If you asked Joe Sixpack to list off the most nutritionally damaging aspects of our nation’s food system he’d probably name off fast food, too much fat, drinking beer, overeating, and not exercising enough.  If you asked the average Upscale Shopper Betty, she would blame agricultural chemicals, hydrogenated oils, hormones, antibiotics, fast food, red meats, too much fat, eating too much, not enough fruits and veggies in the diet, and not exercising enough.

For the most part both consumer groups miss the mark in their beliefs about what is good food and bad food and the reasons why contracting chronic disease these days is “normal.”  That’s why both consumer groups are incurring the same long list of chronic diseases at the same rate.  [Yes, hydrogenated oils (trans fats) are destructive preservatives that are added to many processed foods and they have been recognized as such even by the main stream.]

For starters, let’s give the fast food companies a slight break.  Fast food is not always bad food.  For instance there are salads?  Salads are fast and nutritious and many fast food joints sell salads.  How about a grass-fed ground beef patti, a simple salad, and a veggie for a hearty lunch?  This simple meal can be prepared quickly and served in mass.  Of course it would be a rare offering in America – even in homes.  So, by and large, the bulk of our nation’s Fast Food is about the same as the everyday fare most Americans indulge in at home.  So fast food in and of itself is not the culprit it’s simply the basic type of concocted foods people eat that is the problem.

Food Safety

When it comes to food safety, in other words contaminants, just about every food borne illness has an organic source.  Yes, that’s right.  The most prevalent organic sources are bacteria, viruses, molds, and fungi and they are all as natural as rain.  They account for nearly all of the food borne illnesses.  When it comes to toxins there are many scientific studies reporting on how our nation’s foods are loaded with mycotoxins – not sourced from agricultural chemicals but from fungal contamination.

Here are two links for a glimpse at reports on mycotoxins in foods:

  1. Mycotoxins and Food Supply
  2. Toxigenic Fungi and Mycotoxins

Yes, every form of contamination in foods we eat, water we drink, air we breath, and objects and soils we come in contact with should be avoided or at least minimized when possible.  But there is no such thing as a contaminant free environment.  And that goes for manmade and/or natural chemical contaminants of which there are more than one can count.  That’s why all animal bodies are capable of thriving even with a broad spectrum of contaminations within the body.  If animal bodies could not tolerate modest levels of foreign contaminants, no animal would have survived because there is virtually an unlimited number of 100% natural chemical contaminants in the environment along with those that man concocts.  And just because contaminants are natural, that doesn’t mean they are safe by any means.  Many natural contaminants are far worse than manmade contaminants.  That’s why it’s not a given that so-called “organic” foods are better foods.  It all depends on the contaminate and the dosage.

Firecrackers vs Atomic Bombs

The dangers from contaminants – natural and manmade – are relatively insignificant compared to the real dangers created by the atomic bomb of our food system.  In fact, I tell folks that the common concerns expressed by Joe Sixpack and Upscale Shopper Betty are "Lady Finger Firecrackers" compared to the atomic bomb – and the atomic bomb is GRAIN!  It is the grain in our food system that people should fear most!  It doesn’t matter if grain is milled grain, whole grain, GMO grain, nonGMO grain, organic grain, conventional grain, or grain grown in a bubble – grain is grain.

Grain only exists as a food staple because of man’s intervention in the nature.  Grain is very seasonal.  It’s a seed head of an annual grass plant.  Annual grass plants sprout from seed once a year, grow for a few months, mature, then die.  Therefore their seeds (grain) are produced only once a year and are available for harvest for only a few weeks at best.  For instance, a corn plant (a grass) produces at most two ears of seed only once.  Then the plant dies and not until the following year will the seeds that fell to the ground sprout and continue the cycle.  So how can corn be a food source twelve months a year without man being involved?  It’s impossible.  The same goes for wheat, rye, rice, oats, barley, etc.

Consequently, grain is a foreign food for all animal life because prior to man’s invention of grain farming it was not available in abundance even for short periods of time.  The reason it can't be found in abundance is because it's the green leaf which is the foundation food for all animal life.  The seeds are merely the means by which green plants propagate.  Therefore for all of time animals of all kinds have eaten grasses, leaves of trees, bushes, and forbs, and/or other animals that follow the green leaf food chain.  All of the green plant sourced foods are available in one form or another throughout the year.  But what about the seeds?  Well, when animals graze grass plants they eat most of the immature green shoots plants produce that eventually become the stalks that produce the seeds.  They do not wait around for cured seeds.

For instance, let’s take a look at a field of wheat grass as it would be in a wild state.  Shortly after the grasses emerge from seeds laid down the previous year, animals periodically come by and graze on their lush green leaves.  By the time the wheat plants mature and die very few of them will have actually produced seeds.  Consequently the seed heads are scattered around here and there in a field of what now has become a new crop of grass of a different species.  So the animals keep grazing the green leaves of the new grasses while ignoring the few standing wheat stalks waving in the breeze with their crowns of seeds.  Eventually the seeds drop to the ground and are no longer visible.  For man to harvest the seed before the seeds drop he would have to cover a considerable area and then he’d only end up with maybe a handful of seeds.  That would only happen once a year, much like gathering a wild persimmon “crop.”

