Our Toxic Food Environment
It’s not an exaggeration when I say we live in a toxic food environment. And I don’t say that to scare you into eating “healthy” food. (Even the food most of us consider “healthy” is not these days.) Every part of our food system is broken and it scares the hell out of me. And it should scare you too! How did it happen in this great country of ours that we cannot have even the most basic trust of what we are eating?
Our Agriculture and Animal Production is Not Safe
The family farm has all but disappeared in the last 50 years. In their place: huge industrial farms, dangerous mono cultures, ever more powerful (and deadly) insecticides, and Frankenstein-esque Genetically Modified (GMO) crops; all of which work against Mother Nature, not with her. Nearly all poultry and livestock we eat are now raised in deplorable conditions and filled with artificial hormones to make them grow more or produce more milk, and then given massive amounts of antibiotics just to keep these sick animals alive until slaughter. Our government could help, but instead over-seeing, they deregulate. Instead of subsidizing fruits and vegetables to make them more affordable, they subsidize crops like corn and soybeans which are processed into additives in most inexpensive junk food. Bottom line, since World War II our entire food supply has changed dramatically, for the worse, and we are all paying for it with our wallets, our waistlines… and our lives.
The Rise of Processed/Frozen/Packaged Food Companies
Post WW II America was a unique time. New technologies invented during the war were adapted to create many new incredible things like the space race that, eventually, put men on the moon. But there were also vital war technologies, which once the war was over, were marketed to peacetime homes as being just as vital to prosperity- even though nothing could be further from the truth; things like “convenience” foods. Victory Gardens, a necessity during the war were a thing of the past, and by 1953 the frozen meal was introduced to the American culture, due in part to a post-war surplus of frozen turkeys. No coincidence, it was marketed as a highly innovative product called a “TV dinner,” as over 50% of Americans were enjoying the magic of pictures “flying” through the air into TV sets in their very own living rooms. Frozen Meals are now in the top 10 of grocery store items purchased. Marketed as “time savers” and some even as “diet” foods, they are highly processed, filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients, and a substantial contributor to the overall decline of American eating habits. Their “top 10” status is one more example of our toxic food environment, and one more obvious cause of rampant obesity and deadly disease in America.
The Evils of Food Marketing
Food marketing was a mischievous child when radio was first introduced to the public, it evolved into a runaway locomotive when TV came along, and is now a 1,000 foot towering space alien with the addition of the internet. It has even gone beyond marketing now; exploiting everyone, especially our children, as entertainment. Blame it on Walt Disney’s vision of “Tomorrowland” with flying cars. Blame it on TV’s Star Trek and its’ “Food Synthesizer.” Blame it on the processed food manufacturers’ all-out marketing campaign that bombards you with rmessages all day every day about, HOW COOKING IS THE MOST EVIL, TERRIBLE, AND DIFFICULT THING IMAGINABLE! Or forget blaming and begin to realize just how far we have gotten away from our traditional food supply. Our toxic food environment now has more than 50,000 highly processed and highly poisonous food products in the average American grocery store; with more than 10,000 highly processed and highly poisonous new food products being introduced to you and your family every single year.
Obesity and Chronic Lifestyle Disease Rates
There are many underlying causes of America’s obesity epidemic. Work, school, kids, stress, lack of time, and lack of exercise. The fact that we live in a toxic food environment resulting in a poor diet is still most of the equation. What are the results our lifestyles? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) over one third of American adults are not just overweight, but obese; almost 80 million of us! Obesity related diseases (“lifestyle diseases”) are some of the leading causes of death, and include: #1 heart disease, #2 cancer (about 1/3 are obesity/lifestyle related), #5 stroke, and the #7 leading cause of death, diabetes. Not enough? More of us are getting fatter and sicker at a faster rate than ever. In 1994 only 7.8 million Americans were diagnosed with type II diabetes; a mere 20 years late that number has more than tripled to 25.8 million in 2014.