Monthly Archives: August 2010

Activism Green Living Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

Food Recalls – Why They Could Mean The End Of Real Food As We Know It

For a long time I believed that with every food recall story in the media, we’d see more and more people start taking notice of what’s going on in the food system – that food produced in factory environments is harming our health because everything is completely backward and geared toward the reign of big food and corporate agriculture – and that sustainable agriculture would start to become the order of the day.

Food recalls are not doing the job they should – they are not waking people up fast enough. The more we continue to support big agriculture’s products by ignoring these problems, the more control will be given to entities (the government) and corporations (Big Pharma and Big Agriculture – companies like Tyson, Smithfield, Swift, and Cargill who control over 80 percent of the food sold in our country) to dictate the future of food growth, production, sales, and health (or lack thereof).

The reality is, nothing will change until major modifications occur in the way we produce food.  Stepping up regulations and laws will not change the recall situation or food-borne illnesses problem.

Every time food recalls happen, irrational and uneducated parties and spokespeople start rousing the masses to stop buying certain foods – tomatoes (2008), beef (2008), pork (2008), eggs (2010), and a breaking report today from Walmart – 380,000 pounds of deli meat (2010).

Recalls are becoming more numerous and people aren’t understanding the reason why – they believe it’s due to lax standards on “food safety” measures and laws. This is only a very small component of what is going on. The real culprit is not eggs or meat or anything else in and of itself – the cause is the farming methods and manufacturing processes used in the growth and production of these foods.

Where is the recall food coming from?

In every instance of these recalls, where has the food come from? That’s right, say it with me: BIG AGRICULTURE  corporations who are “supposed” to have their act together. How often do you hear about a small-time, sustainable farmer using traditional farming practices getting in trouble and having to “recall” their products? It does happen rarely, but realize that most of the time it does, those farmers are not using truly sustainable practices.

Beef recall

Today we read that Walmart is recalling 380,000 pounds of deli meats from its shelves.  Where does this meat come from? Factory farms. Case in point – remember the world’s largest beef recall to date…143 million pounds…in February of 2008 where downer cattle were being discovered on feedlots? These cattle would have, under normal circumstances, been taken away from the facility and destroyed. But they were being processed like every other animal on the facility (I say facility, because factory farms, like where these animals live, are not fit to be termed as “farms”) and processed through as meat for consumption.

Okay, I shouldn’t even have to elaborate about why this scenario is so horrific on so many levels…but humor me. I’m going to anyway to inform and educate those who don’t know or realize what’s going on here.

For starters, those cattle should not be living the way they do – even the ones that were not categorized as “downer” cattle. Those that made it through and were passed by USDA inspectors and deemed “acceptable” or “healthy” for consumption weren’t fit for consumption either. The reason why is that ANY animal born and raised on a feedlot – which is where the MAJORITY of our meat comes from – has experienced an existence that is so far removed from what it should be living, the details of it are staggeringly awful:

Feed Cattle are ruminants and should not be eating corn, soy, grains, and many other substances they are fed – they should be eating grass as that is what their digestive tracts are designed to process. When they eat these substances, their bodies grow faster and bigger, but they become unhealthy (think pathogenic bacteria like E. coli), and then farmers administrate antibiotics to control disease and illness. What results is super-resistant bacteria, and the death of all good bacteria. This is transferred over to humans when we consume the meat and helps us to become resistant too.

Hormones Most conventional cattle are given genetically-engineered growth hormones to speed up their growth process and get them ready for slaughter sooner. Some companies are beginning to ban growth hormones, but we are still a long ways away from this becoming common practice. Growth hormones in meat have been linked to the following health problems: disruption of  human hormone balance which affects development and growth, interference with reproduction, and development of various cancers such as prostate, breast, or colon cancer.

Antibiotics Conventional cattle receive regular doses of antibiotics to combat illnesses originating as a result of unsanitary conditions and the fact that they consume grain, which causes pathogenic bacteria like E. coli to develop in the digestive tracts of the animals. As stated above, antibiotics lead to resistant pathogenic strain bacteria in animals and humans, and the environment.

Pesticides and GMOs Cattle eat feed that has been treated with herbicide and pesticides all through its growing cycle, not to mention the DNA of these plants used for feed has often undergone alteration in a laboratory to change its basic gene structure so it can be resistant to the chemicals used on it to ward off pests.

