How Industrialised Food is Killing Us

When children are heavier than us and die younger than us, it's time to act like grownups.

Credit: flickr / Melissa Gruntkosky

Once-healthy foods have become the death of us.

Traditional foods vary greatly. A recent CBC news report on diet, obesity and health reveals how, in the West, we’ve managed to develop a ‘traditional’ diet that kills us


It’s not news that Americans are fat and getting fatter. Statistically, one-third of Americans are obese, another third are overweight, leaving one-third in either the healthy or underweight range. A short CBS news report touches on several cans of worms relating to our diet, obesity and health and, to be honest, it kind of freaks me out how big this problem is.


We need to make smart choices for ourselves and provide affordable, healthy choices more prevalent for those who, for whatever reasons, are consistently making unhealthy choices. Below are some of the issues that are touched on in the report.


1. Childhood obesity and shorter life expectancy

For the first time in 150 years, today’s children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This is a scary thought, but what is scarier is that the only thing that is stopping that stat belonging to our generation (incidences of cardiac arrests, diabetes and cancer are all up) is the advancements made in modern medicine; more people are having heart attacks but we save most of them now.


We all know the saying “you are what you eat” and right now we are super-sized, artificially preserved junk.


I had a personal realization last weekend while shopping for Halloween costumes. Some children are huge. I’m 6’3” and managed to find a “large child” princess costume that fit me (and I looked gorgeous). It’s a frightening shock when someone less than half your age weighs more than twice your weight.


2. Should it be a luxury to be able to eat healthy foods?

Those of you who try to buy organic and/or local foods know that you pay a higher price. But in terms of health costs, you pay much less. Are healthy-food buyers the “elite”?


At the root of this is governmental policy, which sees money going into corn (which is in everything now) and meat, but not into fresh produce.


Generally when I see fish sticks and frozen chips being bought in the supermarket, it’s because it’s the cheapest way to buy a “whole meal.” Sad but true. And according to the information on the back we’re getting a percentage of our recommended daily intake of Riboflavin. So that must be good, right?


3. The links betweens big business and the dietetic associations

Both the American Dietetic Association and the Dietitians of Canada have come under fire recently for their links with big business. In much the same way that tobacco lobbyist wooed the policy makers, commercial food producers have won over the nutritionalists by focusing on whatever specific nutrients that are fashionable that week.


4. Taking steps toward healthier food

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but let’s remember to support the movement for healthier food, like the Regional Food System Strategy [pdf, September 2010]. Get informed and contribute your ideas.


Also, for a broader perspective that includes not just health but the entire local food system, check out Every Bite Counts: Climate Justice and BC’s Food System, released November 2, 2010, by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The report calls on the provincial government to take action to make BC’s food system work better for farmers, eliminate hunger, shift away from imported products and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


And remember, if it needs to claim it’s healthy on the package, it probably isn’t.