Junior Apple Sarah writes:
“I just saw something on the news for an e. coli antidote and how it will revolutionize not only the food industry but also healthcare. What ever happened to just making sure that the food and facilities are clean? It’s my understanding that e. coli comes from fecal matter. Is it too much to ask to keep poop off my food? Why do we have to put another chemical in something / everything we eat?”
A recent article in the New York Times entitled “The Vegetable-Industrial Complex” deals with this issue at length. Writer Michael Pollan explores how modern food production yields more than bumper crops – it also yields very high potential for significant public health hazards. It’s the law of unintended consequences put to play on the dinner table.
I really recommend that you check out the article. In a nutshell:
- Modern food production has created two problems out of what was once a single solution. Animals fertilized crops, and crops fed animals. Pull them apart, mass produce them in factories and feedlots, and you have two problems:
1) As it collects in feedlots, manure becomes pollution, full of antibiotics, chemicals and e. coli, leading to the second problem:
2) Crops are now at risk for contamination, which invariably means crops get fertilized artificially. Great for the chemical industry, not so great for small farms, public health, economic efficiency, animals, or the earth.
- Calling for local, organic, small-time food production isn’t about being a dread-locked tree-hugger. It’s actually far more logical and economically viable to return to the way we used to do things. Small-scale food production is healthier. It’s easier to trace if something goes wrong, and fewer people are likely to be affected. Small-scale food production benefits small businesses instead of huge single food conglomerates. That means a freer market, more competition, better choice.
Everyone wins: small-scale farming is better for the environment and creates a solution whereas now we have two big problems.
- Small-scale farming also avoids the current obvious threat of terrorism. The article points out that our meat comes from but a few slaughterhouses. All the bagged spinach in the country passes through just four locations. How easy would it be for a terrorist to contaminate our food? That’s what Homeland Security is wondering.
Unfortunately, industrial food production looks to short-term, engineered fixes. When e. coli was found in the beef supply during the whole Jack in the Stomach fiasco of the 90s, producers just blasted the meat. (Pollan writes: Rather than clean up the kill floor and the feedlot diet, some meat processors simply started nuking the meat — sterilizing the manure, in other words, rather than removing it from our food.)
Why bother cleaning up the waste? It’s only our health on the line. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if our government starts requiring that our entire food supply be irradiated.
- Finally, well-meaning though it may be, calling for even more regulation and inspection of our food actually makes things worse. What small-time farmer can afford the safety requirements when he’s only got 10 cows to milk? Lucerne, Darigold, et al, can afford the hassle of regulation. And the lobbyists. And the chemicals.
Short-term solutions = long-term disaster. You’d think we would learn by now to think about those unintended consequences.
The Fuming Fuji is outraged at the marketing of toxic food, especially when it’s aimed at the small fry. This week, the Fuming Fuji has decided to have a serious problem with chocolate milk.
But, Fuming Fuji, you ask, isn’t chocolate milk sometimes the only way to get calcium in a kid?
The Fuming Fuji says no!
The claim: Chocolate milk has all the protein, calcium and vitamins of regular milk, and kids love it!
The catch: Chocolate milk has all the protein, calcium and vitamins of regular milk, plus it’s full of sugar!
The comeback: So it has a little sweetening. At least it’s getting kids to drink their milk, right?
The conclusion: The Fuming Fuji cannot help those who believe in glorified dessert for tiny tots. Chocolate milk is a very mean thing to give your child. Milk is also mean, though admittedly not as delicious. Chocolate milk: all the fat, hormones and antibiotics of regular milk, plus sugar!
The catchphrase: Cow’s milk is for baby cows. Chocolate cow’s milk is for fat baby cows.
Disclaimer: Mark Sisson and the Worker Bees do not necessarily endorse the views of the Fuming Fuji.