Pesticides have been shown repeatedly to be toxic to the human body – it can kill all types of living organisms by attacking the nervous system – so how could it be harmless or cause negligable harm to humans and the environment? The Daily Green presented a report illustrating the harmful effects pesticides have on the health of young children. Because their bodies are smaller and still developing, they are more vulnerable, their metabolisms process these chemicals faster, and they have a greater overall negative impact. The damage? Disruption to hormonal, brain, and nervous system health, just to name a few.

The consumption of GMOs has been linked to widespread allergic reactions and problems in individuals – from soy, corn, and grains. It has also been shown to cause liver, reproductive, endocrine, and other health issues, as well as infant mortality rate (in laboratory rats). For more information about the dangers of GMOs, visit The Seeds of Deception.

Egg recall

One of the worst aspects of this egg recall (eggs originating from Wright County Egg farm in Iowa – one of the country’s largest producers – here’s the whole story) is that the issue is the salmonella – so, there’s salmonella in chicken meat from facilities that produce chickens…which provide the majority of supermarkets and restaurants with chicken meat. So why is it that the FDA apparently has no problem with that? If we were to look into just what causes salmonella in chickens, the abominable conditions of the facilities where these chickens live would become public knowledge. And then not many people would agree to buy these products. Well, it’s easy to see what the motivation is here.

If you’ve ever watched any food documentaries or read any books on food politics, you’ll notice that big food corporations and farms repeatedly decline to be interviewed or allow reporters or cameras inside their facilities. Most small-scale, sustainable farmers and food producers WELCOME the opportunity for people to come and tour their farm or facility during business operating hours and in some cases, after hours. Why, you may ask…why the wall of secrecy?

Radiation to the rescue

Now there is a threat of the FDA conducting a mass “sterilization”, or pasteurization of all eggs on the market to “eliminate” the problem. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at what’s already being done to spinach and tomatoes, lettuce, and other foods. The reasoning is that this process will kill E. coli and salmonella and make these foods safe once again for consumption.

As usual, the FDA and other authorities have employed short-sighted methods and are completely ignoring the cause of the pathogenic bacteria that is making consumers sick – the abhorrent conditions in facilities where food is raised and grown. But since these corporations often refuse to allow reporters and cameras in their facilities, they are allowed to continue producing food in ghastly conditions. This is exactly their goal.

How can you possibly get salmonella or E. coli from vegetables? Good question – the answer lies in runoff contamination which pollutes our soil and water from factory farms that raise animals for meat, or in food preparation environments – factories, kitchens, etc. where these foods are allowed to cross-contaminate on cooking and  cutting surfaces, and on machinery.

From Web M.D., “We’re very pleased to see one more tool that we can use to have what’s a nutritious, good product become even safer,” said Robert Brackett, senior vice president and chief science and regulatory affairs officer for the FDA. Sources like Web M.D.  impress that “irradiating spinach and iceberg lettuce is safe and won’t affect overall dietary nutrition, according to the FDA, which notes that although irradiating spinach curbs vitamin A and folate levels, that doesn’t hurt total dietary intake of those nutrients. Irradiation doesn’t make food radioactive, according to background information from the CDC”.

Other medical sources report that irradiation is, in fact, harmful to health. According to Medical News Today, “Food irradiation can result in loss of nutrients, for example vitamin E levels can be reduced by 25% after irradiation and vitamin C by 5-10%. This is compounded by the longer storage times of irradiated foods, and by loss of nutrients during cooking, which can result in the food finally eaten by the consumer to contain little more than ‘empty calories’. This is potentially damaging to the long and short-term health of consumers, particularly for sections of society already failing to obtain adequate nutrition.”

Irradiation of foods does not eliminate dangerous toxins which have already been created by bacteria prior to irradiation. “In some cases, such as C. botulinum, it is the toxin produced by the bacteria, rather than the bacteria itself, which poses the health hazard.”

When foods are irradiated, the chemical composition of the food has been noted to change and can cause mutations in bacteria which, like antibiotics, can lead to the development super-resistant strain bacteria.

What else? You should be prepared to pay a bit more for irradiated food, according to Brackett. About 3 to 5 cents more per pound. So not only is the food you are eating exposed to radiation and can harm your health, but you are expected to pay for it on top of all that? This is what I like to call insanity.

