Eat Yourself to A Better World

By Angus McIntosh

One of the themes I feel I have not elaborated on enough is the impact of agriculture on both our health and our environment. Agriculture, in the words of regenerative farming pioneer Allan Savory, is the worst thing we have. We lose 20 times more topsoil, which is the single most important thing in this world, than kilograms of food we produce. We have equal amounts of people dying of obesity and starvation, and women today have a one-in-eight chance of breast cancer, whereas two generations ago, it was one in 50.

Eat Organic:

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The easiest change to make is to eat organic food. It is nutritionally superior and is produced in a manner that heals the earth. You don’t ingest a smorgasbord of chemicals with your food.

Conventionally produced food that has been heated, treated, pasteurised, homogenised, chemicalised and irradiated is cheap food at a high cost. Your medical bills and the environmental damage are not included in the price.

How many artificial chemicals do you think there are in mother’s breast milk today? This is supposedly the purest food. At last count, 261. Included in there is the carcinogen glyphosate (every South African ingests this daily and it was the subject of last month’s column).

Eat Peeled or Washed Food:

Tomato Salad

You really need to understand how many chemicals are sprayed onto your fruit and vegetables before they get onto your plate. The best source for this is the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which does a long-term annual study testing for pesticide residues on various fruit and vegetables. It publishes two lists: the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen. Apples, in a delicious Old Testament irony, are always on top of the Dirty Dozen list. There are no certified organic apple producers in South Africa.

My recommendation: at least peel your apple before eating it. Peaches, second on the Dirty Dozen list, had 15 different pesticides on them. Farmers don’t only spray pesticides. They also spray fungicides, larvacides, nematicides, herbicides and grubicides, all of which are not on the side of the consumer or the farmer, but on the side of the multinational agricultural chemical company. Organic peaches are on the right side of these ’cides.

Kale, the staple diet of the vegan/raw clan, is in a new category, where insecticides have been found that are toxic to the human nervous system. Organic kale runs none of these risks.

The Clean Fifteen list goes as follows: avocado, sweetcorn, pineapples, cabbage, etc. Please search online for this report. Then, for your next meal, choose your farmer and eat yourself to health.

Eat Honestly:

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You can also eat yourself to a more honest world. There are many lies associated with agriculture (I will cover the “Organics cannot feed the world” lie in next month’s column), but for brevity, let’s focus on the so-called free-range food movement, with free-range eggs as the most egregious example of mislabelling, or consumer fraud, whichever moniker you prefer.

The words “free-range” have a wonderful, heart-warming effect that makes us feel good about our purchase. What most people don’t realize is that “free-range” is a very small percentage of the total market, the rest being confinement/caged/factory-farmed animals.

As soon as we read or hear “free-range”, we imagine our laying hens roaming over green pastures, eating bugs from the grass and laying their eggs in lovely beds of straw.

The truth is that these hens live in barns, where they are rarely let out to scratch on the bare earth that surrounds the barn, and where they and the 7 500 other hens live and lay their eggs in metal boxes.

 

Angus McIntosh lives and farms with his family in Stellenbosch,  South Africa. After reading Michael Pollans’ “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”  Angus decided to become a farmer. Inspired by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia, USA, on his farm outside Stellenbosch,  Angus applies BioDynamic agricultural principles and practices in raising cattle, laying hens, vegetables and vines.