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What we call "food"

Sunday, July 26, 2009 Leave a Comment

I heard Robyn O'Brien on Dr. Oz's radio show last week.

I just read her book, "The Unhealthy Truth", and it scared the bejeezus out of me. Robyn was a Fulbright scholar who lived in Europe, and she brought up some interesting points with Dr. Oz that I'll try to paraphrase here. If you're on the fence about making some serious changes to our health care system, consider this:

The United States has a drastically different approach to industrialized food than the rest of the world.

What Europeans call "food," we call "organic food."

We make our farmers jump through hoops to sell natural, pesticide/hormone free, non-genetically modified foods, while the processed food, laden with preservatives and chemicals and genetically modified corn and soy, doesn't have a whole lot of labeling requirements.

Europeans have very strict labeling requirements, and not only will they NOT sell genetically modified foods, they won't even allow the seeds to be planted in their soil.

Europeans have a policy that you can't sell a food product until it's been proven safe.

We have a policy that you can sell anything -- until it's been proven dangerous.

For example, the Southampton studies in the UK said that certain dyes and preservatives -- including yellow #5, the dye that makes Kraft Mac & Cheese flourescent orange -- caused behavioral problems in kids. That study was done 10 years ago, and a followup this year confirmed the findings. Kraft voluntarily removed yellow #5 from all European food products, but they didn't do it in the US. Why not?

The European governments have a vested interest in keeping the crap out of their food supply. You see, they all have "socialized medicine--" the nastiest word in America. What that means is that they have an incentive to keep their citizens healthy -- the taxpayers pay for it.

In the US, we have a commercial healthcare system. Every sick person is a profit center. When you are sick, you are a profit center for the insurance company, the doctor, and the pharmaceutical company. There is no incentive to keep you healthy.

Food companies lobby to keep their costs down and profit margins high. If that means injecting cows with hormones to make them lactate their entire adult life (imagine that, ladies!), then in the name of profits, why shouldn't they be able to do it? If it's unhealthy for the people who consume that hormone laden milk (not to mention the poor cows, who must take daily antibiotics because of the infections from the hormone injection sites, which then also make their way into our milk....), well -- prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and then we'll stop.

Cynical? Maybe.

For those of you on the fence about health care reform, it's food for thought. Pun very much intended.

-- Blue Planet, Green Living interviews Mama O'Brien

2 comments »

  • The Bee Keeper said:  

    This book also scared the bejeezus out of me. I have been loaning it out around the neighborhood to spread the word. I have a stack of others health/food books to read and have just started "Disease Prrof Your Child" By Joel Furhman.

  • Liz said:  

    This morning my son was watching a cartoon called "The Big Green Rabbit" trying to teach kids what organic food is. It's natural food, but more natural, um, without chemicals, it's food that's more healthy.... is it super food? No, it's just food, but... more natural? Oy.