“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” These famous words are well-known, though little is known by this physician who is considered the father of western medicine, Hippocrates. I first heard about Hippocrates in a Liberal Studies class in college when we also read “Plato’s Phaedo,” which I absolutely loved! I’m not going to lie – I never thought I would take that book out again. But, I did and from just looking at little keywords I noted on various pages I was reminded how I was very intrigued by the philosophies of life and after-life as well as truth and the body. So this quote hits home even more for me now because just as little is known about Hippocrates, almost just as little is probably known about the food so many Americans consume every day.
The food we eat can either prevent or promote disease, making it the real medicine we need to address the root of the many health issues Americans need to prevent. It is one of every beings most basic necessities and, unfortunately for humans, this dependency has been taken advantage of by many corporations. The quality, or nutritional value, that comes from ones food can basically directly impact how balanced or out of balance our body can be. On the simplest level, when you give your body the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. that it needs to function at its best you can prevent diseases and avoid taking medicine because your body is able to maintain a dynamic balance called homeostasis. This all sounds great, but reality is the food eaten by millions every day not only does not have the nutritional value it used to before the food process became industrialized.
We all know we are living in an industrialized nation, but what does this mean for our food. Well the food industry has adapted this industrial/mechanical framework not only by growing food in not ideal places and climates. But also at the cost of cheap (and usually illegal) labor, as well as by making the food predominantly genetically modified foods (GMFs). These are more commonly known as foods with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which have only become more talked about since the 1990s when scientists began changing the genetic makeup of plants and animals that are consumed. These changes are made with genes from different organisms and are supposedly done to add nutrition and resist insects. BUT, these GMFs have not been studied for long-term side effects and are therefore still the main kind of “food” made available in the U.S. Though studies (available at http://gmoanswers.com) have shown that changing the genetic makeup of foods & plants can cause a new allergen to be created triggering allergic reactions and possibly damaging the body’s organs. We can understand how these changes can affect our bodies by simply allowing ourselves to think about what is being done to this food. On a basic level that I feel we can all easily grasp, Nicole Willner of Planet Green describes how these foods are manipulated as ones that are produced with varying levels of chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth, sprayed with insecticides to reduce pests and disease, and absorb chemical herbicides to manage weeds. Also animals are given antibiotics, growth hormones and medications in an effort to prevent disease and spur quicker growth. All this so it can have a longer shelf life for less money without regard to its effects on every being of this planet – plants, animals, humans, etc. – and those to inhabit it once we are gone.
So, how do we know if our food has GMOs in it or not? Well that is a fun and very hot topic right now, since in the U.S. large companies like Monsanto are able to continue creating and distributing such products without labeling of any kind. Whereas there are over 60 countries that have banned GMO foods from being imported for distribution or at minimum require its labeling, including Australia, China, New Zealand, Japan, Peru, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, France, Madeira, Thailand, etc. I can only hope this list will continue to grow until it is no longer necessary and those countries that are growing, using, or allowing GMF ban them completely, so all food can be grown without genetic alterations, added hormones, artificial ingredients, preservatives, or anything of the sort. Until then we as consumers of such products need to be aware of what we are eating because if food isn’t your medicine than medicine will be your food – everyday until you decide to replace those pills with proper nutritional food.
For thousands of years, farmers have crossbred plants by joining two species during the growth stages, so it is a natural hybridization. This is what companies like to make consumers think is the same case for GMF, but it isn’t! According to Non-GMO Project, these GMFs are engineered with DNA from viruses, bacteria, or other plants and animals. In addition, “virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.” With all this, why would we as consumers ever pay to put such materials into our food when even the personnel that partake in the growth of them wear protective masks and gear when working with them. If it is not something that should be on or in our body in the first place, how could it ever be any better when it is in one of our most basic necessities – our food.
Making the change from such GMFs to non-GMO foods can be easier than you think. These more nutrient dense foods can be found, and not for much more than what you pay now in groceries. But, there are still some tricks that companies play to make us think that certain foods are natural and good for us when in reality they aren’t. Before racking your brain to find out how to overcome this, we must first understand why a change is necessary for each of us no matter how old, sick, “healthy or broke” we are. We must all take care of each other and this GMO way is definitely NOT helping in any possible way. Some ways I have learned more about how this “food” is made are by watching documentaries and reading articles, books, etc., so I included some of my favorites (so far) for everyone below. I hope you like them! =)
– Food Inc.
– “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan
– Food Matters
– “The American Way of Eating” by Tracie McMillan
– Hungry for Change
– Killer at Large
– Forks over Knives
Please feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments below, too.
Lead with Love,
Genetically Modified Foods. Retrieved from NaturalStandardDatabase.com (2013)
GMO Facts. Retrieved from http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/ (2013)
List of Countries that Ban GMO Crops and Require GE Food Labels. Retrieved from http://naturalrevolution.org/list-of-countries-that-ban-gmo-crops-and-require-ge-food-labels/ (2013)
Willner, N. “What is Conventional Food?” Retrieved from http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/understanding-food-labels3.htm (2013)