Every since I can remember there have been commercials. As a matter of fact I don’t think I ever remember there being a time when there was not a commercial on TV.
There are commercials for everything: new cars, restaurants, a cute little lizard selling insurance, a handsome man in the prime of his life with erectile dysfunction, and of course the food commercials. If you really think about it, most of the commercials today are either for food or the latest legal drug available for whatever ails you. So much money is spent with the purpose of getting your dollar. At first you might think what’s the big deal, our lives today are busy and complicated why does it matter whether we are eating fast food or a pre-packaged meal that we heat up in the microwave? Besides, the commercials can be quite entertaining.
But somewhere along the line between winning a war and landing a man on the moon we changed the way we live our lives. When life was a little simpler we grew our own food, we cooked our meals on a stove, grew vegetables, and in some instances we actually butchered our own meat. We knew what was in our food because we grew it, canned it, and actually cooked it.
When we were in charge of how we obtained our food we were a healthier and more aware people. This all changed with the invention of TV, information came directly into our living rooms and the possibility of an “easier” way to live flooded our imagination. We were presented with images of life outside of the kitchen and out of the fields. This new way to live slowly but surely became our focus and over time we were distracted by the possibility of an easy and different life. This new information was like a drug that created a change in our focus which ultimately lead us to lose sight of the importance of pure whole food. Society as a whole became seduced by the marketing and ease of synthetic pretty packages that were dirt free. We forfeited good greens for vegetables cooked in under a minute in the microwave.
Our food supply today is no longer about feeding people but rather about who can make the biggest profit, produce the largest amount of stuff, and fill the most amount of shelf space in a grocery store.
The actual fortification of foods started in 1924 with iodized salt.
What have been the costs along the way and how have we changed as a society? One area of food production that has had its corners cut is in the practice of crop rotation. In an effort to grow more, faster most of the farming today is done on the same area of land year after year eventually depleting the soil of all its nutrients and ultimately creating a nutrient depleted product.1 As a result you have a food that has no dietary value. The food industry’s answer is to add chemical versions of what used to be naturally occurring in the soil and to fortify foods lacking in the essential minerals and nutrients so that according to a scientific view the carrot that is grown in a stripped soil still has all of the properties necessary to nourish your body the same way it did when grown traditionally.
The actual fortification of foods started in 1924 with iodized salt. Lack of iodine caused goiters, and as a result of iodine fortification, goiters fell from 38.6% to 9% and by 1930 iodine deficiency was virtually eliminated as a serious public health problem. 2
In 1941 President Roosevelt called for a national Nutrition Conference for Defense to battle the issue of malnutrition and the fear of involvement in a war. The results of this nutrition conference was the establishment of recommended daily allowances or RDA of nutrients and the requirement that foods be fortified to meet these standards.2 These laws and requirements along with the perceived need to grow food fast opened the door to a whole new way to manufacture food.
“Is food a legal drug?”
With all of this in mind it starts to paint a picture of where we are today. Other than oxygen and water, our food is the one vital source we need to survive. It is the one thing we can control but have no control over. The food industry is a big business and they have invested billions in the science of their business. They know that without food you cannot live and they know if they create the “perfect” food they will have a repeat customer. This “perfect” food along with the bombardment of commercials influencing your brain creates the perfect addiction. According to Dr. Paul Kenny, a neuroscientist at Florida’s Scripps Research Institute, diets in high fat and high sugar can create an uncontrollable behavior in eating habits that mimics the same behavior found in heroin addicts. This junk food addiction creates the desire for more until you lose control. 3
When you ask the question, “Is food a legal drug?” you really have to think before you answer. On one hand, is something necessary to maintain life a drug? My first response is “no”. If I require it to live it is not a drug, it is a necessity like oxygen. However when I take a moment and think about all of the manipulation of that required substance then I have to change the way I view that substance, once known simply as food, and realize that it is the altered form of food that creates an addiction or addictive response and that is the drug.
As a society have we given our power away and succumbed to the necessary drug? On many levels I say “yes” and after decades of burying our heads in the sand, getting fatter and fatter and sicker and sicker when are we going to stop the madness and wake up? I guess I’m expecting too much from a society of people who can explore the deepest regions of space, discover bacteria communication called quorum sensing, and yet still hold firm to the belief that pork is the other white meat.
1Kage, B. (2006, November 13). Mineral depletion of soils results in higher acrylamide content of foods. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/021053.html
2Backstrand, J.R. (2002). The history of future of food fortification in the united states: a public health perspective. Nutrition Reviews, 60(1), 15-26.
3Kenny, P. (2009, October 28). Junk food as ‘addictive as drugs’. Retrieved from
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