***Statistics and ideas cited all credited to Eat This, Not That: Supermarket Survival Guide by David Zinczenko. Follow on Twitter.
I grew up in an era of high fructose corn syrup mania. Naturally, what I learned as a child to be “healthy” is vastly skewed. But it’s not just my generation. Really, the health epidemic we see today has been slowly billowing towards us for years.
My great-grandpa’s generation probably thought the idea of processing foods was genius. They lived through the Great Depression when food was scarce. Processed foods extended shelf life…the equation, to that generation, might have seemed like answers to matters of life and death. The ultimate defense in survival.
Ironically enough, decades later and those overly processed, additive-filled, unorganic foods have caused matters of life and death. Today, one out of every eight deaths in America is caused by an illness directly related to overweight obesity. A recent Harvard study found that obesity may soon surpass tobacco as the #1 cause of cancer deaths. The epidemic even spills over into our economy– the health condition most directly tied to obesity (diabetes) now eats up one in every five dollars Americans spend on health care.
The truly sad part is that it’s not like we don’t know about these issues. And it’s not like we’re not trying to fix them.
Ever year, Americans spend an estimated $542 million on health and fitness books, $18.5 billion on health club memberships, and $5.2 billion on diet foods and weight loss programs.
“But unless you understand how food marketers have altered the reality of our weekly trip to the supermarket, it’s impossible to truly see where the battle lines fall in the fight against fat. See, the food industry spends $30 billion a year on advertising–nearly half of it pitching convenience foods, candy, soda, and desserts. [...] They’re obscuring the real story. And the real story is this: The food we consume today is simply different from the food that Americans ate 20 or 30 years ago.”
Did you know that the average piece of chicken has 266 percent more fat than it did in 1971, while its protein content has dropped by a third, according to researchers at the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at the London Metropolitan University?
“Because we no longer eat chickens that roam the farm eating bugs and grasses–today they’re kept in cages and fed antibiotic-laced soy and corn and other unnatural foods–today’s chicken is actually higher in fat than it is in protein.” Read more in Eat This, Not That.
So what can we do to help? Shop organicially as much as possible. Splurge the extra dollar and buy eggs from cage-free hens, milk from free-range cows, and meat from animals raised on little-to-no pesticides. The health benefits from shopping organically are worth the extra costs.
Plus, organic tends to be better for the earth.
“The certification criteria of the National Organic Standard Board specifically outline that organic food must be grown with methods that promote biodiversity, minimize pollution, and use cultural,biological, and mechanical methods of agriculture in place of synthetic materials. This goes beyond cutting out pesticides and fertilizers that can be harmful to people and animals; it involves methods that actually improve the soil…”
For more information on how and where to shop organicially visit any of these sites:
Also, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to read Food From Animals–The Good, The Bad, and the Thought-Provoking.
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