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Celebrating Our Union With The Earth and Each Other

The Food Issue
by Alison Jolicoeur 2009

I have a passion for good food, and I suspect many of you share this affinity. Not only do I love the ways in which food stimulates the senses, but I also believe that certain foods have amazing nourishing and healing properties. As Hippocrates stated, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” It is for this reason that I find our current food situation in the world so troubling. It is my hope, in this article, to inform you of new processes involving pasteurization, irradiation, and genetic engineering, and how these processes may affect your health and the health of the planet.

Think of the seed. Contained within it is the expression of life itself, and given the right conditions - proper soil, adequate sunlight and water - this tiny seed will sprout forth and become a magnificent plant. This plant will then produce its own seeds, ensuring the continuation of this beautiful cycle. Certain plants give us humans life sustaining nourishment or medicine, without which we would surely suffer.

Many of us in today’s modernized society have become severely detached from this process. We go to the grocery store and buy food without giving much thought to where is has come from, or the process involved in its growth and development, and have thus disconnected ourselves from our Earth Mother. It is a convenience that we would be lost without, but a luxury that comes with consequences.

I’m sure you’ve all been aware of the ongoing issue of food contamination, but perhaps you are not aware that this has resulted in the mandatory pasteurization of almonds. What’s even more disturbing is that these almonds, which have been exposed to heat, or even chemicals, are still labeled as raw! You can read more about this here:http://www.rawfoodinfo.com/articles/art_almondsterilization.html. Almonds are a wonderful source of vitamin E, magnesium and potassium as well as heart-healthy fats that help lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. However, this may not be the case with pasteurized almonds. I have read many claims that a pasteurized almond will still sprout (meaning it’s still alive) but I have tried and found this not to be true. The life-source energy contained within the seed is lost. I find this deeply disturbing. Food is not merely made up of dead matter, just as we are made of more than dead matter. We are made of energy and electricity and I’m sure the electron-rich foods such as raw nuts and seeds nourish us in ways that we are not even aware of.

Salmonella is associated with fecal matter, and I’ve heard it humorously mentioned that “almonds don’t poop,” which of course we all know is true! Rather than address why foods such as almonds are being contaminated with bacteria from fecal matter, food regulators have chosen to treat the symptom instead of looking for ways to cure the disease. A nourishing food has been replaced with an inferior product, without changing the labeling of such product. Our freedom of choice has been diminished and our health has potentially been affected.

Another process to prevent food contamination is irradiation. Most recently, the FDA approved the irradiation of spinach and lettuce. Ironically, while they claim irradiation is safe and does not affect the nutritional value of food, they also acknowledge that it does indeed lower the amount of folate and vitamin A in spinach! Many advocacy groups disagree with the FDA in regards to the safety of irradiated food and claim that more testing is needed. These foods are altered at the molecular level. Digestive enzymes are lost and the nutritional value is decreased. What looks like fresh produce has the nutritional value of cooked, pasteurized or otherwise processed food. Many essential nutrients such as thiamin, vitamin C and E are also affected. The process of irradiation still fails to address the underlying issue of unsanitary conditions at large food facilities.

Food that has traveled thousands of miles is more likely to have been subjected to processes such as irradiation, therefore I recommend visiting a local farmers market. If the food is local, it’s also fresher and will contain more nutrients. By doing this you will be supporting local family farms. Better yet, grow your own food, even if it’s one tomato plant! Finally, organic food can not be irradiated. For more information on this issue click here http://www.organicconsumers.org/Irrad/irradfact.cfm http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/foodirradiation/u-s-food-irradiation/food-irradiation-and-vitamin-loss

There are many proposed bills before congress that relate to these issues. Many fear, if passed as written, these bills could hurt small farms, diminish organic standards, and potentially lead to more sterilization and degradation of the food supply. While these bills appear address the issue of food contamination, they still fail to address the larger issue of industrialized farming practices. To learn more click here: http://www.gnhealth.com/calltoaction.html To let your voice be heard click here: http://capwiz.com/grassrootsnetroots/issues/alert/?alertid=12878056

Life is a precious gift in all of its forms. The beauty and diversity around us can not be denied. Nature deserves our respect and in my opinion, the idea that we can somehow better nature’s design through genetic manipulation is rather arrogant, considering we don’t even fully understand the complexities of our own nature. Life is a gift, meaning it is given to us all. No one should be granted ownership of these gifts.

For many years the U.S Patent Office did not allow patents on living organisms, and for good reason. They were considered to be discoveries of nature and were therefore unpatentable (Never mind the more ethical question of whether a corporation should be granted ownership of life.) This all changed in 1980 when the first micro organism was deemed patentable by the Supreme Court. This opened the doors for Monsanto (the maker of PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange) to patent their newly genetically modified seeds, such as Bt-corn, and “roundup ready” canola and soybeans.

These GM crops are designed to be sprayed with roundup, an herbicide, which will kill everything but the plant which has been designed to tolerate this chemical. Now the manufacturer of the herbicide also sells you their patented seed. This has led to an increase of chemicals being unleashed in the environment. How a giant chemical corporation became the largest conventional seed company in the world is beyond my comprehension.

Machines and mechanisms, traditionally covered by patents, can not reproduce or invade other people’s machines or mechanisms, however this is not the case with living organisms. These patented GM seeds can not be contained, which has resulted in the contamination of many farmers’ crops. Lawsuits followed, and farmers were forced to pay heavy fines due to patent infringement, even though they had no control over how these seeds entered their fields.

One of the latest developments by Monsanto is “terminator technology” which basically means they’ve designed plants which do not produce seed. This forces farmers to rely on seed companies for new seed. The question to be asked here is what happens when these seeds contaminate existing crops?

I have not even begun to address the issue of how a plant is genetically modified (the process can involve viruses and/or bacteria which invade the cell) or how it might affect the health of the consumer. In truth, there has been no long-term testing, and there is no label requirement in this country despite the majority of people wanting a labeling system.

The biotech companies promised better crops to feed starving nations, but they have fallen far short of their promise. In my opinion, they have only helped to centralize control over the global food supply and have hurt or destroyed many small farms. In the face of mounting debt and failed GM crops, thousands of Indian farmers have committed suicide. http://www.alternet.org/workplace/137059/1,5_indian_farmers_commit_mass_suicide:

In the reformation of Iraq, under Order 81, the storing and planting of seeds which Iraqis have used for thousands of years is now illegal. http://www.organicconsumers.org/patent/iraq111704.cfm

I can not thoroughly discuss this issue in the context of this article, therefore I highly recommend a wonderful documentary, The Future of Food , which I hope all of you will take the time to watch. Knowledge is Power! http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food

It can be overwhelming to face these issues, and it is only one of the many issues that we face today, but I believe it is one of the most important. I believe it would greatly benefit our health and the health of the Earth, if we consume, as much as possible, foods which are truly natural and unadulterated. One of the greatest ways to empower ourselves is to get informed and expand our awareness, see the bigger picture of how our choices affect the whole, and demand that our freedom of choice be protected. The natural world is delicately balanced and we all play an equal part in sustaining harmony.

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