Has anyone noticed how the law is on the side of agribusiness, big pharma, and profit, but fails to protect the interests of small farmers/food producers, or whole foods? These corporations have spent billions of dollars making sure entities such as the Food Pyramid tell consumers to purchase and eat the most processed and chemically-filled foods available.
Just look at which foods are on the top – grains. The most pervasive grains in our food supply are processed, genetically-engineered, and full of chemicals. If anyone eats that much processed grain foods per day, health problems are sure to follow. Not enough supporting information in mainstream sectors exists to drive home the fact that these food-like substances are one of the primary causes of degenerative disease.
On the Food Pyramid, fruits and vegetables are ranked below grains with meats, fish, eggs, and dairy near the bottom, just above fats and sweets. What about meat and eggs – are they naturally raised or industrially-produced? Corporations have also successfully convinced the entire health industry – scientists & researchers, medical doctors, college professors, teachers, dietitians, personal trainers, health coaches, and fitness clubs – to teach this rhetoric of eating processed foods to patients, clients, students, and consumers.
Just ask the authors of Our Stolen Future, written by Theo Colburn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers, who have conducted extensive research into the fact that manufacturers frequently withhold information about the ingredients contained in their products. Instead of disclosure, companies declare their contents are proprietary ingredients or trade secrets. And they are supported by laws and regulatory upholdings which continue to allow them to sell whatever product they develop to the public. The government is oblivious to and disregarding of repeated scientific studies and research revealing that these substances are questionable at best and proven to be carcinogenic to human health.
Corporations have made it politically incorrect and too expensive to eat real food not only because of profits at stake, but because the demand for fake food exceeds the public’s level of awareness about it. One reason real food is too expensive to purchase for many people is because big corporations sell products at lower cost and tout their health benefits – which are swallowed hook, line and sinker by consumers – driving the cost of real food up as the demand for industrial food continues to skyrocket. Agribusiness and bloated corporations work in tandem with Big Pharma – you eat the food you are told is good for you from the corporations, and then when your immune system becomes weakened from consuming the food and you become sick, you are shuffled over to the doctor’s office where Big Pharma takes over – emptying out your bank account a second time as you fork over your hard-earned money to pay for drugs that won’t make your health problems go away. Then you go home and eat industrial, processed food for dinner. Repeat.
It is certainly true that technologies such as heart bypass procedures, pacemakers, kidney dialysis devices, respirators, and other developments have played an undeniable role in extending life. But on the other end of that realm of technology, drug companies have been more than happy to take credit for the fact that the average human life span has extended beyond anything in recorded history. Anthony Cortese, a former U.S. public health service official, confirms otherwise. “Ninety percent of the reduction in the death rate occurred before the introduction of antibiotics or vaccines.” He goes on to explain that longer life spans were actually attributed to improvements in food, water, and sanitation of milk, a reduction in physical crowding, the inception of central heating, plumbing, and refrigeration, and the migration from toxic coal and wood burning to lower-toxicity natural gas and oil. But it certainly cannot be attributed to any success for health on behalf of the drugs company’s doing; it’s all about the almighty dollar.
As discussed in Randall Fitzgerald’s The Hundred Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health, “The United States spends more than twice as much on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world- $6,100 per year for every man, woman, and child. Fifteen percent of the economy is now devoted to medical care, up from 10 percent in 1987. Yet, the United States ranks forty-sixth in life expectancy and forty-second in infant mortality among the nations of the world.”
This attitude of promoting the consumption of processed foods filters down through many levels. A good example of this system at work is the school lunch program. Food for children is offered at a lower cost per meal than you would be able to find almost anywhere else – making real, local, and organic foods unappealing due to their cost, not to mention the fact that big corporations pay for research telling us that organic food is no better for us nutritionally than the conventionally-produced variety.
Another example is health clubs pushing physical fitness while their food philosophy dictates eating low-fat foods and selling unhealthy snacks and meals to members. The health club where I work recently decided to cut out the weekly healthy snack class I taught because the local food bank is going to bring in daily free lunches and snacks. And what do you suppose you’ll find in these meals and snacks? “Popcorn chicken”, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese sticks and bagels, potato or tortilla chips, and low-fat or skim hormone-filled chocolate milk. They are offering vegetables two to three times per week, and some fruit. But the rest is completely processed and devoid of nutrition. But because it’s free, the health club has decided to take it over the raw, unprocessed, organic food I provided to the children each week. For a list of ingredients in popcorn chicken, read this article about school lunches.
My husband commented that it’s a liability for the health club to allow real food to be served because the law says processed food is fine to consume (i.e., The Food Pyramid), but it’s “unlawful” to promote or serve organic, real, whole foods because there is not enough valid “research” backing up claims to its superiority and health benefits. This seems impossible to believe, but it is unfortunately true.
I spent nearly two years trying to convince my employer that a nutritionally-based program should be designed for their members. What I asked for was education and awareness about organic, whole, and traditional foods and their impact on health. What I heard from the management was that the concepts I requested for inclusion were not backed up by research nor substantiated by government or university studies.
Even when I produced valid research, there was no response or acknowledgment. It is maddening to have an entity such as a non-profit organization purporting to stand for health and wellness ignore data such as this – especially when those in authority claim to be educated and informed.
