Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The food crisis is killing us — especially me!

Last year, when Sensi’s allergies became quite serious, I was outraged at the dog food companies.
I was convinced that the labeling of ingredients was sub-standard and downright evasive — what the heck good is it to me to know some mystery “animal byproduct” is in my dog’s food? That’s not an ingredient, it’s a way to legally hide ingredients.
I expressed my anger to my veterinarian and raised concerns that perhaps all this genetically modified crap — the corn that gets manipulated into tons of different ingredients and also fed to the cows and other livestock, to name just one genetically modified mess — is what’s causing allergies to be prevalent among dogs.
Calmly, he said something that’s haunted me every since:
“It’s not just the pet food industry, Karen,” he said. “We’re eating foods that have all the same sorts of issues, and it begs the question, how is it affecting our health?”
Fast forward six months: Brent and I befriend a couple who are very concerned about the state of food in America. We learn tidbits of terrifying things from them.
Fast forward another six months: Brent and I finally get Netflix. It’s changing our lives, I swear.
Last weekend, we watched the documentary Food, Inc. Last night, we watched the documentary Foodmatters.
Today, I feel totally in crisis.
Maybe I’ve been watching too many scare-you-straight documentaries, but in the past year, my concerns about food have grown from “Dog food companies need better regulation” to “Food is killing all of us, dogs, people, livestock — all of us — period.”
The most ironic thing is that the problems with our dogs seem to catch our attention more than the problems with ourselves. My cousin has experimented with an organic diet for her dog, even while she laments that it seems silly to buy expensive organic foods for her dog while she and her boyfriend can’t afford to buy organic foods for themselves.
And that’s where I’m at. I can’t afford to buy organic foods. I have a very tight grocery budget that relies heavily on corn-fed beef, starches and carbs that are full of ingredients that sound more like chemicals than food. There’s not a whole lot of choice in the matter for me. I suppose if I’m willing to skip five dinners, I could probably afford to bring home organic stuff for another five. But who can skip five dinners? Starving isn’t good for you either.
I am starting a garden this year and will be looking for heirloom plants — a.k.a., plants that aren’t genetically modified. Which, by the way, isn’t it ridiculous that there are so many genetically modified things out there that we have a specific category for those that are not? And we call them heirlooms, like they’re a thing of the past?
We’ve got it all wrong, folks. And our dogs are suffering right along with us.

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