As a physician I was trained to understand that there is a physicial underpinning to the function – or dis function- of any biological creature. It’s name? Biochemistry. Molecules support, or prevent, poison or allow all chemical reactions in the body. And there are lots of them. Every one of our trillions upon trillions of cells is carrying out about 35,000 enzymatic reactions at any moment and each of them is part of a chain of reactions that allow – or prevent – events “downstream” from that particular enzyme and its tasks.
Enzymes are robots. They are complexes of proteins (made up of chains of amino acids) and “nutritional metals” like magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper, and others). They have sulfur and other non metals and they are very, very precise.
After an enzyme does what it is there to day (for example, transferring a molecule from one side of a membrane to another) its shape has changed so it can no longer function, like a fork lift truck with its blades on backwards. Then another enzyme comes along and returns it to its origianl shape so that it can do the same job over again. The helper enzyme is now literally “bent out of shape” and ANOTHER enzymes comes along and fixes the fixer enzyme and then, you guessed it! Yet another enzyme fixes the fixer of the fixer. On and on it goes, one enzyme performing its job, then unable to perform again until another enzyme resets it, then needing to be reset itself.
If one step in this astonishing molecular dance is missed, there are consequences. If the cause of the mis-step is a drug, the consequences have a special name, “Side effects”. If the cause is the chronic lack of nutrients, only a few doctors understand that the disease which is identified is, in fact, chronic under nourishment. The treatment for most doctors trained in allopathic medicine is exactly wrong almost all of the time: they give drugs to poison more enzyme systems.
WHAT? That is, in a nut shell, the entire basis of pharmaceutical medicine. The only time I can see that it is justified, the ONLY time, is in the Emergency Room. Other than that, it has no place.
But for a few doctors, and many non-doctors, the treatment is obvious: if there is a deficiency not of a drug, but of a nutrient, or many, give the nutrient and its companion nutrients. Give it in a high enough dose that even starving cells and membranes can find the energy to absorb and begin to use the nutrients. And, Voila! people get better. Pretty much, in my experience, every single time.
This simple, intuitive and obvious fact is not at all obvious to those whose minds have been altered by drugs, either by the “education” shaped by the interests of the drugs (often referred to by its short hand name, “Medical School”) or drug regulators and others whose ability to think have been poisoned by the money involved in the drug system – more than all other industries when taken in the aggregate!
Science is often the last to know, like the girl whose boy friend is dating her best friend. Science has taken this long to notice that if you give children nutrients their brains function better. The article below, from the British Journal of Nutrition says that the paper published below is breaking new ground since this is the first time that the positive impact of nutrients on children’s capacity to carry out tasks has been shown to be impacted by supplements.
Or is it just that selective science is the last to know?
Benton D; ILSI Europe a.i.s.b.l., The influence of children’s diet on their cognition and behavior., “… there is a growing body of evidence that diet can influence the development and functioning of the brain. Several lines of evidence support the view that the diet of the mother during pregnancy, and the diet of the infant in the perinatal period, have long-term consequences…”, Eur J Nutr. 2008 Aug;47 Suppl 3:25-37.
Gajre NS, Fernandez S, Balakrishna N, Vazir S., Breakfast Eating Habit and its Influence on Attention-concentration, Immediate Memory and School Achievement., “RESULTS: Comparison between groups indicated significant differences in the letter cancellation (LC) total scores with the regular breakfast group achieving the highest mean scores compared to the no breakfast group (P< 0.05). Marks scored by the regular breakfast group in subjects - Science, English and total Percentage were significantly higher compared to those scored by the children in the no breakfast group. Regular breakfast eating habit and weight for age percent were significantly (P< 0.001) associated with immediate recall memory score explaining 4.3 percent variation. CONCLUSIONS: Regular habit of eating breakfast as opposed to irregular consumption or skipping breakfast altogether had beneficial influence on attention-concentration, memory and school achievement.", Indian Pediatr. 2008 Oct;45(10):824-8.
or about a zillion other articles, books and studies showing the same thing. So why is this "news" rediscovered with wonder and astonishment over and over and over and over and over and....?
Because supplements are cheap and safe. And because doctors - and patients and parents - have been trained to discount this reality, provide garbage to their children and themselves which they mistakenly designate as "food" and then scurry to the nearest prescription pad when the "side effects" of malnourishment come piling up.
So while I am pleased to see this article, I am not pleased that the same findings continue to be "news" when the news is that real, appropriate, healthful, non GMO, chemical free food cures and lack of that kind of food creates illness, both behavioral and organ based illness.
Are there other causes of illness? Sure. But the major killers (and economic producers for the illness care industry, cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, diabetes, obesity and obesity, are specifically identified as the "non communicable epidemic diseases of under nutrition by the World Health organization, WHO.
Ah, yes! Killer disease of under nutrition creating a vast and wildly profitable market for dangerous drugs which kill people in greater numbers than the drugs themselves do! Can't make safe, cheap, effective nutrients available, now can we? Be serious. Instead, let's get Codex Alimentarius up and going and make sure that the food produced under its "Voluntary" Standards and Guidelines are as health hostile, chemical and industry friendly (including its beloved Biotech Industry) get as much support as possible.
Codex, you will recall, is the product of the mad -but very clever - mind of Fritz ter Meer, a Bayer Drug Company Executive who become the head of IG Farben, the civilian organization that made the German's participation in the Second World War a near-success. He was also a convicted criminal following his trial at the Nuremberg War Tribunals for his success and enthusiastic participation in creating the German Death Machine.
After he, and the 26 other IG Farben executives (many of them drug company executives) got out of jail a scant less-than-4-years after they entered, ter Meer was hard at work as the head of Bayer Pharmaceutical once again. His creativity was focused this time not on the slogan above the front gate of the Auswitz death camp ("Arbeit Macht Frei", or, in English, "work brings freedom") but to the creation of the concept of Codex Alimentarius. Subsequent events show that the idea of creating contaminated, poisoned food, full of chemicals, GMO adulteration, irradiation by products (like free radicals and dead bacteria and their spilled-out insides in "cold sterilization" processes), hormones, antibiotics, etc., etc. was a wonderful business decision for the pharmaceutical industry. Health people, after all, are generally eating healthy food. Take the healthy food, and the supplements that enhance nutrition, away and you have sick people who got that way from eating sick food. In short, you have the US "Food" Supply (more than 80% GMO, by the way) as the primary feeder (!) sending people into the illness care system - where they stay, literally until they die.
If that is NOT what you want for your food, then get even more active than you are in letting everyone on your list know that you are a Natural Solutions Foundation Health Freedom Advocate and that you need them to be a Health Freedom Advocate, too. Here's how"
1. Join the free Natural Solutions Health Freedom eAlert (http://drrimatruthreports.com/index.php?page_id=187) distribution list and take every action step in the Newsletter, each time it comes to your email box. Then send it along to your email list and other contacts asking them to do the same. If you voice is not raised loud and clear, speaking truth to power, how will we protect your health and health freedom?
4. If you are a lucky enough to be a coffee drinker (or detox person), or know people who are, we have a wonderful way to combine health freedom donation and the purchase of wholesome food! Coffee is the second most heavily chemically sprayed substance consumed by humans, running a close second to tobacco. So brewing coffee makes a water extract of God-Alone-Knows-What. Toxins too dangerous for use in US agriculture are made by US companies and sold in high volume in the coffee producing regions of the world where workers, often illiterate, spray huge quantities of deadly poisons on the theory that “more is better”. And you drink it.
Nutritional and dietary influences on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Nutritional Physiology Research Centre, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
The influence of children’s diet on their cognition and behavior.
Multivitamins and minerals help children’s brain function: study
By Stephen Daniells, 05-Nov-2008
Daily supplements of multivitamins and minerals may improve the brain function of children, says a new study from British and Australian researchers.
Twelve weeks of supplementation with vitamins and minerals was found to boost the attention scores of children, according to results published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
â€œThis represents the first observation of acute behavioural effects of vitamins/minerals in human subjects,â€ wrote the researchers, led by Professor David Kennedy from Northumbria University in Newcastle.
â€œNaturally, these observations require replication in larger cohorts, but they do suggest that this matter should be given some priority,â€ cautioned the researchers.
The Newcastle-based researchers, in collaboration with scientists from Swinburne University in Australia, and the University of Westminster in London, recruited 81 children (average age 11) to participate in the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel groups investigation.
The children were reportedly all healthy and free from food allergy. In addition, none of the children used other dietary supplements during the three months prior to the study. Participants were randomly assigned to daily multivitamin and mineral supplements or placebo for 12 weeks. The study used Pharmaton SAâ€™s Pharmaton Kiddi blend of multivitamins and minerals. The Swiss company also provided funding for the study.
Cognitive performance was measured using a battery of laboratory assessments. Measures were taken before the study, after one and three hours after the first dose, and after 12 weeks.
Kennedy and his co-workers report that the children in the vitamin/mineral group performed more accurately on two tests of attention. Indeed, the researchers noted the first signs of improvement only three hours after the first dose on the first day.
â€œThe most surprising facet of the improvement in attention task performance seen here is that it became evident by three hours post-dose on the first day,â€ they wrote.
â€œTo the best of our knowledge, the possibility that vitamins or minerals could exert behavioural effects after a single dose has not been explored,â€ they added.
However, no effects were observed on measures of the childrenâ€™s mood, they added.
Science behind the claims?
The researchers noted that the study was aimed at testing the claims of the manufacturer that the multivitamin and mineral could improve the physical development and neural performance of the children.
