Page Synopsis: If you aren't disturbed after reading this you aren't paying attention

This page focuses mostly on environmental toxins, proper foods and how to be wary of toxins in common food production processes

As medicines are not addressed (except for 'food as medicine'), this page may be skimmed and revisited (it's overwhelming and difficult to take in in one pass

Skill Level  1

Relevance:5 Technical Level:1


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To return to homeostasis by combating illness requires a multi faceted multidisciplinary approach encompassing diet, exercise, sleep habits, attitudes, addressing environmental stressors etc. The entire patient's mind, body, emotional states and spirit must be examined and adjusted by recognising current and historical maladaptive patterns trauma history habits and environment. In short the plate must be cleared clean before placing anything on top


Including diet

Diet Changes – Including More Wine and Cheese – May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline

Mediterranean Diet May Help Curb Advance of Frailty and Cognitive Decline in Older People

Simply Eating Walnuts May Slow Cognitive Decline In At-Risk Elderly

Mum, 82, who couldn't recognise her own son due to dementia gets memory back - after changing her diet - Mirror Online

Healthy eating: follow the MIND diet to prevent cognitive decline and boost heart health - Nexus Newsfeed

How Food Causes Pain and Inflammation


When it comes to pain and inflammation, the food you consume plays a key role. Food is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to controlling energy draining health symptoms.


Unfortunately, the typical American diet consists of excess fat, tons of sugar, loads of factory-farmed red meat, and a frightening amount of processed foods. Is it any wonder there are so many people suffering from chronic pain and illness? These foods cause inflammation, block the bowels, drain the immune system, and deplete the blood of dense nutrients.


“Bad” Foods


When it comes to pain and illness, several categories of food should be avoided, including nightshades, dairy-based products, and high-fructose corn syrup. Dr. Wiley covers a number of these in his book.


Excess nightshade fruits and vegetables are particularly troublesome for those suffering from conditions like chronic joint pain. This family of food includes white potatoes, eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, tamarillos, pepinos, pimentos, goji berries, ground cherries, Cape gooseberries, garden huckleberries, and paprika.


These foods can cause calcification, bone spurs, and inflammation. Such side effects are harmful to those suffering pain and illness because they amplify the existing inflammation and joint problems rather than alleviating them.


In cases of people who are sensitive or allergic to nightshades, they can even cause nerve damage, muscle tremors, and impeded digestion. Excess dairy products are also troublesome for those suffering from chronic ailments. They are often high in cholesterol and saturated fat, and can contribute to obesity. And as we learned, being overweight by even fifteen pounds can have disastrous effects on arthritic joints. But the problem with dairy goes a lot deeper than weight issues.


Products like milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, cottage cheese, and various sauces can contribute to an increase in phlegm-rheum. Phlegm-rheum is a classification of thick, sticky fluids in the body that include mucus. These thick and sticky fluids pool around joints and collect toxins and bacteria, and become either damp or hot, depending on other factors. This increases inflammation, swelling, bone degeneration, loss of range of motion, and pain.


The sweetener known as high-fructose corn syrup (HFC) has been called the main culprit in the rise in youth obesity in the United States, and obesity is one of the key risks for chronic health issues. High-fructose corn syrup is corn syrup that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert its glucose into fructose. This fructose has then been mixed with regular corn syrup, which is 100 percent glucose, and the result is a sweet liquid known as high-fructose.


This liquid is the sweetener found in just about every cold beverage in your local convenience store, including iced tea, sodas, and energy drinks. Not only that, but it is also found in so-called healthy foods like tomato soup and yogurt, as well as less healthful items such as salad dressings and cookies.


The FDA did a thirty-year study and found a correlation between HFC and obesity, stating that it is worse for your health than plain sugar—which isn’t good for those with pain and inflammation either. Worst of all, even as the public begins to awaken to the dangers of HFC, the food industry is now peddling equally dangerous chemical sugar substitutes and all the additional toxins that come with them.


Excess processed or refined grains are also to be avoided. These are found in flour, cereals, breads, baked goods, and snack foods. Usually they’re listed as “enriched” flour or anything other than “whole” grains. In essence, refined grains have been broken down for you, so your body doesn’t have to do the work.


Since the grain then breaks down too quickly in the body and the intestines, it releases hormones that promote inflammation. Even eating “whole” grains can still be problematic for many people. Not only are those whole grains still processed, but many grains—especially wheat—trigger inflammatory responses in the body.


Acidic Foods


Other foods that negatively affect our health include those that are acidic. As strange as it may sound, your body, its fluids, and your blood can become excessively acidic. Just as acidic fruits like lemons can “eat” the enamel off your teeth, and acid can corrode a battery casing, your body can become overly acidic when your natural pH is off kilter.


Even the conventional medical community agrees that the human body was not designed to withstand chronic acidic states. When the body is off-kilter long enough, out of its natural state of homeostasis, it starts to break down. Signs and symptoms of an excessively acidic body can be seen and/ or felt externally, with the onset of headaches, body pain, and skin rashes.


In the acidic range, the immune system is compromised, leading to easily contracted sinus infections, allergies, colds, and the flu, and placing you at risk for progressing autoimmune diseases and rheumatoid arthritis.


Moreover, an excessively acidic interior environment can lead to muscle contraction that can restrict the free flow of blood and inhibit the exchange of nutrients and waste products from muscle cells. This can cause soreness, cramping, fatigue, degenerative cellular diseases, and even cellular death. Dr. Wiley offers a pH balance guide in his book, reproduced here.


Chart 12.1: pH Balance Guide




0 Battery Acid


1 Stomach Acid


2 Lemon Juice, Vinegar


3 Orange Juice, Soda


4 Tomato Juice, Beer


5 Black Coffee


6 Saliva, Cow’s Milk


Neutral 7 Pure Water




8 Sea Water


9 Baking Soda


10 Antacid


11 Ammonia


12 Soapy Water


13 Bleach, Oven Cleaner


14 Drain Cleaner


Chronic pain is related to pH imbalance and the accumulation of acid deposits in the joints of the neck, hips, wrists, and hands. It is this accumulated acid that damages cartilage. When the cells that produce lubricating synovial fluids and bursa fluids are acidic, this condition causes a dryness that irritates and swells the joints. When uric acid builds up, it tends to deposit in the form of crystals that can feel like broken glass in the feet, hands, knees, and back.


Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about this when your body is kept within the alkaline range of 7.0 - 7.4. In fact, while in this range it is impossible for disease to sustain itself, because the immune system is strong and the acidic environment necessary for diseases like cancer, gout, and arthritis no longer exists. Chart 12.1 will help you see just how the foods you eat and the beverages you drink contribute to an unhealthy internal environment.


Acidity and Stress


An imbalanced pH or acid/alkaline interior environment is one of the hidden causes of disease and one of the states that makes our existing health symptoms worse. So how does the body become too acidic (and thus, unhealthy) and place you at risk for negative health symptoms? Well, excess stress is a big one.


As I discussed in chapter 2, stress, or the effects of being in the “fight or flight” response for too long a period of time, releases stress hormones into the body, flooding the blood stream with protective chemicals. These chemicals, like cortisol, were necessary during the times of our ancestors who had to run for their lives from wild beasts or rival tribes.


These days, this stress response is caused by different types of stressors, like emotional upset, physically demanding work, and overwhelming psychological issues that we deal with at home and at work. There are too many of these happening throughout the day. It is no wonder we are under chronic states of stress, are not well, and are in a constant acidic state. Our modern diet is also a huge contributor to our chronic acidic interior environment. When food reaches your digestive tract, it is broken down and either leaves an alkaline or an acidic residue behind. If you eat foods that are organic, whole, and fresh, and drink plenty of pure water, the body can easily maintain an alkaline state.


However, consuming excess sugar, refined grains, preservatives, pesticides, dairy products (like cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream), red meat, chocolate, coffee, soda and alcohol turns the body acidic. One of the main effects of a poor diet is inflammation, which is also the main symptom of chronic pain and illness.


Ph is a measure of the potential hydrogen or residue a food leaves behind, as being either alkaline or acidic. And this is not directly related to the acidic nature of a food before it is digested. Lemons, for example, are highly acidic.


If you squeeze the juice of a lemon on an open wound, it will burn. However, when ingested and digested, lemon is very alkalizing for the body, and lemon juice can help reduce acidic levels. A diet that is low in acidic foods and packed full of nutrient-dense alkalizing foods will make you healthier, while also reducing the symptoms of your chronic pain or illness.


If you have pain or chronic disease, you more than likely have a predisposition to infection, and it is likely that a pH imbalance is present in your body. To be sure, you can purchase pH testing strips or rolls in your local drug store.


These are thin paper items that gauge your pH level when dipped either into your saliva or urine stream, first thing in the morning before anything is eaten or drunk. You should strive to have your pH in in the alkaline range, and if you aren’t at that level, you should try to move closer to it each day.


Good Foods


Now for the good news. There are plenty of foods that you can add to your daily diet to make you strong and keep you in homeostatic balance. A diet high in fiber and whole foods, low in preservatives and unhealthy fat, and infused with blood-invigorating aromatic spices can help reduce pain and inflammation.


It is essential to any healthful diet that you consume as many fresh, organic, whole foods as possible. Eating foods in or close to their original state is one of the keys to being healthy, preventing self-induced diet-based inflammation, and reducing the inflammation you are experiencing as a result of your pain or illness.


Dr. Wiley’s book, Arthritis Reversed, gives a concise list of the best foods known to prevent and help reduce inflammation and pain. These should be eaten throughout the day as part of balanced wholesome meals.


• Wild fish (example: Alaskan salmon)


• Fresh whole fruits


• Bright colored vegetables (except nightshades)


• Green and white tea


• Purified and distilled water


• Healthy oils (coconut, olive, flax, hemp, safflower, hazelnut)


• Beef and poultry that is certified organic, grass fed, soy free, and free range


• Nuts, legumes, and seeds


• Dark green leafy vegetables


• Organic oatmeal (regular, not instant)


• Aromatic spices (turmeric, ginger, cloves, garlic, onion, coriander,


and ground mustard seed)


I want to stress the importance of making sure your meat comes from animals that are grass fed, soy free, free range, and certified organic. It is a sad truth that a lot of the meat that is commercially available today comes from sick animals, who are kept in awful, unhealthy, and cruel conditions.


These animals are usually stuffed and packed into barns so tightly they can barely move and they get little to no natural light. They are also often given growth hormones and overfed with foods they wouldn’t eat normally, like corn for cows and, in some cases, even dead, sick animals. These conditions obviously make the animals sick, and then they need antibiotics. At the end of this cycle, the unhealthy, antibiotic-ridden, hormone-laced meat from a sick animal finds its way into our bodies. That’s why it’s so important to choose your meat with care.


As you can see, a diet high in whole foods and low in preservatives and unhealthy fat is an essential part of any pain and illness relief plan. Not only do the above-listed foods actually work to reduce pain and inflammation, but they also support proper nerve function, and muscle and bone health.


Remember, the acid/alkaline or pH level of your body (which can cause or prevent inflammation), is related to the foods you consume. Using the chart reproduced from Dr. Wiley’s Arthritis Reversed below, see how what you consume on a daily or monthly basis may be contributing to the worsening of your chronic health condition.


