With the recent realization that I only have a few months before being thrown into the extreme sport of parenthood, I began re-assessing my understanding of life with the aim of giving my child a head start. I started with the basics. As most people congratulated me, they usually followed with wishes of good health. Health is evidently of primary importance and we too often forget this simple fact until we get sick. We can’t really control all aspects of our health, but one primary factor that is entirely within our reach is our food intake. Eating food is a basic part of our life; we love it, we do it everyday, several times a day. Food defines our bodies, our mood, our longevity, our colour and our smell. It is obvious that the quality of the food we ingest affects the quality of our bodies and therefore our health. If I want my children to be healthy, I need to ensure a supply of high quality foods.Â Ironically, it took the prospect of caring for another life before realizing this obvious fact and starting to research my food.Â
Having been raised in an urban environment, food as I’ve known it came from either the supermarket or this week’s favourite restaurant. Food is delivered in boxes, cans, plastic containers and plates and is usually very quickly ready for consumption. The majority of the food we know is processed food that is both recognized and called by it’s brand name. Mac’n’Cheese is a Kraft dinner, a chocolate bar is a Mars bar and our morning breakfast is Corn Flakes. Vegetables, fruits, meats and fish are available all year long and always taste, look, smell and cost the same. Eating what was delivered through the traditional supply chains was the norm, no questions asked about the where, the how or the why. As long as it’s cheap and edible, what’s the problem? As I think about it more, I realize that a flaming wall of ignorance stands firmly between the actual nature of food and it’s benefactors. We have forgotten that produce is seasonal, that meat comes from live animals and that processed food does not come from nature! InÂ addition, no real education about nutrition is given. What are the roles of nutrients in the body? What foods contain which? And most importantly, what is a healthy diet? The only nutritional fact I was ever given was that “fat” and “cholesterol” are bad for your health and causes heart disease; which both turned out to be factually wrong.
I barely started my exploratory journey into my food that an ugly picture started to form. It turns out that we live in a time where agriculture is focused on quantity, efficiency and low cost. Flavour, colour, diversity, sustainability, nutritional value and long term adverse health effects are very low on the priority list. We are fed vegetables that have been soaked in pesticides & genetically modified to grow larger and faster. The soil that hosts these plants is filled with fertilizers that end up polluting theÂ aquifersÂ who’s water is essential for agriculture. The beef we are sold is sourced from sick zombie-like corn-fed cows who are kept barely alive by drugs. The farmed salmon that saturates the fish market is artificially coloured, it’s excessive fat is filled with harmful chemicals and the farming technique is detrimental to the surrounding ecosystem. The fruits we buy are several days old and have lost most of their nutrients by the time we bite into their flesh. All that and I didn’t evenÂ start to lookÂ into processed foods, but I can already imagine that it’s an even uglier state of affairs. My whole life, I have been both a contributor and victim to this destructive and unhealthy industry. How muchÂ irreversibleÂ damage has been done to my body? Do these chemicals accumulate in my body? Is it too late to reverse any potential damage done by 30 years of ingesting pesticides and other chemicals? Have weÂ pollutedÂ the lands, seas and winds beyond repair? Maybe it’s too late for me, but my child gets a fresh start!
This food issue has turned out to be a much bigger subject than I had anticipated. It covers economics, science, society, environment & world demographics. Unfortunately, I only have a few months before the baby makes it’s arrival and I need to take decisions. All those chemicals found in today’s industrial foods are possibly harmless, but am I willing to take that risk? Knowing what I know today, common sense, the lack of long term data and the absolute absence of morality in large corporations who are supplying these foods, the answer is no. I need to find natural sources of food in the Montreal area and I need to do it fast. Are there any local (Quebec) farms that source naturally produced fruits, vegetables and meat? How much will it cost me? What about this recent “biological” branding I’ve been seeing at the supermarket? Which fisheries carry wild fish? Which restaurants verify the source and quality of their foods?
In my quest to answer these questions, I am also interested in understanding and documenting the following subjects:
- The industrial revolution and our transforming world demography
- The impact of our current agricultural practices on the environment
- Sustainable farming, implausible or possible?
- Nutrients in natural foods vs industrial foods and superfoods
- Chemicals found in industrial foods and their potential health effects
- AgricultureÂ and food across the world
- The economics and players of the industrial food industry
- Nutrition and health in general
It the last 40 years, medicineÂ has made great advances whilst food quality has generally diminished, yet we have still managed to achieve higher life expectancy. Makes me wonder what our expectancy would look like if we further optimized the quality of our food…