Monthly Archives: August 2006

Healthy Living Real Food

How The FDA, Corn, And Oil Are Killing People

Put aside your purely sentimentalist views about corn, including your ideal Sunday dinner on the farm. Corn is in everything we eat…from meat to cereals to drinks to coffee, from breads to pasta, from the McDonald’s meal you grab in the drive-through to so-called “organic” eggs. In fact, in the average grocery store, of more than 45,000 “foods”, a quarter are comprised of some type of corn. The use of so much corn has driven up the amount of petroleum needed to transport it by millions of barrels per year.

Corn is not a bad plant, but it is indigestible in most forms you will find it in, unless it has been grown organically and soaked or sprouted – and most of the corn you will buy on the market is a far cry from this natural condition. Why then, is it being used in foods we eat, and why so pervasively? In Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, we are told in expert detail how the oil and corn industries together with the FDA are largely responsible for damage to the environment as well as many major health problems in modern society.

Each bushel of industrial corn grown, Pollan notes, uses the equivalent of up to a third of a gallon of oil. Some of the oil products evaporate and acidify rain; some seep into the water table; some wash into rivers, affecting drinking water and poisoning marine ecosystems. The industrial logic also means vast farms that grow only corn. When the price of corn drops, the solution, the farmer hopes, is to plant more corn for next year. The paradoxical result? While farmers earn less, there’s an over-supply of cheap corn, and that means finding ever more ways to use it up.

This disturbing truth supports the idea that we are a community of sick and starving people who do not receive adequate nutritional support to keep our bodies functioning properly and feeling well. Corn and other carbohydrate-based crops are processed beyond recognition to produce many of the foods we eat. We have completely lost touch with consuming whole, real foods that humans need to be healthy and are a junk-food, convenience-based nation.

What about chips, crackers, pasta, bagels, and most bread products on the market? You will read the labels and will be told by a good number of them that they are “whole grains”.  A majority of these staple items contain processed, enriched flours and corn as primary ingredients. These products are not whole grains and they are not healthy to eat. Natural farming takes a back seat to factory and industrialized processes which destroy the integrity of whole foods that are a necessity to people and animals alike. Have we been lied to? You bet.

The FDA has approved the license to sell and consumption of all these foods that are killing us and causing an enormous rise in the cost of health care, oil, and many products that we use and depend on every day. Most significantly, our health conditions are in serious jeopardy with heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer among the top five reasons for death – all greatly contributed to by the power of the FDA and these bloated industries’ abilities to affect the content of the food we eat.

Go to Amazon.com and read reviews on Michael Pollan’s book, see a short clip from Bill Maher’s show interviewing Pollan, and then decide for yourself whether or not you are ready for a change in lifestyle.

It is inconceivable that in a world where corn is so plentiful and readily available that it is not used more pervasively as an alternative fuel to oil. Unfortunately, there are politicians, special interest groups, and lobbyists working night and day to prevent this from occurring. Many people would have us believe that removing corn from the food supply would actually cause mass starvation and loss of industry jobs. How can this be true when the corn most people buy is not really food in the first place? Farmers could still continue to make a living growing corn for fuel alternatives just as they do now harvesting it for food.

Want to find out what most of the cattle in the United States eat on the feedlots in which they are raised?

For more information about corn as a viable and renewable source of fuel for our everyday lives, visit The New Farm and learn about how useful this crop can be.

Green Living Healthy Living

Why Buy Local?

Although Globalization may be the wave of the future, it is not the best choice for health. Here’s why…

Let’s say it’s winter time and you are in the grocery store looking for fresh vegetables and fruits. In many regions, a good variety of produce is not readily available and so the method of bringing in tomatoes or oranges in during the cold months is to ship them from different parts of the world who can grow these plants year-round. Why would this be a problem? One reason is that having to ship all these foods all over the globe uses up more fuel. This drives up the price of petrol and pollutes the environment. Another issue is that in shipping these fruits and vegetables all over the globe, merchants are finding that much produce is perishing more quickly than they are able to turn a profit. In order to make sure their produce does not perish before it makes its arrival in the store, many decide to grow plants in an altered environment where the plant has been modified somehow to survive days of travel and stocking on the grocery store shelf. Is it safe to eat “altered” food?

In addition to genetically and otherwise modified foods, toxins and pollution from shipment and travel adversely affect the produce being sent. If these toxins and chemicals affect the produce, does it affect your health? Indeed. Eating local produce cuts down on toxins and pollution on fruits and vegetables because the food has traveled less distance to get to your table. That’s a happy thought.

The notion of eating fruits and vegetables in season is also becoming more and more understood by local communities. In season varieties allow the local farms to receive your support when you buy, reduces pollution from shipment, and provides the opportunity to try new foods and seasonal recipes that you may have otherwise overlooked. It tastes better too! Buying in season is more sustainable and better for your health as during different times of the year, your body needs different types of foods. Those needs come and go with the season, and thus eating in season makes health sense.

In Idaho, many crops do not grow in the winter time. So the shipping of produce from many other locations is something grocery stores do in order to provide a full menu for their customers. But, many local farmers are now using winter green houses and hot houses. This should reduce the need to ship in from other locations. Unfortunately, the demand of customers dictates that we have anything we want anytime we want it. Thus, the stores are shipping in anything and everything all the time.

Alternatives might include adjusting our consumption of certain types of produce during times of the year when they are not locally available. Some people make use of the available produce during peak seasons by canning, jarring, drying, or freezing their food. Although these activities take a little more time and effort, you are conserving in many ways by making use of the available produce when it is fresh and preserving it safely for later use.

Today on NPR this very topic is being discussed. For more information about why shipping produce around the globe can be harmful, go check out Talk of The Nation’s dialogue on Science Friday about Eating Local, Thinking Global .