"The Evening Meal" by Carl Larsson
Much of my reading lately has been about food, as you probably noticed! I posted earlier about our interest in urban homesteading and gardening. I found out there was a lot more vital information on eating healthy food that I didn't realize. An American's definition of "healthy" is probably not a true understanding of where our food comes from or how it's grown.
Simply put, I was scared when I read some information about Genetically Modified food and Monsanto, the giant company who is pushing for ownership over most food grown in the world. My optimistic husband thinks things will change. I think each of us has a responsibility to do our own part in choosing the right food options, especially for our loved ones. I will tell you more about Monsanto in a minute. Right now, let me share two foundational books with information you need to make informed decisions about the food you eat:
If you've been following my blog, you know I love this book Real Food by Nina Planck. She presents scientific evidence in the most easiest to read way for the reasons to eat certain foods and avoid others. If you follow food trends, you know the whole controversy on fats in our diets has changed... first avoiding saturated fats, then transfats. She cuts through the information to tell you what is actually true. Basically, she is a proponent of eating unprocessed, real food that is grown organically and tastes the best! I am going to do a give-away of one copy of this book to a lucky commenter because I believe so fully in reading it. If you can't wait, then order your copy here.
The second book that I strongly urge you to read is Michael Pollan's newest book In Defense of Food. This one is more about "nutritionism" in this country and how our view of what creates a healthy diet is always based on one singular ingredient pulled out of a diet from a different culture. Our diet is a whole lifestyle and Pollan suggests looking back at our great-grandparent's time period before processed foods and hydrogenated oils became staples in our diet. It is very eye-opening! We don't need special diets or most of what is sold in our groceries. His book is based on the idea of three things: Eat Food (that is, real food with five or less ingredients, all things you can pronounce and no high fructose corn syrup), Not A lot (our servings are way too large... you get fuller quicker on real food with wonderful taste!), Mostly Plants (Way back in the earlier part of the 20th century it was discovered that too much meat wasn't good for us... but the meat companies had a fit about the government suggesting eating less meat! Now we know!). He and Nina Planck are strongly against GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms) in our food too. Buy Pollan's book here.
So you know I think aspartame is a poison (if not, read this!). But I really didn't know anything about GMO's in our food and what that meant. Until now. I read a little article in MaryJane's Farm, a magazine about organic farming, which told about the troubles that farmers in India were having because of GM seeds which are sold by a subsidiary of Monsanto here in the U.S. Monsanto has developed strains of Round-Up (their weed killer) resistant seeds which they obtained a patent on. They go to the farmers and sell them their seed which they claim is less costly and better producing, and make them sign a contract that they will not replant the seed the following season. They stronghold the farmers into buying it yearly. Supposedly the crops need less chemicals to fight insects, etc. Well, all this info turns out to really be false. The Indian farmers were going into so much debt, they were selling their organs to pay it!!! There were 25,000 suicides by farmers because of this. Organizations are going in now to help these farmers to go back to growing their own crops. This is where it gets really scary:
Genetically Modified seed can be cross-pollinated by the wind and destroys the gene composition of the pure heirloom variety of seeds. Mexico which is the center for corn growing is being contaminated because of corn being traded over the border. Canada and Europe banned GMO's but now Canada has no unaffected soybean crops. Chemical Round-Up is spread on fields in India and is getting into the water and running into other crops. People are getting cancer from the chemicals. Every three years Monsanto sends it's crop police to inspect fields and if it finds their seed crops in the fields of farmers who haven't bought the seed, they either fine them with steep fines or take them to court to protect their patent. Some farmers, right here in the U.S.A., have fields where GMO seeds had been previously planted and pop back up later or transpollination occured, and so they had crops of GMO corn or soybean that they never planted and Monsanto tries to put them out of business!!! Family farms that have been farming for generations!
