It seems that who ever inscribed the Georgia Guide Stones when they scripted reducing the worlds population to be in balance with nature may become a real reality today. That maybe has just become a reality. Here in the United States we are doing a real fine job of doing just that considering how we failed to fully protect our citizens from the onslaught of this deadly Pandemic. Over 450,000 deaths so far this past year alone from Covid-19 infections. We haven’t really focused on the thousands of others who have died from other causes that can be attributed to so many other factors that have plagued our society for decades.
Ever since the late 1970’s the United States overall population’s life expectancy has decreased. The quality of life has also diminished for millions. The wealth disparity gap has widened to unprecedented levels making it almost impossible for millions to obtain a better quality of life. Aside from this pandemic the nations health has deteriorated so much that so many are not being able to ward off potential infections that turn deadly or cause debilitating conditions. The world over is also facing many of the obstructions that prolong the agony of human conditions.
The thought of reducing the worlds population to be in balance with nature seems a bit drastic considering how mankind really screwed up the balance of nature in the first place. The environmental impacts of what man continues to unleash through our blatant disregard for nature and our environment has only contributed to the onslaught of deadly infectious diseases. And, when the balance of nature is altered either by a natural catastrophe or by man’s greed all of humanity suffers. Today humanity is feeling the after effects by way of deadly diseases, contaminated fresh water, nutrient depleted soil for growing our food, and atmospheric contaminants in the air that we breath. All of these contribute to the world being in critical condition.
The prospects of healthier lives are slim at best for millions. Factors involved in realizing a healthier life starts with education, making the right decisions on hygiene, food etc. Sure, there are factors that have always worked against us, but, as a whole we can minimize the collateral damage of disease when as a society is able to actually partake in lifestyle choices engineered to enhance one’s life. We can start by addressing the affordability factors. Sad to say the world today revolves around money. The financial means has always eluded millions and will continue to elude millions more when society is so unbalanced as we are today.
The United States like many other nations where there is so much imbalance it has always worked against minimizing the rapidly increasing health related issues and disease. The idea of Universal Income is not a new concept and it merits real consideration in creating a more balance society. It will also ease the lack of affordability. This reminds us of the Williams Theory of Economic Evolution which states “When more people have enough disposable income to spend, save, pay down debt, and invest is the greatest deterrent to an unstable society. This also creates more balance in society. When society is balanced this in turn can minimize the drastic consequences of a nation not being able to have the means to fend off major disturbances that always affects our lives and livelihoods. Disease, hunger and homelessness are just some of the drastic consequences of unbalanced societies.
To not only be able to secure the means to make societies balanced but healthier requires the knowledge and the ability to do so. Many times those right decisions and choices have eluded governmental policies. And, that has brought this nation to where it is today. The choices so many of us have been making are based on affordability or lack of. And governmental policies for the past 40 years have only exasperated the conditions in which have made us more susceptible to fall victim to all sorts of disease and aliments as we are seeing today. In many instances we can trace many of our health related issues and weakened immune systems on the food we have been consuming for the past 45 years. Let’s explain some of the hard cold facts that directly or indirectly point to the food so many Americans consume contributes to the early demise of so many of us. Whether it is cancer, diabetes, obesity, or all the other related diseases associated with the processed and industrialized food that are in the American diet today too many are dying off too soon.
When the United States experiences over 50 million people who suffer each year from food borne illness and of that over 200,000 people are hospitalized annually signals that the food we eat really isn’t that safe after all. When there are thousands that die each year because of contaminated or unsafe food on top of those thousands who have died from Covid-19 is a reality we can’t ignore any longer. Years ago our illustrious congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act. This Act was the first step in the right direction. But, they didn’t go far enough to revolutionize the farming industry to negate the fact that food borne diseases are still occurring at ever increasing alarming rates along with our immune systems are greatly compromised. The attempt of the Modernization Act was to put the focus on prevention of food borne diseases. But, the act itself really hasn’t brought the effects that our society needs. The plus side is, it was the first time that the Food & Drug Administration had a legislative mandate to require a preventative based control all across the nations food supply. In the past the FDA approach has always been a system that in so many instances only responded to outbreaks rather than ushering in preventative measure before an outbreak occurred. A likewise preventative approach should have occurred when the first outbreak of Covid-19 back in January of 2020.
Over the last few decades new animal-to-human infectious diseases have emerged at an unprecedented rate. According to the World Health Organization, the increasing global demand for animal protein is a key underlying factor. Swine flu is not the only deadly human disease traced to factory farming practices. The meat industry took natural herbivores like cows and sheep, and turned them into carnivores and cannibals by feeding them slaughterhouse waste, blood, and manure. Then they fed people “downer” animals–too sick to even walk. Now the world has mad cow disease.
In 2005 the world’s largest and deadliest outbreak of a pathogen called Strep. suis emerged, causing meningitis and deafness in people handling infected pork products. Experts blamed the emergence on factory farming practices. Pig factories in Malaysia birthed the Nipah virus, one of the deadliest of human pathogens, a contagious respiratory disease causing relapsing brain infections and killing 40% of people infected. Its emergence was likewise blamed squarely on factory farming.
The pork industry in the U.S. feeds pigs millions of pounds of human antibiotics every year just to promote growth in such a stressful, unhygienic environment, and now there are these multi-drug resistant bacteria and we as physicians are running out of good antibiotic options. As the UK’s chief medical officer put it in his 2009 annual report: “every inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture is a potential death warrant for a future patient.” In the short term we need to put an end to the riskiest practices, such as extreme confinement, gestation crates, battery cages and the non therapeutic feeding of antibiotics. All of these are still very much the way our industrialization of Americas food supply is processed.