Chart 12.2: pH Spectrum




Green Tea


Dr. Wiley did a significant amount of research on green tea. He found that green tea, like all true tea, comes from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis tree, and 90 percent of the world’s tea supply is produced in China. What makes green tea so powerful is a chemical compound called polyphenol, which occurs naturally in plants and works as an antioxidant.


Polyphenols work to protect the body from the oxidative stress that causes diseases. Specifically, the polyphenol Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is an extremely powerful antioxidant. In fact, EGCG antioxidant activity is more powerful than the antioxidants found in vitamins C and E.


After fifteen years of working with green tea in his cancer research, Dr. Hasan Mukhtar started looking at the possible benefits this drink could have for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Realizing that both disorders were inflammatory in nature, his team began testing to see if green tea would have the same healing effect on rheumatoid arthritis as it does on cancer and cardiovascular disease.


His first paper, “Prevention of Collagen-Induced Arthritis in Mice by a Polyphenolic Fraction of Green Tea,” was presented to the National Academy of Sciences in April 2005. The results were astounding. Out of the eighteen mice that were given green tea extract, ten never developed any arthritic symptoms. What’s more, symptoms in the remaining eight showed that they developed a much milder form of arthritis. The amount given was the equivalent of drinking just four cups of green tea a day!


Lead author of the paper, Dr. Tariq M. Haqqi said, “Taken together, our studies suggest that a polyphenolic fraction from green tea that is rich in antioxidants may be useful in the prevention and onset and severity of arthritis.”


Three independent and controlled experiments were conducted. Using a widely accepted animal model that is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis, the mice were injected with collagen to induce arthritis. Two groups were studied for forty days, while a third was examined for eighty-five days to verify that the green tea did not simply delay the onset of the disease.


Green tea, unlike the more widely used black version, is not fermented. Instead of crushing the tea leaves, thereby removing the polyphenols, green tea is first dried, and then heated. One teaspoon steeped in hot (not boiling) water contains anywhere from 100 to 200mg of EGCG. Milk should not be added, as it negates the tea’s beneficial properties. According to this study and others that were done for other diseases, two to four cups a day is usually




Human trials are currently being developed. In the meantime, however, Drs. Mukhtar and Haqqi both strongly encourage people to start drinking green tea. Nobody has shown any form of toxicity associated with tea, and with the tremendous amount of data showing its many beneficial qualities, it is a wise and wholesome preventive measure.




Mushrooms should also be a part of your daily diet, as they are full of nutrients


and are power immune boosters.


There are many reasons that mushrooms are so powerful and essential to our health. They are an excellent dietary staple and health booster, containing nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need, along with 30 percent of the high-quality proteins we require. Plus, with virtually no unsaturated fat, they include more minerals than most meat and vegetables.


Even more important than their nutritional content, mushrooms are rich in enzymes that are critical to reducing inflammation throughout the body. For this reason, mushrooms are known to be useful in alleviating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, hypertension and heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.


With so much going for them, and all their amazing health benefits, what’s not to love? So go ahead and give mushrooms a big welcome in your home. Add them to your meals where you can. You will feel a whole lot better because of it.




In cultures that are thousands of years old, such as in India, there are deep traditions of cooking daily meals with medicinal roots and herbs. These herbs act as preventive measures for sustaining good health, and prevention is the cornerstone of India’s traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is one such medicinal root that has made its way into a vast number of Indian recipes.


Aside from your standard chicken or goat curries, there is a whole list of Indian dishes that contain flavorful thermogenic ingredients like cardamom, coriander, ginger, cloves, and turmeric. Not only are these recipes tasty, the ones containing turmeric are especially healthful because of one of its components, called curcumin.


Research conducted by Sarker et al. notes the powerful anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antioxidant properties of curcumin. Moreover, the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health say: “Laboratory and animal research has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties of turmeric and its constituent curcumin.”


Unlike aspirin or ibuprofen, turmeric’s curcumin reduces inflammation naturally, without damaging the liver or kidneys. It has been found especially helpful in treating conditions like arthritis, sports injuries, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, tendonitis, and various autoimmune diseases.


Some research even suggests that curcumin may also help those suffering asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and yes, even cancer. Since curcumin is an anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant, it is used for treating arthritis, wounds, digestive disorders, liver issues, and in the prevention of cancer. It also helps reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.


Statistics show that Asian children experience less incidence of leukemia than their Western counterparts, and a diet rich in turmeric may be the reason why. With no negative effects, there’s no reason not to include more turmeric in your diet. You can try to eat more Indian and Malaysian food or buy the ground powder and use it in your own cooking. Since the flavor can be strong, some people prefer to purchase a high-quality curcumin supplement. In any case, make turmeric and curcumin part of your diet and start reducing your body’s inflammation.


Inflammation Free


Being aware of what you’re eating and how it affects your body. Think about this in the larger context of the Wellness Model of Health™. This is the first step toward becoming free of inflammation. By tweaking your diet to avoid certain foods and adding some new ones, you can live an overall healthier and happier life.


And good food isn’t the only tool you have at your disposal when it comes to building better wellness. In the next chapter, I’ll talk about the power of hydration and show you how simple water has the power to change your life.


Chapter Review


• Inflammation is associated with nearly every major disease we suffer from today.


• The typical American diet is filled with foods that cause inflammation.


• Acidic foods are another cause of inflammation. Stress can cause additional acidity in the body.


• A diet high in fiber and whole foods, low in preservatives and unhealthy fat, and infused with blood-invigorating aromatic spices can help reduce pain and inflammation.


• Green tea, mushrooms, and turmeric are extra-strong foods for battling inflammation.


Recommended Resources


Arthritis Reversed by Dr. Mark Wiley


You can get a detailed list of the best and worst foods for inflammation in Dr.


Mark Wiley’s book, Arthritis Reversed at


it’s important to drink 8 glasses a day. But not all water created equally. Make sure you drink the water that doesn't kill you just as fast. For example, tap water is full of chemicals, chlorine, lye, fluoride etc. Even bathing and showering without shower filter is dangerous.... Filtered Reverse Osmosis and bottled water is very acidic and very oxidant. Your body is 70% water, brain is 80 and blood is 90. Imagine what happens when the water you drink is burning and rusting you inside? That’s why more and more people switching to Kangen 9.5 pH water. Its anti-acidic, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.


5. Food Intolerances, Toxins in foods and Improper diet


A significant proportion of people with CFS have food intolerances. There is often an improvement in their health when certain foods are eliminated.


As Americans, we have the amazing privilege of living in a country where, for the most part, we still have the opportunity to embrace life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without excessive government intrusion into our personal lives. But when it comes to the foods we eat every day, the United States is arguably at the bottom of the pile in terms of food quality and safety. The unfortunate truth is that our increasingly tainted food supply is taking a major toll on public health.


Not to sound like an alarmist, but the modern American food supply truly is a minefield of toxic threats. We are routinely exposed to chemical additives and preservatives, many of which are banned in other countries. We face constant exposure to unlabeled genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), pesticide and herbicide residues, and perhaps the biggest threat of all that you’ve probably never even heard of − mycotoxins.


Most of these toxins found in food aren’t visible to the naked eye and don’t have a distinctive flavor, so you probably don’t even know you’re consuming them. But your body sure does, and the culmination of this perpetual toxic exposure could spell chronic disease or even early death. This is why it’s vitally important to know what to look for and avoid in the foods you eat, and it’s the reason why I’ve put together this important article for your enlightenment.


Mycotoxins: A Major Toxic Threat Hiding in Your Food


Planet earth is a lot like the human body. It is a living, breathing organism dependent upon an immensely complex and unfathomably large microbiome that populates its upper crust. Much like our own intestinal tract, the earth’s soils contain hordes of beneficial bacteria. These friendly bugs help keep living ecosystems everywhere in proper balance, as well as supply plants and food crops with vitamins, minerals, and other critical nutrients.


The earth’s microbiome also helps protect lifeforms from being destroyed by pathogenic viruses and fungi… or at least it’s supposed to, anyway. Over the past 30 or so years, these helpful critters have been abused and degraded by persistent chemical pollution. One of the biggest culprits is Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which many leading experts say is now the leading cause of soil destruction in the world today.


Roundup, which is sprayed by the millions of tons on industrial food crops, not only destroys beneficial soil microbes, but it also chelates (removes) essential nutrients like zinc and copper from them. This leaves the lifeblood of plants and food crops completely stripped of their bio-potential. And, without this protective shield of armor, so to speak, food crops in particular are left vulnerable to toxic destruction by what is now referred to as mycotoxins, which are extremely damaging to human health.


Dave Asprey, the creator of the popular Bulletproof Diet has made addressing mycotoxins his number one priority. This is because these poisons are literally everywhere in the modern, nutrient-depleted food supply. Mycotoxins form from yeast and fungi that develop on foods grown in microbe-deficient soils, which are more the norm than the exception these days. Mycotoxins can lead to nervous system damage, hormone imbalances, and cancer.


America is a great country. But when it comes to the foods we eat every day, the U.S. is arguably at the bottom of the pile in terms of food quality and safety. The unfortunate truth is that our increasingly tainted food supply is taking a major toll on public health.


We face constant exposure to unlabeled genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), pesticide and herbicide residues, and perhaps the biggest threat of all that you’ve probably never even heard of − mycotoxins.


Mycotoxins form from yeast and fungi that develop on foods grown in microbe-deficient soils, which are more the norm than the exception these days. Mycotoxins can lead to nervous system damage, hormone imbalances, and cancer. Processed, non-organic foods in general tend to be prone to mycotoxin formation.


Not only is American food a mycotoxic nightmare, but it’s also a chemical nightmare. This is because of all the additives, preservatives, and colorful food dyes used in much of what you’ll find on grocery store shelves today. There are a number of common food chemicals used in the U.S. that are banned elsewhere due to their questionable safety profile. These include:


rBHG/rBST artificial growth hormones added to milk


Antibiotics in meat, poultry, and fish


Propylene glycol in food and alcohol


Arsenic in chicken


Popular food brands often use completely different ingredients in the United Kingdom and elsewhere than they do here in the U.S. to make similar, but vastly different, products.


The American regulatory system has been whittled away by special interests that have convinced our legislators that all these toxic food chemicals are safe. Europe tends to take a much more precautionary approach with food additives, approving only those shown to be safe. The U.S. takes a more reactionary approach − unless you can prove a chemical is unsafe, then it’s fair game.


To avoid genetically-modified foods, looking for a certified organic label is your safest bet, as the National Organic Program prohibits the use of GMOs in any organic product. Source out local farmers and partner with those who’ve made a commitment to using and growing only clean food products. Or best of all, grow your own organic garden with non-GMO seeds.


(NaturalNews) Before you make that next sandwich, you may want to read the list of ingredients on your bread bag label – because there's a very good chance that it may contain carcinogens.


A food additive used in bread called potassium bromate has been in the international news lately. Indian health officials have recently called for a ban on the use of the additive, which has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.


A testing of products in India found potassium bromate in 84 percent of 38 popular brands of bread, buns, pizza crusts and other baked goods.


Potassium bromate has already been banned in numerous countries, including the entire EU, the UK, Canada, China and Brazil.


