain, questionable farming methods, rife government corruption, the manipulation from the fast food industry, the consequences of false marketing, or the economic bullying of the GMO industry.
There are people out there who could be considered healthy, or just want what they eat to be natural and healthy. But who knew it could be so hard to find true food that hasn’t been tampered with in some way or another. It is almost as if we are expected to pay some type of penalty and consequence because we get our food from places other than our own back yard.
This could easily have been an entire article on the fast food industry with its absurd concoction of obnoxious chemicals, preservatives and additives that it’s a surprise that most of us don’t glow in the dark. And that article could have highlighted the saddest thing, which is that most of the country doesn’t even have a choice but to eat junk food because they are so cash poor that they couldn’t afford healthy food even if they wanted to. But instead this article unravels some of the insanities around the three words ‘healthy’, ‘natural’, ‘food’. Imagine finding out those words barely existed in real life. So, let’s imagine the fridge of a generally health conscious person who is not a calorie counter, but strives to eat their five fruits and vegetables a day. This person believes in the importance of staple foods, such as bread, eggs, fish, meat and milk for a healthy balanced diet too. That list is essential stock for the fridge, but the problem is that unbelievably, every single item on that list is a potential hazard.
The recent two-yearstudy by the oceanic conservation group Oceana, has been hailed as one of the largest seafood fraud investigations in the world. Their amazing discovery is revealing that the fish you eat is not the fish you thought you bought. Ranging from poisonous species, to farm raised – labelled – as - wild, to banned and even unrecognised fish, they all find their way to you through your sushi vendors, restaurants and retailers. Although this is fraud on the most massive scale, no one is being held accountable for it. There are many shocking facts within the study, the most disturbing however is finding out that 84% of tuna sold is in fact not tuna at all, but the poisonous snake mackerel, Escolar. Known for the gastrointestinal health complications it causes with ingestion of but a few ounces, it has already been banned in a number of countries. The study is a must-read, but be prepared for the unsavoury realisation that you simply cannot trust eating fish from anywhere.
While we are on the subject of fish we might as well discuss mercury levels, which only exist in fish because of the refusal of government to properly address the tragic pollution caused by industrial waste. That strange chemical can permanently damage the brain and kidney through the consumption of enough fish. It easily passes from a pregnant woman to her unborn child bearing the frightening gift of brain damage, retardation and blindness, to name a few. Latest government recommendations warn us all that eating fish more than 3 times a week can be bad for you because of the mercury levels. However, in January of this year the Biodiversity Research Institute released results from an alarming study that calls for the urgent need for new guidelines on consuming fish. Their shocking research is suggesting that we can no longer eat fish more than once a month to reduce incidences of mercury poisoning to the population. This is because a startling 40 - 100% of fish from around the world contained mercury levels so high they are deemed unsafe for human consumption. In some countries levels are so high that they are suggesting that fish should not be consumed at all. So, forget everything you were ever taught about eating fish to be healthy, because our big polluting machines have made that a myth that our grandkids will probably not believe to be true. It sounds promising to hear that the UN want to develop an international mercury treaty now, but they have known about the existence of mercury from man-made pollution since the 50’s, so why has it taken so long? There is a lot of great data in both of those studies; lobbyists need to take that data to the top and demand answers and changes.
Fruit and Vegetables
The fact that there aren’t more people up in arms about the needle in a haystack endeavor of finding actual natural fruit and veg on our shelves is beyond me. However, it is pretty much standard practice for the majority of produce in the store to be genetically modified, or GMO’s as they are affectionately known. I would say most people are not aware of exactly what this means, or how it could affect their health. Simply knowing that it is an organism where the genetic material (yes, the actual DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally, is freaky enough though. Why they do it is another issue, however. The main reason is being touted as feeding the world, but also saving harvests from harsh weather conditions and pests and also making sure our produce looks more appealing. However, when you add the potential for acceleratedageing, immune dysfunction, insulin disorders, organ damage and reproductivedisruption, those reasons start to look a less important. What is more surprising though is when companies ignore outright the advice of organisations that have been deliberately created to find out whether GMO and biotechnology is a genuine solution to alleviating world hunger, such as the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). After four years of research and studies, the organisation, made up of 900 experts from 110 countries explicitly expressed the need for countries to prioritise natural agricultural farming above all other practices. However, regardless of the advice of this dedicated body and others, companies and governments continue to dominate the industry with GMO products.
Then there are pesticides, so poisonous for you that they should be clearly labeled carcinogens, which are agents directly involved in causing cancer. The latest US CDC report onHuman Exposure to Environmental Chemicals is needless to say a very shocking document. Not only for the number of chemicals that have now been banned for use because of their poisonous effects on the human body, but because of the existing number of potential health hazards from almost anything we eat. Nose, bladder and thyroid tumours, impaired fertility, delayed puberty are a just a handful from the list. It is thoroughly confusing why they bother testing chemicals on animals when those substances can still be allowed in our food and products even though they have proven to cause damage. The report tries to pacify the reader by saying that our levels of exposure to these chemicals are many times lower than those they gave animals during testing. The problem here though is that at some point, we are going to reach the level that they gave the animals, whether that is in a few months or years. The chemicals that are now banned have only been removed because enough cases of tumours, diseases, or death have been reported. So to put it simply, even though it is clear that animals reacted to it, those chemicals are still forced upon us until enough people suffer and show signs of illness and disease.
