Every year at least 310,000 Americans go to an early grave and many more are sickened because of largely preventable diet-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, strokes, and cancers.  The big problem with our food supply isn’t pathogens, it is processed food.  We’re being killed not by E. coli, salmonella, or campylobacter, but by the nutritionally hollow contents of the bags, boxes, and fast-food clamshells that have managed to pass as nourishment in our society.

Over the last century, our diet has undergone unprecedented change.  Some 70 percent of the calories Americans consume now come from highly processed foods—loaded up with salt, sugar, fat, strange additives, and refined grains, while absent of naturally occurring nutrients and antioxidants.  Processed food is not so much grown or raised as it is carefully engineered from dozens of ingredients, many of them incomprehensible.

The fact is that much of our food supply is not safe, and the FDA, despite its new powers of oversight, doesn’t have anywhere near the authority or the political will it needs to help change this.  The agency has done nothing to set controls on the massive quantities of sodium going into processed food, especially restaurant food, and still allows trans-fat, an acknowledged poison, into products.  And its oversight of the vast number of ingredients going into our food is much less reassuring than we might hope.

Of the roughly 5,000 substances that can be directly added to food, the FDA has no knowledge whatsoever of an estimated 1,000 of them.  And more disturbingly, fewer than half of those 4,000 substances have ever gone through any sort of testing. We also do not know what happens when these substances are combined with any of these other substances.

Just to name a few, there is BHA, a known carcinogen found in things like Tang, Kool-Aid, DiGiorno pepperoni pizza, and McDonald’s sausages and breakfast steak; azodicarbonamide, a flammable, pseudo-edible chemical used widely in bread, which when heated breaks down into a carcinogenic compound, and finally, brominated vegetable oil, an ingredient in Gatorade, which has been linked to the following medical conditions; memory loss, tremors, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, and headache.  It is also interesting that many of these additives found in our food supply, are banned in other countries.  All because of greed and the need for cheap food supply demand by the people in this country

Obviously, it’s harder to banish substances that don’t sicken or kill us immediately the way E. coli and salmonella can. But a lot of the blame is in the hands of Congress, which has not given the FDA the authority or funding resources it really needs for the monumental task of overseeing our $1 trillion food supply.

Despite the alluring availability of junk food, the ability to eat healthy is available to all of us.  If we care about people dying before their lives are really over or having to endure preventable suffering, and the huge medical costs that we all share, then we must reduce the amount of processed food to a minimum and if everyone did it; then processed food was mostly disappear.  Remember that cancer rates are expected to increase by 57% due to what we consume as so-called food.

 

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