According to Natural News, “The FDA, you see, will seize upon each contamination event as a leverage point from which to ratchet up its food sterilization agenda, and the agency won’t stop until every scrap of fresh food sold at grocery stores is either pasteurized, fumigated or irradiated”.

How can food recalls work to fix the problem?

The answer is simple, but not easy. I’ll use the analogy of wielding the power of nutrition and nature to heal our bodies and health – if we changed our farming practices and methods back to the ways used by traditional farmers through the ages, we would heal the land, the creatures, and our bodies of many of the modern illnesses, problems, and scourges that plague our modern feedlots and factory farm environments. And I won’t pretend things would be perfect; there is no such thing as perfect health. But we would observe a vast improvement in the way things are.

We can use science and technology to our benefit – by taking advantage of modern inventions and discoveries like electricity, cold storage, sanitation, proper storage containment and facilities, and combine it with the best nature has to offer: real food that has not been damaged, processed, heat treated, denatured, deodorized, treated with chemicals, and extruded or otherwise altered by mechanization devices and processes. Just as big pharma has overtaken medical practice in treating symptoms, not causes, with drugs, procedures, and surgery, modern agricultural approaches seek to stop symptoms, not eliminate the issues that cause the problem in the first place.

Modern agriculture needs to heal itself by returning to tried-and-true methods used for thousands of years – and eliminate all these modern problems that exist due to the mechanization, standardization, deodorization, heat-treating, processing of foods which contain enzymes, nutrients, co-factors, amino acids, fats, proteins, probiotics (friendly bacteria), and prebiotics which aid in the digestion, assimilation, and nourishment of food in the body.

Buy from your local farmers, buy sustainable, know what you are eating and how it is produced:

  • eggs from pasture-raised hens
  • organ meats
  • healthy fats like butter, extra virgin olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, tallow, and lard
  • sustainable or organically-grown produce – fruits, vegetables, legumes
  • whole and sprouted/soaked/fermented sustainable grains

If we can learn one important thing from food recalls, it’s that our [humans] way of packaging, processing, and making things readily available and more convenient anytime we want or need will never supercede nature’s innate ability to know how and what we need to maintain health.

So let’s put the focus where it needs to be – alter the face of industrial food processes, and recognize and embrace the important  health benefits of producing real food as nature intended.  We don’t need to step-up food regulation and safety laws, we need to acknowledge that food recalls happen due to these processes and mechanisms we’ve put into place – those systems we have come to believe are useful and even infallible, and which have ushered in the growth and development of harmful bacteria and harms to human health and the environment, on a scale which humanity has never before seen in history.

Want to know more?

Huge FDA recall of 10,000 products – another wakeup call to avoid processed foods!

Is cheap food really cheap?

The hidden costs of industrial food

Is hunger really a matter of willpower?

11 healthy and nutrient-dense foods at a glance

Nina Planck talks candidly about industrial food

Want to do more?

The time to act is now – oppose Bill S.510 – The Food Safety Modernization Act

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

Are Emotional Stress and Money Problems Taking A Toll On Your Health?

Are you feeling emotionally-drained from tasks and obligations in your life? Has the economic downturn got you in a tailspin? If so, you are not alone. Millions and millions of people are experiencing the strain of too-heavy workloads and task-lists, and of the poor financial state of the nation and the entire world.

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association shows that at least 73 percent of its respondents were most affected by money and the economy. Americans are reporting sleeplessness, anger, and fatigue are on the rise. The problem is so acute that economic stressors are surpassing those of daily work tasks and personal relationships.

Many deal with it by overeating and consuming junk food, and the effects of poor diet and nutrition display themselves mentally as well as physically in the body and behaviors too.

On this site we talk a great deal about real food, but mental and emotional states of health are important too. Incidentally, your mental state of health is a direct reflection of what you eat too. Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure says, “junk moods come from  junk foods!”

Stress is a chronic condition, experienced in particularly high levels by people living in developed countries, and is ranked among diseases and disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and cancer. Feeling out of control and believing there is no way to offset stress are among the most commonly communicated sentiments about emotional frames of mind. And eating unhealthy foods only exacerbates these emotional downturns.

