Having just written about the way we and the rest of the world generate the energy necessary to power our electrical grid, it has become obvious that toxic by-products of our fuels are poisoning our environment. We just can’t hide from this any longer. We can’t really grow our food in soil that is contaminated with toxic metals from coal ash generated by coal fired plants or with radioactive biproducts that have escaped from or been dumped out of nuclear power plants. We have to change the way we do business, and we will in due course, I suppose. But, it’s going to be a fight.
While we decide how best to grow uncontaminated food, we need to look at other issues in the food chain as well. Factory farms are force feeding foul and livestock in order to push them to grow rapidly for markets, adding antibiotics and other growth factors to their regimen and passing this on to the general population as “food.” Fecal contamination from these factory farms passes into the general environment after being technically held for a while in holding pits. It then gets into the streams and lakes and we’re surprised by the algae blooms — when we should not be surprised. Farmers have been pressed to change the way they do business by the food industries in America and increasingly in the rest of the world. Meats and poultry entering the supermarkets have may still Bencontaminated with antibiotic residues, and also laden with fats after having been force fed through a shorter life span to make it to market quicker. This leaves one to think that foods grown in the ground or derived from foul or livestock raised in factory farms are potentially dangerous for humans to eat.
In addition, we go to the supermarket and aisle after aisle is filled with canned foods with lists of ingredients your 12 year old grand daughter won’t be able to pronounce. In the name of food safety, the food chemists have loaded these foodstuffs with coloring agents, sugars or salts added for taste, stabilizers, anti-spoiling agents, and fillers of all sorts that are supposed to extend the life of the food. It’s not likely to give us a stomach ache, but in the longer term a steady diet of these additives will likely take time away from our lives. Calories are added. The food chemists are adding them and, in effect, adding caloric density to the basic foodstuff present in the can — the food you thought you were buying.
The bakery may be worse. Everything is loaded with sugar. Also, there’s usually a whole aisle filled with potato chips and related items — most of which is so distant from real food that it’s unrecognizable as such. Fortunately the produce section is friendlier, but not always uniformly so.
Americans as you all know are getting fat and unhealthy in epidemic proportions. This condition, and the generally poor nutritional status it reflects, is gradually pushing us toward diabetes, heart and kidney disease and cancer which together have become an panoply of chronic diseases. Even with this burden we are not appearing to die more quickly, but we survive as these disorders become chronic rather than acutely life threatening. We are aided in this respect by the drug industry (Big Pharma) and by increasing advances in medicine. But overall, when you think about it, who wants to live like that.
The rest of the blog entries this month are going to reflect on how we might get out from under this vicious cycle. It’s not going to be about trying to cheat death and live longer just for the sake of hanging around. After it’s all done, no one gets out alive. So, we’re not just going to be looking at longevity for its own sake. But we will be interested in a high quality existence, which is not one in which we all endlessly undergo one necessary but unfortunate medical procedure after another.