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Offbeat – 15 November 2013

There was a study on rats where GMOs seem to have caused stomach tumors in rats. Console yourself for as long as you can with the idea that you are not a rat, and try to ignore the fact that you are a mammal.

Someone I know had a bad experience with acerbic humour, the kind that makes you want to laugh while it sticks a knife in your belly as you laugh uneasily. This column is going to be a bit acerbic, and when you get to the end of it, you should probably feel something clenching in your gut. If you don’t like that sort of stuff, now is a good time to stop reading.
Still with me? Good. This column is about my seventeenth favourite topic, food shopping.

The idea that I want to live about forever is at the heart of this column. I know some people are OK with the idea that life comes to an end. I suppose that it derives from a sense of completion, and possibly weariness. My own experience is that there are times when everything seems tiring and everything seems like it is done, but about 20 minutes after that point, something comes along to get my mind moving again.
I need to give up smoking. I suppose I just have to motivate myself and go through the grind. The other way I can get it right is probably with the new types of medicine that are showing up on the news. The third way seems to be a healthy lifestyle. That involves being active and eating well. Being active is not much of an issue. Eating well is a major mission.
Nothing is sacred as far as food is concerned. In the race to manufacture the stuff, it seems like anything goes.
Let’s start with GMOs. A lot has been said about genetically modified food, most of it involves cancer, and none of it is very comforting. There is some good news though. There has been only one study, that I know of, that has linked actual GMOs to cancer. There was a study on rats where GMOs seem to have caused stomach tumors in rats. Console yourself for as long as you can with the idea that you are not a rat, and try to ignore the fact that you are a mammal.
But wait. Put down that spoon of genetically modified mealiepap. Don’t swallow yet. It seems that it is actually the herbicides and pesticides on GMOs that cause the cancer. Those plants are made to survive the sort of chemicals that make Agent Orange look fairly safe, at least by comparison.
By now you are probably wondering why the chemicals aren’t washed off. Well it is, possibly some of it. Maybe. But a very brief look at the various sites that are either classified as purveyors of weird conspiracy theory, or common sense depending on which side of the fence you stand, the only way to wash away the last traces of the chemicals is to wash the food right down the drain and eat something else entirely.
Mercifully, the thing of labelling for GMO content seems to be picking up. I took a look at the ingredients of a freezer pie the other day, one of those instant things that you chuck in the oven for a couple of minutes. There it was hidden among the ingredients. ‘Contains GMO content’. No mutton curry pie for me unfortunately.
In an ideal world, all the GMO food should be labelled with huge red flashes. Shopping is going to take an awfully long time if I have to read the fine print on all the labels.
Perhaps the best way for shops to go about things is to have separate sections for non-GMO stuff. I’ll be able to lose weight as well if they do that, because the stuff will be so expensive I will have to eat a lot less.
It strikes me that there is another way of going about it. I could just buy stuff that doesn’t have any ingredients listed on the packaging. The kilojoules and calories and stuff don’t really interest me, but the fact that the chemical components of preservatives, additives and flavour seems to be a bit of a caveat, along the lines of ‘we clearly labelled it, and you bought it and swallowed it so you have absolutely no right to sue us’.
Here’s an interesting fact. Did you know that sodium benzoate breaks down into benzene in the digestive system. Anyone for some yummy benzene?
Unless I can simplify my choices to avoid ingredients altogether, I risk poisoning myself. That’s the gut-clenching though. I have no other solution.

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