Friday, April 1, 2011

Tomatoes and Things

Last night I attended a viewing of Food, Inc sponsored by the West End Association and Greener Partners. The film is a documentary produced by the same people who did The Inconvenient Truth, and deals with the food industry. It is a somewhat disturbing film because there are some rather graphic scenes in it of meat slaughtering and animals that have been warehoused for our use. It is also disturbing because it turns out that there is so little that is known about what we eat. I am sure most of us mindlessly go to the grocery store, bring things home, prepare them for our family, and never stop to think about where it comes from.

Food, Inc points out that our food is not grown, but really manufactured by four large conglomerates that run the factories that supply our food. Chickens are grown faster and re-designed to have larger breasts because that’s the way we like to eat them. The chickens are so fat that they can’t take more than a few steps because their bones have not kept up with the speed in which their bodies have grown. The cows are kept in pens, moving around in their own feces, shoulder to shoulder with one another. These animals along with pigs and even fish are fed corn rather than given grass because it fattens them up quickly. The different diet not only makes them fatter faster, but causes a particularly deadly E. Coli bacteria in cows. Above all, the FDA who are supposed to be overseeing everything have no real teeth and until recently were not even able to shut down a plant if there was contamination.

But the good news in all of this is that we have a choice. There are 10 things we can do to make a change, a change that is also better for your health:

  1. Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages. You can lose 25 lbs in a year by replacing one 20 oz soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water). 
  2. Eat at home instead of eating out. Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food prepared outside the home.
  3. Bring food labeling into the 21st Century. Half of the leading chain restaurants provide no nutritional information to their customers. 
  4. Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks. Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years. 
  5. Meatless Mondays—Go without meat one day a week. 
  6. An estimated 70% of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to farm animals. Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides. According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S. 
  7. Protect family farms; visit your local farmer's market. Farmer's markets allow farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer. 
  8. Make a point to know where your food comes from—READ LABELS. The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate. 
  9. Tell Congress that food safety is important to you. Each year, contaminated food causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths in the U.S. 
  10. Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.
You can go to the film’s website for more information. Be informed and be healthy.





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