â€œThe combination of vitamins, minerals and amino acids presentâ€¦ in the present study does not allow the results presented to be attributed to any one component,â€ wrote the researchers.
â€œFurther work in this area could examine the constituent parts of this treatment in more detail, perhaps focusing on attentional measures and including acute, as well as chronic, assessment,â€ they added.
Source: British Journal of Nutrition
November 2008, Volume 100, Pages 1086-1096, doi:10.1017/S0007114508959213
â€œCognitive and mood effects in healthy children during 12 weeks’ supplementation with multi-vitamin/mineralsâ€
Authors: C.F. Haskell, A.B. Scholey, P.A. Jackson, J.M. Elliott, M.A. Defeyter, J. Greer, B.C. Robertson, T. Buchanan, B. Tiplady, D.O. Kennedy
The Natural Solutions Foundation has been urging the US to examine its food policies in favor of clean, unadulterated, locally grown, GMO free foods for years. We have asked supporters to write letters, met with senior Congressional Aides and members of Congress, attended Codex meetings where FDA and USDA representatives foster the worst of the worst of the multinational interests with respect to adulterated food and enhanced profits.
All along, we have been educating our supporters, who number in the hundreds of thousands, and others as well, to understand that the economic, social, personal and national impact of a degraded food system is the destruction not only of the individual, but the entire society.
If people are dying or dead, or caring for the ill, they cannot go to school, work or carry out the essential functions of a society. If 16% of the GNP goes, at it does in America, for health care that does not care about health, but profits only from illness, and food, the only source of nutrition and health, is contaminated for the sake of profit, and at the same time that nation has just about the worst health of any developed nation, despite all the wildly expensive “care” something is rotten in Denmark, or, rather, the US. And what is rotten is our food.
Our chemicalized, synthesized, devitalized, devalued and destroyed food is, in fact, what is wrong. Without nutrition the immune system flags and falters. Without nutrition, the brain does not function well, Without nutrition the reproductive systems grinds to a halt.
Without nutrition, the eyes grow dim. Obvious but true: synthetic food does not provide nutitional sufficiency. Food that is transported a half a world away looses its nutritional value.
People who eat food made from GMOs ingest, incorporate and keep within them the seeds of their own destruction and that of any child they might bear.
Science is clear. But profit is, apparently, clearer.
Cheap food is not good food. Cheap food is expensive social degreedation and expensive disease. Very, very expensive disease.
And that is, perhaps a good point to remember: Back in 1952 the head of Germany’s Bayer Pharmaceutical, Fritz ter Meer, brought a letter to the UN signed by 5 pharmaceutical executives who haD, like ter Meer, all gone to prison at the end of the Second World War for crimes against humanity and who were now, once again, working for pharmaceutical firms.
Chief executives (and, in ter Meer’s case, the head) of the great civilian German war machine “I G Farben”, these pharmaceutical executives knew well that to accomplish the dream of world domination and cleansing which the Third Reich’s fall left unfinished, they would need to control – and kill – much of the world’s population.
What better way than food? So they urged the UN, in their letter, to take control of the world’s food. He who controls the world’s food, after all, controls the world. And pharmaceutical executives, whose legal responsibility to their share holders have, after all, no interest at all in healthy food. Healthy food makes healthy people and they are poor customers for the diseases which fuel the astronomical profits of the pharmaceutical industry – the preventable, non communicable diseases of under nutrition, as the World Health Organization calls them. These diseases kill an increasing portion of the world’s people as the world converts to Codex-compliant, USDA and FDA approved “food” which weakens and sickens us individually and in our body politic.
It is the drug lord’s gambit, now writ large through the participation of the biotech industry, the factory farming industry, the pesticide industry, the veterinary drug industry (Big Pharma again, because more drugs are used annually for animals than for people), the irradiation industry and the Chemical industry. Codex is part of the picture. Codex was born from that impulse.
Please read below this posting for more information on how to take back the world’s food production, put it back in the capable hands of farmers and reverse the devastating nutrition-based illness trends which will be responsible for 75 % of the world’s people by 2025, according to the joint publication of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s,
The Role of Diet and Exercise in the Prevention of Chronic Disease
visit www.NaturalSolutionsFoundation.org to learn about the Natural Solutions Foundation’s International Decade of Nutrition and its Valley of the Moon(TM) Eco Demonstration Community in the highlands of Panama’s Chiriqui Highlands.
WHO/FAO’s joint report on the impact of the PREVENTABLE, non communicable chronic degenerative diseases of under nutrition “It has been projected that, by 2020, chronic diseases will account for
almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide, and that 71% of deaths due to ischaemic heart disease (IHD), 75% of deaths due to stroke, and 70% of deaths due to diabetes will occur in developing countries (4). The number of people in the developing world with diabetes will increase by more than 2.5-fold, from 84 million in 1995 to 228 million in 2025 (5). On a global basis, 60% of the burden of chronic diseases will occur in developing countries.” reaching the proportions already attained in the developed world for these diseases of under nutrition.
Then National Solutions Foundation strongly supports taking back the production of food from the multinational corporations who are, literally, killing us and putting it back into the hands and lands of people who know, and love, the food they grow and are part of the communities they serve. That’s what the International Decade of Nutrition is all about and that is the reason that the Valley of the Moon(TM) Eco Community will house not only a BeyondOrganic(TM) Bio Dynamic Zero Emissions Farm, but a farm school as well.
And click here (http://drrimatruthreports.com/?page_id=1130) to purchase chemical free Valley of the Moon(TM) Chemical Free Coffee, A little bit of heaven in a cup(c). Every bag gives you a 1/2 lb of the world’s best chemical free coffee and gives you a tax deduction, too!
Farmer in Chief
Michael Pollan, The New York Times
Thursday 09 October 2008
(Copyright – New York Times)
[Reproduced for Educational purposes.]
Federal policies to promote maximum production of commodity crops such as wheat, from which most of our supermarket foods are derived, have succeeded in keeping prices low. But suddenly the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close.
Dear Mr. President-Elect,
It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration – the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact – so easy to overlook these past few years – that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.
Complicating matters is the fact that the price and abundance of food are not the only problems we face; if they were, you could simply follow Nixon’s example, appoint a latter-day Earl Butz as your secretary of agriculture and instruct him or her to do whatever it takes to boost production. But there are reasons to think that the old approach won’t work this time around; for one thing, it depends on cheap energy that we can no longer count on. For another, expanding production of industrial agriculture today would require you to sacrifice important values on which you did campaign. Which brings me to the deeper reason you will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. Unlike food, these are issues you did campaign on – but as you try to address them you will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems and will have to change if we hope to solve them. Let me explain.
After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy – 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do – as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis – a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact.
In addition to the problems of climate change and America’s oil addiction, you have spoken at length on the campaign trail of the health care crisis. Spending on health care has risen from 5 percent of national income in 1960 to 16 percent today, putting a significant drag on the economy. The goal of ensuring the health of all Americans depends on getting those costs under control. There are several reasons health care has gotten so expensive, but one of the biggest, and perhaps most tractable, is the cost to the system of preventable chronic diseases. Four of the top 10 killers in America today are chronic diseases linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. It is no coincidence that in the years national spending on health care went from 5 percent to 16 percent of national income, spending on food has fallen by a comparable amount – from 18 percent of household income to less than 10 percent. While the surfeit of cheap calories that the U.S. food system has produced since the late 1970s may have taken food prices off the political agenda, this has come at a steep cost to public health. You cannot expect to reform the health care system, much less expand coverage, without confronting the public-health catastrophe that is the modern American diet.
The impact of the American food system on the rest of the world will have implications for your foreign and trade policies as well. In the past several months more than 30 nations have experienced food riots, and so far one government has fallen. Should high grain prices persist and shortages develop, you can expect to see the pendulum shift decisively away from free trade, at least in food. Nations that opened their markets to the global flood of cheap grain (under pressure from previous administrations as well as the World Bank and the I.M.F.) lost so many farmers that they now find their ability to feed their own populations hinges on decisions made in Washington (like your predecessor’s precipitous embrace of biofuels) and on Wall Street. They will now rush to rebuild their own agricultural sectors and then seek to protect them by erecting trade barriers. Expect to hear the phrases “food sovereignty” and “food security” on the lips of every foreign leader you meet. Not only the Doha round, but the whole cause of free trade in agriculture is probably dead, the casualty of a cheap food policy that a scant two years ago seemed like a boon for everyone. It is one of the larger paradoxes of our time that the very same food policies that have contributed to overnutrition in the first world are now contributing to undernutrition in the third. But it turns out that too much food can be nearly as big a problem as too little – a lesson we should keep in mind as we set about designing a new approach to food policy.
Rich or poor, countries struggling with soaring food prices are being forcibly reminded that food is a national-security issue. When a nation loses the ability to substantially feed itself, it is not only at the mercy of global commodity markets but of other governments as well. At issue is not only the availability of food, which may be held hostage by a hostile state, but its safety: as recent scandals in China demonstrate, we have little control over the safety of imported foods. The deliberate contamination of our food presents another national-security threat. At his valedictory press conference in 2004, Tommy Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, offered a chilling warning, saying, “I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.”
