What Is Food and Why Is It Important?
Food is defined by most sources as a substance containing quintessential elements to the maintenance of organismal life (i.e. animals, people, and plants), such as water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, sugars, and vital fats. These elements are used by the cells to sustain the processes of growth and repair, and supply energy which is imperative to the vital processes of the physical form of each organism. Humans, animals, and plants cannot live without these sources of nutrition, and especially cannot live with nutrients that are sub-quality or non-existent in the available food resources for very long.
Today’s food markets consist largely of mass farmed, heavily processed, chemical laden, and (bio-) engineered or genetically modified foods (GMO’s), all of which in some way or another not only change the essential components within the foods, but drastically reduce the body’s ability to absorb and process the nutrients. Many of the foods eaten by the populations of the world on a regular basis have had to be boosted in their nutrient content due to the heavy processing, and a lot of times the minerals and vitamins therein are of synthetic nature, and synthetic nutrients act by stripping away the “bio-availability” of the original nutrients, or in other words, these processes and chemicals used can cause the body to be less likely or able to absorb and use the elements needed to properly function.
Living on food that does not contain a balanced quality and quantity of “bio-available” ingredients required by the body, as so many people do today with their modern diets, can and has led to problems such as malnutrition, food related health issues (i.e. cancers, cardiovascular, immunodeficiency, neurologic disorders, etc.), and overall a far poorer quality of life as a result. If what is being eaten is lacking the nutrients and purity required to sustain healthy body function, it will not matter how much one is in-taking, the human body will over time begin starving to death.
An estimated 795 million people across the globe (a ratio of 1:9) were suffering from malnourishment between 2014 and 2016 alone, according to worldhunger.org (http://www.worldhunger.org/2015-world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/), and that number is only rising in 2017. Lack of access to nutrient rich food and clean water is really just the beginning of the world’s hunger and malnutrition problem: between GMO’S, the lowering of nutrient density (how much available and easily digestible nutrient is actually in the food), and the continual contamination of accessible food by pesticides, herbicides, and other industrial chemicals and heavy metals must also be taken into consideration.
Much of the world’s food supply today relies on what is called “big agriculture” or large-scale farming, which is definitively a huge and worldwide industry. Demand to feed a growing population on earth, as well as unkept monetary promises, has pressured a large number of farmers across the globe to decidedly leave small-scale “traditional”, organic, and healthy farming practices in the proverbial “dirt”, and instead converting to using much more harmful, big agriculture farming techniques to obtain those goals. “Pesticides [and herbicides] are chemical or biological substances that are used by farmers to kill undesirable organisms” (http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/topics/soil-agriculture/ecological-impact-of-farming/pesticides). The overuse of these chemicals has led to food sources that have little to no nutrient value, as the soil is leeched slowly of its nutrient content and the beneficial bacteria that aid in the breakdown of usable (bio-available) micronutrients, the same micronutrient content that feeds the plants eaten, which in turn supplies bodies with whole food nutrients people and animals also need to function properly. To compensate for this micronutrient loss, farmers then have to supply the soil with alternative fertilizer, which usually for many a farmer is applied in the form of synthetic fertilizers that are supposedly less costly, yet which are just as toxic to the biological welfare of the ecologies of human, plant and animal alike as the pesticides and herbicides are.
The side effects of what these components have been doing to the human bodies and the microbiome (our guts and intestines), the soils and surrounding biological ecology, including animals, and the water bodies on, around and under the land being sprayed are now being thoroughly observed and studied, and the findings are not necessarily good.
The chemicals used on farmlands have been shown to transfer to human bodies, via the food and water, as well as through skin absorption, and even the air that gets breathed during times of spraying. Many of these chemicals sold by companies, such as Monsanto and Dow, are inorganic substances that are not meant to be naturally ingested by people. Human beings do not have any natural ways to break down these poisons, and there no body functions to help process and carry them out of our systems.
The components of these “cides” and fertilizers are often toxic substances such as heavy metals, dioxins, and other carcinogenic ingredients. Carcinogens are not only cancer causing, but are the basis of many modern bodily and mental diseases, diseases that we do not have remedies for. The worst of it all is that these chemicals we spray on our food are eventually leeched from the lands used to cultivate the food into our water supplies, thus further exposing the human and animal populations of the world to an even greater amount of toxicity.
What Are GMO’s and Why Are They Controversial?
