Why Our Health is Being Damaged by Our Food Supply

by Jonathan Sears

As exercise and health care professionals, we have tremendous potential to make significant improvements in the lives of our clients. Our clients seek us out for our expert advice and opinions. There is perhaps no other profession out there that can touch the lives of people in the manner that we can. We have a tremendous responsibility sitting on our shoulders to educate those who consult with us, and those who live around us as to major health issues that will affect them.

Today, we are experiencing perhaps the biggest health issue to date. That is, our present day food supply. With every single bite of food we eat, we are shaping our health and vitality for tomorrow. What we eat has an enormous effect on our health, perhaps a far more significant effect than most people realize. What we (as well as our clients, friends, and family) are eating deserves far greater attention than what it has received in the past. Our present day food supply is no less than horrifying! In the past century, our food has changed more than ever before in history.

Use the information presented below to start educating your clients on how they can greatly improve their lives simply by avoiding our new breed of food. Whether your goals are weight loss, performance conditioning, general health and vitality or chronic pains, your clients will benefit greatly from the information presented when you educate them on it.

The Condition of Our Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables are thought by most people as one of if not the healthiest types of food out there. This knowledge is taught in schools, books and to children by their parents. Unfortunately, what most people are not told is that today’s conventionally raised vegetables and fruit are in many ways different from the fruits and vegetables from years ago. To the surprise of many, the change in the plant life that we eat has taken a drastic turn for the worse.

By comparison, today what we call an “organic or biodynamic” fruit or vegetable was the standard generations ago. A good number of people today have at least heard of the word organic when used describing the way food is raised. When something is certified organic, it means that the food was raised without the use of artificial chemicals, drugs, hormones or genetic modification. Most people today do not know what the term biodynamic means when used to describe the way food is raised. Biodynamic foods raised by a certified biodynamic farmer are considered to be the highest form of human nutrition (2). Biodynamic farming is a holistic organic farming system, emphasizing soil health through composting, crop covering, crop rotation, integrated livestock and mineral and herbal preparations among other things (20). Paul Chek describes biodynamic farming as not just a method of organic farming but as an integration of spirituality, science, astronomy, homeopathy, farming and other subtle practices (2). So it can be said that biodynamic food is superior to organic food, but organic food is still far superior to conventionally raised foods.

Today, when someone refers to a “vegetable,” it is common knowledge that they are referring to a conventionally raised vegetable. The raising of vegetation using conventional means opens the door to the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, genetic modification and ruined soil.

When comparing organic and biodynamic plants to conventionally raised plants, there really is no comparison. Today, organic and biodynamic raised fruits and vegetables can have as much as 40 times the nutrient density than conventionally raised vegetables (1, 4). That is not to say that biodynamic and organic fruit and vegetables are some sort of super crop, it is to say that the conventionally raised vegetables can be up to 40 times less nutrient dense than what mother nature intended them to be.

Poor soil quality, as a result of modern day farming practices, is at the root of the problem and the principle reason for today’s vegetable quality being so degraded. The practices of modern day farming that harm the soil are the application of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, lack of crop rotation and lack of green manure. Studies show that soil used for organic and biodynamic farming is far superior in nutrients and microorganisms than soil used for conventional farming.

It must be understood that a plant that comes from the soil cannot be healthier than the soil from which it came. Healthy living soil provides plants with strength to resist disease and insects, as well as superior taste and nutritional value (15). Healthy soil is a complex network of many things including humus, microorganisms, fungi, bacteria, and earthworms (2). In Paul Chek’s very informative and eye opening book, "Under the Veil of Deception," he describes the above aspects of the soil as part of a complex food web. Chek describes how the microorganisms directly feed soil nutrients into the rootlets of the plant. Once there is an application of some sort of unnatural substance to the soil such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, etc, the very important microorganism’s population is greatly harmed. To illustrate this point, an example will be used of a chemical fertilizer being put on the soil. This will also show how the soil’s all important food web is destroyed. First off, once the chemical fertilizer is added to healthy soil, the earthworm’s population is significantly reduced. A reduction in earthworms means a reduction in humus available to the soil, because earthworm digestion produces castings, which are regarded as extremely high quality humus (19,20). Humus is regarded as one of if not the most important part of any topsoil (19). With a reduction in humus, there is a reduction in the microorganism population of the soil, because microorganisms feed off of the available humus (2). With a reduced microorganism population the plants growing in the soil suffer from what is essentially malnutrition. The plants are left without their nutrient carriers.

