The American food system is simply supplying what the American consumer is demanding. Blame the consumer, not the system. If you don’t want it or like it, don’t buy it. There are always alternatives – maybe not as cheap or convenient, but they are there… be aggravated enough to search. ~Safdy
The Consequences of Fast Food
Today, everything seems to feed off corn and soy: fish farms, animal feed, packaged food for humans. That is because corn and soy crops are efficient and cheap to produce.
Efficient. Corn and soy are efficient transformers of sunlight, water, and chemical fertilizer into macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein)
Cheap. The price is low because the crops are subsidized by the U.S. government
Since the US government subsidizes corn and soy, farmer’s are encouraged to grow it, and our food supply is deluged with it. Even the animals raised for meat consume an abundance of these crops. More than half of our sweeteners come from corn. The Standard American Diet (SAD) predominately consists of just 4 processed ingredients – corn, soybeans, rice, and wheat. Yet, humans are meant to consume compounds and elements from a variety of plant species.
Why? Because America wants fast food, and lots of it.
Thousands of plant varieties have declined in the last century as industrial agriculture has focused its attention on this handful of high-yielding varieties that are best suited for mechanical harvesting and processing. Even the majority of animals raised for meat are a single variety that can bulk up quickly under crowded conditions. The plants and animals have been manipulated to allow for mass production in the shortest amount of time.
Eating fast food directly contributes to this problem. If you think it is barbaric to cram animals into an enclosed factory farm, so they are denied their right to move about freely and graze on a pasture, then don’t eat commercially processed meat! If you think the Irish potato famine demonstrates the perils of growing a single type of monocrop, then avoid the fast food french fry! The Russet Burbank potato is planted by the millions across miles of farmland in rural America – not because it offers you excellent nutrition – but because it supplies a spud that stands extra-tall inside the french fry cup of fast food retailers. All it take is a single virus, a more capable pest, a tiny bacterium to eradicate an entire crop. The investors that fund companies like MCD, BKC, and YUM would not be pleased.
What can you do?
- Limit convenience food chains & packaged junk food. If it comes in a package loaded with ingredients that improve its flavor, smell, appeal, and character, then it is probably not going to do that for you.
- Question the ingredients before you purchase anything. Usually, the more ingredients a packaged food product has, the more processed it is, and the worse it is for your body. If you don’t understand what an ingredient is, where it came from or how it was grown, derived and/or processed, go find out. No one cares about your health as much as you do.
- Eat a varied diet. The best way to accomplish a varied diet is to consume food straight from the source – the actual (unaltered) plant, grain, nut, seed, vegetable, fruit.
Who Cares? I like how my fast food tastes!
We have become so disassociated with what we are eating that we no longer consider its consequences. We don’t think of the suffering involved when we chew into a burger or chicken nugget. We don’t think about Combined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO)because they are shrouded from view. We don’t think of the environmental costs of growing vast landscapes of genetically modified monocrops (drenched in pesticide and herbicides) to support the cruel practices of CAFO. And the medications given to CAFO animals so their body can metabolize these crops. Or, the absurd inefficiency of growing a grain to feed an animal in order to feed a human. We fail to notice the impacts it has created for our health. We overlook a system that tampers with our taste buds so we crave the foods that will ill us later. We are all connected to the earth. How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used or abused.
Be aware that most packaged foods are designed so you crave them. It is purely obscene that an entire food industry has been constructed around perpetuating a taste for artificial foods, but it has. The fact that we like how it tastes is understandable. We are wired to crave salt, sugar, and fat because they are rare in nature. Yet, we have manipulated our environment for it to be available in excess, and our body is not yet equipped to tell us it has had enough in the short-term. Eventually, it will tell us, in the form of disease.
Does real food taste bland to you? Do you sprinkle sugar on fruit, or add salt to nearly everything? If so, you probably need to eliminate or reduce processed foods. Real food should not taste bland. Fruit should taste plenty sweet as is. The good news is you can relearn to appreciate the flavor for real fresh foods again. And, if you pay attention to how you feel after eating the real stuff, you may change your eating habits forever.
To eat responsibly is to understand and enact accordingly. Read the food ingredients on any packaged foods you intend to eat. Again, if you don’t know what an ingredient is, where it came from, or how it was grown, derived and/or processed, look it up or ask the manufacturer. Trust that neither the food industry nor the government is looking out for your best interests. The multi-billion dollar food industry profits at the expense of your health and the environment. The ecological issues we are facing today – depleting water supplies, air pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, global warming – are linked to conventional food production and animal factory farming practices. The outdoor adventurer must take this into serious consideration. Or any one of us who desires or expects a world filled with abundant clean water and air.
Your choice of food impacts much more than your own health. It impacts the health of our environment too. How you use this information determines how the Earth is used.
May you consume wisely,