Your Paleo Practitioner

Our Modern World, Industrialization & Food Processing

Since the Industrial Revolution in the mid 1800’s, most of the foods that people consume have been wildly processed in factories prior to consumption. If it comes in a box or a can or a bag or a bottle, it is likely a processed, factory produced food. Although there is currently a movement across the industrialized world to eat more natural foods and avoid processed foods, this rarely seems to be the case for most people. Processed foods tend to be nutritionally poor, too high in calories and rather low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Some of the largest sources of processed foods and additives in our diet today are based in grains, sugar, chemically altered oils, artificial sweeteners, artificial dyes and flavors and preservatives.

The rule of thumb for a healthy diet is that food should come from farms. For most of human civilization, that was where food came from. However, the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800’s changed everything. Big food manufacturers such as Kraft Foods, Nabisco, Nestle and ConAgra Foods were started from small companies, and now dominate our food supply. It is quite evident that the corporate food industry also doesn’t really care about the nutritional value or safety of their manufactured products. In 2006, the Washington Post printed an article about the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in microwave popcorn bags (found in ConAgra’s Orville Redenbacher) and how that can cause cancer. The Food and Drug Administration researchers went on to say that this chemical will be absorbed into your blood and stay there for a long, long time. This happens to be the same chemical used to manufacture Teflon non-stick pans.

The relatively recent practice of food processing (it’s only about 150 years) has increased food safety to some degree, however every day there is another story about people being made sick by our food supply. There are many concerns today about our food including large food manufacturers cutting corners to save money. There is also the issue of chemicals additives, artificial ingredients and most recently, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Chemical companies like Monsanto, a multibillion dollar company in 100 different countries, is the main producer of GMO crops in the world. Monsanto was started in 1901 as a pesticide and toxic chemical manufacturer. It was in 1977 that it sold the chemical business and got into biotechnology and genetically modified corn and soybeans. Monsanto is responsible for developing saccharin and later acquired the rights to aspartame, a highly dangerous and toxic artificial sweetener. In 1906, the U.S. government began inspecting meat manufacturers, however Monsanto was exempt from these regulations as they donate to politicians, research facilities, schools and even to the USDA itself. Monsanto is responsible for the development of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and although they were banned in the 1970’s they remain in the water in Sauget, Illinois where Monsanto had its manufacturing plant. PCBs have been considered to be among the most deadly carcinogens, linked to autoimmune disorders, birth defects, cancer and death. It is well documented that Monsanto scientists knew about the health risks.

Antibiotic resistance is another result of over processing of our food supply by food manufacturer corporations. The overuse of antibiotics given to livestock is eventually consumed by humans, adding to the problem of antibiotic resistance. It is believed that by 2050, antibiotic failure is expected to kill 10 million people. About 80% of our antibiotic supply are given to factory produced animals to compensate for poor living conditions and prevent spread of infection among confined animals. These antibiotics are being found to travel in our ground water and even in the wind, exposing people and plants that want nothing to do with this farming practice. We do have alternatives to all the poor, over processed food practices in current society. Sustainable/Organic farming is only one alternative that would improve the health of our people as well as our planet.