Does Food Equal Nutrition

Are the words food and nutrition synonymous?

When we eat, are we automatically nourishing our body?

When we feed ourselves or our children or patients in the hospital, are the trillions of cells in the body being fed what they require?

Let’s take it a step further.

When animals – livestock – are fed, are they necessarily receiving nourishment?

It all depends on what the feed is. And, in the 20th Century and beyond, much of what is called food or feed nowadays is anything but.

Let’s take a gander back to the days of Grandma’s garden. Did your grandmother have one? Or Grandpa? Or Mom and Dad? Aunt or Uncle?

boy with bushel of produce
A poster of the National WWII Museum

During World War II, they called them Victory Gardens. Carrots, tomatoes, zucchini and many other crops grown in many American back yards. That wasn’t Farm-to-Table but Back-Yard-to-Table.

I remember one of my chores as a kid was to weed the vegetable garden in our back yard, near the property line and along the chain-link fence. I hated the work but learned to love the food. And there was a satisfaction knowing I helped in the process.

That was food.

That was also nearly a half-century ago and a lot has changed since then.

Now, so much of what we Americans feed ourselves and our children isn’t food. It’s chemicals mixed in with nutrient-lacking foods.

Chemicals

No matter what category of food we eat – fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, fish, water – there is a good chance we are consuming chemicals as well. And chemicals are known to increase the production of damaging free radicals in the body.

In its Food Ingredients and Colors booklet, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) lists 17 types of “food ingredients”:

  1. Preservatives
  2. Sweeteners
  3. Color Additives
  4. Flavors and Spices
  5. Flavor Enhancers
  6. Fat Replacers
  7. Nutrients
  8. Emulsifiers
  9. Stabilizers, Thickeners, Binders, and Texturizers
  10. Leavening Agents
  11. Anti-caking Agents
  12. Humectants (for moisture retention)
  13. Yeast Nutrients
  14. Dough Synthesizers and Conditioners
  15. Firming Agents
  16. Enzyme Preparations
  17. Gases

Did you catch #7 squeezed in there between all of those mystery substances? That’s food.

If that wasn’t frightening enough, many of the specific chemicals that fall into these categories are deemed by the FDA to be GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). If scientific studies and common sense were lawyers, they’d object.

Sure, red dye #8 and yellow dye #11 won’t kill you within days of ingestion but, over time, these are exactly the types of substances – chemicals – that disturb the body’s self-regulation, immune system, and DNA.

If the FDA, USDA, CDC, and other government regulatory agencies were doing such a great job, why do degenerative diseases and medicine account for 9 of the Top 10 Killers in the U.S.? With younger and younger victims?

Livestock

You might say, “Oh, I don’t (or won’t) eat stuff out of a box or bag. I choose mostly healthy food.”

The problem is, many cows, pigs, chickens, and fish are loaded with junk – through diet or otherwise – and don’t think for a minute those toxins don’t get passed on to us when we eat them or the products they help provide such as milk, cheese, and over-the-counter fish oil.

Certain bacteria can be ‘cooked out’ of meat, but antibiotics and mercury? Not so much.

Here is the abstract of one study:

“An investigation was undertaken to see if cooking or cold storage would destroy or decrease the level of biologically active antibiotic in tissues from animals given therapeutic doses of antibiotic on three occasions prior to slaughter. The effects of cooking and cold storage on the biological activity of the residues of ampicillin, chloramphenicol, oxytetracycline, streptomycin and sulphadimidine were varied; in some instances the effects were minimal, in others nil.”

grass fed cattle with ear tags
All Cows Eat Grass no longer rings true.

The use and overuse of hormones and antibiotics into the sources of our ‘food’ are causing massive health problems in the U.S., particulary with autoimmune diseases, the fastest growing class of disease in the United States.

Kids are entering puberty sooner. More and more kids are suffering from autoimmune conditions in which the body’s immune cells fail to recognize harmful invaders from healthy cells and begin to attack the healthy cells.

Antibiotic means anti body.

For our health, it’s worth the extra cost to eat only grass-fed beef and poultry that is cage-free, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free. Wild-caught fish is cleaner than farm-raised but even that doesn’t guarantee no poisons.

Plus, even when we shop smart, do our favorite restaurants? I see more and more restaurants offering clean meat on their menus, but the industry has a long way to go.

Soil Depletion

As somewhat of a gardener, I’ve learned soil requires periodic amending with organic material, such as mushroom compost or cow manure, in order replace the nutrients that prior crops have used up.

Do the farmers who grow the crops you eat and feed your family do that?

farmer's market produceIf you buy your produce at a Farmer’s Market, they probably do. At least you have the opportunity to pose the question to them.

But, what about the fruits and vegetables at the grocery or big-box stores like Target and Walmart?

This is different than buying organic or not. Organic generally means grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides. One can grow produce in soil depleted of nutrients and not spray chemicals on them and still call them ‘organic.’

The question here is about nutrition, nutrients – proteins, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants essential for survival and proper functioning of the human body.

As a kid, in the 1960s and ’70s I thought of food as nutrition.

But, today? I’m afraid the majority of stuff coming out of mass-production farming, food-tasting laboratories, and grocery store shelves is less food than conglomerates of non-food chemicals modified in color, texture, taste, and moisture to look irresistibly appetizing.

And I’m afraid these so-called ‘food’ products are destroying not only individual human lives but the human species DNA.