Top 10 Ways Corporate Food Is Making Us Fat and Threatening Our Food Supplies
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While it is much better than the fascisms of the Right and the Left, one of the big drawbacks of corporate democracy is that the people are often outgunned. Large corporations account for half of the national economy and pay more for lobbyists to write and pass laws in Congress favorable to themselves than they do in Federal taxes. The way in which the Congressional committees that are supposed to watch certain industries actually become beholden to them is called ‘legislative capture.’
For this reason, I don’t entirely trust the US government any more to look out for our health. We are increasingly exposed to thousands of chemicals that haven’t really been tested (plastics are full of them). We’re not even given the courtesy of knowing which foods are genetically modified so we can make a market choice for the natural ones.
Here are the top ten disturbing news stories about our food that have come across my screen in recent days, and which inspire a certain amount of alarm in me.
1. Sugary, i.e. non-diet soft drinks make you fat, especially if you are genetically at greater risk of being fat. According to a study about to appear in the New England Journal of Medicine, teens who had genes that disposed them to put on weight easily were twice as likely to be obese if they drank a lot of soda pop. Pre-modern human beings who lived in conditions of food scarcity probably tried to bulk up when they saw a drought becoming prolonged, and there would have been a survival advantage to being able to put on weight quickly when you were trying. So likely those teens’ bodies thought all the sugar they were being fed was a sign of famine coming, and obliged by storing a lot of fat to get through it. For a certain percentage of the population, extra calories are actually subject to a multiplier effect inside their own bodies. (It can even happen to Lady Gaga.)
Soft drinks have like 160- 180 calories per can and nobody can afford all that in their diet even once daily.
In other words, not only is Mayor Bloomberg’s policy of banning supersized soft drinks in New York justified, actually people should just never drink sugary soft drinks.
2. Here’s the kicker. It isn’t just the sugar that puts some people at risk of obesity. It is bisphenol A or BPA, a chemical used to coat the aluminum cans in which soft drinks come (as well as soup and other cans) so as to prevent them from rusting. A recent study in JAMA found that the one fourth of the thousands of children and adolescents in their study that had the most BPA in their urine were twice as likely to be obese as those in the one fourth that had the least BPA. So I guess if they were drinking sugary sodas out of cans, they were really doomed to be obese. BPA has been implicated in other studies in “diabetes, cardiovascular disease, reproductive disorders, and obesity in adults.”
Think you can get away from BPA by avoiding cans and going to plastic bottles instead? Think again. It is widely used in the making of clear plastics, and there is evidence that it seeps into us from them.
When exactly will the US government have enough evidence to ban BPA? When we’re all 400 pounds?
3. The Consumer Union has found concerning levels of arsenic in American-grown rice. Apparently much rice in the US is grown in the Southwest and West on land that used to be used for cotton, on which arsenic-laden pesticides were used for decades. Arsenic can cause cancer. Me, I never like to hear the phrases “arsenic” and “in your food” in the same sentence.