Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Collosal Rant

Pomaleedon has challenged me, not to a dual, nor to a battle of wits, but to a colossal rant. Very well then. I accept.
All week I've been considering topics worthy of such a rant. Email forwards, especially those which employ spiritual manipulation to get you to pass them on, were a possibility. Carpet under the dining room table, such as we've had in our last two homes, was strongly considered. Companies who call me and then don't even have the courtesy to have a live person on the other end really bug me. The utter lack of customer service in many stores gets me going sometimes. Then last night all of those ideas got blown away by something I can really rant about. So here goes.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING RANT CONTAINS INFORMATION THAT MAY SHOCK AND DISGUST YOU. IGNORANCE IS BLISS: STOP READING WHILE YOU CAN.
Have you ever stopped to think about how little of the food you buy is actually in it's natural state, the way God created it? I'm not talking here about Cheetos and PopTarts and Blue KoolAid. I'm talking about things we think of as healthy food, things we use to cook our "from scratch" meals. Believe it or not, I'm talking about the staples: milk, eggs and meat, fruits and vegetables.
Milk I grew up on a farm and milk came in fresh from Mrs. Moo the cow. The cream rose to the top; Mom skimmed some of it off to use for other things, and we drank it. In it's natural state. Milk we buy in the store is both pasteurized and homogenized. Pasteurization of course is done to protect you, to kill any possible harmful bacteria and give the milk a longer shelf life. (When pasteurization became the norm, there was little refridgeration and conditions were not as sanitary as they are now.) Unfortunately it does this by killing all the good bacteria too, which God put in milk to protect you. It also destroys enzymes and vitamins that naturally occur. It's suspected to be a culprit in a host of ailments, including allergies, which are on the rise. Incidentally, calves do very poorly when given pasteurized milk instead of raw milk. Raw milk dairies are required to adhere to much stricter standards of health for their cows and cleanliness for their operations than dairies that pasteurize. Speaking of healthy cows, a cow's natural diet consists primarily of grasses supplemented by grains, vegetables, silage, etc. But "commercial" cows are fed things unnatural to them, like soy meal (laden with hormones) and food scraps. Prone to disease, they're pumped with antibiotics, and to boost milk production (read: money) they're given artificial hormones . Now, when a human mother is breast-feeding she tends to be careful about what she puts into her body, knowing that what she eats her baby eats too, yet we are subject to milk that is from cows routinely given antibiotics and hormones! My other "beef" with milk is homogenization. We are warned of the dangers of butterfat (cream) which naturally occurs in milk, yet did you know that in it's natural, non-homogenized form, the fat molecules are too small to be absorbed into the bloodstream? Instead, milk is pushed forcefully through tiny filters to break up the fat molecules, leaving them suspended in the milk. This also makes them tiny enough to pass through the wall of the intestines into the bloodstream contributing to clogged arteries, heart disesase, and obesity.
This is discouraging, and I feel like I'm left with few options. We drank soymilk for a while, until I researched that and became increasingly uncomfortable with the high levels of hormones that occur in soybeans. Organic milk is available, at twice the price, about $5 a gallon. Unfortunately, organic milk, since it usually comes from further away, tends to be ultra-pasteurized, which brings the milk to higher temperatures within seconds, killing off more good stuff than even regular pasteurization. You can buy organic, ultra pastuerized, non-homogenized milk for upwards of $7 a gallon. It's illegal to sell raw milk in Oregon, although for a while it could be sold as long as it was labeled "Not for human consumption. Pet use only." The price? $16 per gallon! You can find a family farmer who is willing to sell you milk in it's natural state, but where we live it's not easy to find. Last resort? Move to the country and start milking!
Eggs They come from chickens of course. Chickens who, for the most part, live and die in tiny little cages stacked one on top of another under bright lights in a huge building. We were able to buy farm fresh eggs for a while, and, (gasp!) the yolks were dark and flavorful, not pale like their commercial counterparts. Chickens who get to live outdoors and eat "real" food, who aren't prone to diseases, and who are allowed to live according to the rhythms of the sun and moon just make better eggs. Period. And you know those "free-range" eggs? I've heard that here in Oregon, eggs can be labeled as free range if the chicken's door is open for 15 minutes per day, allowing the the opportunity to stretch their little chicken legs for a while. Here in the city we are allowed to have two hens. I guess more might be too loud or something. Yeah, they might actually drown out the dalmations on the other side of the fence.
