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Offbeat 30 May 2014

Manufactured food contains chemicals that are poisonous. Those chemicals are present in small amounts, not enough to damage you over a period of months, but enough to cause dangerous health effects over years.

I am not a big fan of the starry-eyed idealism of what used to be called hippies but are now known as liberals, now that they cut their hair shorter and got into household appliances. I used to be able to do that sort of misty-eyed optimism but then economics intruded.
A focus on all the good things in life gets in the way of the cost side of the transaction. Sure, it’s cool to breath oxygen, but that means we have to breath carbon dioxide out.
Solar power may save us all from a fate worse than northern hemisphere pollution, but if you think that is great, go get quotes and get ready to turn off the stove, fridge and washing machine. Biofuels may be a way to stave off fossil fuel emissions, but what about the food that used to be grown on that land before someone came up with the idea?
Optimism has to be balanced with reality.
The one thing the Sixties generation did get right, they lost track of entirely. That was the thing about eating and drinking natural stuff.
Let’s set the stage for this column with this rather cool example. If I put out several types of food and told you that at least one of them was poisonous, but without telling you which, would you eat any of the servings?
The chances are that you would ignore me and dig in to everything. Actually it is quite likely that all of the servings are bad for you, but I could serve it without fear of prosecution. You will have eaten that food most, if not all, of your life, and your mind will direct you to ignore my observation, even if I support it with thousands of pages of facts.  The simple point of the matter is that most food that we eat is damaging. Think carcinogenic, with a side helping of damage to your liver. Guten Apetit folks!
Manufactured food contains chemicals that are poisonous. Those chemicals are present in small amounts, not enough to damage you over a period of months, but enough to cause dangerous health effects over years. In fact, with a clever combination of manufacturing techniques, it is quite possible to denature the food to the point where it might be said to contain trace elements of nutritious stuff.
If you doubt me use Google to find out about how margarine is manufactured. Amazingly, most people eat margarine every day in the belief that it is healthier than butter. And while you are there, take a look at how diet sodas contribute to weight gain. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The evidence has been mounting for years, supported by studies, not just random pictures on Facebook.
Now genetically modified organisms enter the picture.
The evidence that the genetic modifications cause damage is thin on the ground, so it is easy enough to swallow it without to much thought. If you look for a reason why the GMOs were developed in the first place, a different picture emerges. Say hello to some very scary pesticides and herbicides, and understand that virtually no amount of washing will get rid of the traces.
Traces of the chemicals have started showing up in breast milk now.
There’s a lot of sense in the idea of locally grown food that doesn’t use pesticides and herbicides. Aside from creating local jobs and reducing pollution involved in transport, I would honestly rather eat food that has been grown among weeds and nibbled by an insect rather than swallowing the chemicals.
On the other hand I will continue eating some of it, instead of buying fresh ingredients, simply because it is there and poisoning myself is a lot more convenient than making my own dough and meat pies, for instance. I also use household cleaners which are slightly more chemical than the food I eat. The human mind really is a strange place. It allows me to poison myself knowingly in pursuit of convenience. As a concession however, I make certain choices, to eat more vegetables and meat that I know is trustworthy. I also hope that one day a shrinking choice of chemical foods will reduce the chemicals in my diet. The answers aren’t easy at all. Food safety will come slowly if at all.

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