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Sustainable Food News And Why It’s So Important to Our Future

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Sustainable food is a hot item in the news lately – and with good reason. People are taking notice of the damage, pollution, disease that is caused directly from the production and by-products of industrial food.

Photo, courtesy of Francis Thicke for Secretary of Agriculture

The industrial food system, which comprises most of the food produced, bought, sold, and eaten in the United States, is responsible for many problems in the world today – ground water pollution, air pollution, disintegration of soil quality and damage to other natural resources, the existence of drug-resistant bacteria, an increase in employee health risks from exposure to chemicals and antibiotic over-use,  a rise in health care and environmental costs and taxes, and untold health problems in human beings and animals alike.

Hopefully over the last few months, the numerous incidence of food recalls is getting the attention of many about this important topic. If you’ve been eating conventional and industrial food, now’s the time to make a switch and start supporting your local farmers who use sustainable methods, and who indeed produce real food!

Farmer’s markets are available in most communities, so there’s no excuse not to head down and check out what’s available in your local area. Become part of a vibrant, active food community that is fighting to maintain the right for people to be able to buy and eat good quality food produced in a safe and healthy environment. Our future depends on it!

Please take a few moments and read the following important critical items which are currently on the forefront of our sustainable food movement and need your attention:

Support Francis Thicke for Secretary of Agriculture in Iowa!

Francis Thicke understands sustainable agriculture and he is running for Secretary of Agriculture in Iowa state. He has been an organic dairy farmer who keeps his cattle on grass. For nearly 30 years and has served in various capacities of public service including the USDA State Technical Committee, the Scientific Congress on Organic Agriculture Research, the Organic Farming Research Foundation Board of Directors, the Governing Council of the Consortium for Sustainable Agriculture Research, and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Board of Directors. He also holds a Ph.D. in soil sciences.

On the opposite side of the page is Incumbent Secretary Bill Northey, who has a long-standing background as a supporter and proponent of industrial agriculture. Northey has accepted campaign donations from Monsanto, Walmart, Syngenta, and DuPont. His educational background includes an MBA and has been a soybean and corn farmer for many years.

“For the food movement, [this race] is the most important this election,” Michael Pollan told The Atlantic. “If Thicke can pull this off — and he’s in range — it will send an important message nationally that even Iowa, the heart of corn and hog country, is eager for reform, and that the ‘Farm block’ is not as monolithic as people in Congress assume.” Read this in-depth article about this important race in The Atlantic. Then spread the word! Donate to Francis Thicke’s campaign…and if you live in Iowa, by all means, get to those polls on November 2nd!

Save Morningland Dairy!

This small, family owned business has been through a great deal of difficulty recently as they are battling a large recall by the FDA of raw cheese that never actually contained pathogenic bacteria and has not undergone proper testing. Read this article which provides the details of this event, and learn what you can do to help keep Morningland Dairy’s doors from closing. Also, read this important post from Hartke is Online! from Mark McAfee (of Organic Pastures in Fresno, CA) about the farm raids that have been occurring in our country – yes, FARM RAIDS by the FDA, and what you can do to stop them. Want to know more about raw milk? Read The Truth About Raw Milk, Part I and Part II.

Shame on you, Monsanto!

In case you hadn’t heard, Monsanto is now paying farmers to spray pesticide products of its competitors. Monsanto has done some pretty low things in its history, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. However, it doesn’t prevent this act from being any less heinous. It is imperative to put a stop to Monsanto’s actions – please join the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign. Also, please check out the movie, The World According to Monsanto on the Institute for Responsible Technology web site.

Nanotechnology in organic food?

Yep. I wish I didn’t even have to include this, but we simply must keep frankenfoods out of our food supply – and now there is a threat of nanotechnology being included in the growing of organic foods. Nano-particles are now being used in a variety of products. These have not been tested and are NOT labeled. It’s been used in foods and personal care products, and much more. Follow this Action Alert and learn all you can about this emerging presence in our food supply and send a message to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. Then take action to become informed and boycott these products!

Grass-fed meat

Do you know what the difference is between this amazing food and the toxic, meat-like substances you’ve been eating? I love articles like this – Organic Consumers Association has a fantastic description of how superior in many ways eating grass fed meat is to its industrial, and more ubiquitous counterpart – from supporting human and animal health to caring for the environment. Still not convinced? Take The Grassfed Meat Challenge!

Speaking of food recalls…

Here’s a great article in Mother Earth News about why industrial and factory chicken farms are such terrible places to get your eggs – and why you should not support them in any way, shape, or form. Confused about labels in the store or even when you are shopping for eggs and poultry at the farmer’s market? Here is an informative post about how to read poultry and egg labels and what terms like “organic”, “free-range”, and “cage-free” really mean.

Eat wheat?

