Monday, February 8, 2010

Illnesses Linked to Industrial Foods, Part III (Discussion & Resources)

This is Part III, the final part, of my report on the link between chronic illnesses and industrial foods consumption that I researched for a graduate-level class on social evolution taught by an archeologist. My goal was to discover and describe the markers (or in non-archeological terms "physical evidence") that are found in the human body that indicate habitual industrial food consumption. In populations that consume mostly industrial foods, the markers are mostly chronic diseases, dental deformities and some contaminated food borne infections.


Today’s global market and industrial economy drives the demand for cheap, calorie-rich but nutrient-poor processed foods. This is not just in the United States. Industrialization has transformed commodity grains such as corn, wheat and rice into “inputs” to create profitable “outputs” through industrial production and globalized commerce all over the world. In the United States, the government promotes the industrial food system with government subsidies, which in turn fosters more surplus grain production and consumption. The unintended consequences of the industrial food system are scary:

1. Industrial foods have taken over most American’s diet and are making people sick

2. The centralized industrial food system is based on an unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels and non-reproducing genetically modified plant species that require annual seed purchases, fertilizers, herbicides and irrigation water to ensure productivity and distribution

3. The industrial food system is resistant to change as it is integrated with the American industrial economy, cultural identity and political structure.

4. The industrial food system does provide enough food for the current U.S. population with 14.6% of American households “food-insecure” in 2008 (USDA 2009).

The industrial food system is integrated in our industrial culture and economy. Mainstream consumers “show little interest in a new food economy that might require them to pay substantially more for food (to cover it’s external costs) or to eat substantially less of something they enjoy (such as meat) (Roberts 2008:272).” The current rise in health care costs due to the epidemics of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease demonstrate this. The structural barriers of the working and middle class “time famine” and lack of access to affordable nutritious foods are other roadblocks to shifting to a sustainable and nutritious food production system (Pollan 2009a).

However, with cultural change and political will, a new food system that is safer and healthier is possible. As the demand for non-industrial foods increase, their availability at affordable prices increase. You can help change the food system by voting with your dollar. If you can't grow or prepare your own foods (most people can't) then support local organic farmers, heritage or non-GMO (non-genetically modified) varieties of plant and animal foods, and humane non-industrial animal husbandry food products. It is up to you. It is only your health...


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1 comment:

  1. Thank you Alena! Now if I only had more time to post more of my original research on multisport nutrition, training, treating injuries and all things multisport mama-related.


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