No this is not a critique of George Orwell’s classic novel, but rather a discussion about current farming practices out there that dictate our food sources. Going back to the subject of last week’s blog, I talked about reading food labels and knowing what is in your food, and how challenging this can be due to deceptive marketing tactics.
As the old saying goes ‘you are what you eat’. When it comes to our animal sources of food the problem also becomes that ‘we are what they ate’. In order to bring food to the shelves of these mega-stores at a reasonable cost to the consumer they have to be mass-produced at a relatively low cost, and even subsidized by the government. The problem with this type of food production is not the quantity but the quality. When it comes to the heavy hitters like wheat, corn and soy, they are grown in these vast, genetically modified monocultures that are bathed in chemicals and fed petroleum-based fertilizer. In Michael Pollan‘s book “The Omnivores Dilemma” (a lot of which the documentary “Food Inc” is based on), he talks about how about a quarter to a third of a gallon on petroleum goes into producing a bushel of corn.
So when it comes to animal protein that most of us consume, cows, and pigs and chickens confined and raised in gigantic feed lots or hen houses where they don’t have room to move around and essentially are covered in their own feces, (Gross!). Well this is obviously very unhealthy and would make these animals very sick if they weren’t given antibiotics all the time. Also, in order to make them grow bigger more quickly they are given hormones. In addition to this, they are fed a largely grain based diets; you guessed it, from those mega-farmed grains. All of these wonderful chemicals and toxins trickle down through the food chain right to us. Many people don’t know that these practices are also applied to fish too. They are also ‘farmed’ and fed these same grains, and are confined to swim their own feces. In fact, the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that fish are supposed to contain become drastically reduced in these farmed fish. So just because you are eating fish doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthy, (especially when it is covered in batter and deep-fried).
Seems like a grim picture but the bottom line here is that knowledge is power. This goes back to knowing what you are actually eating and making good choices a by eating more sustainable farmed and locally grown whole foods. It comes down to a choice between taking control of your own health or letting someone else manage your sickness.