You probably already know that it’s a very common ingredient in our food supply – so common, in fact, that it’s responsible for contributing to many health issues from obesity, auto-immune disorders, diabetes, and cancer. It’s not just because wheat is in everything we eat (although that is a big problem), it’s also that the gluten content of modern wheat is vastly different than that of its historical counterpart. Gluten is the substance which gives dough its elasticity in cooking and baking of which people are so fond – but it’s a difficult protein to digest. This causes many health problems which originate in the digestive tract. These substances are irritating to our gut and end up being absorbed through the intestinal wall as toxins that enter the bloodstream. Read about a more traditional, real, whole grain wheat that is being produced by sustainable food growers on Civil Eats.

Have you ditched the BPA yet?

Bisphenol A, a commonly used chemical in plastics over the last numerous decades, is being reported as having a detrimental effect on human and environmental health. It’s presence in bottles, packages, cans, and many other products has been blamed for being the cause of cancer, reproductive, nervous system, cardiovascular and many other problems. If not, read about how major producers are getting rid of BPA in their packaging.

Think growing your own food isn’t necessary?

Some people beg to differ. According to Wendell Berry, “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed. Connection is health. And what our society does its best to disguise from us is how ordinary, how commonly attainable, health is. We lose our health – and create profitable diseases and dependencies – by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving. In gardening, for instance, one works with the body to feed the body. The work, if it is knowledgeable, makes for excellent food. And it makes one hungry.”

It may be the case that someday we won’t have a choice, and the condition of our food supply is becoming more dire each and every day. Read this interesting letter from a woman in Wisconsin explaining how the importance of producing our own food in a sustainable way is written about in the Bible.

And, here are 7 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Own Food.  Need more reasons? Read The Benefits of Growing Your Own Food.

Now, more than ever, thinking about sustainable food is one of the most important social, political, and health-related things you can do. If this is all new to you, I urge you to think about what our industrial food is doing to our entire way of life and how it will ultimately impact our future existence. It’s something that affects every man, woman, child, and many animals on this planet. Everyone has to eat food to live – so why is it that now it’s acceptable to eat substances that are toxic and harmful to our health? The answer is in the money and profit it brings to various individuals and companies who control our food supply. Those entities want to make sure we don’t have a choice, and that we don’t have access to clean, real food for our health.

Make sure your future is healthy and that you have a choice about what you eat – make your voice heard through the money you spend by putting it in the right places – in the hands of sustainable farmers who care enough to produce the food you want – not in the hands of big, bloated, corporate interests that don’t care about your health or the environment.

Stop the Use Of GMOs in Our Food Supply

Sustainable Farming  – Is It Practical And Can It Feed Us All?

Is Cheap Food Really Cheap? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Food

The Time To Act Is Now – Oppose  Bill S.510 -The Food Safety And Modernization Act

How Well Do You Know Your Food? Find Out!

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

Can You Afford Not To Eat Healthy?

www.mypicshares.com

Many of the posts I write on this web site are devoted to the subject of eating real food and eating healthy. But I feel like the point of moving from supporting a conventional farming system that pumps out massed produced, nutritionally empty foods to a healthy, more sustainable one simply cannot be pressed enough.

Not everyone can afford to eat organic food all of the time. In fact, when the word organic is mentioned, the factor of expense almost always comes up. People have a perception that they can’t possibly change their lifestyle and buying habits because organic food is too expensive.

On the surface, organic, sustainable, or even truly “natural” food is more expensive than conventional. But consider the “hidden” costs of eating conventional, industrial food. The food grown and raised by conventional means is procured in the cheapest way possible – that is, to minimize operating expenses and maximize profits.

Then there are business people, merchants, and farmers who do things the right way, taking care to produce a quality product and something safe. Business may be slow at times and downright challenging, but these businesses are able to continue their activities because of dedicated and informed consumers who understand the big difference between conventional, mass-produced food and something that has been raised with care and thought for health and the environment.

According to Sustainable Table, consolidation of the food production system has concentrated farming into the hands of a few large food corporations.  The emphasis has moved to production and profit, pushing regard for the environment and human health to the back of the list. Because food is produced as cheaply as possible, quality ingredients and farming and production methods suffer greatly. When food is produced in such a way, it’s not only quality that goes down – so does nutritional content and integrity.

So the emphasis should be on real, organic foods because when you eat healthy, you are avoiding problems down the road – problems that will cost you more money than you realize. The idea should be that prevention up front will save you misery, disease, and cost later on.

Smaller, sustainable farming ventures and efforts don’t make the huge profits that the large corporations bring in. For that reason, they are very concerned with quality and maintaining a good customer base of people who are happy with their products. Sustainable farmers are more mindful of the quality of what they are producing and the environment, so the end result is a product you can feel good about eating and production practices you can have a good conscience about supporting.

Processed foods = no nutrition for the money you spend

One of the most heavily consumed items in developed countries is carbonated soda pop, which has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. Soda pop is the number one source of calories in the United States! When consumed in such amounts, there is no one who can deny this definitely affects anyone’s budget. So why not trade your dollars spent on soda pops, juices, Kool Aid, Crystal Light, Hawaiian Punch, Sunny Delight, or other processed sugary drinks for a wholesome, organic apple, pear, or banana, or a good water-filtration system.

