By Andrea Yoder
“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”—Wendell Berry
Since the 1990’s our food supply has changed dramatically. When I was a kid Cheerios were pretty safe to eat, but now they are laced with glyphosate residues. Now foods made from GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops are widespread within our food system and until recently we had no way of knowing if a food contained GMOs or not. Some products are now labeled, but there is still a big void for most consumers about the negative impact GMO crops and their production system are having on both human and environmental health. The six main GMO crops being produced now are corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa. Additionally, GMO salmon, papaya, potatoes, apples, sweet corn, zucchini and yellow squash are also being produced but in lesser amounts.
Jeffery Smith is the founder of The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), which has become “a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops.” Mr. Smith recently released a film entitled “Secret Ingredients” that is now available to the public. Richard and I had the opportunity to watch the movie earlier this week and would like to share a little glimpse of the movie as well as encourage everyone to take the time to watch it.
|Kathleen DiChiara (photo from her website)|
The goal of the movie was to bring greater awareness to the public about the relationship between foods containing GMOs and toxic chemicals, such as glyphosate, and the vast array of chronic illnesses and health problems that are on the rise in our country including obesity, infertility, cancer, digestive disorders, autism, brain fog, skin disorders, gluten sensitivity, allergies, chronic fatigue, asthma, anxiety and many more. The movie starts off with the story of Kathleen DiChiara and her family including three young sons. Kathleen was a well-educated person, a loving mother, an athlete attentive to health and thought she was eating a healthy diet. Then the health of her family started to unravel. She herself experienced an array of debilitating symptoms leading to a surgery that left her with paralysis as well as chronic pain in addition to the other symptoms she was experiencing including irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, rashes and more. She went from participating in triathlons to being in a wheelchair and lost her job due to her disabilities. At the same time she was trying to raise a young family, but was challenged by caring for her oldest son who was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, an autism spectrum disorder. She also had a son struggling with asthma as well as a third son who had extensive and painful skin rashes covering his body. Altogether, their family of 5 had 21 chronic health disorders. As she and her husband struggled to figure out how to heal their family, her research led her to their food. She didn’t realize the food she was eating and feeding her children was what was making them so sick. When their family committed to eating an organic and GMO-free diet, their bodies healed and they were able to regain their health. Their story is both heartbreaking as well as full of joy as they now living strong, vibrant lives they can enjoy. In the movie, Kathleen made the statement “I chose to take my family out of this human experiment.”
This movie also included interviews with physicians including Dr. Michelle Perro, author of “What’s Making Our Children Sick?” and Dr. David Perlmutter, renowned neurologist and author of multiple books including his most recent entitled “Grain Brain.” Both of these physicians have years of clinical experience and have seen the dramatic improvements on health in patients who remove GMO foods from their diet and eat only organic food. They speak extensively in the movie about the gut microbiome. The healthy bacteria in our bodies are the gate keepers for our system, keeping our digestive tract intact and preventing foreign proteins, toxins, and allergens from entering our system. They regulate inflammation in our bodies and have an extensive role in our brain chemistry. The problem is that the chemical glyphosate, which is used extensively in conjunction with GMO plants, relies on a pathway to kill plants (weeds) called the shikimate pathway. Humans don’t utilize this pathway, thus it has been said that GMO crops and glyphosate are safe for humans. Unfortunately, this is a lie. The bacteria in our gut are impacted by this pathway and exposure to GMO crops and glyphosate can cause extensive damage to our gut microbiome, leaving our systems vulnerable to attack from all the things these bacteria are meant to protect us from.
There is much more depth of information in the movie than I can present here, but I do encourage you to take the time to watch the movie and see it for yourself. Throughout the movie, it becomes clear that organic and non-GMO food is no longer just a lifestyle, but rather can be a life saver. They also acknowledged that food can be deceiving. If you put organic food and GMO foods side by side you likely won’t be able to tell the difference. You can’t see the pesticides and herbicides they contain and you can’t see the allergens or novel proteins that can harm you. Food is supposed to be our life force and bring vitality, not disease and destruction to our bodies. Kathleen made an interesting point that it can be “Socially Inconvenient” to eat organic. It’s hard to eat out and it’s hard to eat on the go or when you are traveling. However, for those who are committed to eating this way, there are ways to overcome these challenges. Kathleen and her family are very intentional about their diet. They eat before they go out or pack snacks to take with them. If going to a birthday party or the like, they take their own dessert made with organic ingredients. They’ve also made friends with other families who are like-minded and they have dinner parties together. They have experienced first-hand the impact high quality, nutrient dense food that is free from chemicals and GMOs can have on their health and ability to enjoy their lives, and that isn’t’ something they’re about to trade for a little bit of convenience.
I’m going to close with a few lines from a song that was played at the end of the movie. The lyrics are simple, but powerful. “Health is wealth, it’s the gift we give ourselves. Health is wealth, don’t leave it to no one else….Give me food that’s grown on farms with butterflies & bees.”