[unrev-II] Toxic Food Environment

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com)
Date: Tue Feb 01 2000 - 14:33:20 PST

From: Eric Armstrong <eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com>

I'm waiting on the Millennium book to arrive, so I do not
yet know if this issue is covered, but since I just wrote
this up for a friend, I thought I would pass it along:

Our "Toxic Food Environment"

According to Kelly Brownell, director of Yale's Center for Eating
and Weight Disorders, Americans live in a "toxic food environment".
I couldn't agree more.

Here are some of the really critical factors that combine to
create that environment:

  * Fertilizers
      All the left-over chemicals from WW-II got sold to farmers for
    fertilizer. That kept the industries in business, too. Plants
    only need nitrogen, potash, and phosphorous to grow. But we need
    a lot more. The contents of the soil get "mined" as crops grow.
    What becomes our food winds up either thrown into a landfill or
    flushed down to the sea. After a while, it's no longer in the
    soil. And if it's not in the soil, it's not in our food.

  * Non-organic soils
      It turns out that is microbes living in the soil that do the
    work of binding minerals, which are then taken up into the plant
    via the roots. Plowing up fields (instead of surface composting),
    fertilizers that have none of the life-sustaining elements,
    combined with pesticides, insecticides, and other life-killers
    all combine to produce a sterile soil in which microbes do not
    exist. Result: Even raw food has little or no food value.

  * Phytochemicals
      There are 2,000 we understand, 20,000 we know of, and potential
    mathematical combinations of their components that amount to
    2 million. Most are formed in the sunlight, during the latter
    stages of ripening. But our food is picked green for shipment
    to market. Frozen foods are typically better than "fresh" foods,
    for that reason -- they are picked closer to full ripeness and
    taken straight to the factory. But nothing beats taking it
    straight off the vine.

  * Storage
      In addition to the many compounds that never develop, much of
    what does develop decays during storage. Vitamin C and MSM
    are both highly volatile, for example, so very little survives
    in "fresh" food. Again, frozen is typically better than fresh,
    but that doesn't make it ideal.

  * Oil refining
      Even worse than what we do to fresh foods is what we do to the
    oils (fats) in our environment. Robert Erdmann's book, Fats that
    Can Save Your Life, is a short read that will change your
    perspective forever. To summarize: polyunsaturated fats are the
    active part of basically every chemical process in the body: Nerve
    and brain function, oxygen transport, transport of nutrients through
    cell walls, and more.
    "Active" = "Volatile". Because they are volatile, they are what
    makes food spoil. Rancidity, bad smell, etc. are basically the
    result of fats combining. Industry processes the oils so they won't
    go bad. But the result is, at best, an oil with no value. But it

  * Partially Hydrogenated oil
      Probably the worst offense perpetrated against nature and mankind
    on behalf of the food industry is partially hydrogenated oils.
    In nature, you have omega-9, omega-6, and omega-3 oils, depending
    on whether you are missing one, two, or three hydrogen bonds. (The
    more bonds missing, the more chemically active the fatty acid.) Each
    of these occurs exactly ONE way in nature.

    Having said how many bonds are missing, you know exactly where
    the gaps are and how the fatty acid is configured. High-heat
    though, really messes them up. (Erdmann's book describes the
    pressing, treating with caustic soda, boiling, and
    that takes place when refining oils -- and that's *nothing* compared
    to partially hydrogenated oils.)

    High-heat processing produces transfats (twisted configurations),
    bond-shifted fats, cross-linked fats, and other variations of these
    compounds that DO NOT OCCUR in nature. But the end of the fatty acid
    that joins to become a phospholipid looks the same! The
    then get built into cell walls -- but the fatty acids are chemically
    incapaple of carrying out the metabolic functions they need to

    In short, high-heat processing produces substances which are, quite
    literally, metabolic poisons. And nothing in our 2 million years of
    evolution has prepared us to deal with them. This fact alone is most
    probably the cause for most of the diseases of industrial
    heart disease, cancer, diabetes, MS, and a host of other conditions.
    (The science is there. It's only a matter of connecting the dots. I
    did that a while ago for diabetes. Since then, I've seen a few
    presenting that view with detailed science.)

    When you start reading labels, you'll find "partially hydrogenated
    in most every cookie, chip, or bread you buy, too. Not to mention

  * Meats: pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics, growth hormones
      In addition to the pesticides and insecticides that animals
    in their tissues, they are dosed with anitbiotics and growth
    out the wazoo. That's why Paul Fernhout reported, "according to
    the World Watch Institute, every person on the planet has 500
    in their body that did not exist before 1920.

    That ain't good. Many of these substances set the stage for cancer
    and other diseases, while our impaired immune systems and "hijacked"
    metabolic systems are ill-equipped to deal with them.
  * Industry-controlled breeding
      When industry breeds new varieties, they focus on the wrong
    as far as you and I are concerned. They aim at apples that are
    redder, and less likely to bruise during shipment so they sell
    They work to get varieties that ripen all on the same day, to
    picking. They are *not* focused on nutritive value, or varieties
    can grow wild. In fact, self-reproducing "heirloom" seeds get no
    attention, because there is no profit. The effort goes into sterile
    seeds that must be resold to farmers, year after year.

  * Genetic engineering
      With genetic engineering, industry has powerful tools that lets
    do in weeks what would have taken decades of breeding previously --
    if it was possible at all. But not only are we looking a potentially
    unknown effects from a tomato with a pig gene, but industry is once
    again focused on the wrong targets. For example, they are
    to find a tomato that can withstand stronger pesticides, so they can
    pump more and stronger pesticides into the soil. They may well
    yields. But the entire farm may not have as much nutritive value as
    a single home-grown tomato.

  * Use of radiation
      Then there is industrial radiation of food to make it "safe". In
    reality, the goal is to keep it from spoiling, and drive up profit
    margarines. As for the effects on fatty acids...well, do we really
    want to know?

  * Nuclear wastes
      I'm not sure if this one is an "urban legend" or not. But one
    had low-level nuclear wastes going into the top of a silo, and
    out labeled "fertilizer" at the bottom. Pretty scary thought. But
    definitely not beyond the capability of industry to attempt.
    has an intense desire to sell anything they can, instead of paying
    dispose of it. That's how we got into the fertilizer trap.

If I were to point the finger at *one* thing that has gotten
us the most deeply in trouble, it is the failure to achieve
"separation of business and state". We've separated church and
state, but government policy making is too heavily influenced
by lobbyists and campaign contributions. That severely limits
our capacity to react to this information in a timely way.
(Mistakes made in ignorance early last century were understandable.
But perpetuating the folly after the all the understanding that
developed in the latter half of the century is unforgivable.)

For example, the problems with partially hydrogenated oils have
been known for 20 or 30 years. One spokesman said that if they
knew then what they know now, they would not have not made it.
I'm not sure I even believe that anymore. But it is manifestly
clear how deadly the stuff is. It should be outlawed. Immediately.

Fat chance of that happening.

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