“Growing up in the 40s and 50s before industrial agriculture and food processing, people ate food that consisted of whole grains and fruits and vegetables eaten in season or naturally preserved in the Summer for Winter months” — Paul Ebeling
The majority of American farmland today is dominated by industrial agriculture featuring chemically intensive food production in large single-crop farms and animal production facilities.
Modern food processing has grown into a large industry with revenue of hundreds of billions of dollars.
The effects of industrial agriculture and the food processing industry on the environment and public health have raised concerns over the decades.
Here I review recent publications on modern interventions commonly used in the food industry, including genetic engineering, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and food additives, as well as their possible detrimental effects on the human body.
I also discuss the benefits of avoiding industrial foods and choosing organic product and strategies that may prevent disease and provide valuable nutrients.
Before industrial agriculture and food processing, people ate food that consisted of whole grains and fruits and vegetables eaten in season or naturally preserved in the Summer for Winter months.
Our food came from animals that grazed freely and lived according to their natural instincts. Now, industrial agriculture has taken over our food supply. Food has become “products” for the profit-driven food industry.
In an attempt to feed more people in an easier and more productive way, the food industry has changed the way food has been naturally produced for thousands of yrs.
Chemical-laden food products contribute to diseases that affect people’s quality and length of life.
The dramatic rise of obesity, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes is at an all-time high, and most of these diseases can be controlled by the food we eat.
Antibiotics and pesticides play a Key role in fighting infections and plant diseases and are credited with saving millions of human lives.
Unfortunately, their inappropriate use is threatening their efficacy.
Today, antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock, poultry, and fish on industrial farms to promote faster growth and to compensate for the unsanitary conditions in which they are raised.
According to a recent report by the US FDA, approximately 80% of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to farm animals. It is estimated that approximately 75% of all antibiotics given to animals are not fully digested and eventually pass through the body and enter the environment. The use of antibiotics in the food industry is responsible for drug-resistant bacteria emerging on farms and then reaching the general population through the environment, human or animal carriers, and the food most people eat.
Extensive use of herbicides during crop growth results in glyphosate residues on GM products.
A study that I read for this article found that glyphosate residues were clearly detectable in GM soybeans (3.3-5.7 mg/kg) and not in non-GM controls; additionally, non-GM soybeans had a richer nutritional profile than GM soybeans.
Moreover, according to Cornell University, glyphosate is highly adsorbed by most soils, particularly those with high organic content. Microbes are primarily responsible for the breakdown of glyphosate. It may take as many as 174 days for 50%of the herbicide to break down to its still-toxic degradation byproduct aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA).
In addition, a study by the US Geological Survey revealed that glyphosate and AMPA were found in more than 75% of air and rain samples tested in Mississippi in 2007.
Research also found that glyphosate was detected in animal and human urine. Cows kept in GM-free areas had significantly lower glyphosate concentrations in their urine than did conventional farm cows.
Glyphosate was detected in the intestine, liver, muscles, spleen, and kidney of slaughtered cows. Moreover, levels of glyphosate were significantly higher in the urine of humans who consumed a conventional diet Vs those who followed an Organic eating plan.
The Big Q: Why should we be concerned about glyphosate?
The Big A: As a broad-spectrum herbicide, glyphosate kills most plants. It prevents the plants from synthesizing certain amino acids that are needed for plant growth. Glyphosate stops a specific enzyme pathway, the shikimic acid pathway, which is necessary for plants and some microorganisms to live. As a matter of fact, its ability to alter the microbiome of humans and plants is likely to negatively impact our health. Disturbance of our intestinal flora results in dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance. Altering susceptibility of the body to infection and allergy and affecting autoimmunity, dysbiosis is a possible root cause of many modern diseases such as systemic inflammation, allergy and sensitivity, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
Research has also found that the urine of chronically ill humans contains significantly higher glyphosate residues than that of a healthy population. The presence of glyphosate residues in both humans and animals is leading humans toward numerous health hazards.
Food preservatives: Sodium or potassium nitrate and nitrite fight harmful bacteria in bacon, ham, salami, and other processed and cured meats and also gives the meats pink coloration. However, under certain conditions, nitrite can damage cells and cause cancer. In an effort to minimize cell damage while still preventing foodborne illnesses such as botulism, the USDA enforces a limit of 200 parts of nitrate/nitrite preservatives per million parts of meat, by weight.
Carcinogenic nitrosamines are a well-known problem in processed meats, and manufacturers are required to limit the amount of nitrites they use. To minimize daily exposure to nitrosamines, choosing “nitrate-free” meats is recommended.
Organic Farming and Natural Food Movement
Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control. Organic farms do not use GM seed, synthetic pesticides, or fertilizers.
Certified Organic refers to agricultural products that have been grown and processed according to uniform standards that have been verified by the USDA.
Eating organically grown foods is the only way to avoid the cocktail of chemical poisons present in industrially grown food. It also helps us to avoid GM food as well as hormones, antibiotics, and drugs in animal products.
Traditionally grown foods and industrial foods are different in many ways.
Studies suggest that modern interventions such as GE, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and food additives in industrial agriculture and the food-processing industry may well have a negative influence on our health. Avoiding industrial foods and choosing Organic products likely help to prevent modern diseases and provide more valuable nutrients too.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively