Posted on March 26th, 2009 No comments
We are eating rubbish. Juicy, attractive unblemished rubbish. The simple fact of the matter is that for decades we’ve treated the soil of this planet as if it’s a never ending, permanently renewable resource. If it were treated correctly of course it could be.
50 years ago, anything that came from a farm was considered to be good in some way for the body. Milk provided Calcium for healthy teeth and bones, Cheese and eggs were to be found on any self-respecting table and the meat from our animals positively glowed with health.
Once upon a time all school children knew the word “fallow” and what it meant. It was never used outside of Geography lessons, but we all knew what it meant. It meant a farmer was leaving part of his farm untouched for a year. This enabled the seeds from various grasses, weeds and flowers to arrive, and grow untouched for a year. No pesticides, no fungicides. The wild animals and the insects flourished. They in turn fed larger animals. It was called a food chain. That chain is getting ever weaker by the day as farmers chase ever more profit from smaller investments.
Another term any self-respecting Geography student would have learned, probably within the same lesson would have been “crop-rotation”. This meant that a farmer grew for example potatoes one year, then the same field the following year would have played host to a swathe of golden corn. Whilst the potatoes occupied ground a couple of fields away or took a break altogether while the farmer grew cabbages or barley.
Farms now are huge industrial monocultures, which exist only because of state subsidies or the opportunity to flood the domestic and foreign markets with cheap corn or wheat, much of which would only grow because of the application of fungicides, pesticides and growth hormones. Have you ever wondered why your breakfast cereal is fortified with vitamins and minerals? Corn is now grown containing so little vitamins or minerals that it has to be fortified. The process that turns corn into a flake destroys what little goodness the corn contained anyway and it has to be fortified to give it more goodness than the box it comes in.
The application of commercially produced nitrogen fertilizers simply compounds the problem. These induce the growing fruit and vegetables to take in up to 30% more water which makes them appear bigger and more juicy, but it comes at a cost. Since the early 70’s Broccoli (renowned for it’s iron content) has lost 69% of its iron, there is now no measurable vitamin A in potatoes and to obtain a comparable amount of vitamin C from an orange we would have to eat 8 times as many as our grandparents. A further threat offered by artificial fertilisers is that unlike natural fertilisers, which are generally locked inside some organic matter and leach into the soils gradually, artificial fertilizers are washed away with the first serious rainfall. They do not degrade. They show up in our water.
The story is depressingly similar across the whole range of fruit, vegetables and cereals we currently consume. The most amazing thing of all however is that our government admits that this is happening. They accept that the nutritional content of our food is apparently falling and attribute this to more accurate methods of measurement. This hypothesis would be tenable had the methods of measuring minerals and vitamins changed considerably over the last three decades. In fact, whilst it is true that some methods have changed, the vast majority of the tests for minerals and vitamins have remained unchanged.
Additionally, if the government’s assertions were true, that we had become more accurate in our measurements, would we not expect that roughly 50% of foods tested increased their content? This is not the case, almost without exception our staple diet has suffered over the last 70 years.
The blame for this debacle cannot be placed entirely at the farmer’s door. It used to be the case that food was bought on a daily basis and was produced within 50 miles of its ultimate consumption. This is no longer the case. We demand ever more exotic foods from far-flung places and we demand them out of season. Additionally we go for the biggest and most attractive items, free from dirt or blemish. We process so much of our food nowadays, adding salt, preservatives and additives to ensure that food is the ‘right’ color and texture and that it is ‘fresh’ long after we recall from where it was purchased, finally, just to ensure vitamin’s complete destruction we boil our food to a soft mush and then throw away the water in which the last vestiges of goodness remains.
Nature doesn’t work like that so she needs a little help. The Kiwi fruit that you supplement your breakfast cereal with had to be harvested prior to its being properly ripened in order that is could be placed into cold storage to arrest it’s development so that it could arrive at your table in edible form. Even when you purchased it in the supermarket it was not ripe, so that you could keep it for a few days before eating. The Kiwi fruit is no different from any other food item that is grown for human consumption. Fruit or vegetables, which are harvested prior to being fully ripened, will not continue to take up vitamins and minerals from the soil – assuming those vitamins and minerals were there in the first place.
Healthy soil should contain in excess of 70 minerals and trace elements. Routinely artificial fertilisation replaces only three of these. Pasture upon which we feed our beef and lamb should contain over 40 different plant species. Generally our factory-farmed animals are fed on a hardy form of Rye grass that contains at best three or four species of shallow rooting plants. Daisy and Dandelion roots can extend up to four feet from the surface, ensuring that a wide variety of minerals and trace elements enter our pasture fed animals.
Even worse our animals are over wintered indoors and are fed on grain. Cows and Sheep are ruminants and are not designed to be grain fed. Their digestive systems cannot cope with it and produce an excess of acid, which can ultimately kill the animal. Even worse than this is that such animals produce a form of E-Coli, which is acid resistant. This bacteria (and as few as 10 bacteria) can make a human very ill indeed, is therefore able to pass through the acidic content of the human stomach and arrive in the intestines where it can, in severe cases, cause death . We do not see the consequences in our animals as they are fed sufficient growth hormones to ensure that they are available for economic slaughter at a young age.
Heart disease and Cancer are both on the increase in Western civilisations. Scientists across the world search for the holy grail of a cure, which will bring them untold riches and push the stock up of yet another drug company. Why are we searching for a cure? Why do we not instead search for the cause. I suggest the reason is simple – we already know the cause!
Heart disease is generally not in fact about the heart, it is generally the furring up and subsequent closure of arteries which feed the heart. The culprit in this furring up is generally considered to be Cholesterol. Cholesterol has had some pretty bad press over the last few years and it is generally undeserved. 95% of the cholesterol within our bodies is manufactured inside the body. It is necessary for the maintenance of cell wall integrity and the maintenance of connective tissue. It is a ‘repair’ item manufactured by our bodies as we sleep. The body cannot know how much cholesterol is required for repair and therefore excess is manufactured. The unused balance is returned via the bloodstream for disposal. Another misconception about cholesterol is that it belongs to the family of fats. Cholesterol’s chemical makeup however makes it an alcohol.
Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is like blaming a gun for a homicide. Its true that in both cases, cholesterol in heart disease and a gun in a homicide, they feature heavily, however as the gun cannot be held to blame, then neither can cholesterol.
What occurs is that Cholesterol molecules, wending their way back for disposal team up with free radicals. This is when Cholesterol becomes ultra sticky and starts to clog artery walls. Cholesterol simply gets into bad company. How do we combat the free radicals? Anti-Oxidants. What’s an antioxidant I hear you cry. Given the tone of this article you shouldn’t need three guesses, vitamin C is a good one, Vitamins A and E are also use-ful antioxidants. It is such a shame that our food supply is losing these useful chemicals in such alarming numbers. Free radicals are implicated in most cancers and all heart disease (with the exception of congenital deformities), and anti oxidants defend against them.
One solution would be a program of re-education. Farmers need to be convinced that we cannot continue to pour ever-increasing amounts of artificial fertilisers onto our land and ex-pect it to be sustainable in the future. We need to start feeding our animals on proper grass pastures which contain all of the nutrients and trace elements, not simply field upon field of hardy rye grass or even worse, grain. We need to start managing our land properly. Farmers have it relatively easy compared to other manufacturers. If we don’t like that which Ford produces we can go to Chrysler or some other manufacturer. We don’t like Phillips refrigerators, we buy Hotpoint. I am not aware that anybody has thought of an alternative for food. We have to buy their product to survive. The majority of their manufacturing energy requirements come from the sun. The rain waters their crops and their animals provide free fertilizer.
In this program of re-education we have to reach the food-buying representatives of our national stores. We have to educate the purchaser of food and we have to educate the end user i.e. you and me, we have to accept that the sanitized look of our fruit and vegetables is not natural and can only come about by the addition of more and more chemicals into our diet. We have to accept that occasionally we will get something served up that has a blemish, a hole or a bruise.
This program of re-education should also include the chemical industry and their stockholders. They are going to have to accept that no longer is it permissible to make fat profits from pouring ever more chemicals onto our land and subsequently into the mouths of our children. Evidence is growing those unused fertilizers, which find their way into our water supply is having a dramatic effect upon the wildlife that lives there. Fish, for example, are changing gender.
Jacqueline Ruttiman writes
“The oxygen deprivation can be caused by fresh river water sitting above denser salt water, capping it and preventing air from reaching the waters below. The biggest cause, however, is agricultural and industrial run-off of fertilizers and fossil-fuel waste. The nitrogen and phosphorus in these materials cause population bursts of algae and marine creatures called phytoplankton; and when these blooms die oxygen-consuming bacteria decompose them. A burst in activity by these microbes robs the water of oxygen.
Such areas are well-known problem spots for the survival of aquatic life, but now it seems the lack of oxygen is having another unexpected effect: tinkering with the sex hormones of fish. “The problem is much bigger than we thought,” says ecotoxi-cologist Rudolf Wu of the City University of Hong Kong, China, whose article in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology shows that hypoxia can cause gender bending.”
But therein lies the problem. Farmers are happy earning big bucks today, knowing that tomorrow they can pour more chemicals onto the land. The food purchasers of our supermarkets are happy buying the food so produced because they can buy it cheaply and sell it on still relatively cheaply to the end user, The end user is happy to purchase the items because there is less waste, no ‘bad’ bits to throw away, and the food looks good, seems juicy and sweet enough – it’s good for you, isn’t it? Fortunately the damage to the soil is repairable over a relatively short term. Re-mineralisation is relatively simple and can be achieved over a couple of seasons even while the earth is being used so we don’t need to worry about that (at the moment).
What we need is a mid and short term solution. The relation-ship between Zinc and Calcium would indicate that the solution is not simply to take more vitamins and minerals unless the body can use them. No amount of Calcium will correct a Calcium deficiency unless the body has sufficient Zinc to assist its absorption. For Vitamin E to be effective, it needs sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, and selenium. We clearly need a multi-vitamin approach here.
So off we trot to the pharmacy or health food store, or even better the Internet, we buy the cheapest tablets or capsules we can find and we throw them down our throats. That’ll make us better, right? Wrong. Adopting this approach we may as well get those tablets home and throw them straight down the toilet, because that’s just what your body will do with them.
We need to consider a number of factors. Bioavailabilty, solu-bility, disintegration and chelation – Not as difficult as it may seem…Bioavailabilty refers to the amount of vitamin or mineral is going to be available to the body.Share on Facebook
Solubility and disintegration are related in as much as they refer to the process by which a substance disintegrates into small enough pieces for the body to dissolve them. This is why chewing food is seen as the start of the digestive process, it breaks up food into small enough parts for the stomach to dissolve. The final process is chelation, which refers to a process whereby the vitamin or mineral is wrapped in an amino acid, making it easier for the body to absorb. Fortunately in the United States a few companies are producing bio available vitamins, while most DO NOT.