To realize what has happened with our nations food supply we have to revert back to when the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement was signed. Back then in 1993 the ramifications of what that treaty implied is still being felt by every independent farmer that is still left across the United States. The real issue today is that between 1960 and 2020 the family farmer, the small independent ones, are fast approaching extinction. During these decades the United States lost thousands of individual farmers. The beginning of the end for the family farmer and the evolution of the corporate and conglomerate farms all across the United States began decades ago.. With the demise of the independent farmer having been bought out and consolidated by corporate and conglomerate farms little did this country realize that the quality of food planted, grown, harvested and consumed would be of lesser nutritional value than the food produced by the local independent farmer of the 1950’s.
These corporate farmers are so focused on mass industrialization of food there is no way that the food now produced and consumed will ever be as nutritional as the food of earlier generation of farmers. The corporate and conglomerate farms only intentions are to produce mass quantities of food. It is this food that is harvested has very little of the nutritional value of the foods that were grown and harvested by the local family independent farmer of just a generation ago. When food sources no longer hold the nutritional values that once sustained a healthy nation back in the 50’s immune systems for millions today are greatly compromised.
When NAFTA was signed this opened up a new opportunity for foreign countries to export food into the United States. The cost to the consumer for imported foods became less expensive than food domestically grown. But there again, the nutritional value of both food groups are still far inferior in nutritional value. A major contributor to all sorts of ailments illnesses and weakened immune systems that are associated with inferior food quality has resulted. Today the American consumer is at the mercy of the large corporate farms and governmental policies. These policies that wield so much influence in the way our food is produced and imported has left this nation vulnerable to more rampant contagious diseases. Since 1994 the percentage of food that is imported has continually risen at a rate of over 3% annually, so that today the United States is importing almost 60% of all food consumed in the United States. With no apparent change in policies the average American citizen by the year 2022 will be forced to consume over 70% of food that is imported.
The real danger here is that only 50 years ago Americans were among the healthiest of populations. Small independent farmers grew, produced and supplied the population over 85% of all the food consumed. Not only that the quality of food produced was superior in nutrition to that of the food produced today no matter where it comes from. Another disturbing trend is that the percentage of US disposable incomes spent of food prepared in homes in 1960 was 22%. Today the percentage of disposable income spent on food that is prepared in homes has fallen to less than 3%. This means that more people are spending more for processed fast food which translates to the biggest reason why the overall population in the United States has the highest rate of obesity, heart problems, cancer and other health related problems associate with inferior nutritional quality food.
These are all unwelcome trends that have developed since the mid 1960’s. Today not only in the United States but in most countries that import food into this country continually are using farming methods that are environmentally suspect, farm laborers are continually being more exploited and here the United States government’s tax dollars are continually funneled into the coffers of the large corporate farmer. Now, we have to contend with the fact that the rising cost of not only food but consumables is making it more difficult for Americans to afford food and other necessities that protect ones health. The whole US economy continue to suffer with the rising costs of living. Another point to consider is the extent that the Chinese are now exporting most of the fish and shellfish that is consumed here. With little oversight and regulations that are here to protect the American consumer. In China there are very little regulations in processing of their exported food and of food in general. And, that most likely ignited the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed thousands of people not just in the US but all across the globe. Consequently the American Consumer is now faced not only with inferior quality of food but major health issues have increased drastically.
The advances in technology, the increased usage of pesticides, the lack of rotation of crops, the importation of more food sources and the tax dollars in subsidizing the now large corporate farmer all have had a hand in the reduction of quality of food. The almost extinction of the honey bee, the increasing rates of obesity, cancer and other health related illnesses due to the lack of nutrition in our food supply have undermined the safety, the health, and the security of the United States.
When we factor in all these contingencies as well as the escalating pollution that is now seeping into all waterways, rivers, lakes, oceans along with blatant deforestation [the Amazon Rainforest is one of man’s most notorious crimes against nature] we have a pretty grim picture of how our food supply is going to continue. The ingenuity of man to supply the worlds population with adequate food we have begun to genetically alter with eradication methods more food sources to compensate for the destructive nature of corporations and governments in regards to providing food.
We will never bring back the small family farmer but what we must do is ensure that the large corporate farmer utilizing the farm techniques that produced the quality of nutrition in the food 50 years ago is the same today. The technology is available so that the United States consumer can be reassured that there will be abundant, more nutritious, and more affordable food available for every American. No longer can monetary gain take president over the sanctity of life. Like fresh clean water, healthy food has to be a basic right for all. Elimination of the sources of pollution that is so destructive to our planet will ensure that there is enough space, time and more clean water for planting, growing, harvesting and producing all the nutritious food sources needed for man and animal.
It is long over due to rewrite and completely reverse the course that this country is headed in regards to the way our food is grown, imported and consumed. Now is the time to end the NAFTA treaty and establish the Equal Trade Agreement. In this way this country will be able to ignite more economic growth and ensure that the American public will once again to be able to have the nutritious available food that the United States produced over 50 years ago. A healthier nation will be the end result. We have to follow the advice of the American Public Health Association and declare a moratorium of factory farming and eventually phase them out. The bottom line is how we treat animals really does have global public health implications. The Food Modernization Act has to be revised and incorporate a reform of our food imports and our current farming practices. And when governmental policies enable the American public have the balance in our society is crucial for the overall health of this nation. This is where the affordability factor is not a factor in creating a more healthy society.