The sad part of this whole ordeal is that after the nutrient deficient, unhealthy plant (that grew in this soil) is harvested, someone will eventually eat something that can be as much as 40 times less in quality than what mother nature intended that person to eat. This person suffers from the disruption in the soil’s food web. By now there should be some appreciation as to how and why today’s conventionally raised vegetables are not exactly what most people think they are.

Many people put up arguments defending the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These people and many others will argue that without the use of pesticides, insects and disease would ruin much of a farmer’s crop. To counter this, Sir Albert Howard concluded that insects and disease will only attack unsuitable or imperfectly grown crops (2). This is nature’s way of putting unhealthy plants back into the soil so a new healthy plant can have the opportunity to grow. This should not be taken lightly considering that Sir Albert Howard is one of the most respected agriculturists of our century. Also, nothing that he has ever said or wrote regarding farming has been shown to be wrong (3).

To go into a bit more detail as to why unhealthy crops are attacked by insects and so called “pests,“ it must be understood that plants operate on energetic principles, as Chek explains in "Under the Veil of Deception." It is understood that when an inferior crop is grown, its energetic frequency drops down. This signals to insects and parasites that the crop is unhealthy and needs to be returned to the soil. Insects can pick up the drop in an energetic frequency from over a half of a mile away (2). Therefore, it can be concluded that when a plant is grown properly on healthy soil, the way mother nature intended it to be grown, there is no need for artificial means of pest control because the truly healthy crop will not be harmed.

Aside from what has been discussed regarding how farm chemicals contribute to plant malnutrition and soil degeneration, there is also a very important point to remember: we ingest residues of these chemicals everyday.

It has been said that pesticides cause damage and mutation in the body by altering the process of transmission of genetic material, thereby changing how the body is run by its own DNA (12). There are a variety of pesticides being used on the food that we eat. Tests show that fruits and vegetables make it into our stores that exceed the maximum residue level allowed by the law (2). In the opinion of many, any residue showing up in our food is unsafe. It can certainly be said that if the maximum residue level is exceeded, then without a doubt that fruit or vegetable should not be allowed to be purchased by an unsuspecting consumer.

A very essential point regarding the ingesting of residues from farm chemicals is that these poisons work systemically and become part of the soil and plant tissue (15). Conventional farmers are thrilled by this fact because that means that rains won’t wash away all of their applied poisons. What we need to worry about is that since these poisons literally become part of the plant itself, there is no possible way to wash off or rid the plant of the detrimental chemicals.

Another important point to be made is that many different chemicals are used at one time in farming. When these chemicals go through laboratory testing, they are tested individually. Interactions between two or more chemicals have unpredictable results, often resulting in greater toxicity than just one individual chemical as an entity (15).

Some of the known effects of pesticides on mammals include cancer, immune system damage, genetic damage, and birth defects (2). These harmful substances are not things that we should be exposing ourselves to. A feeling of security that most people falsely give themselves is that if something is harmful to us, then farmers would not be allowed to use it. The unfortunate reality is, and is understood by many, that the FDA is very easily bought and paid for (4). This means that large chemical companies can often get a product passed by the FDA just by paying enough money to the right people. For a more in depth look at the process of buying the approval of the FDA, read the book "Milk: The Deadly Poison" by Robert Cohen (13). In his book, he exposes the corruption in the FDA that took place as a result of the Monsanto company getting rBGH approved, which is a hormone now given to dairy cows to increase their milk production. Coincidentally enough, the Monsanto company is one of the biggest companies in the world involved with genetic engineering and biotechnology (5). So be advised, and do not just assume that something is okay because you think that the good folks at the FDA are keeping our food supply safe. They may have different priorities.

