I’m not sure if whatever cheer you seven gain from my recent slump being so short–lived will offset my returning to a theme that some may find tiresome. Be that as it may; it’s a topic that is only going to be increasingly important unless (or until) the collapse comes.
Food safety is a growing concern in this country, despite efforts to marginalize or trivialize some of the issues. While I do think some ideas can be taken so far as to border on absurdity (the locavore thing being one I’ve touched on before), much of the movement seems to represent a healthy shift from unquestioning acceptance of the industrializing of food. While some may deride my fondness for The Complete Patient as being largely a niche interest, from sites like it interested individuals can learn that regulatory troubles in one sector aren’t necessarily limited to that sector. The extremely lopsided responses of foodicrats to raw dairy products versus the salmonella–laden eggs that actually sickened many consumers is telling—and it isn’t an isolated example.
And finally, it isn’t just “foodies” who are putting data and threads together, and not liking the patterns that result. Today’s primary exhibit is an excellent essay from someone decidedly not a foodie: How Can We Have A Healthy Economy If Virtually Everything We Eat And Drink Is Constantly Making Us All Sick? by attorney/researcher Michael Snyder. I urge all seven of you—and anyone else who happens to wander in—to read the article in its entirety; it is a bit long but none of it is fluff. All of it is easily understood by a lay reader. His ultimate point:
It is hard to imagine any prosperous economy that is full of sick and dying people. But if we don’t stop constantly poisoning ourselves by what we eat and by what we drink our national health is going to continue to fall apart.
His first example of a poison that’s pervasive in modern foods speaks directly to my point today. If dairy products were obtained in a manner that isn’t harmful to the animals, and not treated as if they themselves are poison in their natural state, why would they need additives like polysorbate 80, or even something as (relatively) benign as glucose? The evidence seems quite clear to me that initially, some technology (viz., pasteurization) helped solve the problem of contamination of milk. However, it came with a price—that being destroying some of the nutritional value of the milk and subsequent products made from it. Those who understand this, and who sell raw milk or raw milk products—and in some places, even those who simply try to buy it for their own consumption—are increasingly targeted by the regulators.
Agribusiness, with its deep pockets and vested interest in maintaining the status quo of technologically–enhanced milk production, is almost certainly behind this to a large degree. More ominous is the regulatory mindset that insists that every thing on this planet must be standardized and sterilized before it can be deemed safe. Scientific evidence shows that idea to be utter, disastrous folly; yet many regulators’ minds are stuck in that paradigm. And they have the power to hold us in its thrall to some degree, too.
That’s just one example—and Snyder’s article mentions just a few, too. We now understand that processed, hydrogenated fats are problematic for our bodies ... monosodium glutamate appears to be bad for everyone, because it’s an excitotoxin ... so is aspartame, a common artificial sweetener ... how many of these technological “improvements” are slowly draining our vitality? How synergistic are their effects? We are the lab rats providing the evidence, even if we don’t want to be; very few of us have the inclination, much less the resources and time, to run a natural farm, with dairy, meats, and produce all raised on site.
The question I headed this ramble with is not (yet) a sincere one; I don’t think one must necessarily become a luddite to be healthy, or will necessarily suffer ill health if one’s a technophile. I did some wondering about technology nearly two years ago, and some of that conversation still seems relevant (this one does too, albeit more tangentially). We don’t know the effects of technological advances until they’ve been with us for a while. The astonishing pace of change today makes it increasingly difficult to pinpoint contributory factors to health problems. But it seems increasingly clear to me that much modern technology in the food area is more dangerous than it is beneficial.
[An interesting side note occurred to me whilst typing away: that recent bout of stress I experienced may have been almost entirely nutritionally driven: I’d stopped taking my usual anti–inflammatory supplements (fish oil, glucosamine, and vitamin C), mostly due to busyness, and then capped it with a junkfood binge that included ice cream and eggnog (at least neither had HFCS). All the crap food is now gone, I’m back on my supplements and eating somewhat better, and feeling better every day for it.]