Why are GMO's bad? First of all, Round-Up which the company tried to claim was "biodegradable" was sued and Monsanto had to take that off the label because the chemicals did not go away. Scientists have shown evidence that it provokes the first stages of cell function that act the same as in the first stages of cancerous cells. The Seed Resistant strains of soybeans or corn are made from a bacterium and the result is "food" which would never be found in nature. This could lead to antibiotic resistance and a host of different health problems. Not only do we eat this but the animals we grow for food, milk and eggs does also. This also brings me to rGBH (the growth hormone in milk). You might be familiar with this. I stopped buying regular milk a long time ago because I knew something was wrong with adding hormones to make the cows have a third milking. Craig's family farm started using the chemical right away when Monsanto introduced it in the early 1990's. We haven't even had a generation get past 18 years of age who grew up with it in their milk to see what the consequences long term are. What I do know is this: girls are starting puberty earlier and that's a fact! Scientists have also shown that rGBH in rats has produced mammary gland growth too early and breast and prostate cancers. You are asking "Why didn't the FDA stop all of this?" Because the FDA never did any scientific testing. They approved it based on Monsanto's assurance that they tested it and it was safe! Canada and Europe have banned rGBH. Dr. James Maryanska who was responsible for some GMO regulations admitted that approvals are based on politics, not science. Monsanto is trying to control the world's food population by taking away our varieties of seeds which have a natural way of putting nutrients into the soil and give us optimum health. We stand to lose 7,000 species of animals due to the narrowing down of agricultural animals for food production and more in seed varieties. To see even more, please view this four part series online called "The World According to Monsanto", a documentary made by a French Canadian filmmaker and one you will never see shown in the U.S. (except through things like YouTube!). It scared my children.
What can you do?
1. Okay, like I said, you can buy food products with organic labels, especially those that say "No GMO's". Here is a website True Food Now that talks more about what GMO's are and if you go to the Shopping Guide, and then to the Shopping List, it gives a long list of companies that are GMO free and those that buy their ingredients from farmers who use Genetically Modified ingredients. You can also look up the company on the web. Though Newman Organics products weren't listed under every category I looked up info on the company and they are truly an organic regulated company that is against using GMO's of any kind.
2. Become more informed. Read info like this site "Say No to GMO's".
3. Grow your own food. You know where it comes from if you grow it! Use heirloom seeds. Google "heirloom seeds" and you'll find a variety of sources. I found out that the museum down the street from me, Landis Valley Museum, sells seeds through their heirloom seed project that they've been doing since the 1980's! You can buy seeds online.
4. Talk to the farmers at the farmers markets and to the people at the grocery about who grows the food and how it's grown.
5. You may be thinking, "It would be very expensive to buy organic food." Well, generally the cost is higher, but there are local co ops and alternatives to the grocery. That being said, if you're not buying Coke and a bunch of empty snack foods which add up greatly on the bill, you have room for the good stuff! Try baking from scratch more. If that doesn't motivate you, then maybe providing better health for your children or yourself will! Read this article linking food additives to the increase we're seeing in children's allergies and change in behavior. Just take it slowly and explain to older children why. They will understand!
6. Tell others about it. The more the public is informed and buys organic, the more we increase the demand for healthy food. Demand will bring money into the marketplace and help the supply increase. Tell your government representatives while you're at it! And maybe the cafeteria people at school! Nathaniel wanted to write to the president. I wonder what our candidates think about the issue... Former Pres. Bush was all for endorsing the "science" of GMO's!!!
7. Throw out your Round-Up!!! There's much safer weed controlling methods out there. Jerry Baker comes to mind. Back in the days before chemicals (by the way, some of the same chemicals that Monsanto uses and tests are the same as what was in Agent Orange!!), our great-grandparents didn't rely on all this junk to control the garden pests. The library is full of gardening books and tips. Here's a magazine that's been around forever which is packed full of information: Countryside Magazine.
I'll be letting you know how our gardening is shaping up in the near future! Right now I'm going to make sure our cupboards have real food in them and no GMO's, and start thinking about composting so I have good soil for my raised bed gardens in the future!
*** Leave a comment and on Monday, July 28th I'll choose a winner for a copy of "Real Food"!
And a BIG Happy Birthday to my sister Jane!!! She turns 40 years young today!!!
I love you Jane!!!