“The less you know, the better.” American citizens can refer to these words whenever they start to wonder how some foods are made. Take bologna for example. This food item is processed liquid mystery meat that is left to be injected into the processed gastrointestinal tracts of a random animal, also known as meat casings, until it is hardened enough to “enjoy.” Few people would like to know how it’s made and you might be trying to forget that mental image that has just been engraved into your brain. Unfortunately, this is the lighter side of the American food industry.
The industry has evolved from the days where cattle actually grazed on grass and where farmers made money from their products other than the government subsidized corn that we eat in just about everything. Today, many cattle are forced to eat strictly corn and hormones. Sometimes all of this happens to animals and they might not be able to see the light of day before their deaths. Many animals are placed indoors for their entire lives, according to the documentary, “Food Inc.”
Chickens, the delicious meat that many Americans enjoy, are treated just as poorly. At birth, the chicks are injected with a rapid growth hormone to help expedite their development. After injection, the chicks are given to “farmers” who house the chickens in closed air environments. Some chickens are unable to move more than a few feet in their lives. After their horrible lives, they are then thrown into a truck and transferred into a processing plant, such as Tyson Foods, Inc. In some of those plants, over 100,000 chickens are slaughtered daily. This data was recorded by an undercover investigator for PETA, also known as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Some people do not care for the way the animals are killed. But many people care about what food can do to them. The corn industry has skyrocketed since the mass production of high fructose corn syrup, an artificial sweetener used in thousands of different food products. This includes the use of this sweetener in soups, snack bars, peanut butter, bread, frozen pancakes, cereals, yogurts, sodas, energy drinks, and many more food items. High fructose corn syrup, according to many studies from labs around the world, contributes to obesity, cardiovascular and liver disease, and diabetes.
Some may argue that people can become diabetic after eating excessive amounts of regular table sugar and that “high fructose corn syrup is okay in moderation.” Those statements are true, however, an increased rate in diabetes may be due to the fact that high fructose corn syrup is almost unavoidable in today’s food industry. A study has been conducted by the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, or IATP, to prove that mercury, a deadly neurotoxin, has been found in 17 of their 55 high fructose corn syrup samples. Also, included in the process of making high fructose corn syrup is the use of sulfuric acid, also known as battery acid.
Corn is found so commonly in food, a hair sample was taken from the main hosts from the movie “King Corn”, and a result from a laboratory said that corn DNA was found in the hair. “You are what you eat,” may be very true.
The food companies of today try to mask the truth of the harsh actions that are taken in the market. By having company logos that show a farmer on an open field, many Americans assume that the food product is safe and will buy the product. There are not many products sold where the farmers own open fields.
Polyface Farms, a farm located near the Shenandoah Valley, has tested the nation’s grocery store meat to see how “safe” the food is. The farm owner, Joel Salatin, got college students to run a bacterial swab test on his open-air chicken meat, and compared that to grocery store meat. What was found was incredible. Shockingly, twenty-five times more bacteria were found on the grocery store, non-organic meat, than Polyface’s.
On February first, McDonalds announced that they would stop using their meat that was washed with ammonia, the main ingredient in Windex, to kill bacteria like e-coli. This was a method practiced for years to reduce bacteria count of the meat.
If you are curious about how you can avoid eating these potentially hazardous food products consider reading your labels. Keep away from ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Look for USDA, also known as the United States Department of Agriculture, certified organic food products to avoid antibiotics and other bad ingredients. Instead of going to a major grocery chain, go to a local farmers market. Not only do you have a better chance at getting healthier food items, but you will also be supporting small businesses and boosting the local economy.