Western culture is food ignorant. It hurts but it is true. We are easily suckered by packaging, completely detached from the supply chain and obsessed with convenience. This all creates the perfect environment for poor decisions. Here is a brief and basic overview for those of us who eat.
We are over fed and undernourished. This “accomplishment” is a cultural embarrassment. (10) (11) (12) (13)
There are four major biomolecules. Lipids (fats), proteins (chains of amino acids), carbohydrates and nucleic acids. (14)
US government and industrial chemical agriculture are in bed with each other. These two groups work together, complete with revolving door and constant conflict of interest and it isn’t for your own good. (21) (22) (23)
Most “research” favors those who fund it. Additionally, the source of the funding is usually hidden to the best of the industry’s ability through front groups, paid “scholars” and layers of verbiage designed to sound unbiased and scientific. (24) (25) (26) (27)
We subsidize the wrong stuff. Government overwhelmingly subsidizes dent corn and soy which is to say cheap, highly processed junk, not actual food. This is social engineering and not for your benefit. That cheap “food” has been paid for by tax dollars and is killing you. (28) (29) (30)
Every bite you take and every dollar you spend is a vote for what you want produced and it is the only real say you have in the food system. Transparency leading to informed demand is the only hope consumers have to improve the system. Do you care about methods, quality, labor practices, location, environmental impact or anything else? All food choices are ethical choices, whether we acknowledge it or not. (31) (32) (33)
The argument about needing to produce more calories to feed the world is bogus. We produce enough calories (mostly of garbage like dent corn, soy and poor quality wheat) to feed 9-10 billion people right now, depending on who you believe. World population growth is slowing. We waste over 35% of the calories produced by letting it rot or throwing it away. The problem isn’t production, it is distribution, politics, what we are producing and how we do it. (38) (39) (40)
US agriculture is highly specialized but still incredibly inefficient. The amount of water used, synthetics applied, land and waterways damaged and, in the case of meat, grains grown and fed to animals who wouldn’t otherwise eat them, makes our system not only unhealthy but unsustainable. (41) (42) (43)
The less people spend on food, the more they spend on healthcare. We can’t afford our healthcare system because of how we eat. There is a relationship between the two. The cost of preventable disease and illness is breaking the US. (47) (48) (49) (50) (51)
And a bonus: The term Natural means nothing. Foods certified by agencies provide you with a set of guidelines to look up and a certification process to weigh. The term Natural is generally just used to greenwash a product and trick the naive into thinking it is somehow better than the other items on the shelf. It has no meaning on a label. (52) (53)
If any of this has left you surprised, you are not alone. The good news is, you are now a more informed consumer. Now, go dig deeper. Learn a little more, if you dare.
Happy eating, Katy
8. Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.
10. Gustafson, Ellen. We the Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World. New York: Rodale, 2014. Print.
12. Overfed and Undernourished. Director Troy Jones, 2014.
13. Patel, Raj. Stuffed and Starved. Brooklyn. Melville House, 2012.
28. Gustafson, Ellen. We the Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World. New York: Rodale, 2014. Print.
50. Gustafson, Ellen. We the Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World. New York: Rodale, 2014. Print.