"Ninety percent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat." Nutritionist Dr. Victor Hugo Lindlahr, 1942
You are what you eat. I'm sure you have heard this old adage directed toward our food choices. Our grandparents knew this to be true yet some how this little gem of knowledge has been forgotten as the majority of today's populous settle for convenience over nutrition, choosing a diet filled with fast-food meals and highly processed supermarket fares unaware of the dangers lurking in these choices.
Indeed there is a proliferation of processed foods filling our markets, feeding the masses. Our food has changed. The bread grandma made consisted of four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. A modern loaf might have over 23 ingredients, some unpronounceable. It's not enough to read labels. Today's consumer must read ingredient lists because food items are often misrepresented. For example a bottle calling itself honey might actually hold a larger percentage of corn syrup than actual honey, a bottle labeled fruit juice only contain 5 percent real fruit juice, a container labeled mozzarella in olive oil, on closer inspection, found to be cheese soaking in genetically modified canola oil. Trusted companies are opting for profit over nutrition forcing the consumer to take time to carefully read each and every ingredient list to avoid dangerous partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, artificial colors and flavor enhancers known to be unhealthy. Chemicals like Sodium Nitrate, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucralose, Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame have become common additives and are sabotaging our diets as they show up in everything from the beverage we choose down to the bread we eat.
Perhaps worst of all, the staples making up the bulk of our food supply are becoming increasingly dangerous. Take our modern wheat, for example, the wheat in almost every pre-boxed grocery item, is an 18-inch tall cultivar that was genetically engineered the '60s. This modern wheat is a genetically modified dwarf cultivated to increase yield, hence higher profits, as it produces more grains on less acreage than its predecessor. This wheat is a toxic junk food and its prevalence in our diets has doctors across the country issuing warnings against it consumption.
"The wheat of today is not the same grain our forebears ground into their daily bread... this thing being sold to us called wheat—it ain’t wheat. It’s this stocky little high-yield plant, a distant relative of the wheat our mothers used to bake muffins, genetically and biochemically light years removed from the wheat of just 40 years ago.” writes Cardiologist Dr. William Davis in his book Wheat Belly. "This modern wheat is a perfect, chronic poison and is the culprit behind many of today's illnesses." Davis cites this 'Frankengrain' as being the number one contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic.
Dr. William Davis is not the only doctor warning of the dangers of wheat. Dr. Mark Hyman writes, "Wheat is not only making you fat, but increasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, depression and more. This is not the wheat our grandparents used, the wheat in today’s foods is actually a FrankenWheat, a scientifically engineered food product developed in the last 50 years."
Indeed the state of the American diet has medical experts alarmed. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) issued a warning on May 19th 2009, calling for all "Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks." Citing that GM foods 'pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit.' You see wheat is not the only genetically modified food to taint our food supply. Corn, soybeans, Canola and cottonseed oil are other big offenders contaminating our foods. In fact 'between 1997 and 1999, gene-modified (GM) ingredients suddenly appeared in 2/3rds of all US processed foods.' -Disabled World News (2009-09-22). But with no need for labeling and a largely uninformed populace this infiltration has gone unnoticed by the masses and now poses a serious threat to our nation's health. Why? Because these food were not modified to provide a healthy alternative, but to resist weather changes, pests, insects and poor soil conditions, and perhaps even more frightening, the risks of consuming these foods are still unknown. "The experiments simply haven't been done and we now have become the guinea pigs," said Canadian geneticist David Suzuki. "Anyone that says, 'Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,' I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying."
And GMO's are everywhere. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring bacterium found in the soil. When insects eat it, their stomachs break open and they die. Agricultural giant Monsanto spliced a gene of Bt with corn, soybeans and cotton, creating GMO's that they claimed were safe for consumption, that the toxin would be destroyed within the digestive tract of mammals. However a recent study done by the physicians at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec, Canada discovered Bt-toxin in 93 percent of 30 pregnant women, 80 percent of umbilical cord blood of their babies and 67 percent of 39 women who were not pregnant. Bt-toxin has also been linked to cancer, autism, severe food allergies and autoimmune disease.
