Hello dear reader(s)!
Do you suffer from an eating disorder? Are you sure? Are you sure? Are your sure? Are you sure, Jen? Jen! Are you sure? Are you sure? Are you sure? *
“No, of course I don’t. I eat very healthy. I only choose natural or organic foods and would never consume any chemicals!” you defend.
Note I am not a P-sychiatrist, or a doctor of any kind, so this post should not be used to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition and should not be constituted as medical advice or should not be constituted as a constitution unless you want an extremely failed state.
Let us start with your obsession over eating natural. Do you know what the criteria is for calling something natural?
In the US, there is none. None whatsoever. It is a marketing gimmick. And why? Because everything, even synthetic compounds are made from natural ingredients.
“I knew, that, I only choose organic food, which has strict labeling requirements from the USDA.”
Okay, let’s look into those requirements. Do you buy 100% organic labeled foods, or just Organic foods? Did you know there is a difference? For a product to meet the 100% Organic labeling requirements, the product must be free of herbicides, pesticides, sewage, sludge, etc… But the more common USDA Organic allows for 5% of the product to come from a list of roughly 200 substances that are not organic. What is the point? Then there is the even worse, “Made with Organic Ingredients” label which is simply a way for food companies to charge more money. It allows the number to be dropped down to 70%, and basically means your chicken can be raised free of antibiotics but then fired in motor oil. (Slight exaggeration, one would hope.)
Then there is the issue of certification. In the US, thanks to people who hate taxes, our FDA and USDA cannot inspect the products that want to use the Organic labels. We rely on 3rd party certification companies, that are spot-checked (hardly ever) for their methodology. However, since these certification companies are paid by the food companies themselves, there is tremendous conflict of interest and pressure on these certification companies to retain customers. It is a situation where the fox is guarding the hen-house (to use a phrase straight out of the food supply chain.)
Another problem with the certification is that the supply chain for these foods (even to the certification companies) can be hidden or altered. If a food is grown in China (example, not bashing China) using lead (another example, not saying it happens) as a pesticide, but then is brought into the Americas and relabeled as Chilean and organic, then cleaned, then sent to the certification company in Chile (another example, but often, the certification companies are not within the US). Even if that Chilean company who is not in the US and likely receives very little oversight from the US is on the up and up…by that point can their tests detect that the product was in-fact organically grown in Chile? For a fascinating, more in-depth article on the myth of the organic label, click here.
Now let us turn our attention to chemicals. Chemicals are everywhere. The air you breathe is a chemical. Water, is a chemical. And just like any chemical, both can be fatal in amounts too great for your body to properly handle. This fear of chemicals is unfounded in science and not only that, is contradictory to living in the world. We are surrounded by chemicals, we need chemicals to survive. If you have ever taken even the most cursory of chemistry classes, you should know that some chemicals are dangerous in large amounts, some take much, much more. This lack of basic scientific knowledge isn’t just funny because you get to laugh at the stupidity of others, it is dangerous to society.
One example would be the anti-vaxxers, (or disease revivalists, as I like to call them). Are there chemicals in vaccines? Of course, they exist, there are chemicals. Have any of those chemicals been shown to cause any damage in the amounts given? No, absolutely not. Never in any single reputable study, ever, ever, ever. In fact, most of those chemicals, such as formaldehyde, you get larger amounts of by eating an apple than you will in your vaccine. When I went to school, we had to have vaccines to enroll without a valid medical reason that we couldn’t. (Such as the one I have now.) The vaccines had even more “dangerous” chemicals in them then they do now. Guess who has two thumbs and doesn’t have Autism?
And now onto my pet peeve of pet peeves. Do you know how many carcinogens there are, floating around in the world? Well, according to the state of California, I’d say pretty much everything. A state running a huge deficit wonders why they’re in debt when they require labeling of common sense locations (such as hospitals) when they might have carcinogens inside. Ya think? Radioactive materials can cause cancer? Never heard that one, I wonder what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors who got cancer would have to say about that. Certain medications can be carcinogens? Gee….I never knew that. The key here though, is the amounts and the applications used. Radiation can cause cancer, but it is used more often to destroy it. Some of the medications I am on and have been used on me puts me at a greater risk for secondary cancers, but it also saved me from a cancer I got most likely due to a simple screw up in cell division.
Air pollution, ground pollution, food supply conditions, radiation and other drug exposure…all of these things can likely increase your risk of getting cancer. But eating healthy, and eating organic, will not prevent you from getting cancer. You can’t live in a bubble, and even if you could, the plastic used to make it might be a carcinogen. Not only that, even if that bubble was certified organic, and the certification process was perfect, you could likely get cancer just from a screw up in the way your cells divide. There is a study, that made a big splash because health journalists improperly interpreted that most cancers come down to bad luck. The study authors were quick to point out that their study makes no such conclusion.
What the study did say, however, is that even in the absence of other carcinogens, based on the number of cell divisions in an average lifetime, a large percentage of cancers might happen anyway. That the more the cells divide, the higher the likelihood of a mutation during one of those divisions that can lead to cancer.
Moral of the rant? Eat balanced when possible, based on what you can afford, and do not trust the food companies when deciding to shell out extra for a product that likely means nothing. Food for thought.
*The “Are you sure, Jen?” lines and similar are taken from an episode of the IT Crowd that I highly suggest you watch, entitled Calamity Jen. “0118999881999119725 3”