Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What You See is NOT What You Eat

        Can one keep track of everything that is in one's food anymore? Not even if you are eating  a green salad or drinking a cup of home made coffee, unless of course every single ingredient is home grown. No doubt my post is late, and a few of you may wonder  why I am talking of dead and decayed news and yet...I want to share my opinions on two new shockers for me for this week. And this is not only about vegetarianism.
        Life for a vegetarian in the US is much harder than most people imagine or would like to imagine. When I first became conscious of this fact, it was mostly cheese that I began to avoid. Most manufacturers use rennet to culture cheese, and are not required to put that on their labels.(some people are kind enough to specify either way). Of course, it is almost impossible to get a knowledgeable answer from any restaurant about the culturing of the cheese in their dishes.Meanwhile I was also keeping away from all possibly gelatin infused foods.
       While I knew about GM foods, it was only  a year back  that my disillusion that they'd be labeled or that they were not yet almost the only thing available in the market ended. I was horrified. It undoubtedly seems to be the only way forward to meet the growing demands for produce. It ensures quantity and "quality". The quality is assured only because the scientific theories on why they may have adverse effects on the human immune system are not established. But knowing FDA's history, that really does not mean much. However, what horrified me was the fact that we are modifying the DNAs of plants which nature gave us so much without realizing that this is irreversible. Few years from now, natural food will be extinct. The genes are gone...irretrievably. It was then that I switched to Organic food .(not just for the non-pesticide use like most Organic believers)
       About the same time, I also started buying a brand of sugar that labeled the sugar as vegan. Uncharacteristically, I never tried to find out why..after all, sugar is definitely a plant product. Only 2 days back, when I was asking my grocery store worker if xanthum gum was vegan, she was sure that it was and added that there were no uncertainties like with sugar. I was speechless..I came home to verify her information on the net, and indeed...most cane sugar manufacturers filter their molasses and discolor the sugar with filters made from animal bones,including popular brands like Domino. My mind was reeling...there was no way one can even keep track of sugar! I comfort myself that producers claim that it is just bone char, and guarantee that none of it is mixed with the sugar itself. A lot like the silver coating on Indian sweets...I think to myself.
        The last straw that actually pushed me to write all of this was my new found knowledge that 3 years back, FDA approved irradiation of lettuce and spinach, and all other produce in later future before they hit the markets. Once again, there was no need to label them (as it would confuse consumers) and they vetoed even voices from their science labs about all the potential hazards. The move came when a few people died of e.coli poisoning in the greens in 2006. Although irradiation will destroy e.coli and salmonella, it will also destroy essential nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin A, B-Complex, and C. Also of concern is the fact that these foods may appear to be fresh on the outside after a few days but in reality may be spoiled and bad  with nothing to indicate that.Even strong proponents of irradiation acknowledge that irradiation is by no means a preventive measure, it can only kill the bacteria after they manifest themselves in the produce, and hence it is not really a solution!
        I honestly do not know the solution to avoid technology polluting every morsel of my food, nevertheless I hate this artificializing of all of nature.


Arvind said...

Well , we all hate when we come to know how technology is polluting our environment and these days no one could ever tell about the items sold in the market.

All we can do is just hope for the best and use only well known packed products

. R.A.J.A . said...

Ditto, as Arvind has said.
We try to make semi-informed guesses, and then hope for the best.

Well written.

Mohan said...

Aren't these the times we think to go back to stone age? The more we meddle with nature that much more we got to prepare for its consequences. No wonder technology is taking us into the joy of a new lifestyle, but that too comes at a cost of irreversible ecosystem.

Lakshmipriya said...

You are right Mohan. Your comment will tie in with my previous post on how uninhabitable technology will make earth in few hundred years...that we will have to discard this planet,and start all over again from scratch.