For literally millions of years that was the way it was.  Animals ate green leaves and each other.  They did not eat grain.  Consequently, since the chemical makeup of the green leaf differs significantly from that of a seed, animal bodies developed around a nutrient stream that was based exclusively on the nutrients found in green leaves.  Interestingly, green leaves are a perfect food source because they can be grazed over and over again and they keep growing back.  Therefore green leaves are a sustainable food source unlike seeds.

Today, as for all of time, all animal bodies are designed to function best with a very specific nutrient stream which is absolutely no more or no less than what is available naturally based on the green plant world.  So, when animals (including man) eat grain [corn, oats, barley, wheat (whole or milled), rice (brown or white), rye, etc.], and other concocted foods, that skews their source of nutrients (including the essential fatty acids in the membranes of all cells) so much that over time their bodies fail in various ways.  The failures are called chronic disease and these diseases run the full gamut of both physical and mental illnesses.

Man Changed His Food

After man invented grain farming 10,000 years ago, grain gained an ever increasing role in his food intake.  Grain was then and still is today regarded as a miracle food.  It is easy to produce (cheap), portable, easy to store, easy to prepare, and it can be tasty.  As man turned to farming he started to live in permanent settlements.  This permitted him to grow even more crops.  For the most part no one really noticed that the more any society stayed put and relied on grain over those thousands of years, the more chronic diseases the people had.  Fortunately, most of the people in the grain producing societies during the past 10,000 years also lived close to nature.  Therefore they supplemented their diets with meats from animals never fed grain and with vegetables and fruit.  Even up through the 1950s here in the United States, although it was on the decline, people for the most part lived in rural settings where they had gardens, fruit trees, and some pastured livestock meat and dairy products therefore grain and grain-based foods were not the mainstay of their diet.  But in the past 50 years we’ve seen grain, grain-based foods and drinks, and grain-fed livestock products become the dominate foods.  See Big Nutritional Changes in Recent History.

The old USDA Food Pyramid suggesting that grain was the foundation food for optimal health with its seven to eleven servings a day, followed by a smaller number of servings of veggies and fruit, followed by even smaller servings of meat and dairy products was a disaster.  Based on that Pyramid grain, grain-based foods and drinks, and grain-fed livestock products became the norm.  By the year 2000 the percentage of grain in the American diet totally overwhelmed the small contribution that came from veggies and fruits.  The result of these changes in the food mix was an acceleration in incidences of chronic disease to a point where obesity became the norm and other body failings became signs of approaching “maturity” rather than indications something was drastically wrong.

Some of the more "popular" diseases are obesity, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, lupus, mental disorders of all kinds, Crohn’s disease, Osteoporosis, early maturity in children – and the list goes on and on.  (Everyone in the livestock business knows that you can make animals mature earlier by feeding grain.  Humans are part of the animal kingdom.)

Even the medical community has assumed incorrectly that genetics is the primary culprit for body failures and health problems are merely exacerbated by the same concerns as listed above by Joe Sixpack.  In other words, bodies were designed to fail depending on family histories even when eating correctly (following the dietary suggestions of the USDA Food Pyramid)!  This is still common knowledge because it appears to be correct.  But it makes no sense whatsoever.  How could it be possible that after four million years of survival of the fittest man's body is "prone" to fail?  Why can't people understand that it's the Food Pyramid and the composition of the food in it that is the problem?  If that fact was universally accepted, then it would not be a given that bodies will fail, but that by abusing the body with an improper diet it will be prone to fail along historical lines within a family's background.

Back in the 1980s researchers like Artemis Simopoulos, M.D. ran up the warning flags about grain.  (See some of her published works with links located on our Science Links Web page.)  It was then when people first started hearing about Omega-3 Fatty Acids.  Right, the only reason you hear about Omega-3 Fatty Acids today is because researchers discovered that grain is deficient in that essential fatty acid which is so critical for optimal body function.

Therefore grain is the atomic bomb of the American food system and so far the only response by our government has been the restructuring of the Food Pyramid putting grain on the side with equal footing with veggies, fruits, and meats.  It would not be practical for the USDA to come out and condemn grain outright.  If it did, there would not be enough proper food to go around.  Currently, the American food system feeds 300,000,000 people three meals a day.  Most of the food is grain, grain-based, and grain-fed livestock products.  There is no way a production system this size can turn around over night.  Therefore it will take decades before it becomes common knowledge amongst the masses that their health will be optimized when grain is no longer in their diet.

You Have a Choice

Unlike the multitude you have a choice.  You know the facts now and you can easily take steps to assure that you and your loved ones can optimize their physical and mental health.  All it takes is will power and the discipline to refuse to follow the masses in their lemming like drive over the cliff.  Yes, many people will refuse to change their ways.  They will insist on consuming grain, grain-based foods and drinks, grain-fed livestock, and high glycemic foods (sugars).  They want the same sensory and social pleasures they have always had and will continue on that path no matter the consequences.  This irresponsible behavior cannot be stopped in most cases.  I suppose it’s like dealing with addicts.  Addicts usually continue on their hell bent paths no matter what until they land in the gutter.  And even then, many will not stop.  That’s just human nature.

Consequently the massive grain-based food system will continue to wrought its destruction on Americans for decades to come as the people blame inconsequential factors that won’t even amount to a Lady Finger firecracker compared to the food system’s real atomic bomb – which is grain.  The beat goes on.

Ted Slanker
October 22, 2008