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The giant food corporations and their ‘Happy Meals for all’ are making us sick
In the past decade there have been written a number of sobering books, exposing the dangers of the food industry, whose alarming messages were recently and dramatically echoed by the equally sobering documentary film Food, Inc, which has since been screened fairly widely by environmental and health groups across the nation and is available on DVD.
One of the books was titled Diet for a Dead Planet a title that I would have preferred – “never-say-die” optimist that I am – to have been called Diet for a Dying Planet.
The diets that have been espoused by these books can only effectively be delivered by the time-honored method of past centuries of eating fresh, non-processed food that is grown locally, organically and sustainably, qualities that cannot be delivered by the current industries that have been trying to dominate the food industry and drive out of business local farmers: Big Food and Big AgriBusiness.
Huge corporations, especially the thousands of obscenely profitable, multinationals like British Petroleum, Exxon/Mobil, Shell, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck, Glaxo, etc, have most of the characteristics of the criminal personality disorder known as sociopathic personality disorder (synonymous with psychopathic personality disorder): a reality very nicely laid out in the powerful documentary The Corporation.
The economic system known as predatory capitalism has regularly brought America’s economy (and the world’s) to its knees. The most recent examples are the Cheney/Bush economic crash of 2008 and disaster that has poisoned, possibly mortally, the previously slowly dying but still relatively fertile Gulf of Mexico, an important planetary asset that affects the Gulf Coast, the Atlantic Gulf Stream, the weather patterns of Great Britain and Europe and who knows what else – probably the entire planet.
Is greed good?
Global capitalism’s most obscenely wealthy, billionaire-wannabe corporate executives and management teams are regularly celebrated on the front pages of Forbes, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, Barrons and every investment industry newsletter and every radio and TV financial program.
While there is nothing inherently evil about making a profit while doing business, American-style capitalism has degenerated (staring soon after its inception) into the obscene “Greed is Good” and the “everybody can be a millionaire” lies that were so seductively articulated and popularized by every US President since Ronald Reagan’s puppet masters and handlers in his corporate shadow government during the 1980s Decade of Greed.
American capitalism has been variously (and accurately) characterized as Coyote Capitalism, Casino Capitalism or Corrupt Crony Capitalism, where Predatory Lenders and billion-dollar per year Ponzi scheme financial managers, backed by the hundreds of right-wing think tanks – like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute – all admit that the prime reason for the existence of their business enterprises is to make as much money as possible for their shareholders.
The unspoken reality is that most corporate criminals achieve their goals “by any means necessary” (interestingly, this was the phrase Malcolm X used, a phrase that his detractors repeatedly pointed out as evidence of his being willing to use violence to overthrow the existing order – thus justifying, and perhaps provoking his assassination).
My point in bringing up the nature of dog-eat-dog capitalism is to point out that the Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) who manage the powerful multi-national food corporations use the same unethical business practices as their MBA colleagues who manage hedge funds and every other exploitive Wall Street corporations, including Big Pharma, the gambling, pesticide, asbestos, oil and coal industries, the chemical, biological warfare and nuclear weapons industries – all in the interest of profits ”by any means necessary.”
And we consumers, way too many of us grossly deficient in critical thinking skills, sit back and wait for the next amusing or happy news programming or the entertaining commercial or sports spectacular on the TV, so we can guiltlessly forget about getting up and doing something about the impending economic or environmental crises.
The population’s physical, neurological and mental health is being adversely affected – probably permanently – by the profit-driven synthetic food and pharmaceutical industries at the same time that we humans are being “Madison Avenued-to-Death” by the commercials that try to get us to believe that every processed meal is a Happy Meal – never mind wondering what is in the allegedly edible fast-food thing we are about to ingest. Artificially processing food – or adding toxic chemicals - extends the shelf life of a food, but such processing is not good for the body or brain.
Hence, in order to decrease spoilage and increase profitability, synthetically-altered fat or oil-containing food products makes the food potentially toxic to fatty organs like the nerves and brain and definitely less nourishing. The same goes for vegetables and fruits that are at risk of fungal or bacterial infestations during growing, storage or transportation stages.
Synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides will definitely extend the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables but at the same time there is the risk of poisonous and ultimately disease-producing substance being added to the food.