"When considering intestinal permeability, concern about the Bt-toxin in GMO crops looms large. This poison is designed to create holes (pores) in the digestive tract of insects. That is how it kills them." -- Jeffrey M Smith, leading consumer advocate.
But that's not all, besides food additives and genetically modified foods, alarming amounts of poisons have found their way onto our dinner plates. The use of pesticides were mass introduced into farming 70 years ago, along with petrochemically-derived fertilizers that has nearly destroyed community-scale farming as it created mega-corporations who now dominate our food industry poisoning the masses, creating generations who suffer from a wide rang of diet related diseases among which are: cancer, digestive disorders: including leaky gut syndrome, crones and inflammatory bowel disease, autism and Parkinson’s. This is a known fact. Doctors across the country are reaching the same conclusions:
"The way we farm now is destructive of the soil, the environment and us," says Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
“It appears there is a direct correlation between GMOs and autism.” --Arden Anderson, MD, PhD, MPH
“Twenty years ago, I didn’t even know what the word autism meant. It was rare.” -- Physician Jennifer Armstrong
“We know food allergies are on the rise and also diseases related to common foods, like celiac disease. Patients report that dairy products make them wheeze, or tomatoes give them joint pains. It’s as though our food is harming us"--Family practitioner Myrto Ashe
One of these mega-corporations is Monsanto the maker of the herbicide Roundup. Roundup is a non-selective and systemic herbicide that kills all types of vegetation with which it comes in contact, except for plants that have been selectively bred to resist it. In April 2011 the Institute of Science in Society called for a global ban on glyphosate, citing research showing the chemical has "extreme toxicity."
A 2012 study titled 'Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize' released by a team of French researchers headed by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, found that "rats fed a high dose lifetime diet of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn or exposed to its top-selling weed killer Roundup suffered tumors and multiple organ damage." And this chemical is being used everywhere! It is estimated that more than 100 million pounds of Roundup are used annually in the United States alone. It is readily available for homeowner use and this chemical is NOT biodegradable as the company originally promised. Residues remain in the soil, water, air and on our food! A French court found the company guilty of false advertising on this claim as they found residues of glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup, appeared in new plants a year after the chemical's application. - reported by BBC News in October 2009.
The increasing pressure from environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists has forced the EPA to reexamine this issue. They have set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate should continue to be sold or at very least regulated. The EPA is working closely with regulators in Canada as they also assess the ongoing safety and effectiveness of the herbicide. "The agency plans to re-evaluate risks from glyphosate and certain inert ingredients to humans and the environment during the registration review process." - reported by EPA.
In a paper titled, Why Glyphosate should be Banned issued by the Institute of Science in Society, Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji and Dr Mae-Wan Ho conclude, "There is a wealth of evidence on the health hazards of glyphosate. Its approval, along with other hazardous chemicals, relies on systematic flaws in the EU and US regulatory processes, which to this day, do not require evaluation by independent research, and instead rely solely on the industry’s own studies. Approval is therefore often based on data not available to the public or independent research scientists. Nevertheless, raw data has been obtained from the industry through the courts, which, when re-analysed by independent scientists, also provide evidence of toxicity. Taken together, glyphosate is implicated in birth and reproductive defects, endocrine disruption, cancers, genotoxicity, neurotoxicity, respiratory problems, nausea, fever, allergies and skin problems….Monsanto is proposing to raise permitted residual levels in lentils by 100 fold in the EU. This is clearly unacceptable. Brazil has recently proposed a new bill that will ban many environmental toxins including glyphosate. A global ban or phase-out of glyphosate use is a matter of urgency, and with that, widespread adoption of non-GM sustainable agriculture."
