A recent article stated, “An estimated 87 million cases of food-borne illness occur in the United States each year, including 371,000 hospitalizations and 5,700 deaths, according to an Associated Press calculation that used the CDC formula and current population estimates.”
Given these startling statistics one would think that people would be a little more discriminating with what they put into their mouths. According to these numbers over one quarter of the American population is affected and still the average person does not contemplate food beyond being little more than something to fill their stomach with leaving the details to someone else.
This is not a debate over the nutritional values of one food or food group over another. This has to do with food quality. There is no problem in the United States with the quantity of food; the legions of obese people are already a testament to that. The problem is that the quality of the food is inversely proportional to it’s quantity which might explain why so many people get both sick as well as fat when eating it. Another factor is that the foods that are producing these problems are likely foods that have already passed every sort of visual inspection and/or microbial testing in its processing and yet it still makes people sick. Isn’t this a little contradictory?
Every now and then there is a food scare when several hundred people are hospitalized or even die due to having eaten one food or another. When blame is cast it does not necessarily mean that the culprit has been found. One time, during a food toxicity panic, a Mexican source was conveniently blamed but, as it turned out that the food source was actually American in origin. Cleanliness in processing is obviously an absolute must but, the raw material itself has to be of good quality to begin with; “if you start with garbage you end up with garbage!”
One proposed bureaucratic solution was to sterilize the food by various available methods such as irradiation, dry steam or other method, so that it would be free of all bacteria. Unfortunately, these methods not only destroy bacteria, they tend to destroy everything else, including what makes food – food. Imagine being presented with biologically dead matter being passed off as food? – (Some processed food made in the USA is little more than this anyway). They must have tried these foods on some rats and they probably all keeled over providing an “unacceptable” level of “collateral” damage making the launch of such an approach onto the general public problematic. There were a lot of protests when attempts were made to irradiate food and genetically modify it.
It wasn’t that long ago when . . . .
Most people have a family member that lived at a time when everything did not need to be sterilized before it was considered safe to eat. Or, when preparing chicken did not require bleach sterilization at nearly every stage of preparation. The implication that one practically needed a full-body “hazmat” suit to feel safe when preparing a particular food where practically none had ever been needed before implies that something fundamental had changed in that food that had not there before. Historically, people were not dropping like flies before this new renaissance of food preparation safety. This is not pining for the good ol’days, it just seems strange that what was never a problem before is now a threat to life itself. This is not to say that fastidious and methodical cleanliness is not important when food is being prepared.
There is a lot of talk about how monumentally ignorant and naive people once were. Theories of how they ate rotten food because they could not preserve it, but ate it rotten anyway out of shear ignorance and therefore often got sick and died is a little hard to swallow given the thousands of traditional and chemical free preserved varieties of foods that have been passed down to us.
Lets rethink this for a moment. First of all, the food wasn’t the main problem, the water was. No one was ever stupid enough to eat rotten food. At least not on dry land. Filthy water was less of a problem in the country than in the cities back then which is where the health problems generally confined themselves to. What do you get when you mix the water supply with human and animal wastes? You got plagues and every sort of pestilence. People died on mass and the causes were pretty obvious even to the people of those times. Massive public works projects to control sewage became a reality and mortality was greatly diminished.
Milk and other common traditional foods
Much is often made of milk as a potential disease magnet but, consider this; milk was milked from a cow or goat, it was considered safe to drink in that raw form for thousands of years. When left to sit, the cream would separate from the milk. The cream would be made into butter for household use and the milk consumed. If it ever should have smelled foul it was disposed of.
Naturally, as the milk would ferment different products were produced at the different stages of fermentation. Buttermilk, Sour cream, ricotta, yogurt, whey, various soft cheeses.
The milk itself was processed into various kinds cheeses which was the main product from milk that would preserve for a long time without any additives.
Meats were also preserved in various forms without chemicals. Salt, oils, vinegar and simple indigenous spices were often used. Fruits were made into preserves, vegetables were also fermented and preserved.
