Taking Personal Responsibility
Category : About Food Sources
America’s primary food production systems have serious problems, not the least of which is deep dependence on petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers–most of these are petroleum based. Then there’s genetically modified food (GMOs), hormones, antibiotics, additives–the list goes on and on.
In my opinion, this has happened primarily because we have allowed the sources of our food to become invisible. We don’t know where our food is grown, who grew it, how it was grown, what chemicals have been used in producing it, and so on. We have left those kinds of choices to “them”–inadequately funded government agencies, mega-corporations driven more by profit than concerns for consumer health, and so on. By and large, we’ve abdicated responsibility and accepted whatever we’ve been given–as long as it’s easy.
We’re beginning to learn the consequences of that approach. Obesity, allergies, and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions. Chemicals commonly used in food production and processing have been implicated as carcinogens, and have been associated with hormonal and growth abnormalities in children. Now “they” are starting to modify the very DNA in our food, creating genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
GMOs are in nearly everything you find in the average grocery store, especially processed foods. According to Dr. Jean Layton, local naturopathic physician, we won’t know the full effects of GMOs for at least a generation. It is our offspring who will bear the brunt of the consequences. Biologist David Schubert of the Salk Institute agrees. He warns that “children are the most likely to be adversely affected by toxins and other dietary problems” related to GM foods. Without adequate studies, he says, our children become “the experimental animals.”
Some consequences are already being identified. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) released a call to physicians to “educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods.” AAEM stated, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They concluded, “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation,” as defined by recognized scientific criteria.
Yet “they” (in this case, Congress and the people who are paid to lobby them) refuse to require labelling of GMO products. In the US, at present, it is nearly impossible to avoid GMOs. Even farmers who try to avoid GMO seeds have no way to know for sure if the seeds they purchase are free of GMOs or not, since GMO seeds can spread into neighboring fields and crossbreed with non-GMO species. One farmer in Canada, an outspoken opponent of GMOs, was actually sued successfully by Monsanto for having GMO plants growing in his fields as a result of seed spills from trucks passing on an adjacent highway. Monsanto said he was violating their ownership rights by having the plants in his field since he hadn’t purchased the seeds.
What can we do, besides let our members of Congress and the US Senate know we think it’s outrageous that GMO products don’t have to be labelled? My solution was to start transitioning to locavorism. Becoming a locavore (a person who eats only locally produced food as much as possible) involves choosing to take back personal responsibility for the food you eat.
Now I seek out farmers who make an honest effort to avoid GMO seeds. I seek out farmers who use organic growing methods which are not based on petroleum products.
I get to know the people who raise my food, and I ask them what–from their point of view–most needs to be changed to improve our food production systems. The issues vary–antiquated state water laws, the high cost of becoming certified organic, and so on. I listen to why their issues cause them problems, and then I actively seek out ways to get them the changes they need. I write letters to government officials, I talk to others to spread the word, and I take advantage of opportunities to get educated about what’s involved.
Farmers who produce the vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy and other local foods my family and I eat support my life in the most fundamental way. The least I can do is support them in return by helping to eliminate the obstacles they face. It’s part of taking personal responsibility.