Leading onto Organic produce now - the most expensive food items available, which basically eliminates most of the population from choosing this as a realistic option for feeding their families. It’s probably only a matter of time before we start finding out that organic is not really organic anyway. In the US, organic is not the same as ‘certified organic’, which is apparently the real deal along with the ‘USDA Organic Seal’. And these only need to contain 70% of organic ingredients in the first place. And if you’re not confused enough, in addition, the Department of Agriculture was forced to release a statement on their Oversight of theNational Organic Program, because it came to light that their stamps and seals didn’t really amount to much. But apparently that is all sorted now and there is yet another sticker, the ‘100% organic sticker’, which means wholly organic. You may be surprised to learn about some of the rules behind being organically certified. One of those is that farms are not allowed to use human sewage in cultivation or feed. Another is that there is no use of fertiliser, pesticides, antibiotic, or food additives or genetically modified organisms. What stands out from that information is, if we are not eating organic does it mean our food is possibly grown in human sludge and toxic chemicals as standard practice?
The staple ingredient in so many products that we eat, whether it be bread, cereal, pasta, cakes, or (almost everything we love to eat). It has come to light in recent years that whole wheat is better for us than white wheat, so the healthy and informed ones among us made the whole grain switch to everything - rice, pasta and bread, etc. So we should be safe now, right? No, unfortunately not. And again this goes back to meddling with nature and the birth of the GMO wheat crop. This is a dwarfed plant that yields eight times the grain of a regular crop. So, again, economically it makes sense to use this in a land of millions of people. However, thereis a catch, as there always is when you mess with nature. The creation of new proteins that have been formed by the crossbreeding of our wheat over generations has caused the current epidemic of obesity, diabetes, coeliac disease, IBS, osteoporosis, psoriasis and arthritis that we see today. Simply put, our bodies have not evolved at a rate quick enough to match the changes that have occurred to the wheat over the years. Therefore we are not biologically capable of tolerating the new versions of the proteins that have been created, as such our bodies are poisoned by it. So, it is not only the fashionable gluten - that has managed to create its own cornerstone in the industry with the allergies it creates - but also the many other proteins that get created each time a new breed of wheat is made. The only solution to this is to find and use wheat that remains unchanged since biblical times. Luckily it does exist, in the form of Einkorn, or Emmer wheat and just to underline the point, almost everyone allergic to gluten can eat this wheat with no problem.
How do you like your eggs? Standard, barn laid, cage free, organic, vegetarian, with omega 3, pasture raised? You get the picture that is a lot of different eggs. To outline standard practices on most farms, did you know the vegetarian egg is laid from a hen that has not been fed any meat or fish? But hens don’t eat meat or fish in nature, other than a few worms, so why is acceptable to feed that to hens on any farm? When you get to the meat section, next, you will be surprised to find out that cattle remains are part of the normal diet of chickens on our farms. It seems absurd that standard practices are so unusual that everything on our shelves now needs to be labeled as having natural things in them, rather than the other way around. It is very hard to find a hen that is allowed to mate freely, live outdoors and enjoy natural food, but surely those hens are supposed to lay the ‘standard’ egg. The standard egg isn’t supposed to mean a hen that lays an unnatural number of eggs in a very unhealthy environment, where it is badly treated. However this is unfortunately the case on most farms.
Years ago there were many pupils in schools that could pronounce words like Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) without realising that the reason such difficult words even existed in their vocabulary was because of the number of times stories about them were on the news. BSE is the human form and CJD is the animal form of Mad Cow Disease. It is a brain disease that is incurable and fatal that is caused by feeding cows - instead of grass - a mix of animalmeat, bones and faeces that comes from pigs and chicken and infected sheep. It seems glaringly obvious that one is not supposed to feed herbivores a carnivorous diet, but what should be done about farmers still continuing to ignore the threat even after they know it has caused over 200 deaths from a sickeningly sad degenerative disease? We still have cows dying of BSE perhaps because the calves are still being raised on animal blood, or ‘milk replacer’ as it is preferably known; a brown concoction mixed with blood proteins, fresh from the meatpacking industry. The questionable practice of feeding cattle remains to chickens and chicken litter back to cows is nothing short of ensuring that the risk of BSE remains in the food chain. Of course there is also an obvious risk from feeding cow remains to chickens, but unfortunately it won’t be stopped until there are enough people reported sick from a strange illness.
