In my newest read, Food Politics by Marion Nestle, Nestle identifies the five elements of the food movement. Knowing these five categories also means you know the five approaches to our nation’s efforts towards making over our food systems. The food movement is picking up speed and more spotlights are on it every day. Knowing the categories below is exceedingly helpful for putting current events and local efforts into context.
The following descriptions come from Food Politics by Marion Nestle on page x of her preface to the 2007 edition.
The Good Food Movement: This is what Farm Aid calls the demands for local, organic, or humanely raised food produced by family farms. Includes the Slow Food Movement and opposition to genetically modified foods and irradiated foods.
The Farm-to-Community Movement: Aims to connect farmers to local communities through…
Note to readers: I’ve been incredibly busy with studying and taking the GREs while getting my nutrition certificate. Now that I am finished both, I’m back and even more revved up to share my newfound knowledge. Start checking back regularly. And comment!
New York Times columnist Mark Bittman sung the praises of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) newest release in his article “More Weight on Less Meat.” Of their Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health, Bittman writes that it is “a comprehensive report that suggests what’s become a common refrain here and elsewhere: we all need to eat fewer animal products – not just meat, but dairy as well.”
Like many vegetarians, I hardly expect those of us who do eat meat to change into tofu/seitan/tempeh guzzlers overnight. Yet it is hard to deny the benefits of eating less meat to both our health and environment, so I am with the EWG here. You don’t have to go vegan to do your body and the earth a solid. Carnivores take heed, eating less meat can still significantly and positively impact your health and the environment.
EWG’s full report is about 20 pages long with 3 1/2 pages of references. If this sounds intimidating, they have a handy at-a-glance brochure that summarizes their report in 7 pages that are approachable, understandable, succinct, and most importantly, compelling. The large print and colorful bubbled facts could put even zealous carnivores in a pensive state.
I encourage you to go through this brochure and take a look at the reported facts and figures. Their “lifecycle assessments” measured by environmental analysis firm CleanMetrics are innovative. I do, however, have a few issues with this brochure. Below are my top three contentions taken from the report that I debate as misleading or incomplete.
Vitamin C acts as a virucide and bactericide and can shrink tumors. It can also treat over 30 major diseases.
James and the Giant Cure
I first stumbled across this mind-blowing information in a documentary called Food Matters. This engrossing film discusses a range of issues concerning food, including how to use food to combat depression and natural cancer therapies. This film is critical for anyone interested in learning how to use food therapeutically. A good overview of the documentary can be found here.
Back to Vitamin C. I’ve reconfigured my thinking about it after personally experiencing its affects. I’ll tell you this: it’s more than just a vitamin as we know vitamins. In high doses, it does some pretty unexpected and incredible work in our bodies.
You’d think I’d put this information right to practice. Fact is, even though I internalized that Vitamin C can kill viruses and bacteria with piqued interest, I forgot about it. It wasn’t until about a month later that I was able to test out Vitamin C’s potential.
It actually stands for genetically modified organisms. Technically, all organisms are genetically modified either by natural selection or by farmers cross-breeding or cross-pollinating for optimal products. What I’m referring to is the process of genetic modification by genetic engineers. As in, putting some caterpillar genes in some corn genes to make the plant resistant to caterpillars. Mmm.
Was hungry for corn. Now, not so much.
If you want to know if what you’re buying is a genetically engineered (GE) product, reading the label won’t offer much insight, unfortunately. GMOs aren’t labeled. GE ingredients might or might not be included in your food. “Non-GMO” is labeled, however. According to Mark Bittman, author of “Why Aren’t GMO Foods Labeled?” (food safety and food politics guru), unless your food is labeled “Non-GMO,” it probably contains genetically engineered ingredients. Whole Foods statistics put the prevalence of GMOs in our crops at 93% of soy, 93% of corn, 93% of canola seeds, and 86% of cotton.
Scientific evidence hasn’t yet conclusively proved GMOs are immediately harmful to everyone who eats them. Evidence also hasn’t proven that they’re safe in the long term, either. We do know that you risk of an allergic reaction and eventually adapting the antibiotic-resistant properties of GMO products. Do people know this? Not really. The information isn’t widely circulated.
Truth: Neither the FDA nor the USDA require GMO products to be labeled as such, because, “they don’t want people to think the foods are different.”
“It’s always possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.”
Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan’s point? If you want to know the truth, you have to be willing to listen to it with open arms, rather than with arms crossed. The truth isn’t always what you’re expecting. It may not always be easy to listen to.
I am writing to advocate the truth about our food and to advocate taste, both physical and discerning. My intended reader is someone who, like me, knows something is not quite right with the food industry and feels we’re not being told everything. If you’re here, you’re sincerely interested in understanding the personal, political, cultural, and economic implications of the intimate act that is eating. So am I. My intent is to give shape to the suspicions that our intuitions have grasped in the midst of staggering amounts of misinformation. I’d like to compile a guide that can assist you in separating truth from lies in the food industry.
Results of a government agency doing its job, both regulating and promoting industry.
Two puzzling contradictions
1. Despite our evolving technology, and the safety in food and better healthcare we’d think it would bring, we are getting sicker.
2. More food is available now than at any time in history, yet we are nutritionally malnourished.
One way to characterize these contradictions among us is by invoking the idea of the inverse relationship. Simple enough. Two correlated factors affect each other in such a way that the two are driven to increase or decrease in opposite directions. I am not suggesting that any of these facts causes the other, as correlation does not necessarily indicate causation. The simultaneous coexistences of these contradictions, however, reveal a grim irony that we face every single time we eat or reach for medication. These conflicting relationships are anything but simple, and seem to go against our logic. What is happening? Why is it happening? Where are the regulators?