Potassium bromate not banned in the U.S.


However, the use of potassium bromate has not been banned in the United States, and although all states require the listing of ingredients, only California requires a warning label for the additive to be included.


Potassium bromate is added to dough to make it stronger and more elastic. It also speeds up the bread-making process and gives baked products a white color.


Genotoxic effects of potassium bromate


Clinical studies measuring the effects of potassium bromate on humans have not been performed, but studies on human cells suggest that the chemical may indeed cause cancer.


In 2015, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a report on potassium bromate.


From Tree Hugger:


"'Obviously there haven't been any intentional studies that expose humans to high levels of potassium bromate,' said Jose Aguayo, EWG database analyst and co-author of the report. 'But there have been studies done on human cells.'


"Aguayo told TreeHugger that in studies of human cell cultures, potassium bromate has been seen to have a genotoxic effect, or in other words, causes damage to the cell's DNA. Aguayo said that while this doesn't prove potassium bromate causes cancer in humans, it suggests that it could.


"Manufacturers say that the baking process converts potassium bromate into a salt, potassium bromide. But if ingredients aren't mixed at the correct ratios, or aren't cooked properly, the original compound may remain. The EWG report cites testing in the UK where some samples of finished bread products were found to have potassium bromate residues."


Other dangerous bread additives


Potassium bromate, however, is just one of many chemicals found in commercial bread products. Baked goods found on grocery store shelves in the U.S. and elsewhere typically contain numerous additives that are not only potentially harmful, but actually unnecessary.


As Vani Hari, the Food Babe, noted: "It only takes 4 ingredients to make bread – flour, yeast, water and salt, there's really no need for all that other nonsense."


As reported by Food Babe:


"Commercially available grain-based products that line grocery store shelves and are served at restaurants are unhealthy. They are full of ingredients that are not food, like azodicarbonamide (the same chemical in yoga mats and shoe rubber), other chemical dough conditioners, added sugars, artificial flavorings or coloring and GMOs. Flour can be treated with any of the 60 different chemicals approved by the FDA before it ends up on store shelves – including chemical bleach! Also, the industrial processing destroys nutrients, such as Vitamin E and fiber."


Even many of the bread products that look healthy are actually loaded with sugar and other questionable additives. The label may say "100% Wholewheat," but upon closer inspection you're likely to find high fructose corn syrup and numerous preservatives on the list of ingredients.


When you buy bread products at the grocery store, always check the ingredient list – or better yet, learn to make your own delicious natural bread at home. You'll save money while eating healthier and – believe me – your hot, homemade bread, fresh from the oven, will smell and taste better than anything you'll find on the supermarket shelf!


Learn more:


6 Common Toxins You Want to Avoid


The worst mycotoxic offenders, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Saudi Chemical Society, include:


Aflatoxins (AF), a family of fungal-based mycotoxins often found in maize (corn), peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts


Ochratoxins (OT), often found in cereal grains, coffee, dried fruits, wine, beer, cocoa, nuts, beans, peas, bread, and rice


Trichothecenes, a protein-inhibiting mycotoxin often found in cereal-based foods


Zearalenone (ZEN), a mycotoxic xenoestrogen found in many food crops grown in glyphosate-treated soils


Fumonisins (F), often found in corn


Tremorgenic toxins, often found in spoiled food products


Mycotoxins seem to be most often found in conventional grains, including wheat, corn, barley, and oats. Processed, non-organic foods in general tend to be prone to mycotoxin formation. This is why the creator of the Bulletproof Diet advises adherents to stick with a so-called “Paleo” style diet low in simple carbohydrates, high in healthy fats, and rich in macronutrients.


If you’re looking for guidelines on avoiding mycotoxins, this Bulletproof Diet Roadmap infographic explains in further detail which foods to avoid, and which to embrace to minimize your exposure.


Chemical Food Additives: Banned Elsewhere but Legal in the USA?


Most standard American fare, as you’ll probably notice, doesn’t even come close to fitting the bill for a mycotoxin-free diet. Not only is American food a mycotoxic nightmare, but it’s also a chemical nightmare. This is because of all the additives, preservatives, and colorful food dyes used in much of what you’ll find on grocery store shelves today.


FDA-approved or not, these chemicals don’t in any way contribute to your health or well-being. They only feed the bottom lines of large food corporations that use them to extend the shelf lives of their products and decrease manufacturing costs. And believe it or not, there’s a whole slew of chemicals used in the U.S. food supply that are so noxious that other countries have outright banned them.


Petrochemical-based food colorings, for instance, which usually have numbers next to their names, aren’t allowed in Europe. These include coloring agents like Blue #1 and #2, Yellow #5, and Red #40, among others that are widely used in the United States. You also won’t find ingredients like brominated vegetable oil, folic acid (a synthetic version of natural folate), or butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) in Europe.


Other common food chemicals used here in the United States that are banned elsewhere due to their questionable safety profile include:


rBHG/rBST artificial growth hormones added to milk


Antibiotics in meat, poultry, and fish


Propylene glycol in food and alcohol


Arsenic in chicken


The Food Quality Double-Standard (America vs the U.K.)


Strangely enough, popular food brands often use completely different ingredients in the United Kingdom and elsewhere than they do here in the U.S. to make similar, but vastly different, products. The American version of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, for instance, is completely different than Kraft’s “Cheesey Pasta” sold in Great Britain.


Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese product for the American market contains:


Enriched “macaroni product” containing a laundry list of synthetic “vitamins” and additives such as niacin, ferrous sulfate (iron), thiamin mononitrate (B1), riboflavin (B2), and folic acid, Sodium tripolyphosphate, a surfactant chemical, Sodium phosphate, Calcium phosphate, Yellow food colorings #5 and #6, both of which are linked to hyperactivity in children, migraine headaches, anxiety, and blurred vision


Kraft’s “Cheesey Pasta” in the U.K., on the other hand, contains only:


Unbleached durum wheat semolina, a FAR superior form of wheat than the heavily processed “enriched” wheat used in the U.S. variety, Cheese Powder, Whey Powder, Lactose, Salt, Emulsifying Salts, and all-natural coloring agents derived from paprika and beta-carotenes, the flavonoid pigments found naturally in fruits and vegetables


Vani Hari, the “Food Babe,” published her own extensive exposé on the exploitation of the American food supply by unscrupulous food corporations. She revealed that all sorts of major names like Pringles, Quaker, Betty Crocker, Kellogg’s, and Nabisco do the exact same thing. Even McDonald’s uses an entirely different set of ingredients for its french fries in the United Kingdom than it does here in the States.


The British get a simple recipe of potatoes, vegetable oil, dextrose, and salt. Americans get the following with their potatoes: Hydrogenated vegetable oils, Artificial “beef” flavoring derived from hydrolyzed wheat and milk, Preservatives, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and assorted of other highly-processed oils, A chemical known as TBHQ (tert-Butylhydroquinone) that keeps these oils from tasting rancid, A plastic-like Silly Putty chemical known as dimethylpolysiloxane that keeps the deep-fried mess from foaming during the cooking process


Can you say disgusting? The list goes on and on, but I’m willing to bet that you already get the picture and are thoroughly disgusted with this extreme double standard of food quality within the food industry. Why are Americans being subjected to a cornucopia of food chemicals while the rest of the world consumes real (or at least much cleaner) food? It’s a matter of public policy.




GMOs: Why are they Legal, Let Alone Unlabeled?


You see, the American regulatory system has been whittled away by special interests that have convinced our legislators that all these toxic food chemicals are safe. Europe tends to take a much more precautionary approach with food additives, approving only those shown to be safe. The U.S. takes a more reactionary approach − unless you can prove a chemical is unsafe, then it’s fair game.


This has likewise translated into failed policies governing biotechnology and the use of GMOs in the food supply. Europe is far more restrictive on the use of transgenic species in food. The U.S. has not only approved their use without adequate safety testing, but also approved their unlabeled use. This means food manufacturers don’t even have to indicate their presence on food labels.


Now that millions of Americans have caught wind of the sham, there is a movement afoot to require mandatory labeling of GMOs, and possibly even an eventual ban. But in the meantime, conscious consumers are educating themselves about which food ingredients are most likely GMO in order to avoid them.


Many food manufacturers are now voluntarily labeling their products as non-GMO using certifications like the Non-GMO Project Verified seal of purity. Others aren’t making it quite as easy, which is why due diligence is required to protect you and your family from these hidden health offenders.


Where are GMO Food Ingredients Lurking?


The most common GMO ingredients found in food include:


Corn, including corn flour, corn starch, corn oil, and corn syrup (as well as high-fructose corn syrup). Corn derivatives that may be of GMO origin include vitamin C supplements, citric acid, dextrose, and xylitol.


Soybeans, including soy flour, soy lecithin, and soy protein isolates and concentrates. Soy derivatives that may be of GMO origin include vitamin E supplements, textured vegetable protein, and monosodium glutamate (MSG)


Cottonseed oil


Canola oil


Sugar beets, from which most of the sugar used in processed foods is derived


Dairy products that contain rBGH/rBST artificial growth hormones


Aspartame, a common artificial sweetener derived from genetically-engineered bacteria


Avoiding GMOs entirely is becoming increasingly more difficult due to cross-contamination of transgenic species with native ones. Many meat and dairy products also come from animals that are fed transgenic feed, including genetically-engineered alfalfa, which is difficult to trace as a consumer.


Looking for a certified organic label when dealing with these ingredients is your safest bet, as the National Organic Program prohibits the use of GMOs in any organic product. I also recommend reaching out to local farmers and discussing the issue, and partnering with those who’ve made a commitment to using and growing only clean food products. Or best of all… grow your own organic garden with non-GMO seeds.


We rely on health heroes like yourself to help us spread the word on this important, life saving information. Share it with friends below.


Top Harvard nutritionist warns processed milk is dangerous, food pyramid is 'utterly ridiculous'


(NaturalNews) In order to maintain strong bones and promote good health, you need to drink three glasses of milk every single day – at least according to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. But one of the world's top scientists says this is horrible advice, calling it "utterly ridiculous," and out of step with what we know about sound nutrition.


Dr. Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, is the second-most cited scientist in the entire field of clinical medicine, so he knows what he's talking about. And government recommendations concerning milk intake, he says, are absolute bunk, and shouldn't be adhered to by anyone looking to reduce his risk of bone fractures.


There are a lot of reasons for this, one being that "milk" today is nothing but a highly-processed, milk-like substance that's been heavily altered through pasteurization, homogenization and the addition of synthetic vitamins and minerals, making it a processed food that provides little in the way of actual nutrition. But beyond this, the idea that drinking processed milk somehow strengthens bones is an industry myth.


According to Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., a leading nutrition expert, milk and dairy products in general are something that people should avoid at all costs. Not only is milk a pro-inflammatory food (at least the processed kind), but it's also counter-intuitive in terms of strengthening bones and reducing one's risk of disease, and here are some reasons why:


6. The calcium in milk isn't as bone-protective as we've all been led to believe. Studies show that vitamin D, magnesium and other nutrients are more important for strengthening bones than calcium. And the calcium in milk, when consumed by itself, may actually increase one's risk of bone problems.


