Old Diary

Why are we killing ourselves?

Why is it that we are willing to put almost anything into our mouth if it tastes good? Sometimes even if it tastes horrible (e.g., Durian, and Stinky Tofu).  Are we so lazy, or so busy that we think it better to ingest harmful junk than to go to the effort of fixing healthy food for ourselves?  Well, if we won’t do it for our own health, ought we not to do it for our children?

I am writing this a day or so after my post on Convenience Store Culture.  I am writing it in part because of the confluence of thoughts generated by the article quoted at the bottom of this post.

In my lifetime I have seen an exponential rise in autism, ADHD, breast cancer, cancers of all sorts, heart attack, and diabetes — just to name a few.  The question that has lingered in my mind for a long time now is why we don’t look back at our own history and ask the important questions?  Like, “What are we doing today that is making us sicker and less able to cope with the world around us?”

During this same period the our world — the U.S. — has moved away from small business, moved away from small farms, moved away from traditional two parent families where one parent stayed at home and had the time to do things like preparing meals and keeping a clean house.  Yeah — I realize that too often that “one parent” ended up being the wife and I am NOT advocating for male privilege or any form of gender based discrimination — but I am saying that as a culture we have changed.

We seem to have decided that it’s necessary for all the adults in a family unit to work.  In my youth a family — however you might define it — could get along with one parent working. That left one parent with time to devote to the house and the family.  Today we might view that was wasteful, or … well, I can’t even imagine the things people will imagine — but clearly it’s popular to think that you can have it all, parenthood, and a job and sacrifice nothing.

But moving towards full adult employment in the household has meant that there is less time for a lot of things, and that has meant we rely more upon others to care for us.  We use an increasingly greater percentage of food prepared by someone else.  We use more and more appliances to minimize the manual labor we have to do.  We use an increasingly large inventory of chemicals to aid us in housecleaning, and home maintenance and never once do we seem to wonder whether any of these added chemicals are affecting us, and never once do we seem to worry about whether the people who are producing food or consumable have our best interests as a priority in the same way a stay-at-home mother or father would.

In a sense I’m thankful that the Trump regime has been messing with government regulations.  I’m not glad to see their abandonment of safety in favor of profit — but I’m thankful that by doing so they are raising a mass investigation into what’s happening and we are shining a light on processes and procedures that need overseeing.  By raising the inspections the government does into the limelight under threat of eliminating them, perhaps we’ll remember once again why they were instituted in the first place.

Simply put, you cannot trust a corporation who’s prime directive is to make a profit to look out for the health, safety, or comfort of anyone.  Employees are less important than making a profit. Resources are only good if they make a profit, if they cost too much or are too hard to process then Capitalism will choose profit over any other factor.  If low grade ingredients can be added to raise the profit level, use them.  If the product can be altered to make it necessary, or to make consumers crave it, then do it.  If using one product can create a market for another, by all means create another product so that consumers are stuck using both.

Corporate farms are not concerned with heavy metals in their products if no one complains, or if they can make more money by not bothering to purify ingredients.  Or by using cheaper suppliers. Insecticides are an easy contaminant to look at, but they are not the only problem and every week or so we find an exposé about another industry, or another product that is killing us, or making us sick, or …. well, you get the idea.

These things aren’t accidental.  People are greedy.  And corporations are even greedier.  I’ve never heard a rich man say he had enough money.  I’ve never heard a corporation say it had no interest in making more money — in fact corporations seem intent on reducing any and all competition when they have the opportunity.  Corporations love captive markets.

Individually, we can do a lot to protect ourselves by not using those things that we aren’t in control over — we can cook and eat better food, and live with fewer chemicals.  But individually we aren’t changing anything by doing so.  Only when individuals act in concert to make their feelings known will things change.

This is the article that gave rise to todays’ thoughts

95 percent of baby foods tested contain toxic metals, new report says

Only nine of the 168 baby foods tested weren’t found to contain arsenic, lead, cadmium or mercury.
Toxic metals in baby food more widespread than thought, new study shows

Thu Oct 17 2019

baby foodBy Sarah Jackson

There’s a strong chance your baby’s food contains traces of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic and lead, according to a new study.

The research, commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) and outlined in a report released Thursday, tested 168 baby foods for the presence of four heavy metals: arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium. They found that 95 percent of the baby foods were contaminated by at least one of the heavy metals, and one in four of the baby foods tested contained all four of the heavy metals. Only nine of the 168 baby foods tested were not found to contain traces of any of the four metals.

Among the highest-risk foods are fruit juices, as well as rice-based products, including puff snacks and rice cereals, since rice is particularly effective at absorbing arsenic, a common pesticide, as it grows. Four of seven infant rice cereals tested contained inorganic arsenic, which is the more toxic form of the metal, in levels exceeding the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed limit of 100 parts per billion.

Sweet potatoes and carrots are also big culprits since they are root crops.

The foods tested spanned 61 brands and 13 types of food, including infant formula, teething biscuits, cereals and fruit juices. They were primarily selected by parents who volunteered with HBBF’s partner organizations. The parents were asked to buy foods from the most prevalent baby food brands at their local stores. Additional foods were purchased online.

Among the metals, lead was the worst offender, appearing in 94 percent of the baby foods tested. Cadmium and arsenic followed, showing up in approximately three-quarters of the baby foods tested, and mercury was the least common, found in just under one-third of the baby foods tested.

All of the metals except mercury are known or probable human carcinogens. They are naturally occurring elements and their frequent use in pesticides in the last century means they still remain in the soil and find their way into groundwater even decades after some of them have been banned from use in pesticides. The four metals are neurotoxic, posing serious threats to healthy childhood brain development.

Exposure to these heavy metals can result in lower IQs, for example. A data analysis also commissioned by HBBF showed that American children ages 0 to 24 months have already lost more than 11 million IQ points from exposure to arsenic and lead in food. Fifteen foods account for more than half of this IQ loss, with rice-based foods alone making up 20 percent of it.

“The heavy metals interfere with the way the brain is supposed to get wired,” registered nurse Charlotte Brody, one of the authors of the report and the national director of the HBBF, told NBC News. “Everything we can do to drop the levels of these chemicals that kids are exposed to just gives them a better chance of learning.”

Additional effects of heavy metal exposure include attention deficits, as well as learning and behavioral impacts.

One way to reduce these levels of heavy metal exposure is to push for the FDA to set regulations, Brody says. For nearly 90 percent of the baby foods tested, the FDA has not issued guidance or set standards for the maximum safe limit of heavy metals, according to the report.

“The FDA should be doing more,” Brody said. “It’s the FDA’s job to set rules that make food safe.”

The FDA did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment on the study.

In the meantime, Brody says families don’t have to wait to offer their kids safer alternatives to foods at high risk of toxic metal contamination. Parents can opt for rice-free snacks and non-rice cereals, such as oatmeals and multi-grain cereals, to cut back on one source of heavy metal exposure. Ensuring kids eat a variety of vegetables beyond the common sweet potato and carrot purees also helps, and swapping teething biscuits for frozen bananas can make a difference. HBBF says alternatives like these have 80 percent lower levels of the metals, on average, than the riskier foods.

“There’s so many things that we can’t protect our kids from; the places where we can give our kids a better chance, we have a responsibility as parents and as a society to do what we can,” Brody said. “Lowering the levels of these exposures is one thing we can do.”