How Better Food Labels Can Make You Healthier
I met a rancher last week who had been hospitalized after significant debilitating, life-threatening digestive issues. He was advised by medical doctors to eat only clean food free of antibiotics, hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs are foods that have had their DNA altered through genetic engineering with DNA from another organism, be it an animal, bacterium, plant or virus.
Shortly after that prescription to eat only clean food, he and his wife, who were both engineers, made the decision to start their own ranch to assure their food supply was clean. He has experienced a significant improvement in his health since changing to a clean food diet five years ago.
I was also inspired to found Nurture Ranch to raise 100% grass fed beef with no grain, antibiotics or hormones after medical doctors specializing in digestive and organ matters brought to my attention the significant dangers in our food supply. Prior to their medical advice, I actually thought I was a pretty healthy eater. I really did not understand how polluted our food supply was.
We live in era of great scientific discoveries, yet we are more frequently diagnosed with inflammation and unusual growth related diseases than in decades past when we had fewer medical resources. Respected research institutions in the US and around the world have verified antibiotics, hormones, chemicals and genetic modification in our food supply change the chemistry in the human body. These changes trigger unusual growth, inflammation and propagate new breeds of super diseases.
Nurture Ranch Believe spot identifies the challenges of giving Megacorp control of the food supply.
Antibiotics, hormones, chemicals and genetic modification are prevalent in well over 90% of all food in the US. This manipulation of the food supply has grown substantially through the efforts of mass food producers and their bio-tech, chemical and pharma suppliers to drive down food production costs.
They’ve done this in part by lobbying Washington to relax regulations and labeling that allow them to more aggressively modify foods and filter communication on how your food is raised, where it is from and how it was processed.
Washington and big food companies are experiencing push back from educated consumers who are using their smartphones to gather information and voting with their wallets when they make their food purchases. But Washington and big food companies are not making the transition to cleaner foods easy. In fact, they are trying to stop it as they argue that they are making nutrition more affordable, which in turn makes people healthier.
If you think I'm exaggerating about the motivations of mega food companies and Washington, and the adverse impact on the food supply and our health from their decisions, here are three examples that illustrate my point;
1) Skyrocketing health care costs.
Cancer, obesity, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases have increased rapidly over the last four decades as large corporations rapidly expanded the use of antibiotics, hormones, GMOs and chemicals in the food supply and shifted livestock to overcrowded mass production feedlots.
Big food companies argue there is no relationship to how they are raising their foods. Health organizations around the world have validated that how food is now being raised and processed has changed our health and made us all much more susceptible to the diseases that plague us most.
2) Simple Economics – It’s cheaper to grow unclean foods.
I had dinner with another rancher last week who bragged to me that he can grow a steer by 5 1/2 pounds a day using modified feeds that double the rate of growth of a naturally raised steer. He also noted, "for $30, I can slap a hormone pack on (a steer) and get 30-50 pounds of growth in a few weeks. That's a hell of lot cheaper than hay."
His ranch is not a giant corporation, but giant food companies ultimately buy his beef. They demand significant weight yields and extremely low costs, leaving him with little choice to either produce to their specifications or leave ranching all together. The modified feeds and hormones he uses to meet giant beef company demands come from mega agriculture science and feed companies who lobby Washington with big food companies for regulations and labeling that empower them all to add more unclean practices into the food supply to grow their profits.
3) Washington has a long troubled history of protecting big agriculture.
Corporate tobacco used government lobbying for decades to conceal the threats smoking has on your health when every health organization in the world had overwhelming proof smoking is detrimental to your health. If Washington can be influenced to protect cigarettes, that have no nutritional or health benefit whatsoever, than it's easy to surmise they will protect big food producers much longer than tobacco.
Corn for example, and it’s bi-products, have received hundreds of billions in subsidies from Washington, along with protective rulings and legislation easing production restrictions so that now the majority of all corn in the US is genetically modified and limiting transparency on how it produced to consumers.
Corn actually has more adverse health effects than positives. Like most grains, corn contains prolamins, which are a protein the body cannot break down. While corn does have vitamins and minerals, the amount that you have eat to get the health benefits is much greater than most other foods.
Yet Washington continues to promote, protect and subsidize corn and it’s bi-products like high fructose corn syrup which has been directly linked to obesity, cattle feed that is specifically used to produce fat for faster weight gain, and ethanol fuel for autos that has no real advantage over any other fuel.
Big meat is another example of big foods influence on Washington. Mega meat companies that own 98% of the market in the US, lobbied Washington and won approval tofilter important information messaging about how their products are raised and where they come from. Regulations requiring the listing of country of origin on packages was eliminated by Washington in 2015 after the largest meat company in the world, based in Brazil, bought one of the largest meat companies in the US.
This change in labeling allows meat companies to buy cheaper products off shore and be raised however the producers deem appropriate without disclosing that information and insinuate they are grown in the US through USDA approvals on packaging. By the way, the largest meat company in the world was fined over $1.5 billion in its home country of Brazil for bribing meat inspectors and shipping tainted product to the US and other countries.
Almost every politician in Washington regardless of party affiliation receives campaign contributions from and is regularly lobbied by corporate agriculture.
As I write this the USDA is crafting the first national GMO labeling system including how to define GMOs and how GMO ingredients will be disclosed. Major food companies are pressuring the USDA to create labeling schemes that diminish the transparency of the communication so you the consumer are not 100% certain what’s in your food.
Consumer behaviors are shifting as their access to healthier food information is growing. Today almost half the people in the US are working on improving their diets by choosing cleaner foods. But to truly institute a clean diet, it is imperative to have transparent labels that clearly state the ingredients, how and where the food was raised and processed and if has antibiotics, hormones or GMOs.
It’s easy to get your representatives’ attention in Washington. All you have to do is email them and tell them you want food labels that clearly indicate how and where your food was raised.
These two links can provide you access to your Washington Reps' email. Use them frequently and encourage others to do the same to have your voice heard –
House Reps http://m.house.gov/representatives/
Farm Aid is also working to provide a voice for the masses to tell Washington how they fell about their food choices. You can access their information and initiatives here https://www.farmaid.org/issues/
If we work together using our voices and vote with our wallets to purchase cleaner foods from fresh local purveyors, we can improve the food supply our health. But without action from you, the process will take much longer.
KEEP ON RANCHING!
Rodney Mason, CEO