Toxic chemicals in our food.
Most of our country’s food supply system has become extremely commercialized, with the majority of our food being mass-produced, highly processed, and packaged using greater amounts of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and toxic packaging.
Our pesticide-rich, fertilizer-driven food production system has a significant impact on our exposure to toxic chemicals. Antibiotics and hormones support the mass production of eggs, chicken, milk, and beef. Fertilizers and phosphates flow to our rivers and lakes, contaminating them. Chemical food flavorings and colors, some of which affect children’s behavior, are added to foods to encourage consumption. Pesticides including neurotoxins remain as residues on food and are subsequently ingested and metabolized by people. Plastic and paper packaging may leach toxic chemicals into food.
So, where do the majority of the chemicals in our food come from?
1. Chemicals and Drugs used in raising livestock: Researchers feel that this is probably the biggest problem and none of these are required to appear on the label. Over 70% of all antibiotics used in the USA are used in raising livestock to prevent infection because the animals are kept in cramped inhumane conditions. Steroids are also given to increase milk production and speed growth. The feed given to these animals is also full of chemicals, and pesticides and chemicals accumulate in the fat of these animals that we then eat.
2. Chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers: Although the use of pesticides has made our food production more efficient, it has placed an enormous toxic burden on us and the earth. U.S. pesticide use currently stands at about 1.2 billion pounds per year. FDA inspections have found legal residues on two thirds of food sampled, therefore these pesticides remain on our food. Pesticides can interfere with all developmental stages of the reproductive function in adult females and are associated with adverse outcomes that occur throughout the lifespan of both males and females. There is concern on many levels about the overuse of pesticides and their effects on our public health, from the farm workers and their families who are exposed to pesticides directly in their work and in their communities, to residents who live in drift areas near agricultural fields where pesticides are regularly applied to crops and soils, and to consumers who increase the amount of pesticides in their bodies by consuming fruits and vegetables with pesticide residues.
3. Chemicals used in the production of our food: Over 12,000 chemicals are used in the production of our food. Many are used intentionally as “direct” additives, but some are “indirect” contaminants or used accidentally. The food industry uses about 3,000 different food additives in various packaged and preserved foods. These include (preservatives), emulsifiers, buffers, natural and artificial colorings and flavorings.
4. Chemicals we create in processing foods: Trans fats or hydrogenated fats would be the commonest.
5. Contaminants associated with processing of foods: During shipping and storage, chemical cleaners, food sprays and fungicides are used.
6. Chemicals absorbed into our food from the way we cook, store and serve our food: Non stick pans, pots, bake-ware and utensils contain Teflon, which is made from perfluorinated compounds which have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems.
And please remember this is only a list of chemicals in our food, not our water and personal care products, which are also full of chemicals. This also does not take into account the impact of genetically modified foods (GMO).
The food products we used to buy fresh at the local grocery were provided by local farmers or co-ops. These food products are now provided by large, corporate conglomerates that are only in it for the money. In many cases, the food they supply has been processed at high temperatures, irradiated or pasteurized to make sure no living organisms survive, and then “fortified” with ingredients that most of us can’t pronounce. In the process, much of the nutrients and enzymes that our bodies crave are lost, or at least severely compromised.
Think about it. Your diet plays an instrumental role in a wide range of health conditions and it’s a known fact that many diseases are linked to eating habits. So, not only do we not eat healthy, but we’re knowingly eating chemical-laden foods and not giving a second thought as to what it is doing to our body and mind.
“The greatest wealth is health”. –Virgil