The New Prohibition
First it was raw milk, then it was raw juice, both now largely outlawed. Restaurants can no longer put raw egg yolks in Caesar dressing. The next target is raw cheeses, such as Cheddar, Parmesan and Roquefort. The Food and Drug Administration is currently engaged in research to determine whether cheeses made from unpasteurized milk—cheeses that have provided nourishment to mankind for millennia—are hazardous to your health and should be controlled by tighter regulations that in effect would banish these cheeses from the marketplace. It’s important to realize that restrictions to the sale of raw foods has nothing to do with health. Cheesemakers must already adhere to strict safety codes and the chief causes of food poisoning outbreaks in the United States during the last decade were seafood and eggs, followed by beef, fruits and vegetables. No outbreaks of illness in the US have been linked to raw milk cheese. Cheesemakers and their patrons can’t help wondering who would win if current regulations were changed—obviously the huge food companies, the dairy industry and the manufacturers of processed cheese. And who would lose? Every raw milk cheesemaker in the US plus European exporters of raw milk cheese, specialty markets, restaurateurs and consumers, especially vegetarians who depend on raw milk cheese for their supply of vitamin B12 (pasteurization destroys B12). Just as prohibition transferred the value-added in alcoholic beverage production from local communities into the hands of the Mafia, so restrictive “health” laws transfer the value-added in food production from artisans to multinational corporations.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when women will be urged to get mammograms and “take personal responsibility” for their disease. You may wonder why so little is said about true prevention—proper diet plus avoidance of carcinogens. The answer lies in the fact that the chief sponsor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is AstraZeneca, a British-based multinational that manufactures the cancer drug tamoxifen—the drug women are strong-armed into taking should their mammogram turn up any abnormalities. AstraZeneca also manufactures a number of carcinogenic fungicides and herbicides. Its chemical plant in Perry, Ohio is the third largest source of cancer-causing pollution in the US. When Zeneca created Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985, it was owned by Imperial Chemical Industries, a multi-billion-dollar producer of paper, plastics and pesticides, including estrogen-mimicking DDT and PCBs. The trend towards corporate gigantism has produced other companies that manufacture both cancer-causing chemicals and cancer-treatment products. General Electric, for example, is a major polluter of PCBs in the Hudson River and also manufactures mammogram machines. The American Cancer Society, whose board includes executives of an herbicide company and a multinational drug company, has actually spoken out against the gradual phaseout of PCBs. (Sierra Club Magazine September/October 1999) Rarely mentioned is the role of trans fatty acids in causing breast cancer. Women are told to avoid fats, but are not informed that some fats are bad and some are protective.
New Feudal Rulers
“It’s ironic when you think about our heritage in South Dakota,” says Charlie Johnson, who raises hogs outdoors on his farm near Madison. “Our ancestors left the landlords and kings in Europe to come here for their economic freedom and now we’re making the big corporations the new feudal rulers. . . Sometimes I think nobody is paying attention while the big corporations are just taking over the whole farm economy and destroying an American way of life.” According to Don Hoogestraat, former president of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council, corporate hog producers engage in “planned overproduction” to temporarily drive pork prices down and force more family farms into contract feeding agreements (The Washington Post 1/3/99). As a way of striking back, voters in South Dakota passed a constitutional amendment that not only prohibits corporations from owning farmland in South Dakota, but it also ends the practice of companies contracting with farmers to raise crops or livestock on their behalf. The measure, called Amendment E, is currently working its way through the courts.
In Your Face
While our health gurus claim that Asians consume only small amounts of animal foods, dietary surveys prove otherwise. A survey conducted in the 1970s found that 65% of calories in the typical Chinese diet come from pork! True to tradition, a former government bureaucrat in China, Shen Quig, has come up with the first Chinese patented dish for franchising—baked pig’s head—which he serves to delighted customers in seven Baked Pig Face restaurants. The dish consists of a whole pig’s head, yellow teeth and all, cooked for 12 hours in 30 herbs and spices and served piping hot with piglet-shaped dumplings as a garnish. Shen’s patrons consume just about every part of the head—cheeks, eyes, snout, lips, tongue and brains—washed down with mugs of beer. (Baked pork rinds and roast ox penis are offered as side dishes.) The dish can be standardized and cooked in large quantities to appeal to China’s growing appetite for convenience food. Dieticians may wince, but the best part about Mr. Shen’s pig heads is that they are actually very nutritious, rich in vitamins A and D, plus B12 and minerals. We look forward to the Baked Pig Face restaurants catching on here. (Wall Street Journal 3/99)
The Perils of Immigration
The longer immigrant children remain in the US, the worse their health becomes, according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found that while immigrant children arrive in this country as healthy or healthier than American children, their health worsens once they became more assimilated into American life—and American eating patterns. The longer immigrants live in the US, the more likely they are to have low birth weight babies and infant deaths, develop obesity and experience high rates of drug use, teenage sex and violence. These trends are surprising, according to the researchers, given that immigrant children are more likely to have come from a situation of poverty. But poor people in other countries are more likely to eat organ meats, fish heads and other cheap but nutritious foods, and they have no money for convenience items based on vegetable oils, sugar and white flour. Nutrient levels decline as soon as immigrants begin eating junk foods sold in America. (Nutrition Week 9/11/98)
More Vitamin A Miracles
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland found that they could reduce the incidence of malaria in Papua New Guinea with high doses of vitamin A. Those receiving a dose of vitamin A every three months for a year had a 30 percent lower incidence of the disease than those receiving a placebo. The greatest benefit was among the one- to three-year-old group. (The Lancet, 1999, 354:203-9) Chalk up one more confirmation of the work of Dr. Weston A. Price. He found that African natives who consumed indigenous foods did not suffer from insect-borne diseases, including malaria. Their diets had at least ten times more vitamin A than the American diet of his day. (See page 31.) Vitamin A is found in sea food as well as butter, eggs and organ meats from grass-fed animals. Some cultures obtain vitamin A from insects.
