I have to admit, before my daughter was born 4 years ago, I never paid much attention to the quality of food I ate, I never read food labels and I sure didn’t care if something was organic or not. Once motherhood required me to feed another human being, I asked myself, “I wonder what’s in this food we are eating.” It only took me turning on the common sense part of my brain to realize if something can sit on a shelf for 12 months and not grow legs, it can’t be good. If milk in Germany goes bad after 5 days, but milk in America can still be “fresh” after 6 weeks, it can’t be good. In the last 4 years, I have become an advocate for parents and schools to provide healthy, nutritious, organic foods for kids, but the most common objection I get from friends, parents and schools is “We can’t afford high quality foods.” According to an excellent cover story in TIME Magazine titled The Real Cost of Cheap Food YOU CAN’T AFFORD NOT TO EAT HEALTHY FOOD.
This article is so informative, shocking (and disgusting), I have included the introduction here:
“Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won’t bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He’s fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he’ll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That’s the state of your bacon — circa 2009.”
Here are the facts: (Our crappy, cheap foods are a direct cause of this)
* America has the highest cancer rates in the world: 1 of 2 men, 1 of 3 women will face cancer sometime in their life.
* America is the most obese nation: 2/3 of the US is obese
* Obesity adds $147 billion each year to our doctor bills. No wonder the government says we can’t afford a socialized health care system.
* Only 1% of American cropland is grown organically
* When runoff from chemical fertilizer and manure reaches the Gulf of Mexico, it causes a “dead zone” – over 6000 square miles that has almost no oxygen and almost no sea life. The fishing industry (which produces healthy, chemical-free foods for us) loses $2.8 billion each year due to the dead zone.
* The overuse of antibiotics in farming is causing antibiotic-resistant bacteria – costing the public health system $5 billion per year.
Yes, organic foods are more expensive than cheap food. But did you know the average cost for ONE chemotherapy treatment for cancer has a price tag of about $12,000? Did you know that ONE night in a hospital can cost you thousands of dollars? Crappy food also causes depression, heart disease and diabetes: three of the most costly illnesses to treat. Americans eat a plethera of bad foods because we are a society of instant gratification. If it’s cheap, quick and easy, we want it – regardless of the long term effects.
Oops, I gotta run. My kids are hungry. Gotta fire up some dead zone fish fingers and mac and cheese.