This, in brief, is the bad news: the food and agriculture policies you’ve inherited – designed to maximize production at all costs and relying on cheap energy to do so – are in shambles, and the need to address the problems they have caused is acute. The good news is that the twinned crises in food and energy are creating a political environment in which real reform of the food system may actually be possible for the first time in a generation. The American people are paying more attention to food today than they have in decades, worrying not only about its price but about its safety, its provenance and its healthfulness. There is a gathering sense among the public that the industrial-food system is broken. Markets for alternative kinds of food – organic, local, pasture-based, humane – are thriving as never before. All this suggests that a political constituency for change is building and not only on the left: lately, conservative voices have also been raised in support of reform. Writing of the movement back to local food economies, traditional foods (and family meals) and more sustainable farming, The American Conservative magazine editorialized last summer that “this is a conservative cause if ever there was one.”
There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I’m urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: we need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine. True, this is easier said than done – fossil fuel is deeply implicated in everything about the way we currently grow food and feed ourselves. To put the food system back on sunlight will require policies to change how things work at every link in the food chain: in the farm field, in the way food is processed and sold and even in the American kitchen and at the American dinner table. Yet the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does. If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food.
How We Got Here
Before setting out an agenda for reforming the food system, it’s important to understand how that system came to be – and also to appreciate what, for all its many problems, it has accomplished. What our food system does well is precisely what it was designed to do, which is to produce cheap calories in great abundance. It is no small thing for an American to be able to go into a fast-food restaurant and to buy a double cheeseburger, fries and a large Coke for a price equal to less than an hour of labor at the minimum wage – indeed, in the long sweep of history, this represents a remarkable achievement.
It must be recognized that the current food system – characterized by monocultures of corn and soy in the field and cheap calories of fat, sugar and feedlot meat on the table – is not simply the product of the free market. Rather, it is the product of a specific set of government policies that sponsored a shift from solar (and human) energy on the farm to fossil-fuel energy.
Did you notice when you flew over Iowa during the campaign how the land was completely bare – black – from October to April? What you were seeing is the agricultural landscape created by cheap oil. In years past, except in the dead of winter, you would have seen in those fields a checkerboard of different greens: pastures and hayfields for animals, cover crops, perhaps a block of fruit trees. Before the application of oil and natural gas to agriculture, farmers relied on crop diversity (and photosynthesis) both to replenish their soil and to combat pests, as well as to feed themselves and their neighbors. Cheap energy, however, enabled the creation of monocultures, and monocultures in turn vastly increased the productivity both of the American land and the American farmer; today the typical corn-belt farmer is single-handedly feeding 140 people.
This did not occur by happenstance. After World War II, the government encouraged the conversion of the munitions industry to fertilizer – ammonium nitrate being the main ingredient of both bombs and chemical fertilizer – and the conversion of nerve-gas research to pesticides. The government also began subsidizing commodity crops, paying farmers by the bushel for all the corn, soybeans, wheat and rice they could produce. One secretary of agriculture after another implored them to plant “fence row to fence row” and to “get big or get out.”
The chief result, especially after the Earl Butz years, was a flood of cheap grain that could be sold for substantially less than it cost farmers to grow because a government check helped make up the difference. As this artificially cheap grain worked its way up the food chain, it drove down the price of all the calories derived from that grain: the high-fructose corn syrup in the Coke, the soy oil in which the potatoes were fried, the meat and cheese in the burger.
Subsidized monocultures of grain also led directly to monocultures of animals: since factory farms could buy grain for less than it cost farmers to grow it, they could now fatten animals more cheaply than farmers could. So America’s meat and dairy animals migrated from farm to feedlot, driving down the price of animal protein to the point where an American can enjoy eating, on average, 190 pounds of meat a year – a half pound every day.
But if taking the animals off farms made a certain kind of economic sense, it made no ecological sense whatever: their waste, formerly regarded as a precious source of fertility on the farm, became a pollutant – factory farms are now one of America’s biggest sources of pollution. As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution – animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete – and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot. The former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel fertilizer; the latter is remedied not at all.
What was once a regional food economy is now national and increasingly global in scope – thanks again to fossil fuel. Cheap energy – for trucking food as well as pumping water – is the reason New York City now gets its produce from California rather than from the “Garden State” next door, as it did before the advent of Interstate highways and national trucking networks. More recently, cheap energy has underwritten a globalized food economy in which it makes (or rather, made) economic sense to catch salmon in Alaska, ship it to China to be filleted and then ship the fillets back to California to be eaten; or one in which California and Mexico can profitably swap tomatoes back and forth across the border; or Denmark and the United States can trade sugar cookies across the Atlantic. About that particular swap the economist Herman Daly once quipped, “Exchanging recipes would surely be more efficient.”
Whatever we may have liked about the era of cheap, oil-based food, it is drawing to a close. Even if we were willing to continue paying the environmental or public-health price, we’re not going to have the cheap energy (or the water) needed to keep the system going, much less expand production. But as is so often the case, a crisis provides opportunity for reform, and the current food crisis presents opportunities that must be seized.
In drafting these proposals, I’ve adhered to a few simple principles of what a 21st-century food system needs to do. First, your administration’s food policy must strive to provide a healthful diet for all our people; this means focusing on the quality and diversity (and not merely the quantity) of the calories that American agriculture produces and American eaters consume. Second, your policies should aim to improve the resilience, safety and security of our food supply. Among other things, this means promoting regional food economies both in America and around the world. And lastly, your policies need to reconceive agriculture as part of the solution to environmental problems like climate change.
These goals are admittedly ambitious, yet they will not be difficult to align or advance as long as we keep in mind this One Big Idea: most of the problems our food system faces today are because of its reliance on fossil fuels, and to the extent that our policies wring the oil out of the system and replace it with the energy of the sun, those policies will simultaneously improve the state of our health, our environment and our security.
I. Resolarizing the American Farm
What happens in the field influences every other link of the food chain on up to our meals – if we grow monocultures of corn and soy, we will find the products of processed corn and soy on our plates. Fortunately for your initiative, the federal government has enormous leverage in determining exactly what happens on the 830 million acres of American crop and pasture land.
Today most government farm and food programs are designed to prop up the old system of maximizing production from a handful of subsidized commodity crops grown in monocultures. Even food-assistance programs like WIC and school lunch focus on maximizing quantity rather than quality, typically specifying a minimum number of calories (rather than maximums) and seldom paying more than lip service to nutritional quality. This focus on quantity may have made sense in a time of food scarcity, but today it gives us a school-lunch program that feeds chicken nuggets and Tater Tots to overweight and diabetic children.
Your challenge is to take control of this vast federal machinery and use it to drive a transition to a new solar-food economy, starting on the farm. Right now, the government actively discourages the farmers it subsidizes from growing healthful, fresh food: farmers receiving crop subsidies are prohibited from growing “specialty crops” – farm-bill speak for fruits and vegetables. (This rule was the price exacted by California and Florida produce growers in exchange for going along with subsidies for commodity crops.) Commodity farmers should instead be encouraged to grow as many different crops – including animals – as possible. Why? Because the greater the diversity of crops on a farm, the less the need for both fertilizers and pesticides.
The power of cleverly designed polycultures to produce large amounts of food from little more than soil, water and sunlight has been proved, not only by small-scale “alternative” farmers in the United States but also by large rice-and-fish farmers in China and giant-scale operations (up to 15,000 acres) in places like Argentina. There, in a geography roughly comparable to that of the American farm belt, farmers have traditionally employed an ingenious eight-year rotation of perennial pasture and annual crops: after five years grazing cattle on pasture (and producing the world’s best beef), farmers can then grow three years of grain without applying any fossil-fuel fertilizer. Or, for that matter, many pesticides: the weeds that afflict pasture can’t survive the years of tillage, and the weeds of row crops don’t survive the years of grazing, making herbicides all but unnecessary. There is no reason – save current policy and custom – that American farmers couldn’t grow both high-quality grain and grass-fed beef under such a regime through much of the Midwest. (It should be noted that today’s sky-high grain prices are causing many Argentine farmers to abandon their rotation to grow grain and soybeans exclusively, an environmental disaster in the making.)
Federal policies could do much to encourage this sort of diversified sun farming. Begin with the subsidies: payment levels should reflect the number of different crops farmers grow or the number of days of the year their fields are green – that is, taking advantage of photosynthesis, whether to grow food, replenish the soil or control erosion. If Midwestern farmers simply planted a cover crop after the fall harvest, they would significantly reduce their need for fertilizer, while cutting down on soil erosion. Why don’t farmers do this routinely? Because in recent years fossil-fuel-based fertility has been so much cheaper and easier to use than sun-based fertility.
In addition to rewarding farmers for planting cover crops, we should make it easier for them to apply compost to their fields – a practice that improves not only the fertility of the soil but also its ability to hold water and therefore withstand drought. (There is mounting evidence that it also boosts the nutritional quality of the food grown in it.) The U.S.D.A. estimates that Americans throw out 14 percent of the food they buy; much more is wasted by retailers, wholesalers and institutions. A program to make municipal composting of food and yard waste mandatory and then distributing the compost free to area farmers would shrink America’s garbage heap, cut the need for irrigation and fossil-fuel fertilizers in agriculture and improve the nutritional quality of the American diet.
Right now, most of the conservation programs run by the U.S.D.A. are designed on the zero-sum principle: land is either locked up in “conservation” or it is farmed intensively. This either-or approach reflects an outdated belief that modern farming and ranching are inherently destructive, so that the best thing for the environment is to leave land untouched. But we now know how to grow crops and graze animals in systems that will support biodiversity, soil health, clean water and carbon sequestration. The Conservation Stewardship Program, championed by Senator Tom Harkin and included in the 2008 Farm Bill, takes an important step toward rewarding these kinds of practices, but we need to move this approach from the periphery of our farm policy to the very center. Longer term, the government should back ambitious research now under way (at the Land Institute in Kansas and a handful of other places) to “perennialize” commodity agriculture: to breed varieties of wheat, rice and other staple grains that can be grown like prairie grasses – without having to till the soil every year. These perennial grains hold the promise of slashing the fossil fuel now needed to fertilize and till the soil, while protecting farmland from erosion and sequestering significant amounts of carbon.