Meat Not too much to say about this one. More hormones and antibiotics and more unnatural food. And chicken breasts "enhanced with up to 15% of a solution." Enhanced? With a solution? Yes, one that, if it contains "broth" probably contains MSG and lots of sodium. And you'd better factor that 15% into the cost per pound, because what you're really paying for there is water.
Fruits and Vegetables When I was buying my produce at a warehouse grocery store I realized that about a third of my fruit was rotting before it ever ripened. And a lot of it just didn't taste that good. I lived in Santa Cruz one summer and was astounded at how they would plant one crop after another in a field. The soil is depleted of nutrients, which means the farmers have to dump large quantities of commercial fertilizer in the soil, followed by synthetic pesticides, some of which end up in the finished product. Natural, time honored farming methods, such as crop rotation, fallowing, composting, and companion planting have fallen out of use in favor of bigger produce, faster growth time, and more, more, more. And fruit that you think is fresh, like apples in the fall, have probably been sitting for over a year. Because they store well they're packed into large containers, vacuum sealed, and stored in a climate controlled warehouse. If a piece of fruit starts losing nutrients the moment it's picked then I really have to wonder if there's much good left in this stuff by the time it hits the grocery store shelves. No wonder they coat it with wax to make it look pretty and shiny. Has anyone else noticed that fruit doesn't taste as good as it used to? When we started getting our produce through an organic co-op we were incredulous- it tasted SO much better! Unfortunately organic produce tends to be expensive, but if you can find a co-op, or start one, or become a CSA member of a local farm it's a good way to go. Another problem is that organic certification is very expensive which makes it hard for many small farms who use traditional farming methods. Here's a link that gives some good information on which produce is safest as far as pesticide contamination.
Okay, I think I'm almost done. I could go on. (And on and on!) Why is it so hard to just buy normal, natural food anymore? Why is it that to actually find something that hasn't been severely tampered with costs so much more money? Why aren't more people questioning the "norm" which is really not "normal" at all? Why is the FDA doing nothing to protect what is actually good, normal, and safe for our bodies? Oh, maybe it's because they're just the puppet of the pharmaceutical industry. And if we could actually get food that would help us to be healthy, then we wouldn't need to spend *billions* of dollars each year on medications and drugs and doctor visits and surgeries. Maybe a lot of the diseases rampant in our country would become virtually unheard of again and we would enjoy longer, healthier lives.
All that being said, I am thankful for what I can get, and will give my family the best food I can. It's not always practical, or feasible financially to buy organic, although I do as much as possible. I will not live in fear, but I will also seek out food that is as close to it's natural state as possible. I know that the body is temporal, but I still believe we should take care of it. Physical strength and a long life are not the main goal I have for my family, but I want to give them good health, as much as it's up to me, so that we're able to serve the Lord with all our strength. The food aspect of this is obviously something I feel strongly about, but it's not my driving passion. (And we're not health food fanatics, believe it or not. My theory is that if we eat healthy as a rule, then we can indulge sometimes and not feel guilty!)
Okay Pomaleedon, you asked for it! I ranted, I raved, I foamed at the mouth and smoked at the ears. Well, not quite, but I do get worked up about this.
It's your turn fellow bloggers. What makes you rant?

5 comments:

  1. Honey, did you forget the grains?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Someone give the woman a piece of chocolate! ( known for it's calming endorphins and antioxidents) Just make sure it's organic, all natural, free trade and shade grown and wrapped in un-bleached paper.

    Hmm, not sure i can work up a rant as rantish as this one (enough to bring Erik to Blogland) , but I'll think about it. Time to go make my oatmeal before you start in on the grains....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Shannon10:27 PM

    Amen Rebekah!
    I'm going to go have some chocolate now ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, this is a great rant. Maybe i'll think of one. I did think it odd when my organic milk from costco, whiich i bought this week, doesn't expire til the end of August. I thought it was maybe because it was 1%. I'll see what farmers milk i can get stright up here in the central valley of CA.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This was a worthwhile topic to rant on. Some friends of ours have been trying to bring us over the the raw milk side. I'm almost convinced. Here in dairy-land Wisconsin it's not too hard to come by. It is illegal to sell, (which is ridiculous) but some farms get around that by having you pay a set amount and then it's like you own part of a cow. Our friends get their raw milk for $3 a gallon!

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you and try to respond to your comments here on the page.