Crop rotation is a necessary practice to preserve and replenish soil health. Crop rotation is simply changing the crop that is grown on a field every year. For example, if corn is grown on a field one year, the next year a different crop will be grown on that field instead of corn, and the corn may possibly be moved to a different field. This gives the soil a better chance to recover from year to year. Each crop draws a specific nutrient profile from the soil (2). If the same crop is grown on the same field year after year, the specific nutrients that the plant needs in order to be healthy will become depleted. Then you will have an unhealthy crop that needs artificial means of life support to keep away the insects that detect the lack of health.

The most likely reason why farmers would not practice crop rotation is that they think they will make more money just growing their crop of choice. The majority of farmers out there are in their chosen profession to earn a living. They plant what they think is the most profitable crop year after year. After a while they have to progressively increase the artificial means that they use to keep their crops alive, because the soil becomes so depleted of the vital nutrients that crops need.

To complete the picture of soil health, green manure will be briefly examined. The practice of green manure is planting a specific crop in an empty field or along with a crop intended for harvest, with the intentions of eventually plowing the "green manure" crop under to help replenish the soil. The farmer selects a green manure crop based on what nutrients crops have taken out of the soil, or will take. A specific green manure crop is selected because it will help to replenish the needed nutrients. An example of this practice would be planting winter peas as a green manure crop after sweet corn has been grown and harvested (20). The farmer knows that specific crops draw specific nutrients up from certain depths of the subsoil (3). This allows the farmer to know which crops need to be planted as green manure. Green manure is just another key to maintaining healthy plants, and in turn healthy people. It takes careful planning and calculations to apply green manures correctly. Often this time, effort, and thought is not put into the application.

In the end, the consumer is the one who pays the price by eating a pesticide ridden, nutrient deficient vegetable, that was grown in ruined soil.

The Condition of Our Meat Supply

Meat is a necessary part of most people’s diet today. It is the main source of protein for most people. As with our situation of conventionally raised vegetables, we face a similar dilemma with the way our mainstream meat supply is being raised. The animals that are raised for our consumption including cows, pigs, and chickens among others, are being raised in such a way that what is produced is a very unhealthy animal that will enter our food supply.

There are several different contributing factors that will be outlined here that, when practiced by conventional farmers, can lead to the production of unhealthy animals that people will ultimately consume. As with vegetable farming, these factors stem from financial motives/needs, meaning that the animal farmers adopt these practices not to produce a better animal, but to produce a cheaper animal.
When dealing with health issues in animals the first thing that needs to be addressed is what the animals are being fed. Like humans, specific animals have specific foods that need to be eaten in order to be in good health.

To illustrate this very important point, an example will be taken from the book "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" by Weston A. Price (6). On Murray Island, located in the Great Barrier Reef, the inhabitants who live off of the land are in excellent physical condition and are very seldom troubled by sickness and disease. These people obtain much of their food from the ocean, which allows them to eat foods that allow them to stay in excellent health.

Compare these people to an average American whose daily food intake is made up primarily of highly processed, refined, chemical ridden, genetically altered food. Here in this country, as a result of such dietary practices, disease is running very rampid. As a result of such poor health, the United States is forced to spend more money on health care than any other nation (2).

On the one hand we have the Murray Island natives in excellent health, who eat natural whole foods, the foods humans are meant to eat. On the other hand we have the average American eating primarily devitalizing foods, foods that our bodies cannot properly handle. If the average American who eats these devitalizing foods is not already in a diseased state, it is more than likely that they are eating themselves right into one. By the way, most of these “American foods” were developed for profit, not for health.

