It should come as no surprise to those who are faithful to sustainable, traditional ways of eating that many far and wide oppose our beliefs about returning to nutrient-dense and older ways of growing, preparing, and selling food. It is our duty to take a stand against agencies that seek to bring down the potential of great health we have in our communities by speaking out against literature and “research” which makes false claims.
Because of this transfer of false information, there are many people led astray in trying to decide what’s truthful information and what isn’t. The American Dietetic Association is one of the primary organizations relied on by the public for sources of health and nutrition. For decades, the ADA has provided a wealth of information about these topics. Unfortunately, they have been guilty of releasing much incorrect information, much to the detriment of the masses. As with many topics on nutrition, they have taken a stand about organic food, and it is this:
If you visit their web site, you will find a definitive statement claiming that “no scientific evidence shows that these foods are healthier or safer than conventionally grown foods.” They maintain this stance despite the following research conducted by their Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group which reveal that plants grown in organic systems contain higher levels of nutrients and an organic diet avoids the serious health risks associated with pesticide exposure.
Unfortunately when agencies like the ADA who are followed so closely by individuals, health centers and organizations, physicians, and other entities recommend information to the public of this nature, many don’t realize the harmful effects their guidelines have on general health. By failing to support this important information, the ADA is undermining one of the best ways we as a civilization have of combating degenerative illness and disease, as well as degradation to our environment and economy. According to the Journal of Applied Nutrition, across the board, organic foods are superior in nutritional content and contain less toxic materials than conventionally grown foods.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The ADA also refuses to acknowledge the dangers of chemical ingredients and the genetic engineering of foods grown and sold on the market. It is interesting to note that this organization is a non-profit with a healthy donor list comprised of many influential and powerful corporations and individuals including, but not limited to, the following (with donation amounts listed for 2008):
- Pepsi Co ($25,000 to $49,000)
- Cargill ($10,000 to $24,000)
- General Mills ($100,000 in 2008)
- McCormick & Company ($5,000 to $9,999)
- ConAgra ($5,000 to $9,999)
- The National Cattleman’s Beef Association ($10,000 to $24,000)
- National Dairy Council ($10,000 to $24,000)
- Unilever Best Foods ($1,000 to $1,999)
Each of these corporations are well-known and documented to produce industrial food in the form of meat or dairy products, grains, and many packaged, processed foods containing toxins and chemicals found to cause health problems when consumed by human beings. One great source of information for this is the movie Food, Inc. Also, visit the Organic Consumer’s Association for reliable information about the effects of Monsanto’s product, Roundup. Sustainable Table has reliable data and sources detailing the dangers of pesticides and other harmful chemicals that are used in every aspect of our food system from meat to dairy to grains to soy to produce.
According to the American Dietetics Association web site, the ADA’s purpose is the following:
“The American Dietetic Association Foundation (ADAF) is the world’s largest charitable organization devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. ADAF is the philanthropic arm of the American Dietetic Association and a 501(c)3 charity”.
How could a charitable organization be so closely tied with big powerful corporations? Seems that there is a conflict of interest here. So if you were wondering whether the American Dietetic Association provides factual, scientific information about health, food, and nutrition, it bears mentioning that their philosophies and recommendations about what to eat are right in line with what industrial food companies sell to consumers. All you have to do is follow the money – some of the most profitable and powerful food corporations in the world, as it turns out, are some of the ADA’s biggest sponsors.
“Smells like money to me!” – Food, Inc.
School lunch woes
One prominent place you can see the influence of the ADA at work is in managing school lunch menus for children. I’ve personally had conversations with the registered dietitians who run the school lunch program in my city, Boise, Idaho and gotten pretty much nowhere. I started an effort and was joined by a small group of parents and other concerned citizens last summer. We brought the film ‘Two Angry Moms‘ to our city in October of 2008. The dieticians watched it, and were almost completely unaffected by its important message.
Our goal was to make much needed changes to our menus by doing research, providing reliable evidence of the negative effect the food served by the school system has on children’s health, and have a discussion after the film about what we could do together to change things for the better. The head dietician got up to speak after the film and said, “it’s nice to know we’re one of the good guys!” To which the majority of the audience was utterly appalled and in disbelief.
It’s been over a year and nothing has happened (yet). The persistent idea held by these dietitians that children need low-fat foods and that processed foods are just fine and healthy to consume is not only annoying, but it is permanently damaging to our children’s health. This is one reason among many that I am thankful we are homeschooling this year.
ADA guidelines and recommendations for health
From my own experience, I have observed that the general teachings of registered dietitians (like many conventional doctors and nurses) include following a low-fat diet with “lean meats” that are “skinless and boneless”, little “red meat”, and “whole grains” (which include many processed foods such as store-bought breads, crackers, pasta, cereals, bagels, and tortillas). We are also told to avoid healthy fats like butter and lard, cut sodium from our diets, and are encouraged to consume polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils (which seems contradictory given the fact that most of the processed foods they tell us to eat are high in salt!).
Registered dietitians remind us frequently to count calories, watch fat, and maintain portion control. So, eat less and cut out the things that give us staying power and keep us from getting hungry sooner – fat and protein. No wonder people are always hungry and can’t maintain their normal weight!
They do recommend eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but do not stand behind the idea that organic is superior for health.
Because their beliefs include eating a lot of processed, industrial foods, it seems unbelievable that anyone would actually follow these teachings. But the reality is, it’s these very ideas which have brought our nation and many other developed nations into the heart disease, Diabetes, obesity, and other degenerative diseases epidemic we now find ourselves in.
Anyone reading this who understands the importance of real food and traditional foods in the role of health knows that dietary fat is critical in maintaining health – but not just any fat…we need real butter, lard, and tallow from healthy animals raised naturally. We need grass-fed meats and poultry, and pasture-raised eggs. We need sustainable, organically grown fruits and vegetables. We also need naturally-fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented vegetables.
In short, we need REAL FOOD. Can we achieve this? Of course we can! It just takes some education and determination. We need the real foods from nature as intended by our Creator to make us healthy. People have been eating this way for millennia. It’s only been in the last 100 plus years that we’ve seen a sharp decline in our good eating habits, and consequently, chronic degenerative disease.
So I ask this simple question:
How could modern-day science possibly succeed at altering and improving on something from nature (i.e., real, whole foods) that have worked to nourish our bodies for so many thousands of years?
This post is part of Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival.