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Aug 10

GMOs are a distraction

It occurs to me that GMOs are kind of a distraction when it comes to food quality concerns people have. Is it just me, or are GMOs the bad guys the media are allowed to cover to distract from the worse bad guys?

Here’s some interesting and disturbing food facts in the US that you just might want to think about. Sure, GMOs are bad and all, but these are way worse and don’t get nearly the attention. I call shenanigans. So if you’re someone who doesn’t care about GMOs and thinks the FDA does a good job making sure our food is safe, think again. GMOs are far from the worst thing about food in the US.

Meats

yummy pink slime

Pictured above is what is often called Pink Slime. It is a processed meat that is made from machines pulling the leftover meat from bones as well as a bit of cartilage. This substance is an additive to bulk up cheap meats, and is much more likely to contain pathogens. There was a lot of controversy when people discovered this was what made McDonalds burgers, but people seem to not realize how much food sold in grocery stores still has it. Hot dogs, premade hamburger patties, and more. This is banned in the EU, so why is it still ok with the FDA?

arsenicThe problems with our meats gets worse however, much worse. You think of poison, one of the first things you’ll think of is Arsenic. Surely the FDA wouldn’t allow arsenic in our food right? Wrong. Arsenic based drugs are used in animal feed to make the animals grow faster and make the meat look pinker. Scientific studies have shown an elevated amount of arsenic in chickens on the shelves, and it’s spreading through manure into drinking water, other animals and rice crops. Phosphates are also added to poultry (as well as other meats) to enhance flavor, moisture absorbance, color and to reduce shrinkage. Phosphate increases the risk of heart disease (it’s an arterial toxin) and it can also increase harmful bacteria in chicken. This increased harmful bacteria is also a bad thing, because antibiotics used as an additive in animal feed (to promote growth) is linked to a rise in drug resistant bacteria (such as MRSA). Around 80% of antibiotics used in the US is on livestock.

Don’t forget about beef and pork problems though, this one’s even scarier. There is a drug called Ractopamine (originally used for asthma treatment) that started being used in livestock when researchers discovered that it made mice more muscular. It reduces the fat content of the meat. It’s used in about 45% of pigs in the US, about 30% of us cows, and is also used in some turkey and other poultry. Up to 20% of ractopamine stays in the meat on grocery store shelves. Ractopamine is known to affect the human cardiovascular system, can be responsible for hyperactivity and behavioral changes, chromosomal abnormalities and in animals it’s linked to impaired reproduction, mastitis in dairy cows, and death. Since 1998 more than 1700 people have been poisoned by ractopamine from eating pigs. While it is banned in 160 different countries, and Russia has banned US meat imports until the US certifies that the meat is free from the drug, the FDA doesn’t even test for it in meats sold in the US.

Other Foods

DewFamilyDon’t think for a second that our food problems are only with animal products. Sorry vegetarians/vegans, but problems with our food go way past meats. If you drink Mountain Dew and other citrus sodas, sports drinks, and numerous other soft drinks on the market you’re probably drinking brominated vegetable oil (aka BVO). This was originally created as a flame retardant. BVO builds up in human tissues and breast milk, and in studies on animals is shown to cause reproductive problems, behavioral problems. In humans, bromine toxicity causes rashes, acne, fatigue, cardiac arrhythmias, and iodine deficiency. It is a depressant and an endocrine disruptor. Banned in EU and Japan, the FDA doesn’t seem to have an issue with it.

Another fun one is Potassium Bromate. This is found in most bread products in the US, baking companies say it makes the dough more elastic (even though companies like Pepperidge farm seem to do fine without it). It is in so many commercial breads that just about everyone is effected. Potassium bromate is linked to gastrointestinal discomfort, kidney damage, nervous system damage, thyroid problems and cancer. Potassium Bromate additives are banned in the EU, Canada and Japan, but yet again the FDA seems to be just fine with it.

baby-formulaHere’s one just for the kids! Carrageenan is used as an emulsifier (helps oil and water mix) and a thickener in dairy products, especially in baby formula. It’s odd that it’s used in baby formula, because it is known to cause gastrointestinal inflammation which is more dangerous to young children. Maybe you baby┬áisn’t lactose intolerant or sick with colic, maybe it’s just being POISONED by formula you’ve been led to believe is safe by the FDA even though in the EU it’s banned from use in infant formula.

This article only scratches the surface

This only scratches the surface of the things wrong with the food presented to us as “safe” in the US. Artificial colors made from coal tar and petroleum by-products, soy (soy acts like estrogen, the amount of soy in baby formula for example is similar to giving your baby birth control pills), hormones given to animals (especially dairy cows) and more. And yes, GMOs are pretty bad and scary by themselves. We need a serious overhaul of the FDA and what companies are allowed to put in our food, and really the only way to fight it is by people no longer spending their money on it. Companies only react to one thing in the US, a loss in profit. If we make it not profitable for them to put toxic shit in our foods, they’ll get the hint and stop doing it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of poor people in the US who can’t afford the organic and safer food that’s more expensive (perhaps sign of intent, are they trying to kill off poor people by making the safer food harder to get?). Do your best, you probably aren’t going to be able to avoid all of the risks, especially on a budget, but the more food you cook yourself, the more fresh food, and the more organic food you get the better off you will be.

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