Synthetic flavor-enhancers or color enhancers are mostly non-nutritive chemical substances that have their poisonous qualities as well. These include NutraSweet, Splenda, MSG and all the synthetic dyes that are so widely added to food. Synthetic preservatives such as nitrites (which makes the dead, gray meat in sandwich meat or hotdogs look pink and fresh) are toxic substances, added in sub-lethal doses that won’t kill us quickly, but may contribute to cancers, immune deficiency disorders and a host of other maladies whose etiologies will almost invariably be labeled “of unknown origin” and thus mis-diagnosed by the vast majority of the medical profession charged with diagnosing root causes of illnesses prior to prescribing treatment.
This subject of malnutrition vs. healthy nutrition is a vast one. I usually advised my patients to “eat as organically as you can afford, as vegetarian as you can tolerate, but be sure to eat adequate amounts of healthy protein”; and then I advised them to supplement any potential deficiencies in their diet by adding good quality vitamins, minerals, Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, amino acids and probiotics as needed. To help avoid potentially toxic foods, I also recommended considering these five quick points that help identify unhealthy foods:
1. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label, don’t eat it.
2. If it wasn’t here 10,000 years ago, don’t eat it.
3. If it has a shelf life of more than 5 days, don’t eat it.
4. If it’s heavily marketed, don’t eat it.
5. If it’s man-made, don’t eat it.
And here are some other bits of advice from NewsTarget.com: Top 10 Things the Giant Food Corporations Don’t Want You to Know
The giant food corporations have one mission: selling more food and beverage products to consumers. Succeeding with that mission depends on keeping consumers in the dark on certain issues such as the presence of cancer-causing chemicals found in popular food products. Here are ten things the food corporations, whose products dominate grocery store shelves across the United States and other countries, absolutely do not want you to know.
1. The ingredients listed on the label aren’t the only things in the food. Cancer-causing chemicals such as acrylamides may be formed in the food during high-heat processing, yet there’s no requirement to list them on the label. Residues of solvents, pesticides and other chemicals may also be present, but also do not have to be listed. The National Uniformity for Food Act, currently being debated in the U.S. Congress, would make it illegal (yes, illegal) for states to require cancer warnings on foods that contain cancer-causing chemicals (such as California’s Proposition 65.)
2. Monosodium glutamate (MSG): which is added to thousands of food and grocery products through a dozen different innocent-sounding ingredients, imbalances endocrine system function, disabling normal appetite regulation and causing consumers to keep eating. It not only contributes to nationwide obesity, it also helps food companies boost repeat business.
3. MSG is routinely hidden in foods in these ingredients: yeast extract, torula yeast, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and autolyzed yeast. Thousands of common grocery products contain one or more of these chemical taste enhancers, including nearly all “vegetarian” foods.
4. ADHD in children is commonly caused by the consumption of processed food ingredients. Eighty percent of so-called ADHD children who are taken off processed foods are cured of ADHD symptoms in two weeks.
5. The chemical sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet): when exposed to warm temperatures for only a few hours, begins to break down into chemicals like formaldehyde and formic acid. Formaldehyde is a potent nerve toxin and causes damage to the eyes, brain and entire nervous system. Aspartame has been strongly linked to migraines, seizures, blurred vision and many other nervous system problems.
6. Most food dips (like guacamole dip) are made with hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and monosodium glutamate. Many guacamole dips don’t even contain avocados.
7. Plastic food packaging is a potent health hazard. Scientists now know that plastics routinely seep the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) into the food, where it is eaten by consumers. Cooking in plastic containers multiplies the level of exposure. Bisphenol is a hormone disruptor and can cause breast formation in men and severe hormonal imbalances in women. It may also encourage hormone-related cancers such as prostate cancer and breast cancer.
8. Milk produced in the U.S. comes from cows injected with synthetic hormones that have been banned in every other advanced nation in the world. These hormones help explain why young girls develop breasts at such a young age, or why hormone-related cancers like prostate cancer are being discovered in unprecedented numbers. In order to protect Monsanto, the manufacturer of hormones used in the industry, the USDA currently bans organic milk producers from claiming their milk comes from cows that were not treated with synthetic hormones. Even organic milk is now under fire as the Organic Consumers Association says Horizon milk products are falsely labeled as organic. (The solution to all this? Drink raw almond milk instead.)
9. Most grocery products that make loud health claims on their packaging are, in reality, nutritionally worthless (like meal replacement shakes, instant chocolate milk, etc.). The most nutritious foods are actually those the FDA does not allow to make any health claims whatsoever: fresh produce.
10. Food manufacturers actually “buy” shelf space and position at grocery stores. That’s why the most profitable foods (and hence, the ones with the lowest quality ingredients) are the most visible on aisle end caps, checkout lanes and eye-level shelves throughout the store. The effect of all this is to provide in-store marketing and visibility to the very foods and beverages that promote obesity and diseases.