Our diet is indeed killing us and it is killing our planet. Public interest groups across the county are rising to stand against industrial agriculture. Consumer and environmental activists are raising their voices in opposition to poisons and genetically engineered food. On June 19, 2012 the Center for Food Safety, National Family Farm Coalition, ACLU, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Organic Trade Association, Earth justice, Organic Valley, Union of Concerned Scientists formally submitted a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations voicing strong and immediate opposition of the so-called “farmer assurance provision” a provision that puts the nation’s farmers and food supply at risk.
The Environmental Watch Group (EWG) emerged as nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization that began testing samples and for the past eight years has published an updated ‘shopper’s guide’ based on a comprehensive analysis of government pesticide testing data of 45 different fruit and vegetables. The guide includes the ‘dirty dozen:’ or the twelve foods most commonly contaminated with pesticides. The findings are frightening. Take the innocent looking strawberry for example. The EWG found 54 Pesticide Residues on a single sample: 9 of which where known carcinogens, 24 hormone disruptors, 11 neurotoxins and 12 that were known to inhibit development and act as reproductive toxins.
The Dirty Dozen is a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that when conventionally grown are known to have the highest pesticide levels according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S... Because of their high pesticide levels it is best to buy these organic.
Apples – 42
Celery - 64
Sweet bell peppers - 49
Peaches - 62
Strawberries - 54
Grapes – 34
Spinach - 48
Cucumbers - 35
Potatoes - 37
Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate these pesticides. Peeling helps, but reduces the nutrient levels as they are often discarded with the skin. So what do we do? 'The best approach: eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and buy organic when possible' or grow your own. - Environmental Working Group
Thanks to the practices of big agriculture and the factory farm, a lot of our food today is disgusting and or cruel. The people of California took action and wrote prop 37 an initiative calling for truth in labeling or the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act calling for the U.S. to join the nearly 50 other countries that allow their citizens to choose between genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered food through the enactment of laws requiring mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The mega companies Monsanto, Dupont, Pepsico and Nestle spent $45 million to defeat the California measure, and though it did not pass, it did wake many to join the fight to preserve our food supply. California Field Organizer of the Organic Consumers Association, Zuri Allen states, “We may have lost this first major battle in California, but millions of angry and energized consumers across the country are now joining together in a nationwide right to know campaign which will ultimately drive genetically engineered crops and foods off the market.”
As more become aware of the current state of our food supply, projects like Alliance for a Healthier Generation, What's on Your Plate Project and Keep Our Food Safe Org launched to educate the public and call for reform asking for ranchers and farmers to raise sustainable food in ways that don't bankrupt the earth.
Interest in keeping chickens and urban farming has bloomed as more become aware of the dangers and take action to embrace alternatives as they take up the call to 'eat organic, buy local and grow your own!' Families across the country are utilizing yards, patios and balconies for family veggie plots growing their own peppers, squash, herbs and tomatoes as even a few potted plants can create a high yield and what a better way to know what is in your food than growing it yourself?
How can you help? Next time you are at the market, be mindful of your choices. There is an abundance of dangerous chemicals, pesticides and GMOs contaminating our food. Educate yourself. Read ingredient list. Choose organic if at all possible. Buy local supporting Farmers' markets and join the growing movement to grow your own. Be aware of the initiatives calling for mandatory labeling and vote. Join the food movement. Add your voice to those calling for reform.
American Academy of Environmental Medicine, Genetically Modified Foods - http://www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html
Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09...
Jeffery Smith, Are Genetically Engineered Foods Promoting Autism? http://issuu.com/arlyt/docs/autism_booklet/1
Help Guide Org, Understanding Organic Food Labels, Benefits, and Claims http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides_gmo.htm
Organic Consumers Org, Organic Foods on a Limited Budget http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_16803.cfm
Natural News, Rid the body of dangerous Bt-toxin found in genetically modified food with these tips http://www.naturalnews.com/037405_bt_toxin_genetically_modified_foo...
PubMed, Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21338670