You Are What You Eat
Do you remember the egg recall last month where two factory farms
in Iowa were forced to recall over one-half a billion eggs contaminated
with salmonella? (Yes, that's billion with a B!)
Just a few days ago I received an email from Gianni Stefanini,
owner of Apollo Olive Oil in northern California and I just had to share it with
you. His email hits on so much of what I believe in as the root cause of
all diseases impacting Americans today and why our message of
and that the food we eat is so vitally important - not only in
the recovery of any illness or disease, but in preventing illness and
dis-ease in the first place!
When Something is Not Good - It is Always Too Expensive
Gianni Stefanini, Miller and Owner, Apollo Olive Oil, Apollo Olive Oil
The recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning that caused 500 million
eggs to be recalled has people wondering about the integrity of our food
In fact, this catastrophe is merely the latest in a string of huge
recalls. Just this June, 28 million boxes of cereal were recalled by
Kellogg's; in early 2008, 143 million pounds of beef were recalled by a
California company; and in 2006, more than ten million portions of salad
were withdrawn from the market.
There are two excellent resources that reveal the truth about why these outbreaks occur.
The movie, Food Inc., and the book, Animal Factory, document the harmful effect of modern practices in two key areas: price and safety.
While many are vaguely aware of the dangers of factory farming few know the details that will cost our society so dearly.
(My comment: I strongly recommend you watch Food, Inc. with your entire family right away. You will never shop at the grocery store the same again!)
The Price Factor
Most people know the corn industry in the US receives government
subsidies, but don't know what that equates to in real terms. Corn
farmers using genetically modified seeds and the latest in farming
technology can achieve yields that are much higher than those of our
grandfathers. Of course, this technology is very expensive, making
farmers plunge neck-deep into debt before their first harvest.
And yet, corn is one of the cheapest foods available. Is that simply
because the costs (which are usually based on acreage) of farming are
lessened by the enormous yield? Partly. While the cost of producing a
bushel of corn is not all that much, it is still sold for less than that
So what keeps farmers in business? Subsidies: they make up the
farmers' loss, and constitute 100% of his profit. Because corn is used
in one form or another in almost all fast foods, processed foods, and
animal feed, the subsidies allow those industries to go to market at a
greatly reduced price.
This creates the illusion that food grown on a small organic farm is
extravagantly expensive, while the reality is much different: good food
is simply covering its own costs, without any help from the government.
But there is a second, and even bigger, illusion that is created: that
food can be cheap.
When food is mass produced, and arrives at your grocery store for a
"cheap" price, you are simply putting off paying the whole price, which
may well be more than healthier alternatives. Just like a credit card,
the interest will accumulate over time, and the added costs of unhealthy
food will weigh down our society. What might be saved in buying "cheap"
food is repaid tenfold in medical expenses, caused by the fact that
consuming such food can be detrimental to your health.
Factory farms are built with only one thing in mind: profit.
Why waste money on space for animals, when they won't die with less?
The result is a facility where so many animals live in so little space,
that the land is unable to absorb their waste. When cattle are taken
from such places to be slaughtered, their legs and under-sides are often
covered in excrement, a rich breeding ground for all manner of
It's surprising that such a system can produce anything other than
contaminated food. In an attempt to reduce the number of large
outbreaks, factory farms feed the animals massive amounts of
antibiotics, in turn creating resistant strains of bacteria that move
into the general population.
(Read our article, What's for Dinner - Antibiotics!, for more insight into this - and how factory farmers are creating SuperBugs resistant to antibiotics.)
In contrast, small farms cannot afford the initial capital
investments required to run such an operation. It is actually less
expensive for the small farmer to use grass fed free range farming
techniques, avoiding all the high-tech causes of disease the large
factory farms are subject to.
Small is Beautiful
We are all told to diversify our portfolio to protect our savings,
but we aren't told to diversify our food supply. Why don't the same
Diversity is practically synonymous with health. A collection of
small farms has diversity built into its DNA. It may be more expensive
but it is because we are paying for healthier, tastier food and
healthier farm land that will be here for generations. Educating
ourselves about our food supply might just save our lives.
Wake Up, the Dream is Over
The illusion that food can be cheap, easy, and good has faded, and those who haven't realized this are living in a dream world.
For forty years, our country has been fed by this illusion, and for
forty years America has been getting sicker: 70% of the population is
overweight, with one third of our citizens obese. Diabetes, heart
disease, cancer, and weak immune systems are affecting an enormous
number of people. This situation has been brought about by the illusion
of cheap, mass produced, fast food.
To have a healthy body, you have to eat healthy food, which cannot be
cheap, mass produced, or fast. It has to be found, purchased, and
cooked properly, as well as grown and produced properly. As the ancients
said, "If something is not good, it will always be too expensive. If
something is good, it will never be too expensive."
So in our case, when you buy a bottle of olive oil, try to remember
where it came from, where and how it was produced, how the trees have
been farmed, and how much you know about the oil versus what is written
on the label.
Gianni Stefanini, Miller and Owner, Apollo Olive Oil
If Gianni's letter touched you like it did me, I recommend you get involved with Slow Food USA on everything we've just discussed. Be sure to sign their petition to Congress calling for food safety to ensure the health of all Americans.