This leads me on to something rather disturbing. The government has in the past and the present said it was ok to use pesticides, but then banned some of them because of the tumours, diseases and deaths they caused. They also said it was ok to feed animals the carcasses from other animals, but then partly stopped after enough people died. There are also many other provocative practices and standards that were at first allowed, but then stopped, or banned because of the resulting consequences. So should they be allowed to refuse to label a product that they have no idea about? Should they be trusted to make decisions around one of the most controversial issues of our time? The conversation in question is the meat and milk from cloned animals. There haven’t actually been enough tests to prove the safety of the produce from cloned animals, because “animal testing would be inconclusive”, according to the comical Q&A on the FDA’s website, however it is still on the shelves of our supermarkets. Unfortunately the only way to determine whether it is a health risk is by eating and drinking it for as many years as it takes to identify any patterns in the health complications that occur. By the time any occur, let’s say in a few years, there will be no one to hold accountable. Just like there is never anyone to hold accountable for these kinds of things. So not only is there a remarkable audacity in feeding us cloned products that even they don’t understand fully, there are also no labels on cloned produce, so you couldn’t make that choice, even if you wanted to.
There must be appreciation for the potential social and economic benefits of genetically modifying and mass producing foods to feed the world - if they really did. But these practices seem only to cause destruction no matter which way we look, with what seems to be little regard for human, or animal life and dignity. This could be because no one is ever held accountable for those decisions. There is, and never has been, punishment for executives and officials that created products and passed policy that result in health catastrophes, other than financial penalties. This is a price on our lives. It will always be a matter of feigning ignorance about a potential problem until it gets caught. It is our very health that is being compromised and it has becomes the biggest joke of the century – where the very idea of eating for nourishment is flipped upside down so in fact eating is instead poisoning and killing us.
It has become apparent that we have become a living experiment and have had our freedom of choice in the matter removed. It seems that we deserve to pay a price just because we chose not to be farmers ourselves. We, the developed nations are supposed to be the ambassadors of ethics and morals, but have instead become the worst kind, that does precisely what it wants, regardless of consequences and only stops because they get caught and forced to change by the people. The only way to get a controversial practice stopped, a chemical banned, or a policy overturned or a standard introduced, is by providing evidence of enough catastrophes that have been inflicted on us, their countries’ citizens. With all the apparently intelligent people responsible for forecasting, analysis, investigation, scrutiny and setting standards, it is a wonder how the situation could ever get this bad. Are the people in charge actually not as clever as we need them to be, or are they deliberately ignoring the controversial practices that are a threat to our health? It can only be one or the other.
What is the solution to all of this though? Well, it isn’t blaming to the government or the businesses. It is blaming ourselves that will make the biggest difference. It is time to open our eyes to what is going on around us. We need to educate ourselves on what we are paying for and putting in our bodies. The way we do that is by searching for the groups and people who are actively speaking out against the problems and joining and learning from them. There are many organisations and groups, doing much work to raise awareness of the issues affecting the industry and suggestions for how to combat them. Our schools and parents should be informing themselves and their children and students about controversial farming practices, about the source of mercury poisoning, the dangers of synthetic hormones, about unnatural food production. There needs to be public dialogues on whether we should accept the standard practices that most farms have of allowing insecticides, pesticides, additives and toxins into the soil and animal feed. We need to demand transparency from our supermarkets about what they feed to their animals and how they are treated throughout their lives and the manner in which they are killed. There needs to be unbiased materials outlining the pros and cons of controversial issues such as cloned meat and the GMO industry, so citizens can make informed decisions. This information should be completely fair, showing both the benefits and potential health risks. We must be allowed the freedom to choose between the different foods we eat, whether it is genetically modified, cloned, or something that does not occur naturally. Labelling on controversial foodstuffs like cloned meat and GMO’s should be standard. This information should be distributed to the public, especially because it has been deemed standard practice. We should not need to hunt the information down, it should be public educational material distributed to families. If it is not readily available, we should demand it.
We reside in a country where people are living longer than before, but with more diseases than ever before, because of how we abuse our bodies with our diet. Our health is truly a gift and the knowledge of what is acceptable and expected is precious information that should not be hidden or guarded. If we want something to change, we must change something and the more people that question their own reality, the less likely it will be that such despicable practices can continue. We have the power to reverse this system to the way it is supposed to be.
Our country prides itself on freedom, diplomacy and human rights, but food is our basic human right and it has been tainted against all three of those principles. I wonder how many people stop to wonder - marvel even - at the industry that has before our very own eyes, raped and bastardised nature and put on its head the very natural order of things. But do you want to know what is worse, above and beyond all of what these companies do? Well, it is the silence of the people that have the knowledge, combined with the ignorance of the people that choose to stay away from learning more. And it is this indifference of us normal people that has been relied on for years - and can continue to be relied on - to ensure the destruction of every pure thing that we have ever known.
For part two of ''You Have no idea What's In Your Food', please click here.
Stuff Mother Taught Us
For part two of ''You Have no idea What's In Your Food', please click here.
Stuff Mother Taught Us
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sovietuk/227465632/">tricky (rick harrison)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>