At least if we follow their diet.
THE GOVERNMENT AND GRAINS
Government subsidized grains, such as corn, have come to represent cheap calories. Overproduction and stockpiling by farmers and agri-businesses seeking maximum subsidy payments, despite the efforts of price supports, have sufficiently lowered price. Cheap, readily available grains have led to the proliferation of the food-processing industry and inclusion of grains in virtually every item on super market shelves.
The most potent offender in this category is high fructose corn syrup. The USDA began paying farmers to grow as much corn as possible a generation ago, and cheap corn led to the development of the corn processing industry. High fructose corn syrup is sugar, a nutrient with a daily requirement of zero, and yet has become the backbone of the American diet. Is it a coincidence that the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Policy Guidelines for Americans states that in the 1970’s, when corn processing was in its infancy, 15% of Americans were obese whereas in 2008 34% were obese? I think not.
The genetically modified corn of today hardly resembles the wild grass it once was. Genetically designed to resist harmful pesticides, the overproduction of this starchy grain has destroyed the nutritional content of the majority of the nation’s animal protein sources that our ancestors thrived on. Animal feed has come to consist predominantly of corn in addition to a slew of other grains, growth hormones, antibiotics, and at times pieces of other animals.
Much like humans, animals did not evolve to eat grains, and the quality of our nation’s meat supply has declined due to their un-natural feed. Grain-fed animals get sick easily, and antibiotics are a necessary addition to their feed to keep them alive, while making their way into our bodies and the ground. Michael Pollan’s article Power Steer cites a study in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that “found that the meat of grass-fed livestock not only had substantially less fat than grain-fed meat but the type of fats found in grass-fed meat were much healthier”. This is because grass fed animals sport higher levels of CLA, which is believed to have cancer-fighting properties, an ideal 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, has no need for daily antibiotics, no run-ins with toxic fertilizers or genetically modified grains, and a much lower incidence of E-coli. Just as humans have not evolved to eat grains, we have not evolved to consume grain-fed animal products. The availability of cheap grain has changed the way we raise animals, degraded our land, endangered our nation’s meat supply, and is a contributing factor to a host of inflammatory diseases with their roots in a skewed ratio of Omega fatty acids.
The USDA Dietary Policy is riddled with offenses to our nation’s health. The policy guide criminalizes dietary cholesterol advocating a diet consisting of less than 300 mg per day. The reality is that our livers have evolved to produce up to 1,400 mg of this essential lipid, down regulating production based on dietary intake. Cholesterol is an essential part of every cell in our bodies. Studies confirm that there is no strong correlation between dietary cholesterol and high levels of blood cholesterol.
Although cholesterol is commonly pointed at as the culprit of heart disease, it is not the true cause of heart disease. Inflammation from consumption of carbohydrates and sugars is the cause of heart disease, not the consumption of fats or cholesterol. The Framingham Heart Study has studied individuals since the 1950’s and has concluded that cholesterol is misleading as a main contributor to heart disease.
Studies of cultures such as the Masai and Inuit, whose diets consist of meat and high-blubber animals while boasting excellent cardiovascular health, confirm this fact.
Despite this fact, the USDA’s new version of the food pyramid tagged “MyPlate” blatantly disregards our evolutionary diet. Their over-simplified depiction of the proper diet blindly recommends fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy with no regard for what foods comprise those choices. The inclusion of grains as part of the recommended diet is an inflammatory atrocity. Vegetables should be nutrient dense choices from organic sources to avoid harmful pesticides from toxifying our bodies. Contemporary fruits are bred for sugar content in degraded soil; seasonal, local fruits, especially organic berries are best. Protein sources should be clean, grass-fed animal sources and high fat fish for ample sources of protein and quality fats. And what about the exclusion of fats? Fat is the body’s preferred source of energy, and good fats from a variety of sources such as nuts, avocados, fish, and eggs should comprise the majority of caloric intake. Inflammation of the body and oxidation are combated with a diet rich in anti-oxidants found in vegetables, fruits, wine, and even dark chocolate.
FREE MARKET FARMING
In a free market there is no incentive for farmers to distort the supply of crops as there currently is due to subsidy payments. Farmer’s do not feel the effects of oversupply because their income off of crops like corn comes from the subsidy payments, which guarantee a certain price. Government incentives encourage farmer’s to grow crops regardless of market demand, which resulted in companies taking advantage of these stockpiled commodities. In the end, it is the American taxpayer who looses on many levels; increased taxes to finance subsidy payments, increased prices at the supermarket due to price supports and protectionist tariffs, proliferation of processed foods made from stockpiled supplies of highly subsidized grains un-natural to the human diet, and in turn an increase in the nation’s incidence of obesity, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases.
Current agricultural policy promotes the overproduction of grains, which are un-natural for humans and animals alike. This has putrefied our food supply through the creation of processed foods containing modifications of grains like corn, and robbed meat of its proper levels of healthy nutrients and fats. This would not be the case if the government did not incentivize farmers, food producers, and consumers to seek out cheap calories from un-natural grain sources. Combined with USDA dietary guidelines that stray from our evolutionary background these policies have promoted obesity in America, robbed taxpayers of trillions of dollars, and increased the incidence of chronic disease.
What we eat should be a choice; dictated by the free market of consumers and supplied by farmers and food producers who will accurately fulfill demand to maximize profits, not influenced by government incentives. Instead of paying farmers to grow foods that make us sick and fat, why not let them choose what to grow? Over 2,000 years ago Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, a concept that we have lost touch with. We need agricultural reform to wean farmers off subsidies and protectionist tariffs to free our markets and level the playing field so that consumers don’t have to choose between cheap calories and their health.
I’m taking a sustainable agriculture class for this very reason. government is NEVER a solution.
Now imagine the byproduct of this all that they are feeding our pets.
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