During our last 30 day clean eating challenge, we linked to a Ted Talk Video by Robyn O'Brien about our food system. As I went to put the book on my amazon wish list, along with the many others I can't wait to read, I was compelled to just buy it, so I did. Even though I am currently juggling two other books, a couple of classes, and a nutrition certification, I just had to read it.
Let me say from the outset that I am not anti government and I don't want this post to be some kind of political statement. I feel strongly that we have the best system of government in the world, but along the way we, "the people", have lost control of that system. Through apathy and lack of involvement in everything from the local PTA to national elections, "the people", have ceded the power of the masses to a select few. This has wide reaching ramifications that can be debated in other forums, but for the purposes of this post, it has come at great cost to our health and the health of future generations.
Robyn O'Brien calls herself a reluctant crusader. She had no intentions of taking on the establishment when one day she found herself rushing her youngest daughter to the hospital because of an allergic reaction she had to food. She found out that her daughter was allergic to eggs and in the process of trying to find foods that she could eat that did not contain eggs, she ran head long into a food system run by multinational corporations that had profit margins first on their list of priorities and food nutrition and safety much further down.
Rather than go through the book chapter by chapter, I thought I would highlight 50 nuggets from the book that resonated with me. There are hundreds more, which is why you should read this book.
1. The prevalence of peanut allergies doubled from 1997 to 2002 and has gotten worse since then.
2. In the last eight years there has been a 265% increase in the number of hospitalizations related to food allergies.
3. Both food allergies and food sensitivities are an overreaction by the immune system to a perceived threat from a protein in food.
- rash or hives
- stomach pain
- itchy skin
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- swelling of the airways to the lungs
- gastrointestinal problems, including bloating and gas
- itchy skin and skin rashes like eczema
- brain fog
- muscle or joint aches
- sleeplessness and sleep disorders
- chronic rhinitis(runny nose), congestion, and postnasal drip
5. The CDC and other governmental agencies are failing to fund studies to calculate the number of children effected.
6. Related conditions, such as asthma, are also on the rise, which most experts believe indicates a widespread environmental problem affecting our immune system.
7. The potential dangers of these conditions go far beyond the immediate discomforts of runny noses and itchy skin.
8. Because of the long-term dangers of allergy induced inflammation, supposedly harmless allergic reactions may be causing long term health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
9. Inflammation has been linked to any number of health problems and is a central aspect of autoimmune reactions including asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalagia.
10. Skin conditions can be the first sign of a problem. The skin is a persons largest organ, eczema, rashes around the mouth, knees, elbows, or armpits or dark circles under the eyes are all signs of an inflammatory reaction to some kind of toxic invader.
11. Keeping that toxic invader away can bring relief from brain fog, crankiness, sleep problems, inattention, acne, and mood swings.
12. Your poop can tell you a lot about your digestion. Runny poop means you are not digesting your foods properly.
13. Chronic ear infections are often a sign of dairy allergies.
14. Children are exposed to increasing levels of toxins, heavy metals, and pollutants in their environment, leading to severe imbalances in their immune systems.
15. Bacteria can be good and bad. Kids who were exposed to more germs, microbes, and bacteria early in life seemed to have stronger immune systems.
16. Kids are overexposed to antibiotics which kill off bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria with it.
17. Only 4 percent of the average American diet comes from "real Food": vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit, and other natural items.
18. 80 percent of the average American diet calories come from white flour, sugar, and oil.
19. Asthma is an allergy
20. The non profit world, governmental regulatory agencies, and the corporations who produce food, seeds, pesticides, and insecticides are all involved with one another in intimate ways.
21. The focus of the involvement within these groups is not for the betterment of the nation's health, it is purely for profit.
22. It is very difficult to get companies to label packages clearly so that you can identify potential allergens.
23. 47 percent of products recalled for hidden allergens since 1998 were not announced to the public
24. On average, five products each week are recalled because of hidden allergens; one third of these products are cookies, candy, ice cream, or snacks.
25. Genetically Modified Organisms are organisms whose DNA has been modified by insertion of proteins from different organisms.
26. Genetically altered soy had its first widespread use in 1996.
27. Peanut allergies began to rise by 20% each year starting in 1997. Coincidence?
28. Soy became one of the top eight U.S. allergens around the same time and in 1998 the year that GMO soy was introduced in The U.K. the rate of soy allergens jumped 50%.