As a result of these processes the different regions of the world produced thousands of different kinds of preserved meat, dairy and vegetable products that worked with the bacteria found naturally in them without making them toxic or injurious to health. Why did the human race not become extinct in the face of what today would be considered uneducated people let loose to play with dangerous bacteria? Good question! Could it be that these seemingly backward people were not as stupid as previously presumed to be and, the fact that the world is not a sterile laboratory. What is isolated in a petri dish usually does not exist in that form in nature. (This does not invalidate the usefulness of being able to isolate singular substances for closer examination as long as it is kept in mind that pure isolates generally do not exist in nature.)
The European ancestors of the Americans produced all of these perfectly good foods. We here, believing ourselves so much more clever than our fore-bearers, produce instead artificial versions of the same foods and then market them as being “new and improved.” In the process, we have better than one quarter of the population getting food poisoning because of it. And then, to add further insult to injury, powerful interests then lobby government to be able to legally add even more artificial and often toxic additives to these already adulterated foods or non-foods. Thanks, but no thanks!
What is the main difference between traditional foods in past times and our present times? The only real difference in our food is that it is now being produced with;
A) more artificial chemicals that have never existed before and
B) it is now often genetically modified.
The result is bigger yields but poorer quality and less diversity. This applies to crops as well as livestock. It is not too much of a stretch to conclude that the flesh of animals grown more with chemicals and left over byproducts from other industries must also smell, taste and even decompose differently than it once did. Heck, even human beings decompose differently than they used to now that all of the preservatives ingested in the course of life are in their flesh. Is it a really big stretch to presume that animal flesh must also be reacting to lifelong ingested chemicals producing different by-products or substances in different proportions than they used to be.
Our modern “new food” is a ubiquitous modern day curse. It looks like food but often it is not. A sensitive person is not able in eat it because it is often suspiciously odd tasting or even tasteless or, it bothers the digestive tract.
The more recent Good ol’ days . . . .
There was a time (60’s and 70’s) when modern medicine would emphatically proclaim that “food had absolutely nothing to do with disease in any way;” everyone could eat what ever they wanted because it would have absolutely no impact on their well being. This was repeated in magazines and on network news over and over again. More recently a campaign or tactic of deliberate confusion is being unleashed; familiar foods are deemed safe one day and unsafe the next. One day it’s eggs, then its milk, then coffee, then red meat, then chicken, then vegetables, then fruit. Well, how can these foods be good in one news report and then unsafe in another news report; sometimes being aired in the same week. If all of this information is supposed to be unbiased and truly scientific it cannot or, at least should not, be contradictory.
The dangers of food additives are very well documented yet, it is curious that the dangers of any food additive is never mentioned in any news report. How often has a news report brought the dangers of MSG, or color additives, sulfites, nitrites, nitrates etc. to light?
Which of these two categories of substances are most likely to be problematic? The foods that have been safely eaten for millennia or, the substances that had never existed before and have never been part of what has long been considered to be normal food?
There is no denying that bacteria definitely can kill or at least make people very sick. But, the additives themselves can also do the same thing. The additives are often used to prevent the premature appearance of bacteria that would otherwise spoil the food making it completely inedible. The question is, that if the additives are toxic to the bacteria, and the bacteria is already toxic enough, how much more toxic does the additive have to be in order to kill the bacteria? This comment cannot be made as a blanket statement because in some cases something as simple as innocuous as vinegar or lemon juice can kill a bacteria. But, when a large portion of the food is preserved and processed at what point is the food so lacking in life that it cannot even decompose. Can it still be considered to be food at that point? And, what is it doing to the body.
For all the hype about supplements and modern medicines and their usefulness in providing relief for ailments why is it that more attention is not placed on food?
If the quality of food were optimized there would be a lot less need for medicines and other supplementation.
Your food should be your first medicine and your best preventative medicine.
Now if we could only clean the air!?
A Simple Suggestion!
Eat Organic and read all labels! Always avoid food ingredients that are unpronounceable!
When in doubt – Always Protect your heart first and your stomach second!