With this in mind, a very similar situation is happening with our animals that are being raised for human consumption. Conventionally raised animals are usually fed what is cheapest and what will make them the heaviest. This has major health consequences on the animals, and since we sit higher up on the food chain we pay the consequences as well.

Cows, for instance, are healthiest when they eat grass. Grass is what they’re meant to eat. In today’s conventional way of raising cows, grain-with an emphasis on corn-is what makes up the majority of their feed. Corn does not sound like such a bad thing, but with cows it reeks havoc on their health. This is analogous to taking someone off the native diet on Murray Island and putting them on the common American diet. Sickness and disease will be encountered!

In an excellent article entitled “Discover How Your Beef is Really Raised” (7), Michael Pollan tells exactly how a conventional cow is raised in preparation for slaughter. Pollan explains the health problems caused by feeding corn to cows. In fact it is said that the only thing preventing disease from financially ruining feedlots is the use of antibiotics!

The grain fed cows become so unhealthy that massive amounts of antibiotics are used on them. Medical scientists have estimated that between 40 and 45 percent of the antibiotics produced in the United States are given to farm animals (8). This speaks volumes for how unhealthy animals get from conventional farm practices. These antibiotics will eventually be consumed by people, making them possibly antibiotic resistant. This means that when a person has a condition in which they truly need antibiotics, the drugs may have little or no affect. Physicians are now finding it difficult to treat patients with antibiotics due to resistance (16).

Another issue emerging from the practice of feeding grain to cows is how it affects dangerous microbes, such as E. Coli. A healthy grass fed cow’s stomach has a neutral pH environment. Microbes such as E. Coli have adapted to living in a cow’s neutral pH stomach acid. We, as humans, have a more acidic pH level in our stomachs. What our more acidic pH level does, in this case, is it allows us to kill these dangerous microbes if we happen to ingest them. They are killed off because they are not able to handle our acidity.

What is happening now with the grain fed cows is that the grain unnaturally increases the acidity of the cow’s stomach acid. So now the dangerous microbes that live in a cow’s stomach are becoming resistant to more acidity. This means that E. Coli have developed that can survive in our stomachs and go on to kill us (7)!

Aside from the food and the drugs being administered to farm animals, another point to be made is that the animals’ living conditions will also affect the well being of the animals. Intensive farming practices often provide animals with as little space as possible to minimize expenses. This is especially a big issue with pigs and chickens. Sows, for example, are often kept in individual stalls so small that they cannot even walk or turn around (8). These animals have to lie in their own feces and it is impossible for them to get any sort of exercise. The health and well being of the animals are obviously adversely affected. Just imagine if you were forced to live under the same conditions! The point here is that a happy animal is a healthy animal (9), and these animals are very likely to be unhappy. Behind humans, dolphins, apes and pigs are next in line in the mammal intelligence order (9). So in all likelihood, the pigs have some sort of mental capacity to become unhappy and therefore could be unhealthy just from mental stress alone.

Farmers and Food Companies are Making Profits for the Wrong Reasons

If our bodies were designed to function well on what was most profitable for companies, regardless of any health consequences, we would be dining on Italian sports cars and snacking on Microsoft programs. It should be understood that the reason our farming practices, both animal and plant, have changed so much in the past century is due to the fact that some farmers believe that with conventional farming ways they will experience better financial gain. That is not to say that a producer of good quality food is not meant to earn a good living or even become rich. It is to say that when a farmer or a food company strays from the laws of organic or biodynamic farming, they are becoming rich for the wrong reasons (17).

Think back several centuries; there were no places to go and buy a company’s nutrient deficient food, or to go and buy a company’s pesticide. If you wanted to eat, you had your own field for raising your own crops, and you hunted for your meat supply. This seems to be the way in which nature intended for us to get food. There was nobody that had a financial interest in farming thousands of acres at a time using conventional methods, or conventionally raising thousands of animals at a time in order to make as much money as possible with no regard as to the quality of the end product.