7. Processed dairy lacks the enzymes needed for proper digestion. When milk is pasteurized, the lactase enzyme that digests lactose is destroyed, which is why many people now suffer from lactose intolerance, and can't stomach dairy products without supplemental support.


8. Drinking processed milk can actually increase your risk of cancer. That's right, the calcium in milk has been shown to increase a man's risk of prostate cancer by up to 50 percent. Milk consumption also increases levels of insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1, a hormone that's known to promote the development of cancer.


Don't bother with the USDA's food pyramid; it's garbage


Dr. Willett is also outspoken in condemning the USDA's food pyramid as a whole, which recommends heavy intake of carbohydrates and low intake of fats, two pieces of advice that constitute a recipe for chronic disease and death. The pyramid also pushes the low-calorie myth, failing to differentiate between the types of calories consumed, and how they affect the body differently.


The scientific consensus is finally switching to an understanding that calories aren't what we need to look at, but rather the ratios of the types of foods we eat, and when we eat them. We now know that saturated fats are actually good for the body, and should be consumed in high amounts along with clean proteins, complex carbohydrates in the form of whole vegetables and lots of hydration.


Sugars, grains, artificial sweeteners and additives, and low-fat foods, on the other hand, only fuel inflammation and weight gain, leading to chronic health problems in the long run. Salt, which has long been vilified, is another important nutrient that you need as part of your diet, just so long as it's unrefined sea or mineral salt.


Check out the new book Food Forensics by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, to learn more about how to eat better and avoid disease.


Sources for this article include:


Comments on this article


"Almost all foods are now forever food stuffs that have been ultra processed to the point that one of the few things they provide is calories. Those waves of grain, corn and beans are only calories and stuff. The book "Pandora's Lunchbox" is informative and enjoyable to read. One of the standouts is processed cereals, that come out of an extrusion machine, grey in color, nearly tasteless, vitamin and fiber free. Soybeans are processed using solvents so explosive that the facilities must be bomb proof to protect the people on the outside. Food stuffs are all about profit, which mean shelf life. Bacteria and mold won't even grow in it!"


"Ultra-pasteurized organic milk is garbage, too. Just dead. So dead you can't even make yogurt from it. Organic cream and half and half, ok for a splash in coffee or tea, but that's about it. No nutrition left in it once it's been Ultra-pasteurized. Ridiculous!"


"All rice, coconut, almond, soy, fake milks, are toxic gmo enzymatically altered, sugar waters m, with arsenic an bleach or titanium oxide in them. and nutrient absorbable void."


Avoid 3 Reasons Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds are NOT the “superfoods” you think they are.


Posted by Alex Peak on Modern Living Enthusiastic Writer


What are the chia seeds and flax seeds side effects. A lot of media outlets like to sell the idea of “superfoods”. Some of these like kale and spinach are definitely very good to eat on an almost daily basis but for a while I was also eating daily Chia seeds and flax seeds until I found out they are pretty much a waste of time if you eat very little processed foods. Not only are the health benefits a lot weaker than you might expect due to a few reasons (shared below) but also some studies have shown potential side effects. Similarly to my post on are multivitamins good for you, I will try to sum up why some of these “superfoods” under a closer look are actually not that amazing and not worth too much time thinking about or forcing in your diet. It’s true they do have a lot of nutrients, but your body cannot take advantage of them as well as you might expect.


1. They contain healthy “omega 3’s”. Really? Yes, flaxseed and chia seeds do contain some omega 3 but is this omega 3 actually useful for your body? Omega 3’s come in different forms. The most popular and the ones your body actually want are “docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)” and “eicosapentaenoic acid EPA”, these are naturally found in most fish. The form of omega 3 in flaxseeds and chia seeds is “ALA (Alpha Linolic Acid)”. ALA is converted to DHA and EPA at an ABYSMALLY low rate. As this research shows, “in vivo studies in humans show that asymptotically equal to 5% of ALA is converted to EPA and <0.5% of ALA is converted to DHA”. So ya, a terribly low conversion. Definitely not worth considering both of these seeds as a source of omega 3’s, or even worse, to rely on them thinking your omega 3 needs are met. Instead, ideally eat some fish every 2-4 days that is wild and low in the food chain like sockeye salmon. Or, get some fish oil supplements (Currently I use cod liver oil, but fish oil and krill oil are both great as long as you make sure to avoid these potential fish oil supplement side effects).


Also, this research shows an important side effect of flaxseed, a higher risk of prostate cancer due to higher ALA.


Of course, like most seeds they also do contain omega 6s. So you are pretty much messing up your ratio while eating these since the omega 3 content can’t really be calculated. Instead eat grass fed beef or fish a few times a week to get your omega 3’s. Or take supplements.


2. They show impressive nutrient content… but your body usually will poorly take advantage of it. chiaseeds nutritional information


This is for 50g of Chia seeds, taken from


Chia seeds, and flaxseeds both contain some anti nutrients in the form of phytic acid, while these are not really harmful to your body especially if eaten in moderation they DO make your body absorb a lot less of the nutrients present in the food. Phytic acid in the seeds basically binds to the zinc, iron, copper, and to a lesser extent, the calcium and magnesium present in it. It does not “bind” (unlike what some people believe) to what’s not being presently digested in your stomach from the research I’ve seen. So, they are only a problem while digesting foods in a meal and in the case of these seeds, that means the helpful minerals you could have taken advantage of if phytic acid was not present. So, phytic acid binds to the helpful minerals and prevents your body from absorbing them. You then simply get rid of both when you go to the bathroom. It’s difficult to know what % of the above “nutrients” your body will get from the chia seeds but it is likely to be a lot lower than expected (unless you soak them / de-activate the phytic acid).


3. Flax seeds & Chia seeds side effects chia seeds side effects picture They exist if these seeds are not eaten in moderation and/or not stored properly. So, after you understand that chia seeds aren’t the “perfect” superfood to eat every single day, you might want to be aware of some possible chia seeds side effects. In Dr. Loren Cordain “The Paleo Answer” book he shows that there is evidence that CHRONIC use of chia seeds can cause inflammation in the intestine and may promote “leaky gut”. The key word is chronic, meaning if you eat them very often. Also, being full of polyunsaturated fats they are prone to easy oxidation (unlike saturated fats like coconut oil or most fat from beef) and if you buy a big amount and leave it in the cupboard for a few months they can easily start having mold by simply not being fresh. You probably want to put anything over two weeks supply in the freezer and just take a portion out for 2 weeks as needed. I think the actual chia seeds side effects are quite mild unless you have some allergy to them, the point is exercise moderation. If you really need more fiber, mix in other vegetables full of fiber like broccoli (my favorite, just don’t overcook it.. Ideally steam them 5 minutes and don’t use the microwave which potentially destroys nutrients in it due to the overheating).


4. Chia Seeds have fiber, fiber is good. Yes fiber is good and if you want to eat chia seeds mainly for fiber that can be ok but if you are health conscious enough to add chia seeds to your diet you hopefully also changed your diet to have very little processed foods and a lot of vegetables. Vegetables will have all the fiber you need and you can replace the chia seeds with something that you enjoy the taste of more or that has vitamins/minerals you see your diet is low in. For example I calculated my daily meals for a few weeks and saw I tend to be on the low side for vitamin E, so I added almonds on an almost daily basis which taste great and have a lot of vitamin E.


You insist on eating chia seeds and flax seeds? Here is how to minimize the phytic acid so you can absorb more of the nutrients:


If you really like the taste and eat them often you might want to consider the following. To neutralize some of the phytic acid content, you probably want to soak the seeds in some salty water overnight. After that, eat them quickly as the seeds will probably grow mold even faster, unless you dry them. For this reason I honestly do not even bother with either. They provide some minerals but I have other sources to get those and a more enjoyable taste. They just seem like a waste of money (unless you enjoy them). When I want nuts that contain omega 6’s, I’ll stick to my occasional brazil nuts for selenium & almonds for vitamin E which are harder to find elsewhere (in my diet at least) and harder to supplement (both selenium and vitamin E seem to be better to get from diet rather than supplements for absorption and use).


I’ll make some other posts in the future on other anti nutrients contained in foods like broccoli or spinach, but those are quite easy to resolve while still fully taking advantage of the health benefits by lightly heating them such as steaming them for 3-5+ minutes or so.


There's actually at least Six


5. They don't actually have bioavailable Omega 3's.


6. They contain Anti-nutrients so you don't absorb the minerals that are contained within the seeds and bind with other minerals which are present such as zinc, iron, copper, and magnesium.


7. Chronic use causes inflammation and leaky gut. If you're already healing one of a hundred dis-eases that involves this, they can be an immediate irritant, and even cause stomach discomfort and bloating.


8. Chia seeds are a nightshade. Nightshades are contraindicated for people healing many conditions.


9. They are both very rapid oxidizers this means the oil becomes rancid (toxic) quite quickly. There also prone to molds if not kept refrigerated.


10. Flax is high in estrogen. This created imbalances of both extremely high and low levels of estrogen in your body, which can have a broad range of health implications, some quite serious. Eggs? Dairy? Omega 3? Merina Ornothom also ask re potatoes tomatoes etc


Common brands of teas contain toxins




Common spices have been irradiated


Soybeans are processed using solvents so explosive that the facilities must be bomb proof to protect the people on the outside.


All rice, coconut, almond, soy, fake milks, are toxic gmo enzymatically altered, sugar waters m, with arsenic and bleach or titanium oxide in them. and nutrient absorbable void.


The last thing this description of hexane would conjure up in most people’s imaginations is food. Hexane, however, serves another industrial purpose: The food industry uses hexane to extract proteins from soybeans and oils from other grains such as canola and corn. Many soy food additives are derived through a process that uses hexane. Soy lecithin, an emulsifier, is commonly found in a vast array of products on grocery store shelves including everything from chocolate to margarine to bread and beyond. Soy protein isolate is routinely found in everything from breakfast cereals to veggie burgers to soups and sauces; it’s also added to many “health food” products such as protein bars and meal-replacement shakes. Both of these are commonly extracted using hexane. Sadly, even foods labeled as “all natural” may contain soy by-products and other ingredients that were derived using the hexane extraction process.


In addition, cornmeal and soybean meal extracted during this process are given to all grain-fed livestock in the United States, including cows, poultry, hogs, and even some farmed fish that are being raised on completely unnatural grain diets. In other words, when people eat those meats on top of their regular soy- and corn-based diets, they may be consuming an extra dose of hexane residue.


Because it is added to so many foods by its numerous by-products, soy is by far the biggest potential dietary source of hexane. According to the report, “Behind the Bean: The Heroes and Charlatans of the Natural and Organic Soy Foods Industry,” by watchdog group The Cornucopia Institute, “The effects on consumers of hexane residues in soy foods have not yet been thoroughly studied and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Test results obtained by The Cornucopia Institute indicate that residues—ten times higher than what is considered normal by the FDA—do appear in common soy ingredients.”342


In 1995, the EPA released a report on the emission factors for vegetable oil processing. The report described how there are two main processes for extracting oil from soybeans, and the traditional method of using a screw press is not widely used because the efficiency is much lower than using a solvent.343 The common approach to extracting oil from soybeans and other grains is to literally wash the grains with a solvent, and hexane is the food industry solvent of choice.


