Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Review #2

Welcome back to the second part of my review Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Interesting vegetable information:

* yellow/orange/red vegetables contain carotenoids which protect against cancer.

* green/yellow plants contain phytosterols which block cholesterol absorption and inhibit tumor growth.

* blue/purple fruits contain phenols which are age defying anti-oxidants.

Some of that is not new information to me but when I correlated it with the recent information I found about the difference in levels of nutrients in organic vs conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, I can't help but think that it is really important to eat organic. Sure you can pop vitamins, but wouldn't a steady course of natural, alive nutrients be better?

According to the book, thousands of phytochemicals have not been studied or named yet. They have so many varied roles which are fine tuned fuel for our bodies. God is awesome isn't He? He created things perfectly. We messed that up in so many ways. A head of broccoli contains more than 1000 phytochemicals.

The follow is helpful in knowing what is in season when:

1. Leaves - spinach, kale, lettuce and chard (April/May)

2. Heads of leaves/flower heads - cabbage, romaine, broccoli, cauliflower (May/June)

3. tender young fruit set - snow peas, baby squash, cucumber (June)

4. green beans, green peppers, sm tomatoes (July)

5. mature, colorfully ripened fruit - beefsteak tomatoes, eggplants, red and yellow peppers (late July/August)

6. large hard shelled fruit with developed seeds inside - cantaloupes, honeydew, watermelon, pumpkins, winter squash (August- September)

7. root crops

This fits under the WHAT? category: We export 1.1 million tons of potatoes each year. We import 1.4 million tons of potatoes each year.

Transporting 1 calorie of perishable fresh fruit from California to New York takes 87 calories worth of fuel.

I don't want to go off the deep end and be reactionary, but the statistics are a bit alarming and I am surprised that I never really gave a lot of thought to my food getting to my table before. As Christians I think we have some responsibility to be good stewards of what we have. And I think that applies both to what goes into the body God gave us and to the resources like oil that we are using from this earth.

In recent years, I think what has been alarming to me is meat. First, we have noticed that regular hamburger puchased from the store has very little flavor, no matter what the fat content. We were really surprised to find a big difference in our grass fed beef! We have had the same experience with our chicken.

Having worked in pediatrics during the 1990s when there was the big ecoli break out after eating Jack in the Box hamburgers I have been very cautious with meats in general, raw meats in particular. One of the patients at our clinic died after eating at the Jack in the Box down the road from my house. It is a horrible way to die. And he wasn't the only one. My step Mom loves to eat raw hamburger, she has done it all her life, though now that she is in a nursing home, I doubt that she has been allowed to continue. A lot of people think it is ridiculous, stating "I've eaten rare meat all my life." But people don't realize what a difference there is in what is in our grocery store now compared to even twenty years ago.

Kingsolver touched on that in her book. Animals who are raised for the market are generally raised at CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). Animals are packed in tightly standing in their own excrement and some never see the light of day or breathe fresh air. Okay, I am not a "tree hugger" and I'm not vegetarian, but it makes me sick to think of what happens to these animals. Besides the poor treatment of the animals and crowding, there is increased pollution from the excrement. CAFO animals create 16x the fecal content of people each year, waste that needs to be dealt with. Whereas, pasture fed animals distribute their waste over the land, adding nutrients back into the soil, building it back up. The third adverse effect is that because of the crowding, the animals are stressed, weak and sickly and so they are fed with antibiotics. There was a time when no farmer worth his salt would have butchered sick animals for food. Today about 75% of antibiotics used in the United States are used for CAFO animals. That is a huge amount. That leaves 25% to be distributed between domestic animals, small farms and people. Still with this high usage, testing shows that 70% of supermarket chicken has campylobacter or salmonella. The high use of antibiotics is just producing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

And she didn't even cover the usage of hormones in meat production animals! This is what initially started our natural meat purchasing because we have two young daughters and a son that we are concerned about. Children are entering puberty sooner and sooner. In my parents' generation it would not be unusual for a girl to begin menstruating as late as 14-16 years of age. In my children's generation it is not entirely unusual to begin at 7 or 8! Isn't there something wrong with that?

I know that most of you, if you have even read this far, might be tuning out about now. It used to be that information like this was shared by people who lived in school busses with many other people! lol But, I think now that we have been sleeping on the job and a great number of things have been happening which directly effect our food, our health, our children's futures. I am still absorbing some of this information. I do live in the real world. I do know how difficult some of these changes are to impliment and how unpractical they seem. But they are important. There isn't a single one of us, when given the chance would say, "Here Johnny, it's time for your cancer inducing chemicals, come to the kitchen!"

So, in part three, I want to discuss ways that we can implement this knowledge into our daily life.


Danielle said...

Tuning out? NO! I hope that you get many, many people thinking better. I agree with all that you've said and more. I'm not always the greatest at eating the way that I know that I should, but I've read much of what you've stated here several times over. Thanks for the great reminder!

Holly said...

I know! I nearly fell over when I read about turkeys! I made my dh read it, too. He was appalled. I'm already purchasing our milk from a good local dairy, I guess next up is finding a poultry farm. :~)

Charlotte said...

Good to read your summary and thoughts! I agree we as Christians need to think about these things...I'm so glad you are sharing this here on your blog.