What Are We Really Eating?

27 Mar

Question: What health problems can be linked to modern food production?

Answer: Consumption of harmful toxins and bacteria linked to disease and antibiotic resistance.

Today, modern food production is industrial farming. With industrial farming numerous problems and concerns are created. Numerous opportunities for bacteria, chemicals, and health problems are introduced through industrial farming and into our foods. Yet again, due to lack of knowledge many individuals myself included do not know of these issues. Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma brings to light such problems.

Industrial farming for produce regularly uses synthetic fertilizers, which destroys the quality of the soil. Plants grown in such soils produce products not “any more nutritious than the soil in which they grew”(Pollan 2006:148). It is concerning to think that although we may be eating fresh produce the nutritional quality may in reality be far from what it once used to be. In Pollan’s Omnivores Dilemma he explains that with synthetic manure we threaten to damage the health not only of the soil […] but of the ‘national health’ as well and the health of the creatures that depend on it.

Furthermore, toxic pesticides are often used on crops to ensure high yields and those pesticides work their way into the foods we consume. Alternatively, as a step in the right direction “instead of toxic pesticides, insects are controlled by spraying approved organic agents […] and by introducing beneficial insects like lacewings” (Pollan 2006:159).

Excessive use of antibiotics and chemicals in animal production to prevent parasites, disease and sickness can cause negative health impacts for us who consume them. The residual antibiotics we consume in industrially produced meats can cause antibiotic resistance. So when we are ill prescribed antibiotics can become less effective. In addition chemicals used to prevent parasites are often toxic for consumption. On farms such as Polyface mentioned in the Omnivore’s Dilemma the chickens “do a more effective job of sanitizing a pasture than anything human, mechanical or chemical” (Pollan 2006:212). This natural cleansing of pastures keeps the animals on such pastures from having to undergo being treated with “Ivomectrin, a systematic parasticide, […] or worm them with toxic chemicals” (Pollan 2006:212). Farms like Polyface “elimanate: antibiotics, wormers, parasticides, and fertilizers” all of which are toxic and harmful to humans (Pollan 2006:215). Lastly overall products produced on farms such as Polyface “have much lower bacteria counts than supermarket” (Pollan 2006:229).

Eliminating harmful pathogens and chemicals is crucial in maintaining health. Industrial farming should be slowly phased out and farms like Polyface should become the new norm. Good health is worth the price of higher production costs.



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