Dec 152011

Many of my classmates have written thought-provoking articles about critical issues surrounding the Occupy movements.  One significant issue is food freedoms, and how our individual rights to partake of real food are increasingly in danger.  In this article I will provide practical suggestions and ideas about what individuals can do to take steps to effect positive change.  It begins with education about real food versus artificial food.

Big food corporations have hijacked our food systems and replaced real food with boxed, canned, highly processed, and additive and chemical-rich artificial foods instead.  We are encouraged to eat grains—extruded into the familiar shapes of popular breakfast cereals—out of a box (even oatmeal comes in individual packets with artificial flavors), or out of a plastic wrapper, in the form of processed bread, and Western society is highly grain-oriented, unlike our hunter-gatherer predecessors.  Artificial sweeteners are found in many processed foods, especially sports drinks, sodas, and low-calorie or diet foods.  Aspartame, known by brand names such as NutraSweet or Equal is considered a neurotoxin that has been linked to serious conditions such as brain tumors, seizures, hallucinations, and even degenerative diseases such as ALS.  Splenda, another popular artificial sweetener, is sucralose, a highly toxic chlorocarbon in the same family as DDT and World War I poison gas.  Consumption has been linked to liver and kidney problems, among other things.  Highly refined white sugar and its more covert forms (dextrose, maltodextrine, maltose, etc.) is found in nearly every processed food.  It is hidden in condiments (including sauces), cereals, snacks, bottled beverages, baby food, bread, deli meats, and many boxed and/or canned foods.  Most foods purchased from an ordinary grocery store or supermarket contain sugar, corn, and soy, and many of them are composed of mostly the latter two.  Breakfast cereals often constitute little more than corn and sugar, and many contain soy, a food often touted as healthful.  Many would be surprised to learn that not only is soy not a health food (unfermented soy is high in anti-nutrients that cause health issues), but in its non-organic forms it is genetically modified 91% of the time.  Corn is also genetically modified approximately 85% of the time.[1]  Sugar, once derived only from sugar cane, can now be partially derived from sugar beets, many of which are genetically engineered to be resistant to Roundup (“Roundup Ready”), a Monsanto herbicide.  According to The True Food Network, a real food advocacy site, around 70% of food sold in supermarkets is genetically modified or contains modified  ingredients.

Real food is food created by nature, in its natural form as much as possible.  Real foods are:

  • organic or at the very least, unsprayed fruits and vegetables
  • pastured meat (including uncured bacon, no nitrites) and poultry
  • pastured eggs
  • raw milk and cream
  • naturally fermented dairy such as yogurt, kefir, sour cream, buttermilk, cheese, and more
  • beneficial fats such as butter, lard, tallow, virgin coconut oil, and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • raw nuts and seeds
  • legumes
  • grains in moderation
  • natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar
  • spices and seasonings such as grey Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
  • naturally-fermented tamari
  • raw apple cider vinegar

Many of us have been raised to believe that raw milk and cream, butter, lard, and coconut oil have detrimental effects on the body and contribute to ill health.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This is exactly what Big Corporate Food wants us all to believe so that we’ll spend our dollars on the artificial foods they churn out which cost them little to produce but carry a huge profit margin.  What is causing the huge epidemic of ill health in North America today but most particularly in the United States is the mass consumption of margarine, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, and nearly all plant oils (typically doughnuts and French fries are fried in toxic plant oils re-used multiple times) except for olive and possibly flaxseed; artificial sweeteners and white sugar (causing a rampant obesity epidemic) including sodas and sugary drinks and snacks; and nitrites galore in deli meats and hotdogs, cured bacon, and such canned evils as Spam, Vienna Sausage,  and corned beef.  None of this even takes into account the dangers of genetically modified foods nor the high levels of pesticides found in or on much of the non-organic produce available in supermarkets.  To be sure, buying organic produce does not guarantee a pesticide-free experience, but, still, one’s chances of ingesting pesticides is significantly lower with organic produce.  There are many free real food guides, available online, for those who would like to shop more conscientiously; the following is a fairly comprehensive list:

  1. The True Food Network Shopper’s Guide—
  2. The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides—
  3. The Blue Ocean Institute Seafood Guide—
  4. The Weston A. Price Foundation Principles of Health Guide—
  5. Ethical Kitchen Vancouver’s Real Food Guide—
  6. Frugal Granola Real Food Field Trips: A Beginner’s Guide—
  7. Vancouver’s Farmers Markets—

So where is the best place to shop for food, given the fact that most ordinary supermarkets carry mostly non-organic and/or genetically modified food?  Some people who prefer the convenience of a supermarket will choose to shop at natural food markets such as Whole Foods or Choices Markets (BC only).  Others prefer to shop at farmer’s markets or even to purchase directly from small, local farms.  The overwhelming majority of conscious food shoppers will purchase food from a number of different types of vendors, including natural markets, farmer’s markets, small farms, or, they may even grow some of it themselves.  Most urban areas offer fairly nearby access to farmland, and Vancouver is no different.  There are numerous small, family-owned farms to the north, east, and south whose very livelihood depends on the patronage of conscious real food shoppers.   With the movement to support local business and the move away from corporate-mediated lifestyles, supporting one’s local farms is one of the best ways to effect a change in the food system, starting with one individual action at a time.



 15 December 2011  Posted by janmin take action   Add comments