Here is your casual armchair talk of one the major causes of our American health crisis. I’ll skim the subject and I’ll write about it from a nutritional standpoint.
ENTER THE SUPERMARKET
Over a hundred years ago, the supermarket became a mainstay in American society. With it came the mass production of foods that needed to be processed and preserved for stocking shelves.
Foods became plentiful, convenient, and assumed to be safe; however, foods that are not fresh, are overly processed, and preserved by heat or additives present long-term health risks due to poor nutrition and the gradual buildup of toxins that the body becomes unable to excrete.
Furthermore, as agricultural production became more massive in scale, great depletions occurred to the natural topsoil that used to be some abundant across much of the United States into the 1800’s. Topsoil was measured at 18-25 inches [of rich quality] in early American history, now, is only on average 3-5 inches [of minerally depleted soil]*. More so, disciplined rotation of farm lands to maintain organic soil quality has been replaced by the use of cheaper fertilizers, lands of opportunity (like a former industrial area) and more recently, genetically modified seeds.
The human body requires good balanced nutrition to constantly heal and balance itself.
The body will correct problems in many common cases if given the proper diet.
Think about it, human bodies are the result of an evolutionary process that has taken millions of years, and the effects of a deficient and haphazardous food system instigated by the supermarket (and now fast foods) has hit the human race with a whopper in a brief 100 years.
The human body is not tuned for what is has been exposed to for the last century.
Doesn’t it seem like every breakthrough food designed to be an alternative to a real food causes more complex problems with people’s health. Margerine anyone? How about CRISCO? These old products were touted as an alternative or replacement for butter and lard (both natural animal product).
I’m fascinated by the story about CRISCO. CRISCO, that sensational cooking product of 1911 was created in a lab in 1903 intended to be used for soap and candles. A failure in the soap market, the product was revamped into magical-like food product and immortalized by a recipe book used by millions.
By the way, CRISCO is an stylized acronym for “CRyStalized Cottonseed Oil.” Wow… sounds SO yummy.
Last time I looked, I don’t see people rushing to get a bag of cottonseeds to eat for a snack, nor do I have a desire to start gnawing on a new t-shirt (unfortunately, you’ll find that cottonseed oil is a very common ingredient in processed foods)..
Well, ever since then there have been several contemporary products like CRISCO that have been used as “low-calorie” “sugar-free” “fat-free” substitutes and they all suffer from being not only nutrition void, but ripe with toxic chemicals that super-enhance taste (i.e. MSG) or to extend shelf life.
There are 90 essential nutrients (15 vitamins, 12 amino acids, 3 fatty acids and 60 minerals**) that are big enough be given specific names that need to be part of a balanced diet. Additionally, there a uncounted numbers of, what are known as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are found in fresh produce and are easily destroyed by time and high heat.
Some food products are carefully processed to preserve as many natural healthy chemicals as possible but this is rare.
The fact that mass produced foods for the supermarket lack nutrient quality is only one reason why Americans, in particular, have been suffering from a tidal wave of diseases that hardly existed before 1900. But this is only the first reason why there is a epidemic of poor health.
GOING FROM BAD TO WORSE
Science began discovering the presence of micronutrients (vitamins) in foods and sought a way to bolster the nutrition deficient processed foods. Around the 1930’s, fortifying foods became widely accepted as the solution to processed food quality. What that means is, they thought (and still want you to think) they could add a few vitamins to anything and that would offer you good health.
On the contrary. As research technology improved, it has been discovered that every vitamin has an array of assistants that we call “phytonutrients.” They are numerous and in varying trace amounts, but these natural trace chemicals have been determined to play an crucial part in how our bodies digest and metabolize the food we eat.
Although certain micronutrients can be effectively used as therapy to fight disease (i.e. vitamin C), on a daily dietary basis, however, it is considered safer to take supplements in whole food form, sometime known as “complexes” if one cannot get an adequate array of whole foods into their diet.
In light of the accelerating rates of disease through the 20th Century, it turns out that the creation of fortified foods has created an imbalance in the health of the general consumer which has resulted in decades of dramatic increases in the diseases, including the big ones: cancer, heart disease, diabetes.
BEFORE PEOPLE LIVED OFF THE FAT OF THE LAND,
NOW PEOPLE ARE MAKING A LIVING OFF THE FAT OF THE PEOPLE.
Americans have gotten more overweight and obese. As the dieting culture moved into full swing, there has been a tidal wave of “new and improved” products, additives, substitutes… all poor surrogates for real whole food. In other words, if the source of the problem still exists, the problems will not go away.
Cutting calories is not the answer, the solution is increasing the nutrient value of the food you eat. In a well balanced diet, you can eat whenever you are hungry and not have ill effects***.
What can I say, without belaboring this? I don’t know about you, but putting whipped cream on dog-pooh ain’t changing the way I look at it for a breakfast food!
GRANDMA KNOWS BEST
By and large I’ve been giving you an overview of processed and packaged foods, but what about “fresh” produce? How has that altered people’s lives?
Haven’t you heard grandma say, “Bananas just don’t taste like they used to,” or “Chicken sure had more flavor when I was younger.”
No, grandma is not suffering from Alzheimers (although a deficiency of fatty acids may be contributing!), she is making a real observation that most food available en masse actually is tasteless compared to properly bred animals and plants. It turns out, taste and nutrition go hand in hand.
As more demands are being made on quantity and cost cutting, more emphasis is being placed on appearance and mass production only, the food supply suffers. I mean, since most people don’t know anything about good nutrition, they need to eat or die, and try to save money, it’s easy to get away with. But what kind of health have people suffered as a result?
A tomato, for instance, you can grow one that looks good by feeding it a basic NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) fertilizer. As a result, the tomato, whether it is organic or not, will lack many of the nutrients our bodies would expect.
To exacerbate things, farmers may use genetically modified seeds to grow in the worst soil and pest conditions.
And to make things even worse, this piece of produce will likely be processed into a packaged product and be stripped of even what little value it had, including its fiber.
ALL IS NOT LOST IN SUPERMARKET LAND
To end this post, if you are concerned about your diet, it’s a good idea to begin keeping notes on what you are eating. From there, with a little guidance, you can begin making gradual or major changes as you see fit to balance or correct any red flags or deficiencies.
Key strategies to any plan, whether by eating whole foods only or with foods plus supplementation, is to make sure you are getting all of your essential nutrients and to make sure you are evacuating toxins from your body through normal health bodily functions.
No matter at what age, the body wants and can fix itself of a myriad of common ailments if given the opportunity and support.
* “Clinical Purification Program,” Curt Hamilton CCN, 2013
**”The 90 Essential Vitamins & Minerals,” Dr. Joel Wallach (you-tube).
***”Eat to Live,” Dr. Joel Fuhrman (2003).
“ENTER THE SUPERMARKET” is a play on words using the Bruce Lee kung-fu classic “Enter the Dragon.”