Another example is pre-made, frozen dinners or meals in a can. Just look at the average ingredient label on one of these products and the list is a mile long. Can you pronounce these ingredients and do you know what they are? How about the effect they have on your health? If you buy the raw ingredients and prepare from scratch, both the taste and the health benefits you will receive from eating this meal are ten-fold what you get out of the processed one. It will probably make you feel full longer and provide more food for your money as well. Processed foods seem cheaper, but when you consider the damage to the environment to produce them, what’s in them, and how well they satisfy your hunger, are they really more economical?

The cost of health care

Just stop to consider the large amounts of money we pay in taxes and other fees to support industrial agriculture – massive government subsidies to agribusiness (which drive smaller, sustainable farmers out of business), environmental damage as a result of toxins being dumped into the air, water, and land due to the operation methods of factory farms, the continual increase of health care costs, and untold damage to our health.

Also consider the amount of money put into the healthcare system by the average person or family. In 2008 the average worker payed out over $3K into health coverage for a family of 4.

The $3K paid is just the beginning of money spent; that doesn’t even begin to cover co-pay amounts. As health insurance costs rise, it is becoming necessary to for individuals and employers to select plans with the lowest annual premiums, which can only result in higher co-pay amounts. Then comes prescription drug costs (many of them unnecessary and over-prescribed), and over-the-counter drugs used by millions and millions. Health care costs are one of the leading causes of incurred debt amongst the population. Also, the amount of money going into the system to pay for the health of the average senior citizen, welfare recipient, or wards of the state is impossible to gauge, but you can bet it’s astronomical. Someone’s got to pay for it.

The food we eat from the industrial food system actually increases our dependence upon conventional medicine, drugs, and surgery. Still think conventional (reactive medicine) is cheaper than eating healthy and prevention? Read this post and see if you aren’t convinced!

The cost of factory farming on the environment and health

Most of our meat and dairy products come from conventional farming sources – also known as “factory farms” or CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). The expense and damage of operating these facilities to human health, the environment, and economy are well-documented facts.  Factory farming uses management of what animals eat to promote growth and keep costs down. So the goal is to increase yield while decreasing production costs (Food Matters).

Here’s what you are supporting with your food dollars when you buy conventionally-raised meat and meat products:

  • The use of antibiotics – which increasingly creates resistant-bacteria
  • Hormones – to create a faster growth margin in animals for higher profits
  • Genetically-modified substances in the feed the animals eat
  • Pesticide spraying on crops to feed animals
  • Use of massive amounts of fossil fuels to transport feed, animals, and chemicals to ensure success of operation
  • Environmental contamination of soil, groundwater (and runoff goes into neighboring crops), and air from pathogenic waste that cannot be used for re-fertilization of healthy soil

So what’s going on here is that the health care companies are getting rich, the food industry is getting rich…but what’s to become of the consumer? Are we destined to remain in the stranglehold of these corporations who have absolutely no concern for our health or well-being, or are we going to do something about it?

We must take a stand, get proactive, support local and sustainable farming and food production, and stamp out these bloated, multi-billion dollar corporations who have taken for themselves all the power and profit – and all the while they are stealing our health and well-being.

Put the power, money, well-being, and health back in the hands of the people who can make a huge effect on our habits and future – the consumers! Do something ethical and moral, and healthy for yourself, your family, and the planet. Go organic and sustainable. Read labels. Be aware and educate yourself. Trade your junk food and industrial dollars for something more worthwhile and healthy – good, real, organic, sustainable food. Remember, each time you put food in your mouth, you are casting a vote for organic or not…and the consequences could be more serious than you think!

What you can do:

  • Learn about our food system and what goes into our food – be conscious of what you eat! Get to know the people who produce your food and ask about farming practices. There are many responsible farmers who want to produce clean, sustainable products for their community, and all you have to do is ask!
  • Grow your own vegetables and fruits – plant a garden! It doesn’t have to be large, start small and go from there.
  • Support local farming, CSAs, and your farmer’s market
  • Get involved on a local level to help educate those you know – talk about your experiences with people, start a blog, write a book, or become a chair on your children’s school lunch committee (I did!)

For more information about how the industrial food system affects our health and the environment, see these important films – Food, Inc., Fresh, and Food Matters

Want to protect family farms and our freedom to have access to safe, clean food? Join the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund effort

Read more about the high price of cheap food – TIME article

For some ideas about how to eat healthy on a budget, read:

Food Budgets – Using Creativity and Prioritizing for Healthy Eating

Proof That Real Food Doesn’t Have to Cost A Bundle, Is Nourishing, And Satisfies!

Want to know more about eating healthy to help improve health and lose weight? It’s not all about exercise!

Are You Nutritionally Fit?

Learn about the different kinds of foods; the kind of food you eat really does matter!

How Well Do You Know Your Food? Find Out!