Excerpts from “An Ounce of Prevention” by Dr Floyd Atkins
Let’s stop for a moment to look the sustenance we call “food.” It is clear that the manna we eat usually originates from a natural source, but when we process it, we actually alter its quality, nutritional value and character. What we end up with biologically is a “new food,” i.e., a deviation of what was created in nature. Any modification in the biochemistry of foods modifies its effect and value to the body and therefore its purpose in the body. Unfortunately, in a very short period of time, food science was directed toward maximizing production and retarding spoilage with minimal concern about nutrition. Today, when we see processed foods, it rarely resembles the source from which it came and more significantly has only minuscule nutrition value to the body.
The greatest hidden danger is the Genetic Engineering (GE) of foods. This radical technology manipulates the genes and DNA – the building blocks of all living things. Unlike traditional breeding, genetic engineering creates new life forms that would never occur in nature, creating new and unpredictable health and environmental risks. To create GE crops, genes from bacteria, viruses, plants, animals and even humans have been inserted into plants like soybeans, corn, canola, and cotton.
WHAT’S IN YOUR FOOD?
The primary dangers with processed and fast foods are hydrogenated oils used to extend the shelf life of foods and high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) for its addictive qualities. Food additives are just another “red flag” of potential hazards to your health as many are already found on the CDC’s list of known carcinogens.
Here is a list of a few food additives that will give you some idea of the inherent dangers of additives in our food: 1) Artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners (“artificial means man-made, synthetic or chemical), 2) Preservatives – the chemical equivalent to the embalming fluid, 3) Stabilizers – helps foods maintain their consistency and structure, 4) Hydrogenated oils – added to extend the shelf life of food, and 5) Additives agents – sugar, salt and fats(trans fats).
PESTICIDES, HORMONES AND ANTIBIOTICS???
Many pesticides (organophosphates) work by poisoning the nervous system in pests. Pesticides accumulate in the fat deposits in the body where they remain and cause damage. Infants and young children consuming breast milk ingest pesticides. Pregnant women can pass pesticides on to their fetus. Women who eat fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides, pass the pesticides on to their nursing children. ‘A study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and published in the September 2005 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives shows eating organic foods provides children with “dramatic and immediate” protection from exposure to two organophosphate pesticides that have been linked to harmful neurological effects in humans.
The repetition of this research clearly demonstrates that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides, which are commonly used in agricultural production. Organophosphate pesticides account for approximately half the insecticide use in the U.S. and are applied to many conventionally grown foods important in children’s diets.
Pesticides effects on humans are damage to the nervous system, reproductive system and other organs, developmental and behavioral abnormalities, disruption of hormone function as well as immune dysfunction.
Women who eat meat that has been injected with growth hormones and antibiotics, pass these chemicals on to their nursing children. Children eating foods that have been treated with hormones, antibiotics or pesticides, have them in their bodies.
ORGANIC IS THE WAY TO GO
Understanding the magnitude of health hazards makes for an easy decision to purchase organic food over conventionally grown food. More people demand and purchase organic, the more prices will fall and natural or organic will not just be a section in the supermarket.
The methods employed in organic farming differ from conventional farming, in that traditional farmers apply chemical fertilizers to the soil to grow their crops, whereas organic farmers feed and build soil with natural fertilizer. Also, traditional farmers use insecticides to get rid of insects and disease, while organic farmers use natural methods such as insect predators and barriers for this purpose. Conventional farmers control weed growth by applying synthetic herbicides, but organic farmers use crop rotation, tillage, hand weeding, cover crops and mulches to control weeds.
The global sales of organic food are growing in popularity while U.S. organic food sales have increased from $3.5 billion in 1996 to more than $23 billion in 2002.
The result is that conventionally grown food is often tainted with chemical residues, which can be harmful to humans. Any level of chemical contamination should be considered hazardous, especially when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic.
The negative influences of pesticides on health are many, including neurotoxicity, disruption of the endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriage in women.
Researchers reported that exposure to a mix of two crop-treating chemicals widely used in farming has been linked to Parkinson’s disease. The laboratory mice injected with the twin combination of the herbicide Paraquat and the fungicide Maneb showed brain damage identical to humans suffering from Parkinson’s. The study found that farmers, rural dwellers and people who drink well water were also more likely to die of Parkinson’s disease than people who do not (Agence France Press 04.01.2001, cited from AGNET mail out 04.01.2001).
Another major consideration of conventionally produced foods is the decreased nutrients value compared to organically produced foods. A study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition 1993; 45:35-39 of organically and conventionally grown apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn analyzed for mineral content yielded the following results. On a per-weight basis, average levels of essential minerals were much higher in the organically grown than in the conventionally grown food. The organically grown food averaged 63% higher in calcium, 78% higher in chromium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc. The organically raised food averaged 29% lower in mercury than the conventionally raised food.
On average, conventional produce has only 83 percent of the nutrients of organic produce. Studies have found significantly higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and significantly less nitrates (a toxin) in organic crops.
There is no question that organic foods are superior to non-organic produce, however, many people still are not eating any vegetables because they either cannot afford them or they are too difficult to obtain.
Another option is to buy organic produce selectively, as certain foods tend to have higher or lower amounts of pesticides. Try to eat fruits and vegetables with consistently low pesticide loads.