More than half of the problem with the foods we eat in the US stem from the market’s attempts to make everything convenient for us. Convenience is a way to add value to foods, value meaning profit in this case. Do not confuse that with value to you, as a food.
To you, as a living organism, the most valuable food is one that is available when you need nourishment and provides the most essential nutrients in their correct proportions, and are capable of feeding you and the beneficial microbes that live within you. Food at the grocery store fails that test on almost every level. Processed foods that come in bags and boxes have virtually no natural ingredients in them. Every component is chosen for it’s ability to re-add flavor and selected nourishing vitamins so that you will pick it over the other choices available on the shelf. It contains ingredients that will allow it to be edible even if it has to wait six months on the shelf before you buy it. The nutrients it does contain are not in the correct natural proportions, because nobody yet knows which of the thousand ingredients in natural foods are important, or what the natural interactions are between the ingredients in real food and the processes and microbes in your body. That science is still in it’s infancy. The only thing we can say for certain is that processed foods are less than real foods.
Real foods have also been modified for your convenience and so that the most profit can be wrung from the product of nature. Adding pesticides makes sense, because pests compete with us for the fruit and the leaf of the plant, but it may be the case that pests on a plant add something to the leaf and the fruit that we do actually need. Plants have a way to defend themselves naturally from pests, obviously, because there have not always been people to defend them. The fact that there are plants means that plants don’t need pesticides. It may be the case that eating plants that have never been defended from pests is better for us, because those plants will contain something that the treated plants don’t, natural pesticide produced by the plant.
Plants that are treated with fertilizer are different in many ways, too. They grow faster than they are meant to by nature. They can outrun their water supply, they don’t have time to develop natural defense from pests and diseases, so they must be supplemented in those ways, too. Natural foods take longer to produce, they don’t grow as big, they are hardier. The interaction between natural foods and the soil that they grow in is not understood, but amending the soil with fertilizer is known to change it. Nitrogen fertilizer can even kill the soil. Dead soil will not produce plants of any kind. Nobody knows what the really important interactions are between soil microbes, fungi, and the plant’s roots are. We are naive to think that adding significant amounts of chemicals, fungicides and herbicides to the soil are not having a significant impact on this ecosystem.
The market would have you believe that the only way that enough food can be produced and delivered to the grocer to meet the hunger of the nation is to perform the time and money saving tasks. If you demand cheap food fast then this is true. There is another way.
Today in Kansas City there is a “Eat Local and Organic Expo”. Today’s event is at the Johnson County Community College. You can go there and see what the alternative to foods whose biggest selling point is convenience. You can find out how to find, purchase and consume foods whose biggest selling point is that they are unmodified from the natural plan. They won’t be least expensive. They won’t last for months in your pantry. They will give you everything you need, in the correct proportion, according to nature’s plan, though.
If you can’t make this Expo, there is another one a couple of weeks later. It will be Saturday, April 11 at Penn Valley Community College.
These events are NO CHARGE. Now that’s value added.