Especially in the United States and other developed countries, people have learned to associate fat, calories, and food cravings with guilt and deprivation. They believe that if they just starve themselves or curb their calories, or control their portions more, they will lose weight and be healthy. But where has this mentality taken us?  The avoidance mechanism we have been condition to use triggers a craving in our bodies which only becomes stronger until the person feels there is no other alternative but to indulge in “forbidden” foods. Lingering guilt and remorse after partaking in the food that is supposed to be avoided only leads to more binging (and in some cases, purging).

Chronic stress creates its own spiral of events in the body. When we are stressed and do not provide our bodies with proper support, health problems begin to occur. Chronic stress weakens the adrenal glands, immune system, can cause weight gain, and eventually leads to disease and illness.

A body short on the necessary fats for health and life will eventually suffer health issues, and more stress. Some people avoid junk foods until the very last, unwavering moment…and then overload themselves with a treat for being “good”. Eating junk food like this, while depriving your body of real foods and healthy fats creates a vicious cycle that is never ending. It causes the body to store up fat when food is being withheld, and then it stores the substances in junk foods eaten because the body doesn’t recognize it. This causes weight gain, cellulite accumulation, and health problems…which lead to emotional problems too.

Stress also puts tremendous strain on the heart. A person who is harried and stressed out is less likely to stop and take time to relax, meditate, eat a nutritious meal, or obtain adequate nutrition and rest. These lapses result in further disturbances in sleep, eating habits, personal relationships, and other major lifestyle factors and habits.

Many people turn to taking prescription drugs. Drugs are expensive and generally only cover the problem up rather than getting at the actual cause of what might be making your depression acute. During times of stress, it is important to remember not to allow your most important asset go by the wayside – your health. If you don’t have your health, everything else will suffer.

Here are some ideas for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression naturally and remedying the causes at the root:

  • Don’t load yourself up with more work/tasks/obligations than you can manage. If you are doing this, eventually something will have to give and it will be personal relationships and your health.
  • Make sure to eat a healthy diet – no matter what. Don’t eat pre-packaged, processed, unnatural foods. Instead, allow extra time to make food from scratch. Eat plenty of healthy fats/proteins in your diet – pasture-raised meats, dairy, eggs, and butter, coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, and tallow, lard.
  • Buy local and organic whenever possible.
  • Make larger amounts so you will have additional meals from your effort. Freeze your food and reheat later in the oven or on the stove.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour each night – around 10 p.m. Engage in relaxing activities before bed so you will be naturally tired enough to fall asleep within a few minutes. Avoid drinking alcohol and eating refined sugar or carbohydrates before retiring. These substances are unhealthy and upset the natural winding-down rhythm of your body.
  • Get regular movement or activity that brings stress relief and enjoyment 3 -4 times weekly
  • Find a good relaxation technique or activity you enjoy – massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, pilates, or martial arts are good choices.
  • Be certain to budget money for important preventative health care items – whatever those may be for you, whether it is good, healthy, organic foods, supplements, or preventative health maintenance or care from a knowledgeable health care practitioner. Skimping on your health now will lead to problems later – often those that are more difficult to manage and are more expensive.
  • Remove toxins from your environment as much as possible – look through your house and locate items that could be causing problems and increasing your toxic load, anything from plastic to chemical cleaners to devices that may emit radiation. Plastic can often be replaced with metal, wood, or glass (in many instances). Consider replacing old bedding, towels, or clothing that may be chemically-treated (most conventional fabrics, mattress coverings, and upholstery is). But only do so if you are financially capable of taking on the cost, if any.
  • If you are experiencing a prolonged or chronic illness and are experiencing depression or stress from it, consider the impact your diet and other lifestyle choices may have on your mental state and stress levels. You may be on medication for a health issue, but might be experiencing mood swings or other issues as a direct result of medications or something missing from your diet.
  • Maintain perspective. Whatever your situation, things could be worse and focus on being thankful for the things you do have. A positive outlook will help combat problems and issues going on in your life, and help to minimize the effects of stress.

Suggested reading: The Mood Cure by Julia Ross

Want more information?

Do Eating Habits or Execise Dictate Weight?

Why I don’t go to the gym

Eating disorders – a product of modern society

Are you nutritionally fit?