The tipping point is in the past for processed foods. When Joseph Kellog invented a way to turn corn meal into corn flakes for breakfast in 1906 there wasn’t too much wrong with breakfast cereal. A stroll down the breakfast food aisle at the grocery shows pretty quickly that that isn’t true any more. At some point between 1906 and now our food production system went insane. There never has been an agency of government that ensured only safe and beneficial materials were added to our foods, and this is probably a good thing. If government had been performing this role, then dietary fats would have been eliminated fifty years ago and replaced completely by sugars in all of our foods. Hmmm. That happened anyway.
In my opinion (as you know if you have been reading my work) the problem is that our food system is taking food apart, taking away things that make the food spoil on the shelf, then adding back to the food to replace the flavors that are lost in the first process. The problem is that we are buying foods that have been monkeyed with for profit. Matters are not helped that the FDA doesn’t look into the actual physiological effects on the population of the tens of thousands of ingredients added into our foods. If these ingredients were drugs, they would have to be rigorously checked for safety in drug trials on real people. Food additives don’t have to go through any process like that.
A couple of days ago Mark Bittman of the NY Times wrote at length that the solution is not to wait for your government, or your corporate food producers to come to their senses on how bad things get into every manufactured food product created.
And yet we’re in the middle of a public health emergency that isn’t being taken seriously enough. We should make it a national priority to create two new programs, a research program to determine precisely what causes diet-related chronic illnesses (on top of the list is “Just how bad is sugar?”), and a program that will get this single, simple message across: Eat Real Food.
Bittman calls for government help. In the meantime, you and I must shout from the rooftops, and blog incessantly that everyone should cook their own meals and eat no food from a box, bag or can. We must, as a nation, make new mealtime habits, despite the fact that we are too busy to cook all our own meals. There is a way to feed yourself even if husband and wife work. Even if husband and wife work odd shifts and don’t eat together. You find this way when you are at the grocery and you don’t buy any of the convenient foods in boxes or bags. When all there is in the house is the components of real meals that must be cooked and eaten within the week or they will spoil, then ninety percent of the food fight is over for you.
The stakes are high. If you keep eating the things that our food system has created for you there is no fad diet that can help you.
“Sugar” has come to represent (or it should) the entire group of processed, nutritionally worthless caloric sweeteners, including table sugar, high fructose corn syrup and so-called healthy alternatives like agave syrup, brown rice syrup, reduced fruit juice and a dozen others.
All appear to be damaging because they’re added sugars, as opposed to naturally occurring ones, like those in actual fruit, which are not problematic. And although added fructose may be more harmful than the others, it could also be that those highly refined carbohydrates that our bodies rapidly break down to sugar — white bread, for example — are equally unhealthy. Again: These are hyperprocessed foods.
Don’t throw out all of the bad foods. Eat them, but do not replace them. Buy real food, and keep buying it. When watching “Food, Inc. there is a scene where a poor family is at the grocer and comparing the cost of brocolli to a McDonald’s sandwich. The wife says “I can get two cheeseburgers for the kids for what a bunch of broccoli costs.” What she apparently doesn’t know is that to cook an entire bunch of broccoli, with a sauce and seasoned with a little bit of meat, will feed the entire family. Not only that, it will be healthful.
You don’t need to buy organic foods, just real foods. We can’t wait for the government to enact policies that would force fast food companies to charge what it really costs the nation to produce and consume junk foods. There are a lot of externalized costs that these food producers don’t pay. They get government subsidies. There are laws being enacted that make it illegal to criticize our foods. We can’t take pictures or videos of how our foods are made. Everything is becoming more and more cloaked in darkness, when what is needed more than ever is the cleansing and healing power of light.
Well, more tomorrow, but for today, make it a goal to change one small thing.