What are They Doing to our Food?

Jun 17, 2013 by

Normally I dash off a post. I spent a bit of time on this one. So please read it, digest it and if you think it’s relevant please share it.

What the hell is being done to our food?

First off milk.

Back in the dark and distant past, before they had an understanding about producing food for consumption under hygienic conditions, there were problems with spoilage and illness.

The wine industry also had a problem with wine going “off”. Louis Pasteur was commissioned to study spoilage in the industry and devised a method of heating the wine to a temperature which killed or delayed the spoilage organisms present. Same method was applied to milk. Problem solved. Or so they thought…..

Problem was that by heating the milk they changed the nature of it. Pasteurisation killed the microbes which cause tuberculosis, brucellosis etc. but it also destroyed the benevolent microbes. These are the little power houses which help you digest the milk and promote the uptake of calcium present. Heating the milk also destroyed the enzymes which help us humans to digest the milk sugar – lactose. So now lots of people developed lactose intolerance.

The inescapable fact (incidentally backed up by lots of research) is that if a healthy dairy herd are milked in a clean dairy and the milk is rapidly refrigerated, there is minimal risk to health. In fact for years on every dairy farm in Ireland, people drank their own unpasteurised milk.

I’m not advising people race off and buy raw milk and anyway even if you wanted to, you probably couldn’t. But if I had problems with lactose intolerance, I would be inclined to give it a go.

Second fruit and vegetables.

I know people who only buy organic and refuse to accept that a packet of broccoli wrapped in cling film and imported from god-knows-where, has to be better than locally grown.

Organic does not necessarily mean clean.  It depends under what label organic certification is. In some countries they can claim their produce is organic, only having registered three days before harvest, whilst up to this they had been spraying willy nilly. In Ireland certification is IOFGA or Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association. In the UK it is the Soil Association.

If you buy local seasonal produce you are more likely to get produce which has had minimal intervention. Pesticides and insecticides all cost money and a grower will try to minimise expenditure if at all possible. When produce is grown out of season and has to be transported long distances, this is where you need to be more wary.

A few years ago I tried to get information from both the Department of Agriculture and from the then Bord Glas about what level of residue testing they routinely carried out on imported produce from non-EU countries. Suffice it to say I would be there still trying to get it. But what I did glean was that there was very little carried out as they did not have funding or personnel for it.

Thirdly Meat.

By meat, I mean beef, lamb, pork, bacon and poultry.

Luckily in our wet, windswept little island of what seems like permanent winter we can grow plentiful grass. Dairy and beef cattle spend at least half the year outdoors eating grass. Sheep probably all year.  This means that our beef and lamb is grass fed.  However, supplemental feed is for the most part GM. (unless once again certified organic).

I have done enough ranting in the past about feeding animals genetically modified cereals. However, recently a study was published about the effects such cereals appear to have had on pigs’ stomachs.

Studies have shown that pigs suffer from very similar genetic and protein malfunctions that account for disorders in humans. Personally, I find the fact this study found such levels of inflammation worrying, if we are as similar to pigs as scientists believe. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. But one thing I will say, is that if I knew as much when my children were small as I do now, I would have done things very differently.

Poultry and pork are entirely fed on GM cereals (again unless organic, but how often do you see same for sale?) 

In so many ways, even if you want to make changes to your diet, you are prevented at every step. Our food board, Bord Bia to my mind are not doing much to help. Instead of promoting Ireland as a clean, green, GM-free zone they are just playing lip service. The floaty, whispy Origin Green video says a lot about sustainability. But surely sustainability should include a commitment to ban GM?

We have so much potential to produce amazing food and to become the green flag carrier for other European countries and the world, but only if we have a collective will to do so. I genuinely am at a loss as to why we are not or are not at least trying to.

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  1. I think you may be right. But what if the export led market really expanded because our meat and dairy was seen as clean? I think we are missing a huge opportunity.

  2. Another well researched and well written post on this subject, Maggie. I feel that when "organic" is mentioned in this country, it is perceived as being twice as expensive. Penny for penny, and in terms of animal welfare, it certainly is not, considering the amount of work that goes in to rearing an animal/animals for the market, or for your own use. I think the "powers that be" feel there could be a collapse in the factory produced meat market if the majority of customers turned their attention to buying organic or truly free-range meat/poultry,

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