cross-posted at annoyedomnivore.wordpress.com
The FDA recently proposed new rules that would apply to food processors and manufacturers to prevent food terrorism. According to the FDA, “intentional adulteration of the food supply can result in catastrophic public health consequences, widespread public fear, loss of public confidence in the safety of food and the ability of government to ensure food safety.” I realize these rules will focus on bulk storage facilities and food processing manufacturers, where poor security practices have been reported and certainly should be addressed. It is, however, the irony of the phrase “intentional adulteration of the food supply” that rankles, not to mention “the ability of government to ensure food safety.”
The U.S. government, largely controlled by industrial demands, has proved a very weak link indeed between profit and food safety. Current agricultural practices are designed exclusively to promote size, growth rate and pest resistance rather than nutritional and safety qualities. A 2004 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that although American farmers have the ability to grow two to three times as much grain, fruit and vegetables as they could 60 years ago, the crops contain 25% less iron, zinc, protein, calcium, vitamin C, etc. According to this report, “you would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of vitamin A as your grandparents would have gotten from one.”
As noted by Jo Robinson of the New York Times, “USDA plant breeders have spent a decade or more developing a new variety of pear or carrot without once measuring its nutritional content. We can’t increase the health benefits of our produce if we don’t know which nutrients it contains. Ultimately, we need more than an admonition to eat a greater quantity of fruits and vegetables: we need more fruits and vegetables that have the nutrients we require for optimum health.”
In contrast, the EU has long made it a practice to protect the quality and safety of their food supply. According to Heidi Moore of The Guardian, a British newspaper, “the EU looks down on American food safety and production practices…American meat production is heavily reliant on chemicals, from hormones to chlorine-bleach baths, and European officials and consumers largely reject these treatments and standards.” She goes on to say that the “U.S. food supply lacks variety: only a few crops dominate and major companies that determine the extent and quality of the food supply – and they often prefer genetically modified seeds, bred to withstand herbicides not fully tested in their long-term effect on human health.”
The De Dell Seed Company, Canada’s only non-GMO corn seed company, found that “GMO corn contains 437 times less calcium, 56 times less magnesium, and 7 times less manganese. GMO corn also contains 13ppm of glyphosate. The EPA considers anything over 0.7ppm as unsafe.”
The meat industry in the U.S. poses many public health risks, one of which is the heavy reliance on antibiotics. The federal government has done nothing to prevent this over-use except to ask industry to voluntarily restrict themselves. In 2011, the Director General of the World Health Organization warned of “a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and once again, kill unabated.”
Aside from the lack of nutritional benefits and potential harm we have been lately receiving from fresh food, processed foods have been willfully adulterated for increased profit. High fructose corn syrup and a huge variety of chemicals added to processed foods continue to lead to disease, obesity and malnutrition. The additives are deliberately present in order to increase the addictive qualities of this “food.” When consumed, the additives trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, the same hormone that’s released in the brain of a heroin addict. These chemicals are also definitively linked to cancer, diabetes, infertility, autoimmune disorders and heart disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have documented the effects of foodborne illness since 1970. In the past few years, they estimate that 1 in 6 Americans, which is 48 million people, get sick from food, and anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 die each year. And we were horrified over 9/11.
Recipe of the Week
I make red beans and rice once in a while, but mostly avoid it because it has ham hocks and fatty sausage. I’ve had excellent vegetarian red beans and rice, though, and I think this recipe by Guy Fieri, which I’ve modified just a little, is excellent. This will yield at least 8 servings, so it can easily be cut in half. It’s easy, but takes time.
1 lb red beans, soaked over night
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup chopped celery
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 canned chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
several sprinkles of hot sauce
salt to taste and lots of ground pepper
Put all ingredients in a large soup pot and cover with water – about 4 inches over the top. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 1.5 hours. Test to see if the beans are completely cooked and then taste for salt. Season until you’re happy with the result. The end result should be somewhat soupy as they’ll be served over rice. Have more hot sauce on the table for personal taste.