Skip to content

Fear Mongering

October 18, 2013

Sometimes stories just fall into your lap when you least expect them. Last night I was up late doing laundry at the laundromat on campus. I wasn’t thrilled about downgrading from my private machine back home, but then I heard this song recently, and it make me rethink doing laundry.

Anyhow, there are some stories that I really want to write, but I’d like to get them up early next week. They just need a little bit more time in the oven before they are ready.

Then I got tagged on a post about Eight Foods that Food Experts Won’t Eat. What’s funny is that many of these items are foods I have avoided and have advocated avoiding in the past. But there is something insidious going on in the article and that needs to be addressed first.

Sampling error.

My cousins were dermatologists. In Florida. They saw a lot of skin cancer from the sun. And as a result, they covered every inch of their own kids’ skin with UV protective clothing whenever an activity would take them outside.

You ask a cardiologist what they are concerned about, it’s likely going to be heart disease from saturated fats. Are you going to stop eating bacon? You ask an emergency room doctor about what kinds of injuries they see the most, and they are likely going to say car accidents. Are you going to stop driving?

I’m not dismissing the conclusions, only the rationale. Food is not medicine. Food is not poison. Food is not simply a nutrient delivery device. Food is a lot of things. And the secret is to eat a varied diet of real food. You know, things that were grown, and grown with care.

So let’s take these one at a time.

1. Canned tomatoes are full of BPA
Okay. So is canned everything. So are the receipts you get from almost every cash register everywhere. So is the cash in your wallet. Is it bad? Yep. Can it be avoided? Sadly not. Yes, tomatoes in glass jars are better for you in some ways. And I have drastically cut back on canned foods to reduce the BPA in my own life. But I’m highly skeptical of the notion than an occasional can of tomatoes is going to doom you and your offspring to a life of reproductive problems.

2. Corn fed beef will give you heart disease
Corn makes cows delicious. It does. Corn is like candy to cows. And that makes them fat. And fat equals flavor. Me? I prefer grassfed beef for ideological reasons. I would like beef to be independent of the great American corn lobby and GMO seed production. I think encouraging a grass diet improves the conditions of animals, since they can no longer be as confined. Do healthier cows make for healthier meat? Maybe. But if you like the rich taste of corn finished beef, then you should enjoy it as a treat every now and again. There is no shame in that (although it would be nice if that corn was still non-GMO).

3. Microwave popcorn is loaded with nasty chemicals
Not to be flip, but… duh. Have you ever smelled that stuff cooking? Have you ever suffered through the consequences of a burnt bag? Both are vile. Not to mention the production of the butter flavor can cause some real problems for those who work in the popcorn factory. Do you want that in your body? Don’t think about the science. It’s just not appealing. Especially since real popcorn is so easy to make.

4. Non-organic potatoes are covered with herbicides, pesticides and fungicides
For a long time I’ve been pushing the list of produce that carries the heaviest pesticide load. This should be the short list for what you consider buying organic, biodynamic, or raised in some other way that reduces the number of pesticides used in its production. Organic no longer means free of x-icides. It just means that that poisons used to kill things were synthesized from organic compounds. That doesn’t make them any less deadly to things much smaller than humans.

5. Farmed salmon has fewer nutrients and more contaminants
Farmed salmon also get their color from a dye added to their feed and have been observed to cause damage to the environment. There are good farmed fish out there–even some good farmed salmon–that is raised in a more sustainable way. But really we should be eating fish lower on the food chain. Learn to love herring. Man, that stuff is great.

6. Milk produced with artificial growth hormones is cancerific
Whoa Nelly. They broke out the big C on this one. These days it’s hard to find any milk that isn’t produced without artificial growth hormones. But you need to be very careful when looking at other dairy products like butter, cream, ice cream and industrially produced cheeses. Because that’s where most of the milk produced with the artificial hormones is going. Avoid it for sake of the poor cows, who have to suffer through the pain of mastitis for profit.

7. GMO soybeans and unfermented soy products will disrupt your hormones
Again, there are lots of reasons to avoid GMO soy. Personally, I don’t think living things should be patentable. That includes plants. But again, I’m hard pressed to believe that the occasional bowl of edamame is going to ruin your life. Take it easy. If you enjoy it, then enjoy it. Just don’t think soy is a miracle food, because miracles don’t exist, silly.

8. Conventional apples are laden with pesticides
Yeah, what else is new. That list I’ve been sharing with you for years has always had apples at the top of the list. The good news is that you don’t have to necessarily buy organic ones to avoid the poison. Here is one local farmer’s solution.

The purpose of the article was to shock and scare people straight. But hopefully none of you are all that surprised. There are a lot of shenanigans going on with our food system. And it pays to be a savvy consumer. But freaking out over every issue is going to fill you with so much anxiety that you keel over from a heart attack before you die from the cancer in your canned soybeans.

Eat as fresh as you can. But don’t drive yourself crazy. Your body is an amazing thing. And I have a lot of faith in its ability to filter out much of the bad stuff we take in every day. You know, like the wine I’m going to have with dinner tonight, or those few bites of crispy chicken skin that I probably shouldn’t have but will indulge in anyway.

Don’t take the pleasure out of eating. If you do, you are totally missing the point.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Eric Scheirer Stott permalink
    October 18, 2013 11:51 am

    In these days of indigestion it is oftentimes a question
    As to what to eat and what to leave alone.
    Every microbe and bacillus has a different way to kill us
    And in time they all will claim us for their own.
    There are germs of every kind in every food that you can find
    In the market or upon the bill of fare.
    Drinking water’s just as risky as the so-called “deadly” whiskey
    And it’s often a mistake to breathe the air.

    For some little bug is going to get you someday.
    Some little bug will creep behind you someday.
    Then he’ll send for his bug friends
    And all your troubles they will end,
    For some little bug is gonna find you someday.

    The inviting green cucumber, it’s most everybody’s number
    While sweetcorn has a system of its own.
    Now, that radish seems nutritious, but its behavior is quite vicious
    And a doctor will be coming to your home.
    Eating lobster, cooked or plain, is only flirting with ptomaine,
    While an oyster often has a lot to say.
    And those clams we eat in chowder make the angels sing the louder
    For they know that they ‘II be with us right away.

    For some little bug is going to get you someday.
    Some little bug will creep behind you someday.
    Eat that juicy sliced pineapple,
    And the sexton dusts the chapel
    Oh, yes, some little bug is gonna find you someday.

    When cold storage vaults I visit, I can only say, “What is it
    Makes poor mortals fill their systems with such stuff?”
    Now, at breakfast prunes are dandy if a stomach pump is handy
    And a doctor can be called quite soon enough.
    Eat a plate of fine pig’s knuckles and the headstone cutter chuckles
    While the gravedigger makes a mark upon his cuff.
    And eat that lovely red bologna and you ‘II wear a wood kimona
    As your relatives start packing up your stuff.

    For some little bug is going to get you someday.
    Some little bug will creep behind you someday.
    Then he’ll send for his bug friends
    And all your troubles they will end,
    For some little bug is gonna find you someday.

    Those crazy foods they fix, they’ll float us ‘cross the River Styx
    Or start us climbing up the Milky Way.
    And those meals they serve in courses mean a hearse and two black horses
    So before meals, some people always pray.
    Luscious grapes breed appendicitis, while their juice leads to gastritis
    So there’s only death to greet us either way.
    Fried liver’s nice, but mind you, friends will follow close behind you
    And the papers, they will have nice things to say.

    (“Some Little Bug” 1915)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: