If You Eat Food…You Have to See This One

June 10, 2009

If You Eat Food…You Have to See This One 

 Competency # 19  Food Safety Reference:         Reference:  Movie titled, “Food, Inc” 

 Do you have the fantasy that your chicken comes from a lovely little family farm down the road?  Do you see the picture on your yogurt and think that your milk comes from a nice little dairy with 10 happy cows that spend most of their day in clover.  Oh dear, you missed the movie.  The world changed and you weren’t watching. Neither was I, until I saw this movie. Please go see this movie.  

Our world is changing at breakneck speed in regard to industrial food production.  And it’s all happening in secret, behind closed doors.  If we are to be responsible for the welfare of ourselves, our families, and our communities, much less this planet, we must become aware of the implications of our decisions about how we eat. For example, when we always demand the very cheapest food we can get (ostensibly a good thing), we force the natural process of competitive capitalism to move as it will naturally move. 

 But without supervision and regulation, which has been not just lacking, but aggressively withdrawn in the last 10 years, our food companies have to keep diving for the very lowest denominator, and, thereby, the cheapest form of production.  Without regulation, safety goes out the door. Have you noticed how many E. coli epidemics we have had in just the last few years?  That’s not by chance.  It is inevitable, and will get worse.  

Have you heard of Kevin’s Law?  The law would have been formally known as the Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction and Enforcement Act of 2003. It’s a law designed to mandate proper supervision and regulation so that people and small children, like Kevin, can stop dying from E coli?  The law would have given the U.S. Department of Agriculture the power to close down plants that produce contaminated meat. The bill never became law.  Where is the public outcry for safe food? 

 Chicken farms raise chickens in totally inhumane conditions. The huge demand for white meat has resulted in genetic selection for unnaturally fast growth.  In this scenario, muscle outpaces bone development during the early life of chickens. They feed them until they are too oversized to be able to walk.  These same companies harvest the chickens at night with labor they sneak in from Mexico to keep the public unaware of these deplorable conditions. 

 Did you know that one company owns the patent on a gene in soybeans that makes them resistant to Roundup?  Ninety percent of US farmers now use those seeds?  However, the farmers don’t own those seeds and can’t save them for next year because they don’t own the patent.  This means that each year they have to buy them again and again.   Did you know that the patent company has a team of 75 investigators out scouring America to make sure no farmer uses their seeds without being paid? 

 These are all seemingly sensible decisions when made from the business’s point of view. But do they make sense for society?  Haven’t we just seen what happens when unintended consequences happen to big companies if they become too big to fail? 

 WWW. What will work for me?  Does this sound paranoid?  I’m not sure.  I’m a bit shaken and am letting it all sink in.  I think we need to all become informed food consumers and lobby for Kevin’s Law.  We should buy locally grown food.   I’m watering my garden tonight.  Would it be ironic if the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction turned out to be our forks?  Write a letter to your congressman.  Kevin’s Law.

Column written by Dr. John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-784-5300)