Food fit for human consumption; how Consumers Union has taken food manufacturers to the task to help us eat better, which may reduce healthcare costs.
Every day, the media is printing something about the high cost of healthcare in this country. If you read articles in many other countries, healthcare costs in many of the western societies who have modern-day healthcare are reporting growing healthcare costs as well.
Is it the complexity and over-specialization of healthcare, the medical advances, or perhaps the fact we are now living longer that has caused these costs to rise? Could it be something else, perhaps?
In many of the countries that have much lower healthcare costs, they simply eat better and with better foods come better health. Basically, the rule of garbage in equals garbage out when it comes to food and the ones especially in the USA who appear to be the illest, the most overweight, and the most diseased are also some of the poorest. Are they entitled to better healthcare or are we as a society getting this all wrong, and looking at the diseases as the problem rather than the symptom of what is really wrong with us as we age?
There are areas of the world where people get more exercise naturally, live lives that are more well rounded, leisurely, and are of course healthier. Spending years in the USA in high-stress jobs struggling to keep up with the cost of living has its costs, with sitting being shown to reduce our live spans.
Many Americans go to gyms hoping to make up for this time while trying to stay in shape, but eating on the run, or in restaurants which historically have had less than healthy food. Over the last 20 years, Americans have been slowly trying to eat better, demand better foods, and want to know what is in what they eat.
In countries that ate better, there are fewer diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and obesity as well. Our corporate food culture with the help of the FDA has helped lock us into fads such as fat-free this and fat-free that, yet countries that ate well such as France were overall much healthier and had lower obesity rates.
Who should we believe when even the government got it wrong and has ties to big food manufacturers who brought us bad ideas such as Fish Sticks, Fat-Free food substitutes that left us less healthy, TV dinners, GMO (s), and most recently fish that is high in mercury. You can read the history of this corporate poisoning of our food supplies in ways we cannot even imagine that have helped us have the highest healthcare costs since the result is disease, obesity, and infirmity. Read more about this history authored by Consumer Reports here.
We as Americans want to eat better, and the success of stores such as whole foods and Walmart carrying organic produce attests to this. In America, where we offer the poor Medicaid to treat the diseases from what they eat, showing that we as a society have it all wrong. The cost of treatment and the quality of life from impairment costs much more than eating better. In America, we give the poor food stamps so they can buy processed foods that are devoid of nutrition and horrible for them, instead of working harder to change the culture from one of buying and manufacturing junk to one of cooking fresh for the week, we should spend the medical money instead to reduce the cost of eating better, which may eliminate the need to things such as food stamps. We should be leading the way to develop more organic farming methods and traditions that help us eat healthier food.
It costs much less to prevent disease on the feed side, than it does on the medical side which is treated with high-cost medicine and procedures, yet does nothing to solve the problem. Prevention must be from the feed side, which can reduce obesity and diabetes as well as other nutritional disease processes, and by doing so, many metabolic syndromes can be eliminated. As a society, we have no choice but to do better with our healthcare resources, and to do that, we must make sure we all eat better which is likely the most intelligent public health policy going forward. Spending more on healthcare is a fool’s game, since as we see it, the size and cost growth, but are we really better off?
Of course, a few politicians decided to show what it was like to live off of food stamps for a couple of weeks to gain headlines, the problem of paying farmers to not grow or paying them to grow corn in Iowa to make alcohol which is not efficient in any way, instead of food for all of us is insane.
The growing abundance of organic crops has also brought to light the fact that organically grown produce is in fact nutritionally richer than non-organic food. Is more really better, since non-organic seems to have higher yields? Would we really need larger portions of the smaller portions that were better for us nutritionally?
A few years ago, while in Italy, we ate in an Italian restaurant that organically sourced its own food and grew many things in its own farm. I ordered pasta which was freshly made and delicious. The portion was a quarter of what we would have here and was a meal it itself. Perhaps less is more and the smaller yields of organic foods is indeed part of how we make the USA healthy again.
Check out this recent article by Consumers Union. They want to help us eat better and safer by helping us be smarter and better-educated eaters.
A Safer Food Future, Now
During our 80th-anniversary year, Consumer Reports is introducing a series of provocative opinion essays by leading thinkers on urgent consumer issues. We hope you’ll join the conversation with us.
By Eric Schlosser March 31, 2016
Severely obese schoolchildren, E. coli outbreaks, salmonella in ground beef, arsenic in apple juice and rice, poultry sickened by avian flu, hog farms dumping manure into rivers and streams, meatpacking workers routinely injured on the job, the cruelty of factory farm all of these problems have inspired activists to seek a variety of solutions. But the seemingly disparate problems with America’s food system have a common explanation: The handful of corporations that now dominate the system are imposing their business costs on the rest of society. And the greatest harm is being suffered by the poorest Americans.
To create a truly sustainable food system for the 21st century, we will have to address not only the well-publicized, harmful symptoms but also their underlying cause. Although it may be tempting to blame those problems on the workings of capitalism, the changes in food production during the past few decades have been largely driven by the elimination of free markets and real competition.
As the food system has become more centralized and industrialized, the income of ranchers, farmers, and food workers has been squeezed. State socialism is hardly a solution. Communist-led China has been responsible for a series of food scandals that would’ve shocked Upton Sinclair: Three hundred thousand infants sickened by adulterated baby formula, pasta tinted with lead-based whiteners, rat meat sold as lamb, soy sauce made from human hair.