The fact remains the food allowed to be served by the club to the members is clearly below standards for good health and is a main culprit for the persistence of health problems – both the food donated by the foodbank and that which is served in the health club snack bar on a daily basis. In order to “save money” on real foods to serve as snacks for their members to eat (i.e., the foods I was serving once a week), they have opted to accept free food which is synthetic and full of chemicals. It should be noted that the children LOVED the food I served, and the parents frequently thanked me for serving healthy snacks and commented on how much they liked the nutrition activity. There was never a complaint or problem the entire time I served these weekly snacks for over 10 months.
The reality is, if you want to be able to eat real, organic foods, you can expect to receive attitude, opposition, and great difficulty obtaining it – no matter where you find yourself. The important questions are: why have we deemed it acceptable to put profit in front of health, and why has it become unacceptable to sell, serve, and eat real food? Have you encountered issues when trying to eat the way you want, or been in a situation where you wanted to have healthy food at some type of function or event and were thwarted in some fashion?
Update! Read this great article at the Journal of Natural Food and Healing –Big Pharma Wants to Make You Sicker
I’d love to hear your comments, stories, and frustrations about these situations, and what you might have done to remedy the problem.
6 replies on “Big Corporations And Big Pharma – Dictating What's Acceptable To Eat”
Great article Raine! It really underscores why we have to take responsibility for our health and not rely on mainstream information.
It’s so unfortunate how flawed our food supply and medical system have become as a result of corporate influence. While the technologies you mentioned do save lives and extend lifespan, they simply allow people who are already half dead to continue living.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of health clubs offering ridiculous nutritional advice and even refuting logical information. Unfortunately, this works out well for the gym because it keeps people coming back to overexercise in compensation for their excessive carbohydrate consumption.
Yes, you are right. Selling unhealthy food in health clubs DOES give them license to keep exercising and compensate for the way they eat (although we all no, there is not enough exercise in the world to compensate for poor diet). But it’s just one more way to control masses of people and make money.
It’s so true that those technologies are not really saving lives so much as they are providing extra time for those who are in poor health circumstance to extend their existence. I say, if your quality of life life is that poor and you refuse to do something about it that really makes a difference – like changing your diet for the better to allow real healing in your body – why bother at all? When I was sick my quality of life was so poor I was determined to make it better by doing things that *really* affected change. I knew if I didn’t, I’d end up like many people I know who feel terrible most of the time and take medication. And I had too much to live for – my husband and my son.
I agree, we do need to take responsibility for our own health, because corporate America is not going to. That is why I always carry my own snacks so when I have the urge I have something more nutritious, and less expensive, that what I can typically buy outside the home. For instance, you can carry a small organza bag filled with raw, unprocessed chocolate that has no preservatives, no added fats, no processed sugar nor caffeine. It will give you 1000 flavonoids for the day (your 10 to 12 servings of fruits and vegetables), give you energy, won’t spike your blood sugar levels and will raise the serotonin levels in your brain – making it easier to make healthier choices throughout the day.
I think most of us are doing the best we can, but it is hard to get in those 10 to 12 servings of raw fruits and vegetables every day that we all know we need. You could also carry apples, nuts, bananas and mix it up. If we quite buying the junk, Corporate America will be forced to quite offering it. So we can take back our power! You can find 8 different delicious varieties of raw, unprocessed chocolate at http://www.cocoa101.com.
Thanks for the chocolate link. My friend Juliana, a colon hyrdro-therapist sells this chocolate, and it does seem like a good product as it is cold-pressed and unprocessed. I still think we need to eat fruits and vegetables though – especially the vegetables. Most people don’t need convincing to eat fruit, and I’ve never heard of anyone overdosing on vegetables. The chocolate is a good idea, but I don’t think it should replace vegetable intake. Rather, you should strive to get in your 7-9 servings daily (even if you fall short, which most people do) and then consider the chocolate a treat that you eat several times per week or something like that (it is a pretty expensive product and it still does contain sugar).
It’s true that the only reason big corporations are successful in selling unhealthy food to consumers is due to lack of education and awareness, and slick marketing and 24/7 advertising of products that are in people’s faces all the time. You have to be a strong person, use the brain God gave you, and discern between what’s healthy and what’s not – and that’s tricky to do with all the conflicting information out there. The bottom line should always be – listen to your body, be aware of the things you eat and how they affect how you feel and your health, and eat traditional, whole foods. If it is processed to any extent, you have no business eating it.
Raine, in the hospital where I work, there is a Dunkin Donuts, and Burger King in the lobby. They sell Theater popcorn in the lobby also and they sell a ton of it. I read the bottle of “butter” they were using to pop the corn and the ingredients were Partially Hydrogenated Oil. That’s it! and it was colored yellow. This month at the hospital, we are having a Krispy Kreme promotion. There’s going to be Krispy Kreme doughnuts everywhere! I’m really pissed about that because I have a weakness for them.
Dana – wow, that is so sad. But it’s unfortunately the rule in so many places where a “health” business keeps its premises, that the worst quality “foods” and other products are allowed to be sold and even promoted, which is even more shameful. It is this type of mentality and belief structure that we simply must break through and alter. People deserve to know that these foods are not only unhealthy but unacceptable for consumption. It goes beyond “oh it’s okay to consume it in moderation”. Oh really? Would you consume arsenic in moderation if someone offered it to you? Because there’s not a penny’s difference between eating arsenic “in moderation” and consuming a processed food in moderation. Even if the processed food doesn’t contain arsenic, it probably contains something as bad or worse. But people use that phrase so much, they really talk themselves into believing it. It’s like I always say, if you tell a lie enough times, one day you’ll start to believe it.