But that is probably a 50-year project. For today’s agriculture to wean itself from fossil fuel and make optimal use of sunlight, crop plants and animals must once again be married on the farm – as in Wendell Berry’s elegant “solution.” Sunlight nourishes the grasses and grains, the plants nourish the animals, the animals then nourish the soil, which in turn nourishes the next season’s grasses and grains. Animals on pasture can also harvest their own feed and dispose of their own waste – all without our help or fossil fuel.
If this system is so sensible, you might ask, why did it succumb to Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs? In fact there is nothing inherently efficient or economical about raising vast cities of animals in confinement. Three struts, each put into place by federal policy, support the modern CAFO, and the most important of these – the ability to buy grain for less than it costs to grow it – has just been kicked away. The second strut is F.D.A. approval for the routine use of antibiotics in feed, without which the animals in these places could not survive their crowded, filthy and miserable existence. And the third is that the government does not require CAFOs to treat their wastes as it would require human cities of comparable size to do. The F.D.A. should ban the routine use of antibiotics in livestock feed on public-health grounds, now that we have evidence that the practice is leading to the evolution of drug-resistant bacterial diseases and to outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisoning. CAFOs should also be regulated like the factories they are, required to clean up their waste like any other industry or municipality.
It will be argued that moving animals off feedlots and back onto farms will raise the price of meat. It probably will – as it should. You will need to make the case that paying the real cost of meat, and therefore eating less of it, is a good thing for our health, for the environment, for our dwindling reserves of fresh water and for the welfare of the animals. Meat and milk production represent the food industry’s greatest burden on the environment; a recent U.N. study estimated that the world’s livestock alone account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gases, more than all forms of transportation combined. (According to one study, a pound of feedlot beef also takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce.) And while animals living on farms will still emit their share of greenhouse gases, grazing them on grass and returning their waste to the soil will substantially offset their carbon hoof prints, as will getting ruminant animals off grain. A bushel of grain takes approximately a half gallon of oil to produce; grass can be grown with little more than sunshine.
It will be argued that sun-food agriculture will generally yield less food than fossil-fuel agriculture. This is debatable. The key question you must be prepared to answer is simply this: Can the sort of sustainable agriculture you’re proposing feed the world?
There are a couple of ways to answer this question. The simplest and most honest answer is that we don’t know, because we haven’t tried. But in the same way we now need to learn how to run an industrial economy without cheap fossil fuel, we have no choice but to find out whether sustainable agriculture can produce enough food. The fact is, during the past century, our agricultural research has been directed toward the goal of maximizing production with the help of fossil fuel. There is no reason to think that bringing the same sort of resources to the development of more complex, sun-based agricultural systems wouldn’t produce comparable yields. Today’s organic farmers, operating for the most part without benefit of public investment in research, routinely achieve 80 to 100 percent of conventional yields in grain and, in drought years, frequently exceed conventional yields. (This is because organic soils better retain moisture.) Assuming no further improvement, could the world – with a population expected to peak at 10 billion – survive on these yields?
First, bear in mind that the average yield of world agriculture today is substantially lower than that of modern sustainable farming. According to a recent University of Michigan study, merely bringing international yields up to today’s organic levels could increase the world’s food supply by 50 percent.
The second point to bear in mind is that yield isn’t everything – and growing high-yield commodities is not quite the same thing as growing food. Much of what we’re growing today is not directly eaten as food but processed into low-quality calories of fat and sugar. As the world epidemic of diet-related chronic disease has demonstrated, the sheer quantity of calories that a food system produces improves health only up to a point, but after that, quality and diversity are probably more important. We can expect that a food system that produces somewhat less food but of a higher quality will produce healthier populations.
The final point to consider is that 40 percent of the world’s grain output today is fed to animals; 11 percent of the world’s corn and soybean crop is fed to cars and trucks, in the form of biofuels. Provided the developed world can cut its consumption of grain-based animal protein and ethanol, there should be plenty of food for everyone – however we choose to grow it.
In fact, well-designed polyculture systems, incorporating not just grains but vegetables and animals, can produce more food per acre than conventional monocultures, and food of a much higher nutritional value. But this kind of farming is complicated and needs many more hands on the land to make it work. Farming without fossil fuels – performing complex rotations of plants and animals and managing pests without petrochemicals – is labor intensive and takes more skill than merely “driving and spraying,” which is how corn-belt farmers describe what they do for a living.
To grow sufficient amounts of food using sunlight will require more people growing food – millions more. This suggests that sustainable agriculture will be easier to implement in the developing world, where large rural populations remain, than in the West, where they don’t. But what about here in America, where we have only about two million farmers left to feed a population of 300 million? And where farmland is being lost to development at the rate of 2,880 acres a day? Post-oil agriculture will need a lot more people engaged in food production – as farmers and probably also as gardeners.
The sun-food agenda must include programs to train a new generation of farmers and then help put them on the land. The average American farmer today is 55 years old; we shouldn’t expect these farmers to embrace the sort of complex ecological approach to agriculture that is called for. Our focus should be on teaching ecological farming systems to students entering land-grant colleges today. For decades now, it has been federal policy to shrink the number of farmers in America by promoting capital-intensive monoculture and consolidation. As a society, we devalued farming as an occupation and encouraged the best students to leave the farm for “better” jobs in the city. We emptied America’s rural counties in order to supply workers to urban factories. To put it bluntly, we now need to reverse course. We need more highly skilled small farmers in more places all across America – not as a matter of nostalgia for the agrarian past but as a matter of national security. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil presently do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food.
National security also argues for preserving every acre of farmland we can and then making it available to new farmers. We simply will not be able to depend on distant sources of food, and therefore need to preserve every acre of good farmland within a day’s drive of our cities. In the same way that when we came to recognize the supreme ecological value of wetlands we erected high bars to their development, we need to recognize the value of farmland to our national security and require real-estate developers to do “food-system impact statements” before development begins. We should also create tax and zoning incentives for developers to incorporate farmland (as they now do “open space”) in their subdivision plans; all those subdivisions now ringing golf courses could someday have diversified farms at their center.
The revival of farming in America, which of course draws on the abiding cultural power of our agrarian heritage, will pay many political and economic dividends. It will lead to robust economic renewal in the countryside. And it will generate tens of millions of new “green jobs,” which is precisely how we need to begin thinking of skilled solar farming: as a vital sector of the 21st-century post-fossil-fuel economy.
II. Reregionalizing the Food System
For your sun-food agenda to succeed, it will have to do a lot more than alter what happens on the farm. The government could help seed a thousand new polyculture farmers in every county in Iowa, but they would promptly fail if the grain elevator remained the only buyer in town and corn and beans were the only crops it would take. Resolarizing the food system means building the infrastructure for a regional food economy – one that can support diversified farming and, by shortening the food chain, reduce the amount of fossil fuel in the American diet.
A decentralized food system offers a great many other benefits as well. Food eaten closer to where it is grown will be fresher and require less processing, making it more nutritious. Whatever may be lost in efficiency by localizing food production is gained in resilience: regional food systems can better withstand all kinds of shocks. When a single factory is grinding 20 million hamburger patties in a week or washing 25 million servings of salad, a single terrorist armed with a canister of toxins can, at a stroke, poison millions. Such a system is equally susceptible to accidental contamination: the bigger and more global the trade in food, the more vulnerable the system is to catastrophe. The best way to protect our food system against such threats is obvious: decentralize it.
Today in America there is soaring demand for local and regional food; farmers’ markets, of which the U.S.D.A. estimates there are now 4,700, have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the food market. Community-supported agriculture is booming as well: there are now nearly 1,500 community-supported farms, to which consumers pay an annual fee in exchange for a weekly box of produce through the season. The local-food movement will continue to grow with no help from the government, especially as high fuel prices make distant and out-of-season food, as well as feedlot meat, more expensive. Yet there are several steps the government can take to nurture this market and make local foods more affordable. Here are a few:
Four-Season Farmers’ Markets. Provide grants to towns and cities to build year-round indoor farmers’ markets, on the model of Pike Place in Seattle or the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. To supply these markets, the U.S.D.A. should make grants to rebuild local distribution networks in order to minimize the amount of energy used to move produce within local food sheds.
Agricultural Enterprise Zones. Today the revival of local food economies is being hobbled by a tangle of regulations originally designed to check abuses by the very largest food producers. Farmers should be able to smoke a ham and sell it to their neighbors without making a huge investment in federally approved facilities. Food-safety regulations must be made sensitive to scale and marketplace, so that a small producer selling direct off the farm or at a farmers’ market is not regulated as onerously as a multinational food manufacturer. This is not because local food won’t ever have food-safety problems – it will – only that its problems will be less catastrophic and easier to manage because local food is inherently more traceable and accountable.
Local Meat-Inspection Corps. Perhaps the single greatest impediment to the return of livestock to the land and the revival of local, grass-based meat production is the disappearance of regional slaughter facilities. The big meat processors have been buying up local abattoirs only to close them down as they consolidate, and the U.S.D.A. does little to support the ones that remain. From the department’s perspective, it is a better use of shrinking resources to dispatch its inspectors to a plant slaughtering 400 head an hour than to a regional abattoir slaughtering a dozen. The U.S.D.A. should establish a Local Meat-Inspectors Corps to serve these processors. Expanding on its successful pilot program on Lopez Island in Puget Sound, the U.S.D.A. should also introduce a fleet of mobile abattoirs that would go from farm to farm, processing animals humanely and inexpensively. Nothing would do more to make regional, grass-fed meat fully competitive in the market with feedlot meat.