Not only are the soybeans washed with hexane/oil mixtures during this process, but they are also eventually washed with pure hexane, sometimes referred to in the industry as a “hexane bath.” To desolventize the oil, the oil/solvent mixture is exposed to steam, pumped through heaters and film evaporators, and run through a stripping column, theoretically separating hexane out to get reused again and again. But not all the hexane gets removed. Ultimately, some hexane residues wind up in the foods created through this process. Even the EPA admits that small quantities of hexane are left behind after the solvent extraction is complete. The EPA has no data on when the hexane volatilizes, but the agency says it will “probably” happen during cooking, as if that is any kind of reassurance to anyone eating this stuff.344


Consumer protection group GMWatch began sounding the alarm, warning that genetically modified foods have shown a pattern of continual increase in the amount of herbicides necessary over the years since they have been introduced, and citing research showing that simply raising the oilseed levels from 20 to 40 ppm elevates them to over 100,000 times the concentration necessary to cause human breast cancer cells to grow in a lab.367,368


A study on the negative health impacts of human exposure to glyphosate concluded that, “Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”378 If this study holds true, it indicates that glyphosate could be inflicting long-term, virtually untraceable damage to the health of millions of individuals.


Researchers from MIT and former government environmental contractors found that glyphosate “enhances the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins” by interfering with certain enzymes and healthy gut bacteria levels. By magnifying unhealthy toxins and contributing to chronic inflammation, glyphosate contributes to a wide range of ailments including gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, and cancer.379,380


Along with both neurological- and endocrine-disrupting toxic effects, atrazine has been shown to synergistically amplify the harmful attributes of other pesticides, such as organophosphates, through an oxidative enzymatic process for a greater total toxicity.386,387 However, this is not the case in every combination with every chemical.


People are primarily exposed to organochlorines through their diet. Organochlorines are most prevalent in animal fats, meat, and dairy,402 but have been known to accumulate significantly in other sectors of the food supply as well.403


DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) was one of the most widely used insecticides during the middle of the twentieth century, playing a significant and celebrated


Pyrethroid compounds have been found to pollute surface waters, impacting the populations of aquatic invertebrates that fish and other wildlife depend on. A study of California’s Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta exposed major contamination from runoff and waste disposal, at levels concentrated enough to pose acute toxicity to amphibians.452 The common use of pyrethroids suggests that such waterway pollution may be widespread.453


Additionally, thousands of textile factory workers in China have been exposed to unusually high levels of pyrethroid insecticides that are used to treat cotton, wool, and other textile materials, highlighting another route of potential exposure that may be occurring on a larger scale in the workplace.454


Among these residues, banned organochlorine pesticides, no longer used in agriculture, were found as a common contaminant among all three categories, as many soils remain contaminated with organochlorine constituents. About 40 percent of the pesticide residues found in organic foods were hits from this source, demonstrating how the past use of discontinued and banned harmful chemicals can continue to impact food safety and pose potential health hazards.


The organic label has grown in popularity in part as a means of avoiding exposure to pesticides. However, some organic farms do employ some types of organic-approved pesticides, though they are banned from using most of the synthetic chemicals that are widely used in conventional agriculture. USDA-certified organic foods490 are allowed to be cultivated with certain chemical additives but are legally required to use chemicals that are classified as not harming the environment or human health.491 While many organic farms may make an earnest effort to produce the cleanest and best foods possible, there is room for concern that some organic-certified producers may in reality be cutting corners and taking advantage of legal loopholes in a way that most conscious consumers would find worrisome and in violation of their reasons for choosing organic options.


For example, some organic produce has been grown using rotenone-pyrethrin, a naturally occurring insecticide and piscicide (fish killer) derived from plant seeds, which is allowed under USDA organic standards but has nevertheless been connected with Parkinson’s disease in rat studies.492,493 Spinosad is another naturally derived insecticide, produced from fermented bacteria, that was given approval for use in organic farming by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP)494 but has been found to produce toxic effects in rats in both chronic and sub-chronic conditions.495


Thus, the use of a thorough home filtration system for all drinking water, as well as for showers and sinks, is advisable.


The 1958 Delaney Clause, an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, originally said that the FDA could not approve any additives known to cause cancer in lab animals or in humans and that no carcinogenic agents could be allowed in food whatsoever. This all changed in 1988 when Michael R. Taylor, a former Monsanto vice president for public policy and current FDA deputy commissioner for foods, wrote his de minimis interpretation of the clause published in the International Journal of Toxicology, stating that if the risk of the carcinogen was “de minimis,” or too minor to warrant consideration, then the food should be able to be sold anyway.496


Allowing for de minimis amounts of carcinogens only takes into account acute poisoning and does not consider the chronic, long-term effects of small amounts of cancer-causing agents here and there over time. And it throws the door wide open for additives.


As Dr. Jacqueline Verrett, former FDA member–turned–whistleblower who oversaw the approval of aspartame, wrote in her book Eating May Be Hazardous to Your Health, “Under the guise of basic research the FDA is using your tax money—quite a bit of it—to try to prove a pet theory that carcinogens can be used safely in food, and to subvert the Delaney clause. The experiments will be used, then, to decide not which chemicals are carcinogens and unsafe for you to eat, but how much of a carcinogen you should be allowed to eat.”497


Thus, many confusing, cryptic, and coded ingredients are frequently found in processed foods of all kinds, contributing to high levels of MSG consumption by unwitting food consumers. Among these are “yeast extract,” “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” (HVP), “textured protein,” “torula yeast,” “autolyzed yeast,” “natural meat tenderizer,” “soy protein isolate,” “gelatin,” “textured protein,” “natural flavor,” “amino acids,” “proteins,” and others.


Several vitamins and minerals appear to play a role in minimizing the effects of MSG, including vitamins C and E, as well as beta carotene and vitamins A, D, and K.595 I’ve personally found that high-grade resveratrol appears to greatly diminish the duration and intensity of MSG headaches, especially when combined with L-Taurine (a common amino acid).


Magnesium plays a particularly important role in modulating MSG’s toxic effects, as it is known in studies to block the neurotoxicity of glutamate and other excitatory amino acids, and it acts as a neuroprotectant.596 Specifically, magnesium (Mg2+) maintains a voltage-dependent block on the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type of glutamate receptor; when the magnesium block is dropped, glutamate is able to “persistently” excite the NMDA receptor and damage neurons.597 Thus, nutritional intake or supplementation of magnesium may be a viable safeguard against some effects of MSG.


As a result of research, the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center recommended a detailed artificial additive elimination diet for treatment of these issues, which worked for other allergens, too.613 Feingold successfully treated some six hundred children with this method, and found even greater effectiveness after also eliminating the synthetic antioxidant additives butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which have been linked to possible cancer risk and genotoxicity.614,615,616,617


It concluded that artificial colors and the additive sodium benzoate did indeed agitate hyper behavior, and correlated in frequency with hyperallergic tendencies in the general population.


In fact, according to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations regarding food coloring additives, a certain number of impurities are allowed in final batches of dye—impurities that include chlorides, sulfates, and carcinogens like azobenzene in addition to toxic heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury. For example, Red No. 40 is technically allowed to contain “not more than” 14 percent volatile matter (at 135 degrees Celsius) and chlorides and sulfates, 10 parts per million lead, 3 parts per million arsenic, and seven other substances; the total (actual) color in a batch may not be less than 85 percent.629 That means that, according to regulations, up to 15 percent of each batch of Red No. 40 that is certified by the FDA can be made up of potentially dangerous impurities. Now consider for a moment that many foods contain multiple food-coloring additives that all have similar rules for the allowance of impurities. While 10 parts per million lead may not sound like a lot in one batch of Red No. 40, when added with other colors that contain their own small amounts of lead, it starts to add up fast.


Other approved food dyes are not as widespread as Red No. 40 and Yellows No. 5 and No. 6, but further research is clearly needed to determine if they are truly safe. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Blue No. 1 caused chromosomal aberrations in two studies, and another study suggested the dye had neurotoxic potential when it was found to act synergistically with L-glutamic acid.642 Studies also show that up to 5 percent of Blue No. 1 is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract, meaning it enters the blood stream and therefore has the potential to affect the body’s neurological function, cellular function, and DNA.


Benzoic acid and its salts as food preservatives


Benzoic acid (labeled as E210 in the EU) and its salts and esters are commonly used in food production as preservatives and stabilizers, despite known risks to human health. Benzoic acid is used to prevent decay in common foods such as reduced-sugar products, certain meats, cereals, and beverages.661


Potential adverse effects for benzoic acid and its commonly used salts—sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate, and calcium benzoate—include temporary impairment of digestive enzymes and depleted glycine levels, as well as allergenic triggers for hay fever, hives, and asthma. Controlled studies on piglets found that benzoic acid increased feed intake and body weight gain.662 Through its strong antimicrobial properties, benzoic acid reduced the number of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, including many beneficial strains that could potentially affect digestion and immunological factors.


Sodium Benzoate (E211)


Sodium benzoate, the sodium salt of benzoic acid, is one of the most pervasive food preservatives from this class, used to stave off microbial growth and frequently added to acidic foods and beverages, including carbonated sodas, fruit juices, margarine, vinegar-preserved foods, and jellies. Exposure through food has been linked in a number studies to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms as well as to worsening asthma and eczema, especially in children.663


The widely reported and scientifically confirmed allergic sensitivity to sodium benzoate (along with artificial food colorings) among children was most famously investigated in the 2007 Southampton, England, study that found consistent adverse behavior effects and hyperactivity among hundreds of randomly sampled children from the general population in two distinct developmental age groups—three-year-olds and eight- and nine-year-olds.664


This study, compounded with previous data, prompted a UK and European Union mandatory warning label that sodium benzoate (E211) “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”665 However, unlike the artificial colors subjected to a “voluntary ban,” sodium benzoate was not put under further regulation because its use as a preservative was determined to distinguish it from non-functionary colorings.666


Since the end of the twentieth century, researchers have chronicled sodium benzoate’s potential to damage DNA through mutagenesis and promote oxidative stress in the gastrointestinal tract.667


The FDA and the soda and beverage companies have known since the early 1990s that certain formulas with sodium benzoate or other forms of benzoic acids and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as ingredients were converting into benzene, a known carcinogen and elementary petrochemical classified as a hydrocarbon—but the public was never told.668 More than fifteen years later, the issue resurfaced as a hard-hitting contamination scandal on a global scale, with findings that benzene had formed in beverages during production, particularly those with orange flavoring, including citric acid, leading to subsequent recalls and reformulation in many markets.669,670 Further, a Belgian study found that plastic soda containers were contributing to the acidic reaction that produced benzene in trace amounts, as demonstrated in approximately 47 percent of samples.671


In 2008, Coca-Cola Great Britain hailed plans to remove sodium benzoate from its UK Diet Coke formula,672 while seeking a replacement preservative for sodas with fruit content such as Sprite and Fanta Orange.673 The switch was also made in the United States and Europe, while soft drinks such as Pepsi Max and diet sodas produced by the name brands Sunkist Orange, Mountain Dew, and Nestea continues its use today.


