Monday, April 26, 2010

Do Something!

Wednesday night, after a very long day, I sat down with my true love to watch Food Inc.  I have skimmed the book and knew the jist of the film, but I really wanted to see the entire thing, so I sat still for the two hours it took to watch the documentary. I have to say, I was shocked. The very fact that our food system is still so out of whack despite the efforts of people to show the public what our food supply has become is amazing to me. Its really very scary. This has been going on for years and yet it still going on. When I find myself talking with someone about the quality of today’s food, I usually get blank stares. I guess as they look at me, they are thinking I am already a wack-o anyway. I homeschool, I garden, I can foods, I try to live as green as possible, I love Jesus…you know; I’m an extremist :P But I digress…my point is that food is very important to me. Its required for life and if we are filling our bodies with trash, one would assume(or at least I do) that our quality of life will deteriorate. 

The prevalence of cancer is on the rise...the body is reacting at a cellular level to all the toxic foods that enter it. Our bodies can only beat off so many bad things and then it becomes exhausted. If we don’t get back to basics and feed our families unprocessed, well-balanced foods most of the time, I am willing to guess that cancer will become a 1 in 3 person occurrence in the next 20 years.

This ain't your mama's junk food
When I was a kid, we ate junk, but our "junk" and today's "junk" are two different things. Having my one soda a day(my mother was liberal, wasn't she?) was a soda made with real sugar. Not corn syrup, not high fructose corn syrup, not aspertame or GMO beet sugar. It was plain sugar; something my body recognized and could deal with. Bread's while starting to become the pasty white that they are today, still had some wheat in them. Vegetables were fresh and they were not genetically altered. TV Dinners, while new to the scene, were not a daily affair. My mom stayed home and cooked dinner. Now, from birth, kids are exposed to chemicals. From formula, to fast food, to gummy bears and sugar-laden cereals. All of it is processed and 90% has GMO products in it. Our detoxification systems are in high gear from the get-go.

What's wrong with this picture?
As I watched the movie, my insides were screaming. Why is it that people don’t find these things out for themselves? Why isn’t this being aired on ABC or NBC? Is it too inconvenient to avoid the easy processed meal? Why do people continue to buy foods like this? I realize our government is not helping by subsidizing the very thing that is in all of those processed foods; corn. If the powers that be were to subsidize potatoes and cabbage and broccoli and carrots. If they were to assist the farmer in growing things that are good eaten raw and whole and not turned into other powders and syrups and byproducts, people could afford it and would eat it. As it stands now, a head of broccoli and a bag of potatoes, costs more than 4 value burgers at a drive thru.

I have discovered that as we changed the way we ate to a more wholesome, less processed lifestyle, when we did eat out, we would get sick. It’s a sad state of affairs because I do love pizza and Chinese food and burgers just like the next guy. We have learned in all of this that there are places you can eat and things you can choose that are better than others. There are stores you can walk into that won’t require you to read labels and as you make changes; like getting all your produce organic or only purchasing meat from the local beef farm, it becomes a new “normal.”  You have to plan your meals, often relying on evenings for planning the following nights dinner, but it can be done, even when you work.

As I watched the film and saw the families trying to figure out what they could get that was healthy, I was saddened. If a person does want to make an effort, it is NOT easy. ABut diabetes, and cancer and the myriad of health problems that come with eating poorly is not easy either. There are so many people that either don't know, don't care or feel helpless, drowning in a system that doesn't promote health and well-being. I was recently told of a woman that walked into the gas station convenience store to get some candy for her kid for school. Apparently she needed enough for all the classmates. She wanted packages but the convenience store didn’t have them. They only had single bars. The attendant told her that Food Lion(a local grocery store), which was right down the road, had them and they were cheaper, the lady said she didn’t have time and purchased single candy bars with her WIC card to the tune of $58. How is it that food stamps can buy candy now? Is that what social services had in mind when they gave her a stipend to feed her family healthy? I doubt it, and yet that purchase was accepted by the card.

As I watched the cattle, knee deep in feces, gorging on corn(which raises the risk of e-coli in their gut), I was nauseated. Images of forklifts forcing a deathly ill cow to her feet so they can say she was standing when they slaughtered her. That very meat is then stamped by the FDA and ground up and fed to us. I watched the story of a mom, who lost her 4 year old son to e-coli. The meat had been discovered to be contaminated with e-coli, but was not recalled for another 16 days. During that period, the child died.

After the film, I looked at my husband and we were both speechless. The few companies that own our food sources have taken a simple product called corn, genetically modified it to make it herbicide-resistant and then processed it into so many products that it makes one’s head spin. I was raised in Illinois. I watched the fields of corn rise up from the earth each summer. What once gave me a warm fuzzy feeling as it grew knee-high by the fourth of July, now causes me to feel a deep sadness. We have taken something and altered it to such a state that it causes illness and death to life as we know it.

Do Something.
We can make changes in our food supply. Our dollars speak loudly to these companies. Our voice needs to be heard at the federal level. If you want to save the few small farms left so that you can buy local foods, you need to fight for them, partner with them, help them by purchasing their products. If you don’t like that HFCS is in your kids cereals, don’t buy it. Boycotting products speaks volumes. HFCS is become much less popular because people stopped and said “NO.” Make a difference at home. Grow a garden, teach your child how to plant seeds. If you have too much, share with a neighbor. Shop at the farmers market, from LOCAL GROWERS. Join a CSA. If none of this looks like familiar to you, read. Learn about the issues. Make a difference!
Here are some books that I highly recommend:
What will you do?

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