Establish a Strategic Grain Reserve. In the same way the shift to alternative energy depends on keeping oil prices relatively stable, the sun-food agenda – as well as the food security of billions of people around the world – will benefit from government action to prevent huge swings in commodity prices. A strategic grain reserve, modeled on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, would help achieve this objective and at the same time provide some cushion for world food stocks, which today stand at perilously low levels. Governments should buy and store grain when it is cheap and sell when it is dear, thereby moderating price swings in both directions and discouraging speculation.
Regionalize Federal Food Procurement. In the same way that federal procurement is often used to advance important social goals (like promoting minority-owned businesses), we should require that some minimum percentage of government food purchases – whether for school-lunch programs, military bases or federal prisons – go to producers located within 100 miles of institutions buying the food. We should create incentives for hospitals and universities receiving federal funds to buy fresh local produce. To channel even a small portion of institutional food purchasing to local food would vastly expand regional agriculture and improve the diet of the millions of people these institutions feed.
Create a Federal Definition of “Food.” It makes no sense for government food-assistance dollars, intended to improve the nutritional health of at-risk Americans, to support the consumption of products we know to be unhealthful. Yes, some people will object that for the government to specify what food stamps can and cannot buy smacks of paternalism. Yet we already prohibit the purchase of tobacco and alcohol with food stamps. So why not prohibit something like soda, which is arguably less nutritious than red wine? Because it is, nominally, a food, albeit a “junk food.” We need to stop flattering nutritionally worthless foodlike substances by calling them “junk food” – and instead make clear that such products are not in fact food of any kind. Defining what constitutes real food worthy of federal support will no doubt be controversial (you’ll recall President Reagan’s ketchup imbroglio), but defining food upward may be more politically palatable than defining it down, as Reagan sought to do. One approach would be to rule that, in order to be regarded as a food by the government, an edible substance must contain a certain minimum ratio of micronutrients per calorie of energy. At a stroke, such a definition would improve the quality of school lunch and discourage sales of unhealthful products, since typically only “food” is exempt from local sales tax.
A few other ideas: Food-stamp debit cards should double in value whenever swiped at a farmers’ markets – all of which, by the way, need to be equipped with the Electronic Benefit Transfer card readers that supermarkets already have. We should expand the WIC program that gives farmers’-market vouchers to low-income women with children; such programs help attract farmers’ markets to urban neighborhoods where access to fresh produce is often nonexistent. (We should also offer tax incentives to grocery chains willing to build supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods.) Federal food assistance for the elderly should build on a successful program pioneered by the state of Maine that buys low-income seniors a membership in a community-supported farm. All these initiatives have the virtue of advancing two objectives at once: supporting the health of at-risk Americans and the revival of local food economies.
III. Rebuilding America’s Food Culture
In the end, shifting the American diet from a foundation of imported fossil fuel to local sunshine will require changes in our daily lives, which by now are deeply implicated in the economy and culture of fast, cheap and easy food. Making available more healthful and more sustainable food does not guarantee it will be eaten, much less appreciated or enjoyed. We need to use all the tools at our disposal – not just federal policy and public education but the president’s bully pulpit and the example of the first family’s own dinner table – to promote a new culture of food that can undergird your sun-food agenda.
Changing the food culture must begin with our children, and it must begin in the schools. Nearly a half-century ago, President Kennedy announced a national initiative to improve the physical fitness of American children. He did it by elevating the importance of physical education, pressing states to make it a requirement in public schools. We need to bring the same commitment to “edible education” – in Alice Waters’s phrase – by making lunch, in all its dimensions, a mandatory part of the curriculum. On the premise that eating well is a critically important life skill, we need to teach all primary-school students the basics of growing and cooking food and then enjoying it at shared meals.
To change our children’s food culture, we’ll need to plant gardens in every primary school, build fully equipped kitchens, train a new generation of lunchroom ladies (and gentlemen) who can once again cook and teach cooking to children. We should introduce a School Lunch Corps program that forgives federal student loans to culinary-school graduates in exchange for two years of service in the public-school lunch program. And we should immediately increase school-lunch spending per pupil by $1 a day – the minimum amount food-service experts believe it will take to underwrite a shift from fast food in the cafeteria to real food freshly prepared.
But it is not only our children who stand to benefit from public education about food. Today most federal messages about food, from nutrition labeling to the food pyramid, are negotiated with the food industry. The surgeon general should take over from the Department of Agriculture the job of communicating with Americans about their diet. That way we might begin to construct a less equivocal and more effective public-health message about nutrition. Indeed, there is no reason that public-health campaigns about the dangers of obesity and Type 2 diabetes shouldn’t be as tough and as effective as public-health campaigns about the dangers of smoking. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes. The public needs to know and see precisely what that sentence means: blindness; amputation; early death. All of which can be avoided by a change in diet and lifestyle. A public-health crisis of this magnitude calls for a blunt public-health message, even at the expense of offending the food industry. Judging by the success of recent antismoking campaigns, the savings to the health care system could be substantial.
There are other kinds of information about food that the government can supply or demand. In general we should push for as much transparency in the food system as possible – the other sense in which “sunlight” should be the watchword of our agenda. The F.D.A. should require that every packaged-food product include a second calorie count, indicating how many calories of fossil fuel went into its production. Oil is one of the most important ingredients in our food, and people ought to know just how much of it they’re eating. The government should also throw its support behind putting a second bar code on all food products that, when scanned either in the store or at home (or with a cellphone), brings up on a screen the whole story and pictures of how that product was produced: in the case of crops, images of the farm and lists of agrochemicals used in its production; in the case of meat and dairy, descriptions of the animals’ diet and drug regimen, as well as live video feeds of the CAFO where they live and, yes, the slaughterhouse where they die. The very length and complexity of the modern food chain breeds a culture of ignorance and indifference among eaters. Shortening the food chain is one way to create more conscious consumers, but deploying technology to pierce the veil is another.
Finally, there is the power of the example you set in the White House. If what’s needed is a change of culture in America’s thinking about food, then how America’s first household organizes its eating will set the national tone, focusing the light of public attention on the issue and communicating a simple set of values that can guide Americans toward sun-based foods and away from eating oil.
The choice of White House chef is always closely watched, and you would be wise to appoint a figure who is identified with the food movement and committed to cooking simply from fresh local ingredients. Besides feeding you and your family exceptionally well, such a chef would demonstrate how it is possible even in Washington to eat locally for much of the year, and that good food needn’t be fussy or complicated but does depend on good farming. You should make a point of the fact that every night you’re in town, you join your family for dinner in the Executive Residence – at a table. (Surely you remember the Reagans’ TV trays.) And you should also let it be known that the White House observes one meatless day a week – a step that, if all Americans followed suit, would be the equivalent, in carbon saved, of taking 20 million midsize sedans off the road for a year. Let the White House chef post daily menus on the Web, listing the farmers who supplied the food, as well as recipes.
Since enhancing the prestige of farming as an occupation is critical to developing the sun-based regional agriculture we need, the White House should appoint, in addition to a White House chef, a White House farmer. This new post would be charged with implementing what could turn out to be your most symbolically resonant step in building a new American food culture. And that is this: tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden.
When Eleanor Roosevelt did something similar in 1943, she helped start a Victory Garden movement that ended up making a substantial contribution to feeding the nation in wartime. (Less well known is the fact that Roosevelt planted this garden over the objections of the U.S.D.A., which feared home gardening would hurt the American food industry.) By the end of the war, more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce consumed in America. The president should throw his support behind a new Victory Garden movement, this one seeking “victory” over three critical challenges we face today: high food prices, poor diets and a sedentary population. Eating from this, the shortest food chain of all, offers anyone with a patch of land a way to reduce their fossil-fuel consumption and help fight climate change. (We should offer grants to cities to build allotment gardens for people without access to land.) Just as important, Victory Gardens offer a way to enlist
Americans, in body as well as mind, in the work of feeding themselves and changing the food system – something more ennobling, surely, than merely asking them to shop a little differently.
I don’t need to tell you that ripping out even a section of the White House lawn will be controversial: Americans love their lawns, and the South Lawn is one of the most beautiful in the country. But imagine all the energy, water and petrochemicals it takes to make it that way. (Even for the purposes of this memo, the White House would not disclose its lawn-care regimen.) Yet as deeply as Americans feel about their lawns, the agrarian ideal runs deeper still, and making this particular plot of American land productive, especially if the First Family gets out there and pulls weeds now and again, will provide an image even more stirring than that of a pretty lawn: the image of stewardship of the land, of self-reliance and of making the most of local sunlight to feed one’s family and community. The fact that surplus produce from the South Lawn Victory Garden (and there will be literally tons of it) will be offered to regional food banks will make its own eloquent statement.
You’re probably thinking that growing and eating organic food in the White House carries a certain political risk. It is true you might want to plant iceberg lettuce rather than arugula, at least to start. (Or simply call arugula by its proper American name, as generations of Midwesterners have done: “rocket.”) But it should not be difficult to deflect the charge of elitism sometimes leveled at the sustainable-food movement. Reforming the food system is not inherently a right-or-left issue: for every Whole Foods shopper with roots in the counterculture you can find a family of evangelicals intent on taking control of its family dinner and diet back from the fast-food industry – the culinary equivalent of home schooling. You should support hunting as a particularly sustainable way to eat meat – meat grown without any fossil fuels whatsoever. There is also a strong libertarian component to the sun-food agenda, which seeks to free small producers from the burden of government regulation in order to stoke rural innovation. And what is a higher “family value,” after all, than making time to sit down every night to a shared meal?
