Saturday, February 6, 2010

More Thoughts on Healthy Living

I know I'm a little behind on American news and its major corporation's current PR, so you'll have to forgive me.

When we first got to Korea, I was a little concerned with what we were buying at the grocery store.  What were we buying?  Where is it from?  How much of it is GMO?  Just, how exactly does the Korean food industry work?

Five months later, I still can't thoroughly answer those questions.  I have only a vague idea of how Korean agribusinesses work.  One thing I have learned, though, is that Korean legislation requires all GM food to be labeled.  I suppose it is my own country I should have worried about, as the US hasn't yet managed to pass that law.  Click here if you're interested in signing a petition.

I've recently been reading up on the American agricultural biotechnology MNC Monsanto.  Mansanto produces 90% of the world's GE seeds (think corn, soy, cotton and wheat).  And if you eat anywhere like the average American (since most GM foods remain unlabeled), you consume food products from Monsanto with every meal.  The company has recently recieved some negative PR because new studies have shown organ damage in animals (rats) that were fed three common types of GM corn consumed by people all over the world for 90 days.  The rats showed signs of toxicity in their kidneys, livers, hearts, adrenal glands and spleens (original article here).  Monsanto is simply denying the validity of the research.  The company is also facing negative press regarding the level of herbicides they use.  The GM crops the company has created are designed to be resistant to RoundUp (the brand of pesticide created and sold by Monsanto).  Because the crops are resistant, the use of herbicides as gone up dramatically.  Not only is this practice questionable for immediate health concerns, but new and more resistant weeds are popping up, creating a cycle of pollution (original article here).  Lastly, the company is facing investigation regarding its business practices and possible monopolization of the industry (read about that here).  Unfortunately, several former Monsanto employees are currently employed by US government agencies like the EPA and FDA.

I know that I am guilty of consuming food without thinking of its origin or safety.  Actually, I consume Diet Coke while perfectly aware that Aspartame is a GMO and that Saccharin is a possible animal carcinogen.  Ironically, I began drinking diet soda a few years ago when I began to get away from High Fructose Corn Syrup (which I still consume, though I try to moderate it).  It's damn near impossible to be perfect with agribusiness reducing our choices and, in some cases, completely mismarketing their goods to us.  I haven't seen Food, Inc. yet, but I think we'll watch it soon.  Here's a short interview (via Amazon) with the director, Robert Kenner.

We did, however, recently watch the movie The Informant! about the Archer Daniels Midland Company's price fixing scandal of 1993.  I was unaware that companies had that kind of control and that enlightenment inspired all this research.

I'm hoping that, in the future, consumers will figure out that what they choose to buy affects the market, and therefore gives them control.  Maybe then we'll see labeling on products.  I'm hoping for real choice, not just the illusion.

What foods or food products do you stay away from?  What do you indulge in regardless?  Or do you prefer not to know?

Good night!


  1. Dominic is super picky about what is on labels, mostly when it comes to high fructose corn syrup and sodium. We try to buy items that we know what all the ingredients are. We have stopped buying bread because so much of it is weird chemicals. Dominic instead makes his own which has maybe 5 ingredients that are kept in most pantries. Sometimes we buy ketchup regardless of what is in it if it is cheap, but we usually try for the organic type. We have also taken to making our own salad dressings and pasta sauce.
    I cannot wait until the day we can have a garden and know exactly where our food comes from, if not the seeds. I'd also love to keep bees. Is that crazy?
    Oh, and your post has got me humming Joni Mitchell's, Big Yellow Taxi:
    Hey farmer farmer
    Put away the D.D.T.
    Give me spots on my apples
    But leave me the birds and the bees

  2. As you know this is a passionate subject for me. You have had to listen to my soap box rantings during your childhood on into your adulthood. I have not always practiced what I preach and still don't, however, I am much better today. In a word our food system is broken. Agribusiness has made our food unhealthy and in some cases unrecognizable. It has made our food cheap, but at what cost. We are the only country that spends so little of what we earn on what we eat. Companies like Monsanto own our food industry, they basically own the corn growers of this country, which is subsidized by our government, and they have so many lobbyists controlling what our government does that you can't trust the FDA to do the right thing. I use to believe that if it was on the grocery store shelf it had to safe, right? After all the FDA would not let anything harmful to us to end up there, wrong.
    Has anyone seen the warm and fuzzy commercials the corn (monsanto) industry has out? They are skits about how we have been fooled into thinking that High Fructose Corn syrup is "just sugar" and it is ok for us. It is just not so. I won't go into why here but anyone can do the research. I think everyone should read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan, It is not just for meat eaters. He talks about our entire food industry. It is such a eye opener.

    I recently became a vegetarian who eats wild caught fish,(Pescatarian). Farmed fish is a whole other bad idea for too many reasons to go into here. We raise chickens for the eggs, they get to scratch in the dirt and eat bugs, grass and flowers, it is amazing how the yokes are so much brighter than even organic store bought. We have all seen the egg brand that stamps the fact that their eggs are richer in omega 3's, all you have to do is let your chickens eat the grass and bugs and they will all be rich in omega 3's.
    Bruce is a meat eater, but we only buy beef that has been grass feed,(no grain at all) and allowed to graze and be cows, usually from some of Bruce's clients. We buy organic free range chicken from a farm Bruce has visited so we know it is the real deal. He hunts ethically in Montana each year and sometimes brings home a antelope or deer. I shop the farmers markets that I sell my products at for fresh berries, veggies, and fruit. It is amazing how good it feels to buy directly from the farmer and see the dirt still on the roots. I also shop the Co-op, they sell mostly local and organic products. I buy cereal, grain, peanut butter, and rice from the bulk section to cut down on the over packaging. I have never thought about making my own salad dressing, but I will do it now. Thank you Chelsea for the idea. I make most everything else from scratch, so why not that.

    My guilty pleasure is Wine and dark Chocolate. I have noticed some organic wineries lately that practice sustainable wine making. So I should check those out. I buy organic dark chocolate , but I don't think that the cocoa growers get a fair share, even with the so called "fair trade"

    I am done ranting, just want to say how pleased I am that you are interested in this. I too will have Joni Michelle's song in my head!

  3. How did your 5k run on the treadmill go?