Unfortunately, the time finally came when there became a financial interest in applying chemicals and antibiotics to our food. Now we are at the point where we have companies raising our food with depleted soils, using chemicals, genetic modification and drugs, all because it is financially more rewarding to that company. They can raise what appears to be the same food as what we farmed in past centuries. Only now they can do it faster and what they think is cheaper than ever before.

There are actually big, powerful companies out there that spend a lot of money on research for their food products. The companies will publicly state how much money they put into research. What they don’t tell you is exactly what kind of research they are doing. It actually isn’t the type of research that one would hope for. This research is geared not toward making their food better, but toward ways of making their food cheaper (17). So don’t let a company fool you when you hear that they put a lot of money into researching their food.

Any way you look at it, when you step away from organic and biodynamic practices, the food takes a turn for the worse. It obviously has made a lot of companies rich, but what they sell can hardly be considered food. Anything that strays away from organic and biodynamic farming has its consequences. Whether it is putting a chemical on a crop so it can survive in nutrient depleted soil, or feeding animals the wrong type of food because that food costs less, there is a price to pay. That price will ultimately come at the cost of people’s health.

Common sense tells you that most people in today’s world do not have the time to work their own fields or raise their own animals or to hunt animals. What you can do to parallel the quality of food our ancestors ate in previous centuries is to eat the organic or biodynamic version of a food whenever possible.

The main point to remember is that mother nature did not intend for us to profit off of food that neglects organic and biodynamic laws. It can be said that the companies that ignore the farming laws of nature, are profiting off of the production of ill health.

Humans: The Top Of the Food Chain

Having discussed soil, plants and animals, we now can focus on species sitting on top of the food chain in today‘s world: humans. We eat plants that come from the soil. We eat animals that eat the plants coming from the soil. It can literally be said that we are what we eat. Each cell in our body is eventually replaced by the food we eat (3). The equation that is very important to remember is that unhealthy soil will produce unhealthy plants, unhealthy plants will produce unhealthy animals, and unhealthy plants and animals will produce unhealthy people. We cannot miraculously become healthier then the food we ingest. It is very sad, but the vast majority of people out there are eating extremely unhealthy food. Even when they think they’re eating good wholesome food, often times they are not.

The health of America is declining rapidly with no end in sight. The average US worker loses 115 hours of productivity every year due to a health related condition (11). One in three Americans will get cancer (21). One in four Americans dies of cancer (10,21). People are experiencing a very poor quality of life between birth and death. Many are spending their older years in homes requiring the type of care meant only for infants.

Healthy people do not need care or become senile at old age. This is evident when reading "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" (6). As mentioned earlier, groups of people were studied from around the world who eat whole, natural foods. These people experienced almost no disease and lived productive, active lives through old age. They do not die of cancer, heart disease, liver failure, etc. They die of natural causes, or simply die from being done (17). This is how we should all be ending up.

What Should You Do? Eat Organic and Biodynamic Food!

What do we need to do to be as healthy and vital as we can be? We need to avoid processed foods at all costs. Approximately 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes towards processed foods (14). We need to actively seek out biodynamic and organic sources of fruits, vegetables, and meat. Organic and biodynamic foods are heads and tails above the conventional option. After all, no man or company is a better farmer than mother nature herself (17)! With biodynamic and organic food we get a far more nutritious food that will provide our bodies with health and vitality. We also forego the chemicals and hormones that go hand in hand with conventionally raised meat and vegetables.

If there is an organic and biodynamic food store in your town that offers meat and vegetables, do your shopping there. These types of stores need our business. It is much harder for these stores to stay in business because people are simply not educated as to why they need to eat organically. These stores simply do not have the marketing muscle of mass producing junk food companies such as Coca-Cola. As an example of the marketing power large companies, in 2001 Coca-Cola signed a $150 million partnership contract with AOL Time Warner to become the sole global marketing partner for just ONE of Time Warner’s movies (18). Generally speaking, the more money a company has to spend on marketing its food product, the worse it is for you (17). Organic and biodynamic food stores simply cannot compete with this kind of marketing. That is why they need your help.