Our agenda puts the interests of America’s farmers, families and communities ahead of the fast-food industry’s. For that industry and its apologists to imply that it is somehow more “populist” or egalitarian to hand our food dollars to Burger King or General Mills than to support a struggling local farmer is absurd. Yes, sun food costs more, but the reasons why it does only undercut the charge of elitism: cheap food is only cheap because of government handouts and regulatory indulgence (both of which we will end), not to mention the exploitation of workers, animals and the environment on which its putative “economies” depend. Cheap food is food dishonestly priced – it is in fact unconscionably expensive.
Your sun-food agenda promises to win support across the aisle. It builds on America’s agrarian past, but turns it toward a more sustainable, sophisticated future. It honors the work of American farmers and enlists them in three of the 21st century’s most urgent errands: to move into the post-oil era, to improve the health of the American people and to mitigate climate change. Indeed, it enlists all of us in this great cause by turning food consumers into part-time producers, reconnecting the American people with the American land and demonstrating that we need not choose between the welfare of our families and the health of the environment – that eating less oil and more sunlight will redound to the benefit of both.
Michael Pollan, a contributing writer for the magazine, is the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author, most recently, of “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.”
There is good news making its way slowly, slowly into the medical world: little by little allopathic medicine is finally noticing how effective nutrients are in diseases and clinical conditions. Too slowly for most of us, but, still, there are creeping changes.
Instead of antibiotics, for example, pediatricians have noticed that pediatric diarrhea responds to zinc. Why? Because immune systems need zinc to do their job. So give the child zinc and it can fix the problem by itself without dangerous, expensive drugs. Well, well!
And even better, infection yields to silver. Well, of course it does. Burn centers have know that for decades and so has every natural doctor and naturopath for the last how many decades? But the derision and scorn heaped on us when we tried to talk about these and a thousand other ways of treating people when they come to us for cheap, simple, effective and safe means of getting well or staying that way is profound.
It is, however, the derision and anger born of fear.
Laibow’s First Law of Human Psychology is “Anger Drives Out Fear, Or At Least It’s Supposed To!” And conventional medicine is very, very afraid of the natural competitors to its expensive, dangerous and very limited drugs.
Oh, yes, one more thing: Codex Alimentarius makes the international trade of supplements very difficult since supplements may only be sold at doses so low that they have no clinical impact. Codex copmpliance in Europe through the European Food Supplements Directive is, in fact, stripping the shelves of stores of the nutrients previously avaialbe which might have allowed people to use the information in this article. Just ask any one you know, for example, in the UK, what is happening to their supplements: they are vanishing like the morning mist. Poof! Just like that.
If you don’t want the same thing to happen to you, it is imperative that you take action now, join the Natural Solutions Foundation’s distribution list for the free and secure Health Freedom eAlerts and take the action steps therein. I can assure you that legislators are not going to protect your health freedom without an effective outcry from us, the consumers who make our own choices about our own health paths.
Changes in Folate and Homocysteine Linked to Incident Dementia
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Aug 18 – Onset of dementia is associated with decreasing folate and increasing vitamin B12 and homocysteine, results of a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry indicate.
“Several cross-sectional studies have found significant associations of lower folate and hyperhomocysteinemia with dementia or cognitive impairment, but the direction of cause and effect is not known,” Dr. Jin-Sang Yoon, of University Medical School, Kwangiu, Republic of Korea, and colleagues write. “Results from prospective studies have been controversial.”
In their study, the researchers examined both baseline levels and changes in folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine as predictors of incident dementia in 625 elderly patients free of dementia at baseline; 518 (83%) were followed over 2.4 years.
Incident dementia occurred in 45 of the 518 (8.7%). The only baseline factor that predicted incident dementia was lower folate concentrations
However, “The onset of dementia was significantly associated with an exaggerated decline in folate, a weaker increase in vitamin B12 concentrations and an exaggerated increase in homocysteine concentrations over the follow-up period,” the team reports.
After adjustment for weight change, these associations were reduced.
“Further research is required to clarify these complex longitudinal interrelationships,” Dr. Yoon and colleagues conclude. “In the meantime, attention needs to be paid to the nutritional status of people with dementia from the time of diagnosis onwards, regardless of whether this is a cause or effect of their condition.”
News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD
CME Author: Penny Murata, MD
Release Date: August 19, 2008; Valid for credit through August 19, 2009
Physicians – maximum of 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)â„¢ for physicians;
Family Physicians – up to 0.25 AAFP Prescribed credit(s) for physicians
To participate in this internet activity: (1) review the target audience, learning objectives, and author disclosures; (2) study the education content; (3) take the post-test and/or complete the evaluation; (4) view/print certificate View details.
Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:
1. Compare the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in patients intubated for at least 24 hours with a silver-coated endotracheal tube vs an uncoated endotracheal tube.
2. Report whether use of a silver-coated endotracheal tube affects duration of intubation, length of stay in the intensive care unit or hospital, mortality rates, and adverse events.
Authors and Disclosures
Laurie Barclay, MD
Disclosure: Laurie Barclay, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Penny Murata, MD
Disclosure: Penny Murata, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Brande Nicole Martin
Disclosure: Brande Nicole Martin has disclosed no relevant financial information.
August 19, 2008 â€” Use of a silver-coated endotracheal tube significantly reduces the incidence of microbiologically confirmed ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), according to the results of a large, randomized, multicenter study reported in the August 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“VAP causes substantial morbidity,” write Marin H. Kollef, MD, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and colleagues from the North American Silver-Coated Endotracheal Tube Investigation Group. “A silver-coated endotracheal tube has been designed to reduce VAP incidence by preventing bacterial colonization and biofilm formation.”
The goal of this prospective, single-blind study conducted in 54 centers in North America was to evaluate whether use of a silver-coated endotracheal tube would reduce the incidence of microbiologically confirmed VAP.
Of 9417 adult patients aged 18 years or older who were screened between 2002 and 2006, a total of 2003 patients who were expected to need mechanical ventilation for at least 24 hours were randomly assigned to undergo intubation with 1 of 2 high-volume, low-pressure endotracheal tubes. These tubes were similar except that the experimental tube had a silver coating.
The main endpoint was incidence of VAP, diagnosed from quantitative bronchoalveolar lavage fluid culture with at least 104 colony-forming units/mL in patients intubated for at least 24 hours. Secondary endpoints were VAP incidence in all intubated patients, time to VAP onset, length of intubation and duration of intensive care unit and hospital stay, mortality rates, and adverse events.
Rates of microbiologically confirmed VAP in patients intubated for at least 24 hours were 4.8% (37/766 patients; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.4% – 6.6%) in the group receiving the silver-coated tube and 7.5% (56/743; 95% CI, 5.7% – 9.7%; P = .03) in the group receiving the uncoated tube (relative risk reduction, 35.9%; 95% CI, 3.6% – 69.0%).
Rates of microbiologically confirmed VAP in all intubated patients were 3.8% (37/968; 95% CI, 2.7% – 5.2%) in the experimental group and 5.8% (56/964; 95% CI, 4.4% – 7.5%; P = .04) in the control group (relative risk reduction, 34.2%; 95% CI, 1.2% – 67.9%).
Use of the silver-coated endotracheal tube was associated with delayed occurrence of VAP (P = .005), but there were no statistically significant between-group differences in durations of intubation, intensive care unit stay, and hospital stay. Mortality rates and frequency and severity of adverse events were also similar in both groups.
“Patients receiving a silver-coated endotracheal tube had a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of VAP and delayed time to VAP occurrence compared with those receiving a similar, uncoated tube,” the study authors write. “The silver-coated endotracheal tube appears to offer a unique approach because it is the first intervention that becomes user-independent after intubation, requiring no further action by the clinician.”
Limitations of this study include single blinding rather than double blinding; use of a small, fixed block size stratified by center; other factors possibly contributing to between-group differences in VAP rates; study protocol not standardizing prevention strategies; and a protective effect of higher severity-of-illness scores against development of VAP.
“Important uncertainties exist regarding the exact benefit of silver-coated endotracheal tubes,” Dr. Chastre writes. “Consequently, silver coated tubes should not be viewed as the definitive answer for VAP prevention, and, until additional data confirm the clinical effectiveness and cost benefit of these devices, their use should be restricted to high-risk patients treated in ICUs [intensive care units] with benchmark value-based infection rates that remain above institutional goals despite implementation of a comprehensive strategy of usual preventive measures to prevent VAP.”
CR Bard Inc supported this study and provided grant support to all of the study authors. Some of the study authors have disclosed various financial relationships with Kimberly Clark, Elan, Merck, Pfizer, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim, KCI, sanofi-aventis, Johnson & Johnson, Easi, Hospira, Nomir Medical Technologies, Arpida, Cubist, Elan, Ortho-McNeil, Sanofi Pasteur, Wyeth, Bayer-Nektar, Nestle Clinical Nutrition, Lilly, Corbett Accel Healthcare, National Institutes of Health, Novartis, and/or Maquet. Dr. Chastre has received consulting and lecture fees from Pfizer, Brahms, Wyeth, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer-Nektar, and Arpida.
JAMA. 2008.300:805-813, 842-844.