Only water today, folks. No soda, soft drinks, spritzers, vino, pop, energy drinks or triple-shot sugarfests. Water really is the best liquid you can give your body – although, having said that, I don’t buy the 8-glasses-a-day line. Drink when you’re thirsty. If you’ve already had your coffee, well, nobody’s perfect. Now, can anyone do all water, all week?
Report back, Apples.
Made you think twice, didn’t it?
Many of us glom on the sunscreen in the hope of warding off the slightest wrinkle or, worse, skin cancer. And many of us diligently gulp down glass after glass of milk, convinced calcium will save our bones from the high rates of osteoporosis Westerners suffer from.
Enter critical reassessment.
For those craving some clickativity related to Mark’s examination of the Vitamin D-sunblock-health issue, the New York Post ran a terrific piece recently on the importance of getting your daily D-licious dose. I tend to beat the osteoporosis horse quite a bit – but hey, it’s important! D is absorbed through the skin. D is necessary for bones. And sunscreen stops this nice little evolutionary convenience from…well, convening.
As Mark points out, why slather on a sunblock that doesn’t prevent the more dangerous UVA rays (thanks, Uncle Sam), does prevent absorption of critical vitamin D that is as equally important to bone health as calcium, and interferes with nature’s built-in “Get your buns indoors!” mechanism? (Or, as the Big Apple puts it, burning to a crisp.)
Let me be the first to say: I am pro-sunlight. I’m not talking about weather patterns, either. I’m talking about exposing yourself to some rays. I spend a fair amount of time outside soaking up the sun’s energy (of course, being careful not to burn). Although evidently most dermatologists believe we would be better off spelunking in caves 24/7 and covering ourselves in head-to-toe black garb whenever we venture out, my own evolutionary perspective leads me to believe we were designed to get sunlight almost every day and that our health suffers if we don’t get enough.
In fact, recent studies show that, as a result of our shunning the sun, many of us suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and a resulting loss of bone density and immune function (to name just a few effects). Some researchers opine that more people die from lack of sun than from too much sun! But, I digress.
I came across an article the other day that piqued my curiosity since it dealt with the combination of running and sunning. It basically showed that marathoners (e.g. formerly yours truly) tend to get skin cancer at higher rates than other people. The more they run, the higher the incidence of skin cancer.
My take on what’s happening is that not only are runners exposed to more sun (which can cause DNA damage in skin cells – ergo, cancer), but they are also bathed in more free-radicals overall from the excessive oxidation of glucose and fats.
We know that sun exposure does deplete the skin of the antioxidant Vitamin C. Stick with me on this: the act of running tends to divert blood flow away from the skin, starving it of additional important antioxidants that could neutralize the free-radical damage in the skin tissues. Add to that the enormous amounts of stressful cortisol marathoners pump out doing this unnaturally high steady-state oxidative work and we not only get the DNA damage, we get the immune-bashing effects of the high-stress activity. The effect: more DNA damage and a reduced ability to recognize that damage and take steps to eliminate those cells and/or repair the damage.
That’s one reason (among many) that I have doused myself with antioxidants inside and out for over 20 years now. That’s also why one of my mantras is: a little running is OK – a lot is bad.
The above article also brings up other points of discussion, such as whether the reliance on inferior sunscreens might be another cause. This is vitally important to discuss and it’s not getting much attention in the mainstream media. It appears that for the past 30 years so-called sunscreens have been good at blocking UVB rays (the ones that burn) but not UVA (the ones primarily responsible for DNA damage and skin cancer). Thank you, FDA. The terrible effect is a generation of gung-ho health fanatics slathering on sunscreen and running 40, 50 or 100 miles a week. The fact that we didn’t burn only lead us to believe we could stay out even longer. Little did we know that the burning of skin might have been a great first warning to get the hell out of the sun! How’s that for nature’s way of saying “Yo! Enough!”? Unfortunately, the sunscreen gave us the false notion we were invulnerable. Oops. Guess big Pharma was wrong again. More on that later….
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