29. Soy has a high concentration of isoflavones which can increase the production of estrogen.
30. Increased production of estrogen has been linked to breast and other reproductive cancers, as well as thyroid disruption in women and testicular cancer and infertility in men.
31. Soy contains phytic acid a substance that interferes with mineral absorption
32. Soy plays at least a small part in 20,000 to 30,000 products that are on the market today, whether directly as an ingredient or indirectly as a feed or nutrient source.
33. 92% of soy grown worldwide is genetically modified
34. There are twelve GMO plant species that have been approved for commercial production in The United States: corn, cotton, potatoes, tomatoes, soy beans, sugar beets, rice, flax, squash/zucchini, papaya, and chicory.
35. All of Europe and Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and even Russia have very strong labeling laws, requiring food manufacturers to make perfectly clear when a product contains genetically engineered ingredients. We don't.
36. Monsanto, a chemical company owns 90% of the US soy market in the form of it's GMO round-up ready soy seed. Monsanto also makes the genetically altered corn seed that is widely used in many of the products we eat.
37. Monsanto also makes RBGH - recombiant bovine growth hormone. This hormone is injected into dairy cows to increase milk production.
38. The RBGH label warns of "increases in cystic ovaries and disorders of the uterus," "decrease in gestation length and birth-weight of calves," "Increased risk of clinical mastitis." Mastitis is a painful type of udder infection that causes cows to pump out bacteria and puss along with milk. These cows then need to be treated with antibiotics.
39. Cows that receive RBGH live on average about two years while cows free of RBGH tend to live four to ten years.
40. RBHG Milk has ten times the levels of IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor) then natural milk.
41. IGF-1 has been linked to hormonal cancers of breast, colon, and prostate and has been banned in Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
42. The FDA has refused to label products that have been produced with RBGH and has restricted dairies that didn't use RBGH from labeling their products as RBGH free!
43. 80% of the corn grown in the United States is genetically modified.
44. The Food and Drug Administration does not require safety testing for genetically engineered plants.
45. There is a revolving door between the officials at the FDA and the executives of large chemical companies that have created these genetically modified crops.
46. The USDA uses tax payer subsidies to pay giant farms millions of dollars to grow these chemical-laden crops and makes small organic farmers pay fees to prove that their crops have no chemicals.
47. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener approved for human consumption by the FDA in 1981.
48. The American companies of Wal-Mart, Kraft, Coca-Cola, and the Mars candy company have removed artificial colors, preservatives, and aspartame in their products that they sell in the UK, because they have been banned there. But not here.
49. In fiscal year 2009 our government allocated $600 billion dollars to the war effort, while granting 2.4 million to the FDA to "Protect the health of the American people."
50. Whenever you read or hear an "expert opinion" or "surprising new study" consider the funding source.
I had to stop myself at 50, but didn't even scratch the surface. I am pretty sure I lost most of the readers by now, but those who stayed with me you need to read this book. It is not a fun book to read and it will make you question alot of what you thought you knew. It will anger you and hopefully motivate you. I have one more quote from the book, it was taken from a study published in October 1999 in The Lancet, Britain's most prestigious medical journal. The study was done by Dr. Arpad Pusztai a genetic engineer who tried to share his findings on the danger of GMO's in 1995.
The situation is like the tobacco industry. They knew about it but they suppressed information. They created misleading evidence that showed that the problem wasn't so serious. And all the time they knew how bad it was. Tobacco is bad enough. But genetic modification, if it is going to be problematic, if it is going to cause us real health problems, then tobacco will be nothing in comparison with this. The size of genetic modification and problems it may cause us are tremendous. People should be made accountable for the crimes they have committed.
A comment was forwarded to us after we posted the TED talk that Robyn O'Brien gave and the nature of the comment was basically, "well what are we supposed to do?" You can feel like you have no power to change things and again that is where this book serves as motivation to start your very own crusade. Speak out with your dollar. Support your local farmers market, buy the organic vegetables. Yes they are more expensive, but so worth it. Industry responded to consumers in the UK because they demanded a better product. It is time we got more involved and made demands not only of industry, but of our government as well.