One of the great things about organic and biodynamic stores is that it is quite easy to make suggestions as to the variety of food that you would like to see in stock. A lot of times you can speak directly to the owner of the store. If there isn’t anywhere in town that offers organic meat, then there are several companies that will ship meat directly to you packed on dry ice.

You may be thinking that eating biodynamic and organic food will cost you too much. Just think about what it will cost you if you don’t! Is it worth sacrificing quality of life, health, vitality, and longevity? Those are pretty big prices to pay. So who cares if you have to spend a little more on food, think of what a great investment it will be to your health! So do your part, support the stores that offer food the way nature intended it to be, and pass on the importance of eating biodynamic and organic food to your clients, friends and family. Also, continue to educate yourself. A good way to go about that is to look into some of the resources used here and use them to guide you to even further resources from there.

References:

  1. Chek, Paul. “Flatten Your Abs Forever.” Lecture. Chicago. August 12, 2001.
  2. Chek, Paul. Under The Veil Of Deception - Everything Uncle Sam Isn’t Telling You About Organic Farming, Organic Foods, and Our Future! Forthcoming, expected out in 2003. This book should be available at www.chekinstitute.com sometime in 2003.
  3. Chek, Paul. Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaching Course, Level 1 at the C.H.E.K Institute. Encinitas, CA, 2002.
  4. Flatten Your Abs Forever videotape by Paul Chek. A C.H.E.K Institute Production. 2001. This video is available at www.chekinstitute.com.
  5. Ackerman, Jennifer. “FOOD: How Safe? How Altered?.” National Geographic. May 2002: 49.
  6. Price, Weston A. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. The Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc. 1939. www.price-pottenger.org
  7. Pollan, Michael. “Discover How Your Beef is Really Raised.” Mercola. April 17, 2002. Internet. www.mercola.com.
  8. Metcalfe, Ed. “The Pig Issue.” The Ecologist. November 22, 2001. Internet. www.theecologist.co.uk/archive_article.html?article=240.
  9. Thyssen, Augstin. “Traditional Pig Farming.” The Ecologist. May 22 2002. Internet. www.theecologist.co.uk/archive_article.html?article=318.
  10. Wolcott, William L. The Metabolic Typing Diet. Doubleday Publishing. 2000.
  11. “Sickness is Costing US Over 250 Billion in Lost Productivity.” Mercola. June 22, 2002. Internet. www.mercola.com.
  12. Bruyere, Rosalyn L. Wheels of Light-Chakras, Auras, and the Healing Energy of the Body. Fireside Publishing. 1989.
  13. Cohen, Robert. MILK: The Deadly Poison. Argus Publishing, Inc. 1998.
  14. “U.S. Junk Food Intake Worsening.” Mercola. May 8, 2002. Internet. www.mercola.com.
  15. Schmid, Ronald F, N.D. Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine-Improving Health and Longevity with Native Nutrition. Healing Arts Press. 1987.
  16. “Antibiotics In Feed Spur Resistance.” Mercola. February 16, 1998. Internet. www.mercola.com.
  17. Chek, Paul. Personal communication. Phone conversation. July 29, 2002.
  18. “Center for Science in the Public Interest Blasts Coke’s Harry Potter Campaign.” Mercola. October 27, 2001. Internet. www.mercola.com.
  19. Compost Wizard. Website. Retrieved July 31, 2002. http://www.compostwizard.com/castings.html.
  20. Farmer, Robert. Personal communication. Phone conversation. July 31, 2002.
  21. Tierra Miguel Foundation. www.tierramiguel.org.
  22. Chek, Paul. “Practical Nutrition For Cancer Patients.” C.H.E.K Institute.