Your Paleo Practitioner

Modern Food Production & Agricultural Practices

Obesity is not always a state of too much nutrition. It is often under-nutrition masked as over-nutrition. From an ancestral perspective, traditional diets from all over the world always produced healthy outcomes when matched with traditional lifestyles. It is the mismatch between introducing the western diet with the western lifestyle into existing traditional cultures who cannot acclimate that is causing the diabesity explosion around the globe.

Unhealthy foods have infiltrated almost every human culture on the planet. They have a low production cost, long shelf-life and a high profit margin. The top ten manufacturers of pre-packaged foods in the U.S. are:

Kraft Foods Inc.                                 General Mills Inc.
PepsiCo Inc.                                        The Hershey Co.
Nestle SA                                            ConAgra Foods Inc.
Mars Inc.                                             Unilever Group
Kellogg Co.                                         Campbell Soup Co. 

These companies are responsible for the most unhealthy food choices that Americans make every day. Eating in restaurants and ordering unhealthy meals only compounds the problem. The 10 most unhealthy foods and products are:

1. Prepackaged snacks – such as cookies, cakes, chips, pretzels, muffins, puddings,
                        sweetened & artificially sweetened yogurt

2. Confections – such as all types of candy, fruit chews and licorice, milk chocolate

3. Soft drinks – such as soda, diet soda, artificially sweetened drinks, sports drinks,
                        sweetened and artificially sweetened iced tea and lemonade

4. Ice Cream – such as gelato, sherbert, prepackaged pops, ice cream cakes, frozen yogurt

5. Oils & fats – such as vegetable oils (corn, canola, soybean, safflower, sunflower, peanut),                                     

                        all types of margarines and shortenings

6. Ready meals – such as frozen meals, pizza, fried chicken dinners, pasta meals

                        (sorry Jenny Craig & Nutrasystem)

7. Processed foods – such as bottled salad dressings, bottled sauces, bottled mayonnaise,
                        soup mixes, ketchup, rice mixes, processed meats (cold cuts, hot dogs,

8. Packaged foods – such as boxed cereals, boxed cookies & crackers, pasta, food bars
                        protein bars) and meal replacement shakes

9. Tobacco – such as cigarettes, cigars, pipe and chewing tobacco

10. Alcohol – such as beer, liquor, wine coolers, hard cider, liqueurs 

The public needs to steer clear of processed and chemically altered foods. We must re-educate our taste buds to what food really tastes like. We are too used to eating the heavy sauces and gravies used by restaurants and food manufacturers to mask old meat and less than fresh vegetables. We must eat local whenever possible, consuming the freshest foods from the most reliable sources and from the healthiest farms. Where our food comes from really matters. Eat from a farm, not a factory.

How did we get into this mess? Human beings have been raising domesticated animals for over 5,000 years. This was the logical next step in human development after the onset of agriculture. Until recently, farms which included those that raised animals for food were integrated with crops in a balanced way which was generally beneficial to the farmer as well as to society. All that changed over the last 150 years with the use of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

Our modern livestock industry has a main goal of making money (surprised?). They use animals to reach their goals. There is little room for humanity in many of these operations. Many Americans may believe that the beef and pork they buy in the grocery store came from animals that grazed on an open field (like the picture on the label) or that their chickens were walking around the farm pecking and scratching for bugs, but that is not true at all.

CAFOs can contained over 1000 large animals like cattle and tens of thousands of small animals like chickens in small, confined indoor pens often overcrowded and unsanitary. Animals are subjected to highly unhealthy conditions, therefore illness and injury often ensue. CAFOs use corn and soy as animal feed. This is a very high glycemic index diet often resulting in the livestock developing diseases like diabetes. CAFOs are money makers as they receive government subsidies to buy this feed to make their operations more cost effective. Corn and soy are NOT a natural diet for ANY animal, especially cattle, hogs, chicken and turkeys. This is an inferior diet for them, producing disease in the animal. This becomes an inferior diet for humans when we consume their meat, producing more disease in humans.

Probably the most disturbing aspect of CAFOs are the inhumane treatment of the animals. These animals are prohibited from having access to outdoor pasture time and therefore tend to become depressed and aggressive. They are not able to engage in their own natural behaviors. Fighting is not uncommon, causing some animals to become injured. Biting, pecking and other aggressive social behaviors cannot be curtailed without human inflicted animal mutilation. To avoid aggressive chicken behaviors, beak cutting is a common practice as this is their answer to prevent injury. To avoid aggressive hog behaviors, tail cropping has prevented the biting off of the tail in aggressive animal encounters. So avoid most conventionally raised animal products and only buy from small, family owned farms that keep their animals healthy.