There’s been a lot of hype about the benefits of genetically engineered crops but negative news rarely reaches the consumer. Researchers from the University of Georgia in Athens found that Monsanto plants were stunted compared to traditional soy bean plants when grown under warm conditions. The Monsanto plants produced lower heights, yields and weights in hot soil. Apparently genetic engineering makes the plant more brittle and more likely to crack when temperatures go up. This could be a serious setback for Monsanto, which sees Brazil and Latin American countries as prime markets for its soy beans. (New Scientist, November 20, 1999 164(2213):25) Another study of genetically engineered Bt corn found that although the plant was not attacked by corn borers, other insects like aphids were attacking the plant and damaging yields. As a result, Novartis has applied to have a combination of different pesticides sprayed on corn, soybeans, rice, cotton, potatoes, mustard and grains—yet defenders of biotechnology claim that GMOs will require lower amounts of pesticides. (New Scientist, December 18, 1999 164(2217):5)
Where the Girls Are
The male fetus appears to be especially vulnerable to substances that disrupt hormonal activity. At the moment of conception, all embryos are destined to be female unless something changes them into males. For the first six to nine weeks of life, we all have unisex gonads. Male traits develop in those organisms that have a Y chromosome but if anything interferes with development at this stage, a female may result. Farm workers applying the pesticide DBCP, an endocrine disrupter, produced three times as many daughters as sons and several men became sterile. Overall the male proportion of live births has been declining in the US and Canada for at least 20 years. Researchers point to exposure to a wide range of hormone-disrupting chemicals including dioxin, pesticides, lead solvents, smoke stack emissions—and soy foods. (Rachel’s Environmental & Health Weekly #594)
A case reported recently underlines the dangers of a strict vegan diet, one that excludes all animal products. It involved a 33-year-old patient who had been a vegan since the age of 20. He did not eat meat, eggs, dairy products or fish. He had no history of alcohol abuse, did not smoke cigarettes and was not taking any supplements. The patient was diagnosed with severe optic neuropathy in both eyes with poor vision of 20/400 in each eye. There was no evidence for an infectious cause of this severe loss of vision but blood samples revealed deficiencies in B1, B12, A, C, D, E, zinc and selenium. The patient was treated with intramuscular and oral multivitamins until his blood levels normalized but his eyesight did not recover—the damage to the optic nerve from lack of nutrients was irreversible. The moral: beware of claims that veganism has no downside. (New England Journal of Medicine, March 23, 2000 342:897-898)
A Costly “Mistake”
On February 4, ABC’s 20/20 correspondent John Stossell reported that tests commissioned by ABC found no pesticide residue on either organic or conventional produce samples, and that the organic produce contained a dangerous strain of E.coli. Stossell interviewed only one “expert” for this segment—Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, an anti-environmental think tank funded in part by Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences. Avery told Stossell that organic produce is dangerous because it is more likely to be infested with “deadly” bacteria. But the tests were fictitious. Dr. Michael Doyle, a scientist with the University of Georgia, and Dr. Lester Crawford, director of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Georgetown University, said they never tested the produce for pesticide residue. Additionally, Boyle said he only tested the produce for generic E.coli. The tests could not differentiate between pathogenic E.coli and the harmless, widespread nonpathogenic E.coli. But even after environmental groups made ABC aware of its findings, the station rebroadcast the entire segment unaltered on July 7. After further protests, ABC admitted the error and aired a correction on the 20/20 program, but the damage to the organic industry was substantial. (Nutrition Week 8/4/2000)