Friday’s Random Thoughts

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

It has been a crazy week around these parts. I got to enjoy an absolutely beautiful day yesterday by playing 18 on at Fox Ridge, one of the best courses in Maine. It was even better because I played with a member, which cut down my cost, and I had a gift card, so it only cost me $5!

Though after playing some excellent golf last week, I was hacking my way around the greens and couldn’t putt to save my life! Regardless it was great to get out and enjoy a little sunshine, as that will most likely be my last time out this year.

Anywho, I’ve got some interesting stuff for you today.

1. One of my classmates sent me a link to this article on NPR radio. It was all about how a judge laid the smack down on the sugar beet industry, no longer allowing them to plant genetically modified crops because of problems with cross-pollination with non-GMO and organic crops.

The genetically modified Roundup Ready (seriously what commodity crop does Monsanto not have their hands in?) beets are very similar to the Roundup Ready soybeans and corn that dominate the American Midwest landscape.

This is a huge problem because non-GMO and organic crops get sued for patent infringement if cross-pollination occurs, even though it is through no fault of their own. There just happens to be some Roundup Ready crop nearby, wind blows the pollen to the “other” crops, and that farmer gets sued by one of the biggest companies in the food production industry for “patent infringement.”

That and the fact that Monsanto owns all of these Roundup Ready seeds, so farmers can no longer save seeds from one year and replant them the next, which is how farming has been down for centuries, probably millenia. That is now illegal. This monopoly (Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans make up 90% of the market) has caused farmer’s to lose their fundamental right to choose the crop of their choice.

This ruling could be a big step in improving our current food production methods, so check it out.

2. Many smart people dismiss the potential health implications from artificial sweetener intake, and I think this is a mistake. Now others take it too far and if you even consider their consumption you are playing with fire and ruining your health.

The fact of the matter is there is considerable research and mountains of anecdotal evidence, claiming that artificial sweeteners do cause plenty of health problems. In fact here is a study done on 59,000 Danish women showing that artificial sweetener intake (aspartame, from diet soda) increased risk of pre-term delivery. Just one diet soda per day increased their risk by 38%, while 4 diet sodas increased their risk by 78%!

There is also some very alarming research done in rats (here and here) which showed that consumption of aspartame within the accepted daily limits caused a tremendous increase in incidences of cancer. They also showed that exposing rats to aspartame while in the womb increased their risk of cancer even more.

Not too mention some research has shown a significant association between artificial sweetener consumption and weight gain!

And that is just for aspartame. There is also research on the negative health effects of Splenda, which I have blogged about before.

So like I said, is some minimal and random consumption going to be a problem? Probably not. But artificial sweeteners are packed into more and more things these days, even ketchup, that you might be surprised by your intake. It is definitely something to keep in mind.

3. For those of you who don’t consume much pasta as there are not many great sources or you are just trying to keep your carb intake down, here is a solid alternative – spaghetti squash. While my wife is not a fan, many people swear by it.

1 cup only has 40 calories, 10 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber as well as 120mg of omega-3′s. Just some food for thought for you low-carbers!

Well that does it for me today, have a great weekend everyone!

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Posted on September 17th, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre

4 Comments

  1. Paulette Little Says:

    It’s been a long time since farmers have saved seed from one year to the next for planting. You state that the “natural” producers can be sued if cross pollination occurs between the oraganic plants and Round Up Ready plants. Isn’t the opposite also true? You arrogantly state this is a big step in improving the nation’s food production methods. Have you talked to any farmers about this issue? I live in western Nebraska and at least some of our farmers believe this ruling may ruin them. Has it ever occurred to you that our ability to eliminate weeds and insects also enables us to be the “bread basket” of the world? Have you ever considered the price difference between organic and GMO produced food may cause some people to go hungry? Have you ever considered the possibility of famine in this land of plenty?

  2. Brian St. Pierre Says:

    Paulette,

    It actually hasn’t been that long, and some still do it actually, and the only reason it has happened to such a degree is because there hasn’t been much of a choice!

    No, the opposite is not true in the context of patent infringemnet, because the farmers do not own a patent on their seed, because it is simply seed.

    This ruling may hurt some GMO farmers yes, and I do feel bad for them, but if our food production had actually been more focused on the big picture and less on the immediate bottom line, they wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place.

    Yes Round Up Ready products do have significantly less weeds, but at what cost? Have you ever smelled Round Up? Do you want to eat food that has been sprayed with that product? Especially without your knowledge?

    I have considered the price difference, and I have never said that our production should be only organic practices. But it also doesn’t mean people can’t have a choice. With a greater supply the prices will drop, evening the playing field a bit.

    The fact of the matter is that this country produces far more food than it eats. The amount of food produced is not the problem, and neither are the prices, since we spend a smaller percentage of our income on food than any other country.

    Increasing the amount of organic sustainable farms and improving the mass-production methods is not going to cause anyone to go hungry, so please stop making illogical statements like increasing the amount of organic farms will cause famine.

  3. Paulette Little Says:

    I just read your comments to my husband. He said the Round Up doesn’t smell too bad. Have you smelled it? I didn’t say that increasing the amount of organic food will cause people to go hungry. But because this country has been able to find ways to develop effective pesticides and weed control products, we have been able to produce a large amount of food. Yes, you are right, this country produces far more food than it eats. That is why we are able to come to the aid of third world countries who are unable to feed their people; that is if their governments will allow us to.

  4. Brian St. Pierre Says:

    Paulette,

    We are simply going to have to agree to disagree. I find that Round Up smells terrible, as it has an incredibly strong chemical smell.

    Trying to use the argument that our current method of food production is what allows us to come to the aid of third world countries is grasping at straws.

    The fact of the matter is we supply these countries with some grain simply because we have an excess. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made a lasting impact on starvation world wide.

    Newer models of famine relief are providing people with cash or cash vouchers to buy food from local farmers, because food production is not the problem, affording their own food is.

    People who make the argument that growing everything organic will cause starvation and hunger are clearly missing the point.

    No sane person claims that ALL food production should be from small, sustainable farms, just that more should be produced that way. And with an increased demand for better produced food, those huge conglomerate farms will respond. With our ingenuity as a species, I am sure that methods can be created that mesh the needs for sustainability and efficiency. That is what we need.

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