Rello and colleagues reported in the December 2002 issue of Chest that VAP is linked with increased morbidity rates and generally occurs in the first 10 days after endotracheal intubation. Probable causes of VAP include colonization with pathogenic bacteria and aspiration, as noted by Kollef in the June 2005 issue of Respiratory Care. In the November 2006 issue of Critical Care Medicine, Rello and colleagues found that a silver-coated endotracheal tube decreased bacterial colonization of the airway. The silver ions in a polymer on the inner and outer lumen migrate to the surface of the tube to potentially reduce bacterial adhesion, impede biofilm formation, and promote antimicrobial activity.
This prospective, randomized, controlled, multicenter, single-blind study assesses the efficacy of a silver-coated endotracheal tube in reducing the incidence of VAP in patients needing mechanical ventilation for at least 24 hours.
* 2003 adults aged at least 18 years and expected to need at least 24 hours of mechanical ventilation were randomly assigned to use of a silver-coated endotracheal tube vs an uncoated endotracheal tube.
* Exclusion criteria were enrollment in a conflicting study, bronchiectasis, severe hemoptysis, cystic fibrosis, pregnancy, silver sensitivity, and more than 12 hours of endotracheal intubation in the previous 30 days.
* 1932 subjects were intubated: 968 in the silver-coated tube group and 964 in the uncoated tube group.
* 1509 subjects were intubated for at least 24 hours: 766 in the silver-coated tube group and 743 in the uncoated tube group.
* Baseline characteristics for both groups were similar for age (mean age, 60.9 – 62.2 years; range, 18 – 102 years), sex, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score, immunocompetency, enteral nutrition use, and endotracheal tube size.
* Both groups had similar VAP risk factors, except chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was less common in the silver-coated tube group vs the uncoated tube group (24-hour intubation subjects, 11.6% vs 16.4%; P = .007; all intubated subjects, 9.2% vs 12.7%; P = .02).
* The primary outcome measure was VAP incidence, defined by at least 104 colony-forming units/mL in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid culture, in patients intubated for at least 24 hours.
* VAP incidence in patients intubated for at least 24 hours was lower in the silver-coated tube group vs the uncoated tube group (4.8% [37/766 patients] vs 7.5% [56/743 patients]; P = .03; relative risk reduction, 35.9%).
* VAP incidence in all intubated patients was lower in the silver-coated tube group vs the uncoated tube group (3.8% vs 5.8%; P = .04; relative risk reduction, 34.2%).
* Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid culture was also obtained in those with suspected VAP or with new radiographic infiltrate and at least 2 qualifying signs (fever or hypothermia, leukocytosis or leukopenia, or purulent tracheal aspirate).
* Of 220 patients who underwent bronchoalveolar lavage for suspected VAP, the most common pathogens for the silver-coated tube group vs the uncoated tube group were Staphylococcus aureus (9 vs 16), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (8 vs 11), Enterobacteriaceae (10 vs 5), and polymicrobial infections (7 vs 13).
* VAP incidence within 10 days of intubation in patients intubated for at least 24 hours was less common in the silver-coated tube group (relative risk reduction, 47.6%; 95% CI, 14.6% – 81.9%; P = .005).
* Delayed occurrence of VAP was linked to silver-coated tube use (P = .005).
* There was no difference between groups in median duration of intubation, intensive care unit stay, hospital stay, and mortality rates.
* Regression analysis showed that silver-coated tube use was associated with decreased risk for VAP at any time, VAP within 10 days of intubation, and delayed time to occurrence.
* Adverse events occurred with similar frequency and severity for both groups.
* 59 endotracheal tubeâ€“related adverse events occurred: 21 in the silver-coated tube group vs 38 in the uncoated tube group.
* 74 intubation procedureâ€“related adverse events occurred: 39 in the silver-coated tube group vs 35 in the uncoated tube group.
* Post hoc analysis showed that VAP in patients intubated for at least 24 hours was linked with longer duration of intubation and longer length of stay in the intensive care unit or hospital but not with mortality rate.
* Limitations of the study included lower than expected VAP incidence in the uncoated tube group, more subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the uncoated tube group, and lack of blinding of investigators.
Pearls for Practice
* The incidence of VAP in patients intubated for at least 24 hours is reduced and delayed with use of a silver-coated endotracheal tube vs an uncoated endotracheal tube.
* Use of a silver-coated endotracheal tube does not affect duration of intubation, length of stay in the intensive care unit or hospital, mortality rates, or adverse events.
Lazzerini M; Ronfani L
Unit of Research on Health Services and International Health, WHO Collaborating Centre for Maternal and Child Health, Via dei Burlo 1,34123, Trieste, Italy.
BACKGROUND: Diarrhoea causes around two million child deaths annually. Zinc supplementation could help reduce the duration and severity of diarrhoea, and is recommended by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate oral zinc supplementation for treating children with acute or persistent diarrhoea. SEARCH STRATEGY: In November 2007, we searched the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2007, Issue 4), MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, CINAHL, mRCT, and reference lists. We also contacted researchers. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized controlled trials comparing oral zinc supplementation (>/= 5 mg/day for any duration) with placebo in children aged one month to five years with acute or persistent diarrhoea, including dysentery. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Both authors assessed trial eligibility and methodological quality, extracted and analysed data, and drafted the review. Diarrhoea duration and severity were the primary outcomes. We summarized dichotomous outcomes using risk ratios (RR) and continuous outcomes using mean differences (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Where appropriate, we combined data in meta-analyses (using the fixed- or random-effects model) and assessed heterogeneity. MAIN RESULTS: Eighteen trials enrolling 6165 participants met our inclusion criteria. In acute diarrhoea, zinc resulted in a shorter diarrhoea duration (MD -12.27 h, 95% CI -23.02 to -1.52 h; 2741 children, 9 trials), and less diarrhoea at day three (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.59 to 0.81; 1073 children, 2 trials), day five (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.95; 346 children, 2 trials), and day seven (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.98; 4087 children, 7 trials). The four trials (1458 children) that reported on diarrhoea severity used different units and time points, and the effect of zinc was less clear. Subgroup analyses by age (trials with only children aged less than six months) showed no benefit with zinc. Subgroup analyses by nutritional status, geographical region, background zinc deficiency, zinc type, and study setting did not affect the results’ significance. Zinc also reduced the duration of persistent diarrhoea (MD -15.84 h, 95% CI -25.43 to -6.24 h; 529 children, 5 trials). Few trials reported on severity, and results were inconsistent. No trial reported serious adverse events, but vomiting was more common in zinc-treated children with acute diarrhoea (RR 1.71, 95% 1.27 to 2.30; 4727 children, 8 trials). AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS: In areas where diarrhoea is an important cause of child mortality, research evidence shows zinc is clearly of benefit in children aged six months or more.
Major Subject Heading(s) Minor Subject Heading(s)
Irradiated food is really bad stuff. Of course, it is not radioactive, but it is filled with disease-causing free radicals caused by the process of bombarding it with high energy radiation, the contents of dead organisms killed by the radiation, inactivated, worthless enzymes, and the bits and pieces of what is known in the legal trade as “filth”: insect parts, rat excrement, hairs, dead vermin, etc., which careful handling would eliminate or minimize.
Food that is going to be irradiated, however, does not receive careful handling typically since it will be “sterilized” by the irradiation. If your food is not only irradiated, but genetically modified and stuffed with toxic chemicals, in other words, meets FDA, USDA and Codex standards, now THAT’s as bad as it gets. That’s fully weaponized, “loaded and locked” food. Don’t go near the stuff.
Consumers do not want irradiated food. So the ever corporate-friendly agencies of the government, and of course, Codex Alimentarius, take the crafty step of not telling us whether food is irradiated or not if they can get away without doing so. Once food is processed, it does not have to have the familiar “radura”, the radiation symbol, which the law previously required.
Now that fresh lettuce, spinach and other greens are defined as a “health hazard” by a berserk FDA, they, too, will be irradiated before we can eat them. All of them, unless consumed locally or grown by you or your friends.
What does that tell you? Eat locally. Grow your own food.
Print bumper stickers that say “Grow or Glow” and tell people what that means. Get good at “4 foot square” gardening, or growing on your patio or balcony. Organize window box growing for your community or community gardens. You ARE in control of what goes into your body. If you are not, get yourself organized and get into that position. Meet with your neighbors to make this happen for all of you. You and your neighbors are something else besides neighbors: you are CONSUMERS.
Consumers are very powerful when they take the time and effort to be. Since your food is being weaponized against you and your family (!) GET organized.
Email Kathy Greene, email@example.com, the Community Organization Coordinator of the Natural Solutions Foundation and let us help you get your neighbors motivated and activated. We have an excellent eBook on Community Organizing that we will send you if you ask. Just put “Organizing” in the subject line.
Consumer organizations perform valuable services. Not only can they be watchdogs and whistleblowers, they can provide significant information to other consumers, government officials and agencies, university decision makers and the people who attend and shape policy at national and international meetings. According to our West African sources, in that part of the world, consumers organizations who become upset about an issue can literally bring down a government.
Of course, what that takes is a strong sense of ownership: this is MY body, this is MY environment, this is MY child, this is MY body. And the people living right next store to me, and across town, and across the country care about what happens to me, and to themselves, too.
If companies and governments are lying to me, or poisoning me or corrupting my food, or my field or my child’s body, or keeping deadly secrets of putting me in harm’s way for your own good, we, the Consumers, should, can, will, say “NO!” to what is bad and “YES!” to what is good for us.
Up with consumers and consumerism, I say.