To further worsen the plight of the world’s food and disease crisis, companies like Monsanto have been inescapably been introducing foods called GMO’s, or genetically modified organisms (food) under the guise of eradicating world hunger. So are GMO’s really helping alleviate world hunger? Much evidence is emerging that the answer is no, and appears to be in direct alignment of sales and profit for these bigger chemical companies. Yes, chemical companies are taking over the food supply, and many are beginning to understand just how disconcerting that has become. It seems that many experts, panelists, scientists and even epigeneticists are beginning to understand that world hunger is not just merely related to how much food is produced, as proponents of GMO’s would have the world believe, but mostly the knowledge of sound and earth-friendly farming techniques that allow the production of quality, nutritious food. (https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/Feeding_or_Fooling_the_World_Can_GM_Really_Fee.htm)
Due to the nature of the modified genes of the seeds of these foods sold by these large companies (i.e. terminator genes, which force farmers to buy new seed every year from only that supplier, instead of saving seed as has been done for generations) and the way they are pretty much required to be farmed (by adding more chemicals to the soil and creating a larger dependence on the fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides), the bigger chemical companies have a stranglehold on these types of foods, as well as contractual holds on farmers that can be horrifically hard to escape.
“A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.” (http://responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education/) This process is done under the claims that a plant or animal can be modified to express certain genetic traits it otherwise would not have, such as producing its own pesticide (Bt corn or cotton) or perhaps grow to be much larger than a normal variety under the guise of feeding more people (GMO salmon).
This controversial and unnatural process can and has been slowly but surely evidenced as a process that interferes with and destroys the ecosystems surrounding the crop or animal as well as the essential biodiversity, especially in recent cases of unwanted cross-pollination with native organic varieties of plant or “unintentional” interbreeding with native species which thus has resulted in destroying the necessary genetic variety. In many cases, the crops that produce their own herbicides and pesticides wind up harming insects that are not targeted, such as pollinating bee populations. In the case of GMO salmon, the modified fish has been released into wild native populations, interbreeding and literally genetically eliminating the natural species.
In the case of human consumption, there is mounting and overwhelming evidence that these GMO’s interfere with the body’s natural processes, especially within the microbiome of the gut, causing symptomatic diseases that are both mysterious and multi-faceted. Since the introduction of GMO’s into the world’s food supply, people and animals have begun experiencing stomach, intestinal, chronic, and neurological diseases that before this introduction were almost unheard of. In a study done on lab rats (https://www.gmoseralini.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Clairal_ToxInVitro_2012-1.pdf) , it was found that RoundUp ready corn of the GM variety fed to the rats over a period of time against a control group that was fed regular corn caused several toxic symptoms, ranging from terminal effects on the reproductive organs and fertility, respiratory issues, abnormally large tumors, and ultimately early mortality rates. The study was published in 2012 in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal, only to be forcibly retracted from publishing in Nov, 2013 under the notion that the rats used in the study were already preternaturally predisposed to large amounts of tumor incidents. In June 2014 the article was republished by a different publication and with the raw scientific data intact. This study became just one of the cornerstones of the anti-GMO movements, both within the US and around the world. So just how does a poisonous food continue on the markets of the world, without a batted eyelash?
Apparently the supporters and proprietors of such GMO technology have purported that their monocrops, as they are called, will produce not only more pounds of food per acre than traditional farming and seeding techniques, but also that the food produced from GM cropping will be “nutritionally equivalent” to its naturally occurring counterparts, thus feeding the world. “GM crops are designed to be grown as industrial monocrops (a single crop per field). But total productivity of mixed-crop land has been shown repeatedly to far outstrip monocrops in total useful output. This mixed cropping not only helps the farmer, but it benefits dietary diversity and human health, soil maintenance, the environment, crop and biological diversity, and local economies.” (https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/Feeding_or_Fooling_the_World_Can_GM_Really_Fee.htm) In just this one of hundreds of recent independent research and comparison studies, it was found that the nutrient content of the one mixed crop plot of food was not only more dense and “bio-available”, but resulted in healthier soil and biodiversity than the one plot of monocropped GMO seed. It is estimated that as of 2013, approximately 40% of the world’s GM crops are grown in the US alone, with Monsanto controlling 80% of the GM corn market and a whopping 93% of the GM soy market! For seed crops that don’t necessarily perform as well as touted, or have the healthy nutrient benefits they are supposed to have, that is a huge market share to hold over the world populations.
What Can We Do?
Knowing now what the technical definitions of food should be (defined as essential elements of nutritive quality that are readily available for immediate use by the body), and seeing some of the evidence of how the food and chemical industries such as Monsanto and Dow have been attempting over decades to try monopolize, monetize, and gloss over the world’s underlying issues of hunger causation (i.e. malnutrition and toxification through water, air, and soil), the next question in mind is how can people help to find honest solutions that work for everyone with regards to their food?
Voting with their dollars as well as their voices, planting victory gardens, buying organic/fair trade/non-GMO foods and products, buying locally farmed foods, learning how to be self-sufficient sustainably, reducing carbon footprints, and even growing small herb gardens are just great starting places. Making a daily effort to teach and support each other is truly the only way to affect the change needed to be seen in the world, and it can be started today.
For more information on victory gardens, go here: Victory Garden