Potassium Benzoate (E212)


Potassium benzoate is also a salt of benzoic acid, frequently used in acidic food and beverages as a preservative to protect artificial flavor enhancers. It is often used as an alternate to sodium benzoate. It is an ingredient in popular low-calorie soft drinks, including Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and many of their variants such as Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry,674 as well as Lipton Diet Iced Tea, all of which reportedly transitioned to potassium benzoate in reaction to the controversy over sodium benzoate.675


Like other benzoic acids, potassium benzoate has been linked to triggering or worsening allergic reactions and contributing to ADHD and hyperactivity, and it also poses a risk of producing benzene when formulated with ascorbic acid.


Calcium Benzoate (E213)


Calcium benzoate is yet another benzoic acid salt used as a beverage and food preservative—appearing in low-sugar products, cereals, and meats—that is connected with allergic reactions and hyperactivity. It has been listed as one of the top ten E numbers to avoid.676


Parabens (E214, E215, E218, E219)


Parabens are chemicals most commonly known for their use as antimicrobial preservatives in cosmetics and skin-care products. Their variants include methylparaben (E218—methyl p-hydroxybenzoate), sodium methyl p-hydroxybenzoate (E219), propylparaben, isopropylparaben, ethylparaben (E214—ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate), sodium ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate (E215), butylparaben, isobutylparaben, and benzylparaben. Methylparaben and propylparaben are the only two parabens classified as generally recognized as safe by the U.S. FDA.677,678 (Paraben food additives approved for use in the EU include the E numbers in the parentheses following the variants above.679)


Parabens are found in tens of thousands of personal care products on the market today, even though the mechanism by which parabens are antimicrobial “is not fully understood.”680


A storm of controversy began brewing in the 1990s surrounding parabens when researchers discovered they acted as xenoestrogens, or chemicals that mimic female hormones, and as endocrine disruptors.681 Fast forward to 2004, when a study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology found five types of parabens in eighteen of twenty breast tumor tissue samples tested.682 Methylparaben was discovered at the highest levels, comprising 62 percent of total paraben discovered. Of the six parabens analyzed (isopropylparaben was not included in the study), benzylparaben was the only paraben not found in any of the tissue. The research team concluded that some of the paraben absorbed through skin-care products or food is able to be retained, although they could not identify the specific route—oral or topical—in which the parabens entered the body. Nor could the study provide conclusive proof that the parabens in the breast tumor tissue actually caused the tumors in the first place. Of the study, Discovery Fit and Health noted, “Paraben may very well be found in all tissue, due to widespread use.”683 Still, the study was cause for alarm and further research, given that parabens are ubiquitous in cosmetic, skin-care, pharmaceutical, and even food products.


Despite their established action as xenoestrogens and endocrine disruptors, the FDA has classified both methylparaben and propylparaben as GRAS for use in food. Parabens can be found in processed foods, cakes, pie crusts, pastries, icings, dried meat products, coated nuts, liquid dietary food supplements, and more.684 Regarding parabens as food additives, the FDA says, “There is no evidence that consumption of the parabens as food ingredients has had an adverse effect on man in the 40 years they have been so used in the United States.”685 While public concern mounted following the 2004 study previously discussed, causing a flurry of companies to remove parabens from their cosmetic and skin-care products altogether and openly noting “paraben-free” on the packaging as a selling point, many health-conscious U.S. consumers may likely remain unaware that paraben is used as a food ingredient and that it has been for over four decades.


In a follow-up to the 2004 study, a study in 2012 analyzed 160 breast tissue samples from forty women with breast cancer for five different parabens. This time, parabens were detected in a whopping 99 percent of samples. Propylparaben and methylparaben were found in the highest concentrations, respectively, but over 60 percent of samples analyzed contained all five parabens considered. While many underarm deodorants contain parabens that have been postulated as a potential breast cancer agent due to the close proximity of the underarms to the breasts and the typical daily usage of deodorants, the researchers noted that parabens were even present in the breast tissue of women who do not use deodorant.686


Even though only methylparaben and propylparaben are listed by the FDA as GRAS, two 2013 studies discovered those weren’t the only types found in food samples tested. The first study involved 267 food samples, including meat, grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, fats/oils, dairy products, and beverages taken from Albany, New York.687 Over 90 percent of the food samples tested positive for parabens, and all five types the researchers were testing for were present: methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl, and benzyl. The highest concentrations were methyl, ethyl, and propyl. The abstract noted that, to the researchers’ knowledge, it was the first study of its kind on paraben levels in foods.


In a follow-up study, the same researchers looked at food samples from China and determined that, out of six parabens, 99 percent of 282 food samples from thirteen categories collected from nine cities in China contained the chemical preservative. According to the study abstract, “Methyl paraben (MeP), ethyl paraben (EtP), and propyl paraben (PrP) were the major paraben analogs found in foodstuffs, and these compounds accounted for 59 percent, 24 percent, and 10 percent, respectively, of paraben concentrations.”688 The researchers also determined that estimated daily intake levels for the foodstuffs from China for parabens were approximately three to, in some cases, ten times as high as was found in the U.S. study.


The public’s avoidance of parabens in foods is difficult because awareness of the issue is so low; many do not realize they are in foods and not just limited to cosmetics and skin-care products. Worse, when parabens are in foods, they are deceptively labeled as methyl p-hydroxybenzoate or propyl p-hydroxybenzoate instead of methylparaben and propylparaben.689 Knowledge is half the battle and, unfortunately, the public is simply not well informed.


Propyl gallate (E310)


Propyl gallate is the ester of gallic acid and propynol used as a synthetic antioxidant food preservative to keep oxygen from turning the oils in some food rancid. It is commonly found in microwave popcorn products, mayonnaise, chewing gum, soup mixes, frozen TV dinners, and other foods containing oils and fats. It’s also used in personal care products, cosmetics, adhesives, and lubricants. Propyl gallate is commonly used in conjunction with the preservatives BHA and BHT (see pages 149 and 163).


Propyl gallate has been shown in studies to be both genotoxic and cytotoxic, to inhibit and kill human endothelial cells, as well as to cause everything from allergic reactions such as seborrhoeic dermatitis and depigmentation of skin to liver damage. It was also recently identified as a xenoestrogen.690,691,692,693,694,695 Propyl gallate can cause stomach irritation and asthma attacks, and it can negatively affect aspirin-sensitive people; in addition, some countries such as South Africa ban it from use in foods for babies and young children.696 The FDA still considers it generally recognized as safe and has determined there are no safety hazards when used at appropriate levels.697


As it is not used as frequently as some preservatives, it is easiest to avoid by simply reading food labels.


TBHQ (E319), BHA (E320), and BHT (E321)


TBHQ, or tertiary butylhydroquinone, is a phenolic antioxidant-based preservative created with coal tar and the petroleum derivative butane. It is added to bread, pasta, margarine, potato chips, condiments, and other processed foods including fast food to prevent oils and fats from turning rancid. It’s also used in a wide array of manufacturing capacities, including varnish and lacquer production, as well as for the stabilization of explosives. A five-gram dose of TBHQ is known to be fatal.


TBHQ is often used in combination with other preservatives, specifically BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). These three preservatives are commonly used together. In dozens of studies that have been done on all three since the mid-1970s, a wide range of adverse health effects—including reproductive, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, liver, lung, and skin problems—have been demonstrated, along with severe allergic reactions, nausea, and delirium.698


These preservatives have also been linked in studies to behavioral problems in children, including ADHD. In the 1970s, before TBHQ existed, Dr. Ben Feingold was able to reduce behavioral issues in six hundred children just by removing BHA and BHT (in combination with the removal of artificial colors and flavors) from their diets.699 While behavior improved in 30 to 50 percent of children after the colors and flavorings were taken out, the removal of BHA and BHT improved behavior in 60 to 70 percent of them. That same decade, in 1974, a study found that chronic ingestion of BHA and BHT by pregnant mice resulted in adverse behavior patterns, including insomnia, cognitive deficits, decreased self-grooming, and increased aggression.700 According to the New England Health Advisory, not only has TBHQ been linked to ADHD, but studies have shown it affects estrogen levels in women as well.701 According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety, TBHQ has damaged DNA in vitro and produced stomach tumor precursors in lab animals.


Both the FDA and the European Food Safety Authority have determined that BHA, BHT, and TBHQ are safe at the permitted acceptable daily intake levels. Despite evidence to the contrary, the EFSA ruled in 2004 that TBHQ is not a carcinogen and no further genotoxicity studies would be necessary.702 Consumers eat an estimated 20 milligrams of BHA and BHT daily.703


TBHQ, BHA, and BHT are all required to be listed on food packaging, but unless someone specifically requests the ingredients list at a restaurant, they aren’t going to know whether or not these preservatives are present in the food. In addition, as with many additives, federal laws do not require food manufacturers to disclose if ingredients were already preserved with BHA or BHT prior to being made into a final product. Vitamin A palmitate, used to fortify foods such as dairy products, may contain small amounts of undisclosed BHA and BHT, for example.704


Sulfites (E223)


Sulfites are common preservatives and antimicrobial agents added to foods, medicines, and especially wines to stop the fermentation process. Sulfites also prevent spoilage and can stop the browning process in some fruits and vegetables. They can be found in alcoholic beverages, condiments, modified dairy products, fish, gelatins, puddings, jams and jellies, shredded coconut, processed vegetables, dried fruits, and some snack foods and soup mixes.705 According to natural wine promoter More than Organic, sulfites are present at concentrations of up to 10 mg/L even in unsulphured wine, but conventional wines on the market today contain an average of ten to twenty times that much. In addition, conventional winemakers typically add sulfites to red wine even though its antioxidant properties are such that it is an unnecessary step.706


While sulfur is an essential element found in all animal and plant cells—some foods, such as eggs, onion, garlic, and cabbage, naturally contain high amounts of sulfur—the inorganic chemical compound sulfite created from sulfur can cause adverse reactions in sensitive people, including autistic children who have issues ridding themselves of excess sulfur.707 Some studies show that the sulfites regularly added to wine can actually trigger wine-induced asthma.708 Research has also linked sulfite exposure to an increased risk of liver disease due to the oxidative damage it can cause.709


The FDA requires food manufacturers to list sulfites if 10 ppm or more are present in the finished food or beverage product.710 Still, a rash of twenty-seven deaths between 1985 and 1990 were blamed on sulfite-induced anaphylactic reactions; at least six of those occurred in restaurants, where ingredients lists are either not readily available or not double-checked.711,712 Consensus was the deaths were due to sulfites on potatoes, which prompted the FDA to stop allowing sulfites on fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to establishing the 10 ppm-labeling limit. Still, sulfites are one of the few approved food preservatives that even the government has acknowledged has killed people—and yet, they are still allowed to be added to food with only limited regulation.


A meal consisting of a regular green salad, three ounces of dried apricots, and a four-ounce glass of wine would contain approximately 375 milligrams of sulfite, an amount far in excess of the World Health Organization daily limit of 42 milligrams for a 132-pound adult.713 It’s very likely the average diet contains far more sulfites than recommended, but because they are ubiquitous, it may be unavoidable.




