Thoughts on Food and Water (For Those Who Have The Time)

atticus

Just this week I have been pushed over the edge. I’ve never particularly paid attention to the source of the food I bought at the grocery store, but three alarming videos I’ve seen online have made me uncomfortably aware of how terrible the food I buy is.

I haven’t had fast food for ages partly because I watch my weight, but a bigger part of it is that I found that having a healthier alternative is not just easy but can be just as cheap.

I’m an undergrad student who, until recently, worked full-time. I do not have the money nor much time to spend on food, so I was pleasantly surprised when I tried cooking my own food and it turned out to be very easy.

I thought that by eliminating frozen processed food and fast food restaurants I was safe from hormones and other nasty stuff that I don’t think anybody needs, but I was wrong.

Here are my recommendations:

The Future of Food (1h 30m) –

http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food

Chemistry War Zone (30m) –

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/expose/2009/02/303-index.html

Poisoned Waters (1h 53m -Yikes! But it’s worth it!) –

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/poisonedwaters/view/

I know what you think: ‘Organic food is great for hippie extremes, but I’ll be fine’ – at least this is how I used to think. The problem with that statement is that companies like Monsanto are WAY ahead of you.

They patent seeds (yes, life itself), contaminate farmer’s crops with their Genetically Engineered (GE) Roundup Ready seeds, and then sue the farmers who in turn either pay them or loose their livelihood.

Also, these GE seeds kill the natural variety of life.

Did you know that there are hundreds of types of a single vegetable, from corn to potato? These types of life have adopted to certain diseases and geographical locations that are unique for one variety of these vegetables.

By making them all alike, the risk of them being attacked by one disease at the same time is more likely. If that would happen, we would have food shortages all over the world, including the USA.

What’s even more disturbing is that the GE seeds fall though a loophole with the FDA and therefore do not have to be tested for human consumption.

We are eating (and drinking) corn that is engineered not to die if sprayed with pesticides – that can’t be good for our health, especially knowing that one gene controls several aspects of growth and behavior.

They can even engineer plants to grow plastic and pharmaceutical drugs (yikes!). I just want normal, unaltered, natural vegetables – but it’s harder to come by than I thought.

There is a debate (between the industry and everyone else) whether or not these foods should be evaluated before they are deemed harmless for human consumption. Even if you don’t mind eating them, wouldn’t you agree that there is no harm in labeling foods that are GE?

Well, the industry fought hard against such labels and, as of now, there is no hope that food will be labeled in the future (Obama has no position on this matter, at least I couldn’t find any mention on the White House website).

For the first time in my life I ventured into a Whole Foods store to see what the prices of Organic foods are. Organic food, by law, has to be without genetic modification, without antibiotic and growth hormones (in case of meat), and with limited pesticides (for vegetables).

Considering that the President ordered his staff to serve only Organic food in the white house (and the the CEO of Monsanto only eats organic food), I thought I’d give it a try.

Of course, I’m broke and have usually made my buying decisions on the price, not the quality of the food; now, I decided to reverse that.

However, organic food is EXPENSIVE! I either have to eat less, or make more money (I won’t be making more money in the near future)

Great! I just have to spend more money. I don’t have to truly eat healthy. But what am I going to drink?

I have to say I love water! I bought a Bisphenol A (BPA) free (watch the videos, also important!) plastic flask and a pure water filter. Carrying tap water everywhere and eliminating plastic bottles is the best and healthiest thing I could do. I had peace of mind since the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area is ranked as having the 4th cleanest tap water – not too shabby.

But no, Frontline had to rain on my parade. You see, it seems our drinking water is full of elements that the water management does not – and cannot – screen for. Scary things like endocrine disruptors that cause male fish and frogs to have female parts and vice-versa.

Fantastic! Now, my PUR filter won’t even save me! So should I buy bottled water from the French Alps? Is that really any safer? What about the plastic water bottles? Not only are they tough to recycle, they are made with BPA so I’m just cutting out one bad thing for the other….

It is easy to feel powerless over these issues. Just like Lisa in the recent Simpson’s episode, you might get Environment-Related Despair. Is it worth fighting GE products, BPA, and crazy chemicals in the drinking water? I guess it is a personal decision. Ignorance is truly bliss, but knowledge is power (and despair).

For me, I have had my bliss and simply cannot ignore these things. I hate to pay this much attention to the food I eat, but I guess this is a part of the 21st-century lifestyle.

I don’t hold it against anyone if they are overwhelmed; after all this is a boring lump of information you have to chew through in order to have enough data to make your own decisions, and who has the time for that (other then a recently unemployed person like me)?

However, as with any environmental issue, the answer is in the cheesy conclusion of anyone who looks: we have to do it together! (Duh!)

I wish there was a single person who could dedicate their life, and make these changes for us, but that is not possible. If enough people demand change, there is a chance for change, until then I’ll just take a bit of my last genetically engineered apple and sip my endocrine disruptor filled water.

April 22, 2009 11:21 am

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