The diametrical opposite to consumerism, of course, is “corporatism”. What is good for corporations, which is generally what governments decide is good for them since so much money is involved, is very often exactly NOT what is good for people, for consumers, for you, for me. And, oh, by the way, it may not be at all good for the environment. In fact, when their decisions and actions are good for the consumer or the environment, that is the cause for press releases and hoopla.
It’s up to us.
The Organic Consumers organization has published a very useful compendium called “WHAT’S WRONG WITH FOOD IRRADIATION, http://www.organicconsumers.org/Irrad/irradfact.cfm. Although food irradiation is presented by government and industry, and, of course, by the ever corporate-friendly FDA and USDA, as benign and helpful, it is neither. Read below and see why irradiation, sometimes misleadingly called “Cold Sterilization” or “Cold Pasturization” is neither.
And then start eating and growing organic!
Check it out and take control of your health by taking control of what you eat!
What’s Wrong With Irradiated Food?
Irradiation damages the quality of food.
Â· Irradiation damages food by breaking up molecules and creating free radicals. The free radicals kill some bacteria, but they also bounce around in the food, damage vitamins and enzymes, and combine with existing chemicals (like pesticides) in the food to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs).
Â· Some of these URPs are known toxins (benzene, formaldehyde, lipid peroxides) and some are unique to irradiated foods. Scientists have not studied the long-term effect of these new chemicals in our diet. Therefore, we cannot assume they are safe.
Â· Irradiated foods can lose 5%-80% of many vitamins (A, C, E, K and B complex). The amount of loss depends on the dose of irradiation and the length of storage time.
Â· Most of the food in the American diet is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for irradiation: beef, pork, lamb, poultry, wheat, wheat flour, vegetables, fruits, shell eggs, seeds for sprouting, spices, herb teas. (Dairy is already pasteurized). A food industry petition currently before the FDA asks for approval for luncheon meats, salad bar items, sprouts, fresh juices and frozen foods. Another petition before the USDA asks for approval for imported fruits and vegetables.
Â· Irradiation damages the natural digestive enzymes found in raw foods. This means the body has to work harder to digest them.
Â· If unlabeled, raw foods that have been irradiated look like fresh foods, but nutritionally they are like cooked foods, with decreased vitamins and enzymes. The FDA allows these foods to be labeled “fresh.”
Â· Irradiated fats tend to become rancid.
Â· When high-energy electron beams are used, trace amounts of radioactivity may be created in the food.
Science has not proved that a long-term diet of irradiated foods is safe for human health
Â· The longest human feeding study was 15 weeks. No one knows the long-term effects of a life-long diet that includes foods which will be frequently irradiated, such as meat, chicken, vegetables, fruits, salads, sprouts and juices.
Â· There are no studies on the effects of feeding babies or children diets containing irradiated foods, except a very small and controversial study from India that showed health effects.
Â· Studies on animals fed irradiated foods have shown increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage. Some possible causes are: irradiation-induced vitamin deficiencies, the inactivity of enzymes in the food, DNA damage, and toxic radiolytic products in the food.
Â· The FDA based its approval of irradiation for poultry on only 5 of 441 animal-feeding studies. Marcia van Gemert, Ph.D., the toxicologist who chaired the FDA committee that approved irradiation, later said, “These studies reviewed in the 1982 literature from the FDA were not adequate by 1982 standards, and are even less accurate by 1993 standards to evaluate the safety of any product, especially a food product such as irradiated food.” The 5 studies are not a good basis for approval of irradiation for humans, because they showed health effects on the animals or were conducted using irradiation at lower energies than those the FDA eventually approved.
Â· The FDA based its approval of irradiation for fruits and vegetables on a theoretical calculation of the amount of URPs in the diet from one 7.5 oz. serving/day of irradiated food. Considering the different kinds of foods approved for irradiation, this quantity is too small and the calculation is irrelevant.
Â· Even with current labeling requirements, people cannot avoid eating irradiated food. That means there is no control group, and epidemiologists will never be able to determine if irradiated food has any health effects.
Â· Science is always changing. The science of today is not the science of tomorrow. The science we have today is not adequate to prove the long-term safety of food irradiation.
Irradiation covers up problems that the meat and poultry industry should solve
Labeling is necessary to inform people so they can choose to avoid irradiated foods
Â· Because irradiated foods have not been proven safe for human health in the long term, prominent, conspicuous and truthful labels are necessary for all irradiated foods. Consumers should be able to easily determine if their food has been irradiated. Labels should also be required for irradiated ingredients of compound foods, and for restaurant and institutional foods.
Â· Because irradiation can deplete vitamins, labels should state the amount of vitamin loss after irradiation, especially for fresh foods that are usually eaten fresh. Consumers have the right to know if they are buying nutritionally impaired foods.
Â· Current US labels are not sufficient to enable consumers to avoid irradiated food. Foods are labeled only to the first purchaser. Irradiated spices, herb teas and supplement ingredients, foods that are served in restaurants, schools, etc., or receive further processing, do not bear consumer labels. Consumer labels are required only for foods sold whole (like a piece of fruit) or irradiated in the package (like chicken breasts). The text with the declaration of irradiation can be as small as the type face on the ingredient label. The US Department of Agriculture requirements have one difference: irradiated meat or poultry that is part of another food (like a tv dinner) must be disclosed on the label.
Â· The US Food and Drug Administration is currently rewriting the regulation for minimum labeling, and will release it for public comment by early 2002 [now long past – REL]. They may eliminate all required text labels. If they do retain the labels, Congress has told them to use a “friendly” euphemism instead of “irradiation.” [Hence “cold sterilization” or “cold Pasteurization” and similar inaccurate terms on foods which must be labeled, a small minority of foods which are consumed after irradiation -REL]
Electron-beam irradiation today means nuclear irradiation tomorrow
Â· The source of the irradiation is not listed on the label.
Â· The original sponsor of food irradiation in the US was the Department of Energy, which wanted to create a favorable image of nuclear power as well as dispose of radioactive waste. These goals have not changed. Cobalt-60, which is used for irradiation, must be manufactured in a nuclear reactor.
Â· Many foods cannot be irradiated using electron beams. E-beams only penetrate 1-1.5 inches on each side, and are suitable only for flat, evenly sized foods like patties. Large fruits, foods in boxes, and irregularly shaped foods must be irradiated using x-rays or gamma rays from nuclear materials.
Â· Countries that lack a cheap and reliable source of electricity for e-beams use nuclear materials. Opening U.S. markets to irradiated food encourages the spread of nuclear irradiation worldwide.
[Codex Alimentarius supports the universal irradiation of all foods moving through international trade except those which have been fully processed to an end product like roasted coffee. The USDA requires all fruits and vegetables (with very few limited exceptions) to be irradiated before they are imported into the United States. -REL]
Irradiation using radioactive materials is an environmental hazard
Â· The more nuclear irradiators, the more likelihood of a serious accident in transport, operation or disposal of the nuclear materials.
Â· Food irradiation facilities have already contaminated the environment. For example, in the state of Georgia in 1988, radioactive water escaped from an irradiation facility. The taxpayers were stuck with $47 million in cleanup costs. Radioactivity was tracked into cars and homes. In Hawaii in 1967 and New Jersey in 1982, radioactive water was flushed into the public sewer system.
Â· Numerous worker exposures have occurred in food irradiation facilities worldwide.
Irradiation doesn’t provide clean food
Â· Because irradiation doesn’t kill all the bacteria in a food, the ones that survive are by definition radiation-resistant. These bacteria will multiply and eventually work their way back to the ‘animal factories’. Soon thereafter, the bacteria that contaminate the meat will no longer be killed by currently approved doses of irradiation. The technology will no longer be usable, while stronger bacteria contaminate our food supply.
Â· People may become more careless about sanitation if irradiation is widely used. Irradiation doesn’t kill all the bacteria in a food. In a few hours at room temperature, the bacteria remaining in meat or poultry after irradiation can multiply to the level existing before irradiation.
Â· Some bacteria, like the one that causes botulism, as well as viruses and prions (which are believed to cause Mad Cow Disease) are not killed by current doses of irradiation.
Â· Irradiation encourages food producers to cut corners on sanitation, because they can ‘clean up’ the food just before it is shipped.
Irradiation does nothing to change the way food is grown and produced
Â· Irradiated foods can have longer shelf lives than nonirradiated foods, which means they can be shipped further while appearing ‘fresh.’ Food grown by giant farms far away may last longer than non-irradiated, locally grown food, even if it is inferior in nutrition and taste. Thus, irradiation encourages centralization and hurts small farmers.
Â· The use of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other agri-chemicals, as well as pollution and energy use, are not affected. Irradiation is applied by the packer after harvest or slaughter.
Â· Some so-called Free-market economists say irradiation is ‘efficient’: it provides the cheapest possible food for the least possible risk. But these economists are not concerned about the impaired nutritional quality of the food. They are not considering the environmental effects of large-scale corporate farming, the social costs of centralization of agriculture and loss of family farms, the replacement of unionized, impartial government inspectors with company inspectors , the potential long-term damage to human health, and the possibility of irradiation-resistant super-bacteria. All of these developments should be (but are not) considered when regulators and public health officials evaluate the benefits of food irradiation.
In a truly free market, consumers would have access to truthful and not misleading information about all their food choices and could decide for themselves what risks to take. Honest companies would be free to truthfully tell that their products are organic, non-GMO, non-toxic, non-irradiated. Free people are free to choose risks… or to reject them. Slaves, of course, have to take whatever sh-t is dolled out to them.