Dear Readers: Thanks for taking time with last week’s piece. It set a modest record for viewership of this site and I hope to keep the momentum going. A lot of good feedback here and on Facebook and I welcome the continuing re-posts and re-tweets on the selected media of your choice. Those buttons appear at the bottom of each piece and make it easy to share. I’m counting on it!
As if like clockwork, another week and another angry inbox. The request in bold: “Tell President Obama not to cave to Monsanto and the biotech industry!” However, again, this message arrived late. The previous week, the Obama Administration approved a third genetically modified (GM) crop for production – this time corn for ethanol. Attached was a petition that I should send to the president and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, yet as I’ve mentioned before these petitions apparently do not work. How do I know? This is the third petition in the past month to circulate to me and not the first three I’ve ever seen in the past two years. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice or a hundred times?
Corny Logic: <– Corny title. The Natural News article linked above discusses in detail the issues regarding using corn for fuel and explains it better than I can, since I focus on our food. And though they mention it, it does not take an advocacy group to tell us the folly of government and industry reassurances that these GM crops will be used solely for fuel, not food. By now you know why this is an invalid argument, but let’s review:
- Pollen flies through the air to pollinate corn allowing genetic information to travel from plant to plant.
- Pollen does not discriminate about what it lands on to fertilize. Since it flies through the air, it does not recognize boundaries between farms and gardens.
- Thus, GM corn could contaminate other varieties of corn, including those that wind up on our plates.
- As noted in previous pieces, when this pollination occurs, the genetic modifiers also do not discriminate in claiming the seed as their own. By loosing restraints, GM products will be ubiquitous, making the word “organic” a quaint memory.
Strange Bedfellows: Guess who joins us in opposition to GM corn? Big Food.
The big players in the food industry are on the anti-GM side of things this time, because it could cut harm business once cross-contamination occurs. According to the letter, General Mills, Quaker, Archer Daniels Midland, and ConAgra are royally peeved about this development. These groups are used to having sway over government officials, receiving preferential treatment, and producing products that do not necessarily benefit society. Their complaint is that their chips will break, their cornflakes be soggy, the breads mushy, and the profits dry. As publicly traded companies, their goal is to benefit shareholders first. I don’t know where nutrition falls for them.
Cereal Considerations: Full disclosure – very rarely, I eat some gluten-free cereals, though when I learned the information contained in this section, I drastically cut down from my daily breakfast ritual.
When you read that a cereal is made with whole grains, that is quite true. But, you are not eating a whole food when ingesting the flake or “o” or puff swimming in your breakfast bowl, because the grains are broken down and mixed together.
The grain itself is the whole food. The moment it becomes manipulated, it loses nutritional value. For instance, when an oat is whole and non-rolled, it contains its highest nutrient value. If you roll it, you start breaking apart the containers of the nutrients – the germ, the bran, and the endosperm – allowing them to dissipate. To make a cereal, you then have to pulverize the grains into the shapes in the bowl, which damages the ability of the grain to bring nutrients directly to you. Often, vitamins are added back in to foods at the end of processing.
Besides decreased natural nutrients, there are other notable issues in boxed cereal manufacture. Sally Fallon, who wrote Nourishing Traditions, details the dangers of the extrusion process, which is how most Big Food cereals are produced into their notable shapes. In her studies, she has found evidence that this process is toxic to animals.
When a cereal is processed, the sugars are broken down significantly so that they absorb more quickly into the blood, leading to the potential for a spike in blood sugar after eating, the attendant crash, and quickly returning hunger signals. Returning to the whole oat, the intact grain is more complex due to its soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber mixes with liquid to become gel as it moves through the digestive tract, delaying the movement from the stomach to the small intestine. This delay helps regulate blood sugar, maintain energy, and increases satiety.
Our Plan of Action:
- Let’s choose what is whole! Grains are an important part of our diet, especially when eaten in balance with other whole foods. If we decrease or eliminate processed foods, we remove a lot of hidden grains that have helped to push our nourishment out of balance. Depending on the source, the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is 1:1, 2:1, or 4:1. Currently, the standard American diet contains a ratio of 11-30:1. Though omega-6 is essential to human survival, too much has been shown to promote inflammatory processes that are said to be at the root of debility.
- Be aware of your ingredients: The simpler the food, the easier it is to know what’s inside. If we make a practice of only eating ingredients that we can recognize, we will decrease the hidden grains that send the fatty acids out of balance.
- Replace boxed cereal with whole grains: Remember, the whole grain contains the most nutrients and keeps you from feeling hungry quickly. Some grocery chains and many co-ops have bulk bins featuring unprocessed whole grains. Then you can recapture some of our heritage and learn to prepare and cook them. One great book for this is in my reading list. If you feel that the rush of modern society will make this difficult, make a batch that will last a few days.
- Remember what’s important: Plants can nourish us naturally without a patented gene going inside of them. Without patents, we all can profit off of the food we grow. With patents, the ownership of the food supply moves into the hands of a few powerful groups. We vote with what we buy and our purchases might just save the food supply.
Corporations and those who collude with them at the expense of our well being can seem mighty when we’re standing here alone. I imagine that a 30-year dictatorship seemed pretty big to individual Egyptians as well. But when people came together peacefully to change the course of their society, those 30 years dissolved quickly.
Each one of us has tremendous power.
Awareness comes first.
Then come conscientious choices.
What future will we choose for ourselves, our planet, and our children’s children? It’s in our hands and that’s exciting!
Readers, I want to give you an update on taking effective action. I e-mailed my state and local officials after my first piece of the new year and this week I heard from Senator Barbara Mikulski, who wrote that she contacted USDA on my behalf. While we are voting with our wallets by choosing local, minimally processed, clean, and whole foods, we can still inundate our officials with direct, civilly-worded letters or phone calls so that they know a movement is afoot to change how we feed ourselves. Ripple out and please pass this message along!