Things you should know

I know many of you guys probably get a little tired of my lecturing. I mean, I’ve told you how I feel about marriage, kids, etc. And I’m sure you’ve all figured out which way I lean… But I feel like there are important things for people on both ends of the political spectrum to know and care about.

Food is one of those issues. While people like Sarah Palin are making a big deal about the First Lady not telling her what to eat, Palin has proven by her hunting specials on TLC that she has access to fresh meat that hasn’t undergone any hormone therapy or been put through the gruesome assembly line of factory farms.

I think both Democrats and Republicans can agree that institutions like factory farming, anti-seed cleaning, and the subsidization of corn and soy is bad for us and for the planet. Congress needs to stop pocketing the money of big farms and man up to doing what they know is right (or maybe they don’t anymore).

Documentaries like Super Size Me and Food, Inc. have proven that the way food gets from farm to table is a lot more complicated than any grocery store or food company wants you to know. This isn’t propaganda on my part. It’s true.

Look at the ingredients on the food item nearest to you. It’s not ok that you don’t know what’s in it. You wouldn’t pick up an unknown object off the ground and try to eat it, so why do you let yourself eat similar mysteries packed in pretty wrappers? That’s all most packaged food is–corn and wrappers.

Anyway, I’m going to take this one step at a time, maybe spread the concept out over a few blog posts so that you guys can get an idea of why I think this is an important thing.

Have you ever heard of Monsanto? It’s the company that produces Round-Up. “Good,” you think. “I’ve been meaning to get that crab grass out of my yard.” Monsanto does more than kill weeds; it’s an agricultural biotechnology company.

Monsanto doesn’t have the best environmental or employee records.

Monsanto was identified by the EPA as a possible cause of extreme contamination across the United States. They have been sued by employees for illnesses caused by working on site. It’s herbicide Round Up is linked to genetic deformations in frogs and chickens (hopefully not the ones you’re eating, right?). Their attitude?

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is FDA’s job.” source

Monsanto also is the largest producer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They modify seeds to make them resistant to… herbicides like Round Up. See the cycle here? Last time I checked, conservatives think technology like cloning is “playing God” but genetically modifying plants to do things they normally don’t, isn’t? And liberals think we need a plate icon to help us decide to eat a balanced meal (why is dairy even there?). People on both sides of the aisle should be chomping at the bit on this one.

Monsanto is also the creator of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) a hormone found naturally in cows that regulates their metabolisms. Naturally, cows only lactate for a certain period of time. When additional (non-natural amounts of) rBGH is introduced into their systems, they lactate a lot longer, increasing milk production. This must be great for dairy farmers, right? They can get more out of their cows.

Statistics show that milk output does increase by a pretty good percent. However the hormone also decreases fertility and increase the chance that the cows will go lame. That is, not be able to move. Fair trade? I think not.

What are the effects on humans, you ask?

Well, the FDA says that animal products in which rBGH were used are safe for human consumption, but so are maggots in your mushrooms. Products that do not contain rBGH are often proud of that fact and advertise it. Yet the FDA believes that people will think that labeling non-rBGH dairy products will lead people to believe that those with rBGH are not safe or good for you.

Just because something is safe doesn’t mean I’d want to eat it (see the maggots above).

And who knows the long-term effects of these hormones in our milk (and meat and veggies and…)? RBGH was created in 1994. How much research has been done on the effect it will have on people who’ve been consuming it all their lives? Not much. In fact, I’m going to venture none.

It’s each person’s choice what to put in their mouths. I think it’s important to know what goes into the food that you’re putting in your mouth. I know a lot of people don’t care. And that’s fine, I suppose. Those people won’t have gotten this far in the article. They probably stopped a few sentences in and went out to get some SmackDonald’s or Burger Schmurger. But for those of you who do care, the information isn’t easy to find. So I hope this little glimpse has helped you in some form or fashion.

Eat well!


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