The more that I research the more difficult it becomes to believe that our food supply is not being deliberately controlled by interests that do not have our health as a concern. Take for instance the whole notion of genetically modified seed. Okay, I understand that Rachel Carson may have gone a bit overboard with her diatribe on the detriments of DDT. Several nations have gone back to using it as the most effective way to control the mosquito population. Hopefully, the mosquitoes do not become immune and return with a vengeance. But what about the multiple varieties of “herbicide resistant” seed that are finding their way into our food chain? When the very genetic makeup of the seed itself is changed, does it affect the way our bodies digest them? Can we be sure that any or all chemical residues of these substances are not present in that next bag of Doritos?
I understand entrepreneurship and I applaud the capitalist concept, we all want to make and keep a dollar for a rainy day. Agribusiness does as well and the stockholders want to see a profit for their investment. Should that mean that they should have un-regulated access to the food supply chain? Just where is the USDA on this? Is the FDA so busy writing web pages about WWEIA (What we Eat in America) that they can’t take the time to ensure that the full story is known about the approved seed, processes and substances are known before they release them on an unsuspecting public. With all the food chemists out there working for all those companies can no one tell us what is causing the veritable wave of obesity in our society? Inquiring minds want to know.
When we are born all that we will become is contained in a code called the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) a set of instructions which build out our cells which eventually become a unique brain, a body with a digestive system. Fragile at birth our digestive systems acquire the ability to derive sustenance from a variety of foods. As time goes on we eat nourishment and other substances which build our immune systems. I understand this much of the puzzle. If we are fortunate we are fed mothers milk as our first food. This gives the newborn a leg up on the food chain and insures:
From the Mothers Nursing Counsel
less gas, diarrhea, and constipation
stronger immune systems
fewer allergies and less risk of asthma
fewer incidences of diabetes and cancer
less risk of childhood obesity
less risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
better dental and facial development, and decreased likelihood of dental caries
benefits for mom
the rewards of breastfeeding are often overlooked when it comes to mom:
promotes uterine contractions after childbirth and reduces bleeding
promotes weight loss
less risk of ovarian and breast cancers
economical—breastfeeders save over $1000 USD in the first year
convenient—always available, and always the right temperature
saves time—no formula to prepare, and no bottles to wash
clean and safe—and available when normal supplies of food and water are interrupted
Plus it gives a great start on adopting an adult diet. As our digestive systems gather bacteria which helps us to digest more sophisticated foods. I think scientists know this much, what I wonder is do they know if we can digest and live on foods that are not part of the culturally developed foods we have been eating for centuries. It is one thing to say I have looked into the microscope and the chemical composition is XXX, when it is possible in fact even likely that there is more to be discovered about the way xxx is digested by the human stomach. It could be possible that as it occurs in nature there is an unseen XXX+ that is totally digestible, yet the synthetic version does not have the unseen + which precludes its digestion. I have no clue, and I am not competent to engage in a chemistry discussion
Just bumbling around we have figured out that eating fresh foods from our garden without pesticides gives us good nutrition. After the thirty years war the monks went back to the cave and discovered the cheese had gone moldy; it tasted pretty good and did not kill them so they set about to grow moldy cheese and today have Roquefort cheese. Setting bread in the cave to acquire the mold they ground the bread, added it to the milk and discovered a new process and that some molds may be beneficial to our diet. By trial and error we have also identified poisons. Those stories are less popular because there are fewer around to tell them. In twenty or thirty years will we discover that genetically engineering foods, irradiating foods, processing and re-constructing foods chemically was a good thing? Or will we be around to tell the story.
I am three chapters into a new book by Wenonah Hauter called “Foodopoly” It requires permission to quote it so I won’t, just get it, read it, and buy a copy for your Congressman and/or Senator as well. It is a much-needed discussion of the whole history of farming and the industry from the late nineteenth century to the present multinational corporations that are running the game.
Of the many things that are wrong with the food additives and language/labeling game is the perceived (or real) deception that is going on. The GRAS ruling (generally recognized as safe) enables manufacturers to hide ingredients when they should be clearly labeled. Another part of that would be to explain what the additive is supposed to do. Of course if they did that then the consumer would say “hum this is supposed to make it taste more creamy, why is it so bad it won’t taste that way without it.”
The next thing would be to identify one or two ingredients that do the job, that are certifiably tested as ok and leave it at that. So if a product needs to be thick and they add xanthum gum, period, so we know that that is the only thickener necessary for thickening and those 23 other odd sounding ‘cans and ‘ines for thickening are not necessary. Maybe that product is agar-agar, it doesn’t matter, make the additive companies compete to get their product approved as the official thickener period and allow no others unless they replace the one by being a thoroughly tested “better” product. Whittle that 10,000 product list down to 500 or so and define each one as to how and why, and prove that the additive itself is from a natural not petroleum source.
If Michelle Obama wants to do something useful for food consumption she could light a fire under the folks WWEIA and have them produce a dictionary/report of common FDA approved food additives that explains the meaning of the terms and how they apply. Seriously, any consumer today will go away from the USDA site shaking their head at the dearth of information on a very verbose site. When you finally find the item you are looking for you are presented with information that only a third year chemistry student can understand.
Finally, there is the whole topic of genetically modified seeds and food. The Salk vaccine is the product of the disease being turned back on itself. By taking an infected host and creating a minor infection to build immunity to a major one. (that one little dosage a simple drop on a sugar cube has eradicated polio from the world and from me by changing my genetic makup) That seems to be what is going on with the thinking in these modification companies. Ahem, has any of my readers ever used a herbicide”? A thorough herbicide that sterilizes the ground around the area in which it is sprayed for a good long time and which I used a lot when landscaping areas where we wanted nothing to grow. (Note I am always leery of anecdotal evidence, it sounds so conspiratorial and there is no way to check it) I managed to wipe out some aspen saplings while spraying directly on the leaves of nasty Russian thistles beside them. Suffice it to say it works very well. So, new seeds that are being developed that are capable of being sprayed with an herbicide which of course will kill all the weeds around them. Is it even remotely possible some of that may find its way into the bread I eat someday?
Supposedly that has already happened with the soy bean seed, the difference for soy bean is that the process to yield oil is similar to distilling gasoline out of crude oil so the bean is completely taken apart to extract the oil. I do however, fear for the hogs and cattle who are on the receiving end of the feed byproduct and indirectly for the resultant sausage or burger.On the other hand with wheat, you take the whole berry, grind it and you got flour; add some yeast and a little honey, some oil and after rising and 45 minutes in a medium heat oven you got wonderful smelling bread. Is the residue of genetic modification gone, cooked way? No it is still there, I am now a part of the experiment, it is part of me. When the lungs or the heart or the prostate go will they find genetic changes from the wheat in my corpse, I doubt they will be looking; too much else to blame.