Updated: Oct 9, 2018
Everyone knows that quality matters, yet somehow when it comes to our nutrition we tend to accept the norms and believe that food companies have our best interest at heart. Food labels can be confusing, and interpreting them and researching where our food comes from often isn’t a skill we have.
It’s hard to know who to believe if you don’t have time, or energy to research. The sad truth is that the food industry is driven heavily by profit, and the bottom dollar means more to food companies, than the health of the end consumer.
The sugar industry argues that sugar isn’t bad in moderation, and that it’s not their job to moderate how much people have. The grain industry argues that using known carcinogens like Glyphosate as herbicides, or creating GMO crops that destroy the diversity of the soil is a non issue, and the meat issue argues antibiotics in meat are for our best interests.
Food quality is common sense
All of us know that vegetables, good quality proteins and fats are good for us. We can often taste the difference between fresh food, or food straight from the farmer. We know that packaged and processed foods and McDonalds dinners are not the same as the delicious lamb roast and veggies we grew up with.
Eating is one of the most inflammatory things we do to our bodies every day.
The food we eat has the ability to build us up, or break us down. One of the most powerful lifestyle factors influencing the expression of our genes is what we put in our mouth, and how it influences our gut health. Genes are like a loaded gun, but we pull the trigger with our lifestyle choices. In other words you may have the gene and the family history for disease- X, but your likelihood of developing disease-X yourself, is determined by the lifestyle choices you make around stress, food, exercise, sleep etc.
Health is the collection of good habits. The more positive choices we adopt, the further we tip the scale towards wellness. But if our negative choices outweigh the good, then we slide towards disease and dysfunction.
Soil quality and biodiversity
Food that comes from a factory is not the same as food from the farm - that’s a given. When it comes to food grown in or living on the earth, soil quality and biodiversity matters. If the crop or grazing field is stripped bare of a diverse range of trees, shrubs, grasses, bacteria, animals etc, then the circle of life is harmfully influenced, and the lack of biodiversity will impact all organisms that live there.
If the crop lacks a diverse population of influences and critters, certain organisms may die off, others may thrive, and balance is disrupted. Resilience is built by exposing ourselves to various challenges to our biology. The same is true for soil, less diverse soil, has less reliance to grow resilient food that survives and thrives long enough to make it to our plate without being eaten by bugs.
Soil bacterial organisms and other insects help turnover soil quality, and produce nutrients that generally support a healthy circle of life. When these organisms are killed off (as is the case with the majority of conventional farming and pesticide use) the soil is less nutrient dense, and anything planted there for food will be too.
Organic vs non organic
Organic food is anti-inflammatory. Food covered in pesticides, herbicides and other produce lifespan enhancing sprays is inflammatory. When you select organic food you are eating food grown in quality soil, and you are avoiding increasing your bodies already high toxic load by avoiding these chemicals.
According to Chris Kresser, organic meat has fatty acid profile that is 47% higher than factory farmed meat, meaning it contains more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. Given that most diseases begin with inflammation, this is important for preventative health care.
Organic food tastes better and is more nutritious as a result, meaning you will have to eat less. What’s the point in eating food sprayed with crap that depletes your body, rather than fuelling it! Sidenote: you can’t detoxify well if you are devoid of specific nutrients. And if you are not getting good nutrients from your food and supplementing, you probably can’t detoxify chemicals in non organic food!
GMO and Glyphosate
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered or crossbred with DNA from other living things, in a way that doesn’t naturally occur. Soy, wheat and corn are the biggest GMO crops and it’s estimated that GMO’s are in as much as 80% of processed food.
‘As GMOs have become popular over the past 3 decades, there has also been a 400% increase in allergies, a 300% increase in asthma, a 400% increase in ADHD, and a 1500% increase in autism.’
-David Aspry, The Bulletproof Diet
Many GMO crops are modified to be resistant to weed killers like Roundup or Glyphosate, which means farmers can spray chemicals all over the food to reduce weeds and bacteria. “In the wheat industry in particular, farmers saturate fields with Roundup a few days before harvest to generate a bigger yield.’ 173 Is it really just a coincidence the rate of wheat and gluten intolerance is increasing? It may not be the wheat, but what is sprayed on the wheat!
Glyphosate negatively alters our own gut bacteria, and inhibits a key detoxification cytochrome P450. It also depletes minerals, impairs synthesis of key vitamins and neurotransmitters.
The argument is that gylposate is safe for humans because it only destroys the bacteria on plants. If you want a laugh check out this video where a Glyphosate lobbyist claims he would drink some to prove it but swiftly declines!
Grain fed vs grass fed meat and produce
An animal fed with pesticides and herbicides sprayed GMO crops, won’t be as healthy as one fed with organic food. Grass contains nutrients like Vitamins A and K, beta-carotene, and animals who eat grass transform those nutrients into active nutrients which we get when we eat them.
As a whole grass fed meat has a higher level of antioxidants AND it’s been subject to less oxidative stress and damage due to a healthier lifestyle. Animals who are pasture raised are able to live in the sun, and have higher Vitamin D levels, and are psychologically much happier than poor factory farmed meat that lives in cruel crowded dark cages with a highly stressed life.
Antibiotics and hormones
Conventional Farming uses antibiotics and hormones to promote rapid growth and stop the animal from getting sick when it lives in a stressful, overcrowded environment and eats a poor diet. Antibiotics cause chronic Dysbiosis (negative imbalance of our gut bacteria) in the animals (and in us!)which cases them to gain weight.
Dr Mark Hyman tells of research dating back to the 1930-40’s where pig farmers fed their stock cheap coconut oil to fatten them up, but were shocked when the animals started losing weight!
The last point to note is the ethics of how the animal or crop was farmed. Factory farming is one of the greatest threats to the environment. That doesn’t mean eating meat is bad for the environment if you are eating ethically sourced, grass fed and organic produce.
Eating an animal that lives in a tiny, dirty, crowded cage that was laced with antibiotics and hormones to fatten it up or help it produce more milk is downright malicious. If you don’t know where your meat is coming from, it’s probably one of these farms because they certainly don’t advertise the fact.
To do right by the animal, the environment and yourself, please avoid eating mass produced meat and dairy! Remember you are eating their stress.
What can you do about it all?
Support the food quality industry by buying organic
Choose food from local farmers who actively culture their soil and don’t use harmful pesticides and chemicals.
Look for GMO labels, avoid the big 3 soy, wheat, cor
If you can't eat organic, at least avoid the Dirty Dozen most spreayed crops according to the EWG or buy the clean 15 non organic foods that are safest.
Look for grass fed, pasture raised dairy produce
Take soil based organism probiotics like prescript assist to replace the beneficial bacterial your should be getting from your food.
Most important of all, remember that food quality exists along a spectrum. All you can do is make the best choice with what you have. The food you eat will determine how healthy you are, and it’s worth making the best choices you can for yourself, and the environment.