A number of food additives are used to structure or blend otherwise incompatible mixtures of oil and water, or water-soluble ingredients. Thus, these chemicals and naturally occurring ingredients help hold many processed food concoctions together and maintain appearance, texture, and freshness, acting secondarily as preservatives. Ingredients such as cellulose and various gums—including gum arabic, furcelleran, guar, locust bean, and xanthan—frequently serve functions in processed foods as thickening agents, emulsifiers, and/or preservatives with little or no known risks and, in some instances, certain benefits. Guar gum, for one, has numerous positive interactions and possible health benefits.714,715,716,717,718 However, certain other emulsifiers and thickeners may pose significant health risks.


Carrageenan (E407)


Carrageenan, a red seaweed extract, is one of the most commonly added emulsifiers and thickening agent preservatives in numerous cheese and dairy products, alternative nondairy and low-fat products, desserts, cereals, drinks, baby formulas, gums, and other snacks. In many cases, carrageenan works as a fat substitute to bind ingredients together and establish texture.


Carrageenan is even a favorite additive in many USDA-certified “organic” and “natural” foods, despite its unhealthy connection to gastrointestinal inflammation and experimental cancer in lab animals.


Its health risks center on the fact that degraded forms of carrageenan, which have lower molecular weights, have been found to cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal system and colon. The native carrageenan used in foods begins not degraded, but a certain percentage becomes inadvertently degraded through the alkaline-based extraction process. This process contributes a potentially dangerous and inflammatory form of carrageenan seeping into foods.719


In numerous scientific studies, researchers have administered degraded carrageenan to rats as a way to induce adverse health effects for tests, including pain, chronic prostatitis, arthritis, synovitis, pleurisy, insulin resistance, Achilles tendinitis, and edema, just to name a few.720,721,722,723,724,725,726,727,728,729,730


The Cornucopia Institute details how a working group formed in 2005 by the carrageenan industry trade group Marinalg tested samples of food-grade carrageenan produced by its industry members, finding degraded carrageenan in every single sample. Two-thirds of these samples contained levels of this dangerous derivative above 5 percent, the amount considered by the industry as a working limit. However, by 2012, Marinalg was reportedly unable to establish a reliable testing procedure that would allow limits to be set or met, meaning that there is no guarantee of consumer safety of this food additive in spite of its widespread use.731


The U.N. WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer identified degraded carrageenan as a Group 2B “possible human carcinogen” back in the early 1980s.732 The U.S. FDA considered restricting degraded carrageenan, as defined by molecular weight under 100,000, back in 1972, but no action was ultimately taken.733


The FDA has approved carrageenan as safe in its not-degraded food grade form, along with several of its salts and also formulas combined with Polysorbate 80 as stabilizers.734


In a controversial move, the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board first approved carrageenan for use in organic foods in the mid-1990s. The Cornucopia Institute reported that when the food additive came up for periodic review in the spring of 2012,735 one of the NOSB board members over-emphasized the claims of the carrageenan lobbying group Marinalg (whose member companies include Cargill Texturizing Solutions and DuPont Nutrition Biosciences).736


That board member—supposed to be representing public interests—reportedly spent floor time reading direct passages from Marinalg-sponsored studies that asserted carrageenan’s unequivocal safety,737,738 but passed the claims off as if they were authored by United Nations’ Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Despite strong opposition from every public interest group in attendance, carrageenan was reapproved for use in organic foods for another five years by a slim one-vote margin.739


Dr. Joanne Tobacman has published more than twenty peer-reviewed studies on the health effects of carrageenan, and she has not only studied carrageenan as an associate professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine,740 but has also used her acumen to be a public advocate for the removal of carrageenan, initiating a petition to the FDA back in 2008, addressing the USDA National Organic Standards Board in 2012, and informing the public through various media outlets.741,742


According to Dr. Tobacman, the food additive is capable of causing inflammation in any of its forms,743 making it not just another inert ingredient but also cause for significant alarm. Chronic inflammation can trigger a perpetual inflammation cycle that invites everything from Parkinson’s to coronary artery disease to rheumatoid arthritis to cancer.


Significantly, Dr. Tobacman found that chronic, low-dose exposure to carrageenan contributed to glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and impaired signaling, all precursors to diabetes and obesity.744


Another study by Tobacman and her team described how colon cells interact with carrageenan promoters to prolong inflammation caused by the food additive.745 Most recently, Tobacman and her colleagues published a study in January 2014 demonstrating how carrageenan contributes to colon cancer.746


Despite all this, the public is largely unaware of carrageenan’s risks, unlike the attention paid to high-profile ingredients such as aspartame, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, and other controversial additives.


Ultimately, carrageenan has no nutritional purpose and is nonessential as an additive because it could easily be replaced by alternatives such as locust bean gum or guar gum. Moreover, many foods do not require an emulsifier in the first place but could instead simply prompt consumers to “shake” before eating or drinking.


The Cornucopia Institute has published a shopping guide to aid buyers in avoiding carrageenan.747


Soy lecithin (E322)


With soybeans as one of the most heavily subsidized, widely used, and cheapest sources of raw food material, soy lecithin is one of the most common components of modern mass-produced processed food products. It is relatively non-toxic, inexpensive (due to government soy subsidies), and reduces viscosity while preventing separation and keeping ingredients—such as oils and chocolate—evenly mixed inside product formulas. Made up of the phospholipids phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), and phosphatidylinositol (PI), lecithin is separated from soybean oil through industrial production and can be found on a significantly large portion of product ingredient labels for foods of nearly every kind.748


11.  In almost every case, that soy lecithin is also derived from genetically modified soy, unless the label specifically says it is made from non-GMO or organic soy. About 93 percent of soy grown in the United States and 81 percent of soy grown globally is genetically modified, although food producers prefer to keep that fact off of labels.749


The sordid details of soy lecithin’s history as a food staple was taken on by author Kaayla Daniel in her 2005 book The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food. Though lecithins are naturally occurring in all organisms and can be extracted from many sources, soy lecithin came to dominate the market due to its cheap cost and surplus abundance as a foul-smelling industrial waste sludge that remains from the degumming processing of crude soy oil.750,751


Daniel cites historian William Shurtleff, who wrote an unpublished history on soy with coauthor Akiko Aoyagi, claiming that German soy oil refiners of the early twentieth century were seeking ways to dispose of this industrial sludge and turned to a vacuum drying method that led to the patenting and marketing of soybean lecithin as a major commodity.752 Reportedly, the German industry hired scientists to develop hundreds of new commercially viable applications; several of the new applications it developed for the food industry now heavily affect the diet of the global consumer.


Shurtleff and Aoyagi further detail how Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), now a massive Big Agra conglomerate, became the first American manufacturer of soy lecithin in 1934, and by 1935, the company had patented a new process for oil extraction—using hexane.753 This displaced the dominant ethanol-benzol extraction method and allowed for a more palatable and appealing soy lecithin product. ADM’s aggressive marketing allowed soy-derived lecithin to overtake egg-derived lecithin and unleashed a whole new era of processed foods into the Western diet.


Using hexane as a solvent to extract soy lecithin underscores the pressing concern in weighing the potential health risks and contamination issues for this industry standard food emulsifier.754 Hexane, a constituent of gasoline and jet fuel, poses significant chronic toxicological health hazards, including damage to the nervous and muscular systems and vision impairment. Hexane is also a known potential carcinogen.755 The Cornucopia Institute found that hexane is persistent in soy lecithin production and thus poses a legitimate health concern.756 This issue is more thoroughly covered in the hexane section of this book (see page 107).


Soy lecithin production supposedly eliminates soy proteins and, with it, the potential for allergic reaction. However, the expectation that mass production and mass consumption of soy lecithin does not carry with it the risks of soy-related allergies is not based on any long-term dietary studies, so it warrants further study. Nevertheless, aside from the hexane, soy lecithin likely carries a low allergenic risk.


Polysorbate 80 (E433)


Polysorbate 80, which is also known as polyoxyethylene (80) sorbitan monooleate, (x)-sorbitan mono-9-octadecenoate poly (oxy-1,2 ethanediyl), Tween 80, and POE (80) sorbitan monooleate, and its fellow polysorbates (including -20, -40, -60, and -65) are emulsifiers traded under brand names such as Tween, Alkest, and Canarcel. Polysorbates are made up of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, esterified with fatty acids. Polysorbate 80 and polysorbate 60 are widely used in foods, while polysorbate 80 has become a common (and controversial) adjuvant and excipient in vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs, included increasingly in the nanoparticle delivery of medication.


Polysorbate 80 has GRAS status from the FDA and is accepted as safe in Europe as well; it is very frequently found in whipped dessert toppings, ice cream, shortening, desserts, and condiments.


However, few studies have been done on the actual safety of this processed food ingredient in the human diet. While no great potential for harm has yet been demonstrated, and no evidence exists in regards to carcinogenicity or neurotoxicity,757 there is some emerging evidence to cast doubt on the overall safety of dietary polysorbate 80.


Gastroenterology research into the causes and rising prevalence of Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases has raised significant dietary questions about the developed world’s modern diet of highly processed foods. Does polysorbate 80 play a role?


In 2010, researchers probed the impact of foods on aiding or inhibiting invasive disease bacteria across the gastrointestinal barrier through transportation on M cells (microfold cells),758 which play a role in immune response and in breaching this barrier during intestinal inflammation.759


The study found that high-fiber foods like broccoli and plantains inhibited the translocation of invasive disease-carrying bacteria, while emulsifiers such as polysorbate 80 from processed food diets facilitated the transport of pathogens, increasing the rate across M cells fivefold.


Researchers now believe that emulsifiers generally may play a significant role in increasing intestinal permeability in patients with Crohn’s disease, particularly as emulsifiers are detergents—and amphiphilic (friendly with water and fats)—which are known to increase intestinal permeability. These researchers noted that in previous studies, “Polysorbate 80 has been shown to integrate within cell membranes, altering their microviscosity.”760,761


This research would support evidence that polysorbate 80 could be affecting transport of disease-causing agents across the intestinal barrier. So far, there has been little investigation into the effect of emulsifiers like polysorbate 80 on gut permeability, but the implications of these initial findings for the emerging rainbow of gastrointestinal disorders is immense.


A 2003 study found that injected polysorbate 80, frequently used as a vaccine adjuvant, was found to increase digestive efficiency, but at the same time, it also caused a toxic irritating effect on the gastrointestinal system at a high dosage.762


In commercial food production, polysorbate 80 has also been combined with carrageenan into a single food additive, which has been approved by the FDA for use in foods.763,764 Now, it need only be labeled “carrageenan” even when it contains up to 5 percent by weight of polysorbate 80. The FDA currently limits the concentration of polysorbate 80 in the final food product to 500 ppm.765 Given the results of the Crohn’s study with polysorbate 80 and the significant and toxic effects of carrageenan with gastrointestinal inflammation (see the earlier section on carrageenan on page 166), there is reason to be concerned that low concentrations of polysorbate 80 may now be hidden in foods.


A study published by Nature in 2015 highlighted the negative impact of dietary emulsifiers on digestive disorders and even metabolic syndrome. Entitled “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome,” this study reported:


Agents that disrupt mucus–bacterial interactions might have the potential to promote diseases associated with gut inflammation. Consequently, it has been hypothesized that emulsifiers, detergent-like molecules that are a ubiquitous component of processed foods and that can increase bacterial translocation across epithelia in vitro2, might be promoting the increase in inflammatory bowel disease observed since the mid-twentieth century.766


Avoiding polysorbate 80, along with other synthetic preservatives and emulsifiers, may be prudent under the prevailing wisdom of the precautionary principle and a little common sense, as polysorbate 80 was not an ingredient in anyone’s diet a century ago. It may well be confounding or aggravating to our digestive systems, regardless of how readily it is sold to us in cleverly marketed food products with trendy and inviting packages.


