Friday, January 15, 2010

What are we feeding our kids?

I recently watched the documentary Food, Inc and was shocked at how ignorant I had been about the food choices I have been making. I have never been too fussy about food in the way that if it looks fresh and is priced reasonably, I will usually buy it. This documentary changed this for me and make me think twice when I did my grocery shopping the past week.

Did you know that most of the chicken that you get from regular supermarkets these days are probably from a chicken that has been grown in cages too small for them to move? These chickens are usually kept in perpetual darkness to make them sleep more and fight less. They are fattened with cheap feed and growth hormones so fast that they cannot even stand up and walk.

And in all likelihood, the beef that we get from regular supermarket these days (and even at expensive restaurants) most probably came from a cow that spent much of its life standing in manure. Similarly, these cows are also fattened with cheap feed and hormones that they cannot even walk themselves to the slaughterhouse when the time comes.

If you have not watched this informative documentary, I would strongly urge you to as any summary I can give here will not do the documentary any true justice. If you would like to have an overview of the issues, see here.

Watching Food, Inc made me think really hard about my food choices for the family and how I should be more responsible in choosing food that is not only safe and healthy, but is also responsibly produced, priced and sold. Here are some useful quotes from the documentary.

“There is this deliberate veil, this curtain that’s drawn between us and where our food is coming from. The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating because if you knew, you might not want to eat it.”

"When you add up the environmental costs, societal costs, health costs, the industrial food is not honest food. It's not priced honestly. It's not produced honestly. There's nothing honest about that food."

“Cows are not designed by evolution to eat corn. They’re designed by evolution to eat grass. And the only reason we feed them corn is because corn is really cheap and corn makes them fat quickly … The industrial food system is always looking for greater efficiency. But each new step in efficiency leads to problems. If you take feedlot cattle off their corn diet, give them grass for five days, they will shed eighty percent of the E. coli in their gut.”

You may think that we as individuals are at the mercy of what is sold to us. In fact, the exact opposite is true. If we choose not to buy food that is not fit for our families to eat, this will send a clear signal to the food producers out there to clean up their act. If you are convinced, like me, that the way our food is prepared and sold to us should be changed , here are 10 simple things you can do to start.


MieVee @ said...

Thank you very much for sharing something close to my heart. I bumped my way into similar information two years ago on PETA's website and many other write-ups. The truth about my food source saddened me and I turned vegetarian. I also try to purchase organic food as far as possible, especially for my 11-month old boy.

There are many people who are still unaware of how harmful hormones-injected poultry and corn-fed beef are. Even the milk that we drink may come from hormones-injected cows, unless stated otherwise.

Anonymous said...

That said, organic food may not be the answers to this. Think about the carbon footprint incurred just to fly the veg/chicken here and not to mention that some organic food producers make unsubstantiated claims. I used to drink Bonsoy because it claims to use non-GMO, organic soya beans but recently it was recalled for the overdose of iodine content.

There are plenty of views for & against organic food. It is not just about affordability but one just has to be more discerning and moderate.

Read this:

MieVee @ said...

We try to support the local or regional organic farms, which are increasing production and much more affordable. It is important to recognise third-party organic certification as well.

Fraudulent claims could lurk around to tap on the potentially lucrative organic goods market, so consumers need to exercise caution and choose their suppliers wisely.

I'd rather purchase certified organic produce for my boy than non-labelled produce.

Of course, we recognise that the massive food industry has been subject to various forms of political pressures by lobbyists through the decades.

MieVee @ said...

By the way, we also try to prepare food from raw ingredients instead of buying processed food, whether organic or not.

For instance, to get soy milk, you may purchase organic soy beans and turn it into soya drink using a soya drink maker at home, thus reducing the possibility of unwanted additives. Or buy 100% organic soy powder that can be added into water to get soya drink.

Hope this helps.

laissezfaire said...

Hi Anon 10:51, I understand where you are coming from and agree that one has to be discering and that organic food is not the only solution to this.

There are many other ways in which we can make good choices without going the full organic route, especially since it is extremely costly to do so in Singapore. For instance, eating out less often and where possible, choosing free-range and hormone-free chicken/eggs, grass fed beef etc. While it may be slightly more expensive, I do feel that the price is worth paying.

Thanks for your comments MieVee! They are helpful.Glad to see you here!