A feeding study from 1956 testing for fertility effects on mice from partial ester emulsifiers found no effect from eating a 5 percent diet of polysorbate 80, but it did find a slight reduction in fertility at the extremely high dietary intake level of 20 percent.767 Though this level of consumption is unrealistic in terms of typical human diets, it may warrant further investigation, as polysorbate 80 has been connected with lowered fertility and birth defects when used in vaccines in animal studies768 and accompanied a spike in fetal loss reports across three consecutive flu seasons while it was in the flu vaccine.769 It is in current versions of vaccines for influenza, HPV, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, Tdap, and DTap.770


Medical administration of polysorbate 80 in vaccinations caused anaphylactic shock in at least one man, according to a 2005 paper.771 Rats given injections of polysorbate 80 (Tween 80) in saline experienced convulsions and death within minutes.772 It should be noted, when administered capsaicin, the compound that makes hot peppers hot, prior to the Tween 80 shot, the rats’ lives were saved from the Tween 80.


Carbon monoxide


Carbon monoxide (CO), the notorious odorless killer gas, is used as a color preservative in meat and seafood products to maintain a reddish color that gives the appearance of fresh meat and lasts for up to three weeks.773 Retail cuts are packaged in gas mixtures containing less than 0.5 percent CO. It is approved for use and generally recognized as safe by the FDA.774


Though studies have claimed that the low level of gas used is safe and a highly improbable toxic threat,775 critics have called attention to its use on the basis of potential consumer fraud, by potentially making old foods seem fresh.776,777 If meats or fish appear fresh even after they are past their prime, shoppers could be duped into purchasing spoiled meats, filled with dangerous microbes, which could be hazardous if consumed.778


In addition, low-level chronic exposure to breathing carbon monoxide can cause amnesia, headaches, memory loss, behavioral issues, loss of muscle and bladder control, and vision impairment, although no studies have considered the effects of long-term CO ingestion.779


All in all, the use of such a well-known toxin in food preservation holds a creepy overtone—one more cosmetic agent of food mummification.


Potassium bromate (E924)


Potassium bromate is a preservative and bleaching agent that strengthens glutens and was widely used across the globe in nearly every type of enriched bread for many decades, until it was confirmed to be a carcinogen targeting the kidneys780 and thyroid with oxidative damage.781,782


The food additive has since been banned in numerous countries, starting in Europe and the United Kingdom in 1990, in Canada by 1994, in Sri Lanka and parts of Latin America by 2001, and even in China by 2005,783 while the state of California requires a warning label listing it as a carcinogen under Prop 65.784


Nevertheless, it remains approved for use in the United States by the FDA as an optional ingredient in standardized foods at levels less than 75 ppm in whole wheat flour and 50 ppm in white flour, though use has reportedly declined.785 It remains legal because it was approved by the FDA back in 1958 before the Delaney Clause took hold.786 The EPA classified it as a Group B2 carcinogen in 1993 and established a final rule by 1998, stating that “there is sufficient laboratory animal data to conclude that bromate is a probable (likely under the 1996 proposed cancer guidelines) human carcinogen.”787


In addition to potassium bromate’s direct effects, bromism, or bromide dominance, can develop in the human body, in which long-term chronic exposure to bromide can inhibit iodine absorption, leading to a deficiency that can trigger cancers of the thyroid, prostrate, and ovaries after significant accumulation.788,789


Potassium bromate, where still in use, remains a largely hidden ingredient, typically only listed on the label as “enriched flour,” but occasionally appearing as “bromated flour.” Several fast food chains continue to use it in buns and breads, despite the clear risks.


Used in the United States since the early 1900s, it is added to the brew and dough recipes for enriched flours, particularly after new requirements called for nutritional enhancements and constant refinement to maintain texture, volume, and a palatable taste in industrial scale breads produced for the commercial market. Potassium bromate was considered essential at trace levels to solidify the addition of soy or wheat-gluten proteins. Cereal Chemistry journal articles detail the sometimes disastrous recipe revisions790 and workarounds in 1970s-era cereal-enrichment formulations based on low-quality ingredient mixtures with potassium bromate as a stabilizing agent.791


Documented industrial recipes describe its continued use in 2002 with a raw wheat germ and vital wheat gluten formula.792 Organic flours and baked goods typically avoid the use of this chemical, and are the best bet to avoid intake.


Studies have shown that glutathione, cysteine, and vitamin C protect against the cytotoxic carcinogenic effects and oxidative DNA damage of potassium bromate by blocking its ability to induce oxidative stress.793,794


Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) (E443)


A related bromide preservative is controversially used in the soft drink and beverage industry in sodas and sports drinks with citrus flavors. Brominated vegetable oils (BVO), composed of bromine and corn or soy oils, emulsify these citrus flavor agents and allow them to remain suspended in a cloudy mixture in drinks, including Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Powerade, Amp, Squirt, and Fanta Orange.


BVO was originally approved for use as a flame retardant. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, safety concerns over brominated vegetable oils led the FDA to remove the additive from the generally recognized as safe list back in 1970. However, with behind-the-scenes pressure from the beverage industry, the toxic ingredient continued to be allowed as part of the FDA’s Interim List pending further safety studies.


Decades later, the FDA has indicated it believes the ingredient to be “safe,” while Europe and other countries have banned its use and embraced safer alternatives.795


Long-term exposure to BVOs can cause inhibited growth, adverse behavioral and reproductive effects, heart lesions, and liver damage, according to rat studies, and several isolated cases of human toxicity after extreme overconsumption of sodas, triggering a severe case of bromism.796,797,798,799


Sodium nitrite (E250)


Sodium nitrite, used in everything from pesticides to dyes to pharmaceuticals, is an inorganic compound perhaps best known for its role as an additive in processed meats. The FDA has approved sodium nitrite for use in foods to prevent the growth of botulism spores and as a color fixative.800 Sodium nitrite is added to give meat that seemingly “fresh,” vibrant red or pink color that will make it more appealing to consumers for its potentially lengthy shelf life.


While it may be visually appealing—causing cured deli meats, pepperoni, salami, jerkies, bacon, hot dogs, and sausage to look the way people expect them to—sodium nitrite in processed meats doesn’t look quite so pretty otherwise.


A multitude of studies have associated processed meats with a bevy of cancers and health issues due to the nitrites used to cure them. In just the last decade, researchers have linked sodium nitrite in processed meat to a 74 percent increase in leukemia;801 a significant increase in the risk of esophageal carcinoma according to a thirty-year cohort study;802 reproductive toxicity and interference with normal embryo development;803 the parallel rise of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes;804 an increased risk of gastric cancer;805 a 31 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk with high intake of dietary nitrite;806 obstruction of lung function and increase in risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);807 formation of a hepatocarcinogen;808 a 67 percent increase in pancreatic cancer risk;809,810 a positive association between red meat intake and bladder cancer;811 nephrotoxicity and oxidative damage in the kidneys of rats;812 a twofold higher risk of thyroid cancer in women with the most dietary intake of nitrite, particularly from processed meats;813 and the list goes on and on.


When sodium nitrite hits the human digestive system, all hell breaks loose. At high temperatures, nitrites in processed meats combine with the proteins in meat called amines, forming toxic, carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach that can enter the blood stream and wreak havoc on the body. Nitrosamines were first outed as cancer-causing agents in 1956 when two scientists discovered dimethylnitrosamine gave rats liver tumors, so the dangers have been known for some time.814


In her book Eating May Be Hazardous to Your Health, former FDA aspartame panel member–turned–whistleblower Jacqueline Verrett talks about how Dr. William Lijinsky, a scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, reported that 100 percent of his lab rats fed combinations of nitrite and amine (found in meat, wine, fish, and many prescription drugs, as well as other products) developed malignant tumors in nearly every organ system within six months.815


Although some may try to argue that nitrites in processed meats are safe because some vegetables naturally contain nitrites, those vegetables do not contain the amines that meat does; neither are vegetables heated to the same range of temperatures as meats, so the likelihood of vegetables creating nitrosamines is much lower.


The bacteria found in meat reduces nitrates into nitrite, which in turn becomes the nitric oxide that actually cures the meat. Environmentally relevant concentrations of nitric oxide have been found to induce everything from reproductive and developmental toxicity to colon cancer.816,817


Is sodium nitrite toxic? Without question, it is.


In 2008, a Missouri woman who worked at a meat processing plant filled a capsule with sodium nitrite and gave it to another woman under false pretenses, allegedly in order to hospitalize her so she could have a chance to get close to the woman’s husband. The victim of this poisoning collapsed twenty minutes after taking the pill and was rushed to the hospital. She survived, but only because the quantity of sodium nitrite was deliberately chosen to be nonfatal.818 Sodium nitrite is currently being developed as the main ingredient in a feral hog toxicant for population control purposes.819


As stated on the USDA website in a document extolling the virtues of a sodium nitrite–based feral hog killer:


The toxin, sodium nitrite, a common meat preservative that prevents botulism, had previously been shown to be a quick-acting and low-residue toxicant for feral pigs in Australia and has since been patented. Pigs are particularly sensitive to nitrite-induced methemoglobinemia because they have low levels of methemoglobin reductase, the enzyme required to reverse the effects of nitrite toxicosis.


It raises the question: If sodium nitrite is toxic to feral hogs because they have “low levels of methemoglobin reductase,” isn’t it also possible that some humans may also share that enzyme deficiency due to natural genetic variation?


There’s no question that sodium nitrite is a toxin in both humans and feral hogs. The solution to this chemical contaminant is to stop consuming it. The best way to avoid sodium nitrite is to stop buying processed meat products containing the ingredient all together, and if meat is on the dinner menu, look for fresh meat and meats that explicitly state “no nitrites” on the packaging.


Vitamin C has been shown in studies to protect people from the damaging effects of nitrites.820 In addition, consuming large amounts of vitamin C, as well as E, will reportedly protect one from the cancer-causing nitrosamine conversion process if taken before processed meats are to be consumed.821 Cod liver oil was also recently proven to protect the liver against sodium nitrite, significantly reducing nitrite-based liver inflammation in rat studies.822




Food manufacturers routinely alter foods at the molecular level, processing them in ways that have enormous consequences on human health. Typically, these alternations are carried out in order to boost product sales through increased shelf life or improved cosmetic appearance of the finished product.


Homogenized milk fat


Whole, raw milk is not molecularly homogenous. When milk comes from a cow, it contains cream that typically separates and rises to the top. This cream is made of intact, whole fat molecules that are perfectly formed for the nutritional needs of a baby cow. Before drinking or using the milk, people typically shook the milk bottles or jugs to reintegrate the cream and fat into the more predominant liquid.


Most commercially available milk on the market today is homogenized, sometimes labeled “homo” for short. This means the fat in the milk has been subjected to a mechanical process that uses heat, then high pressure (estimated at 4,000 pounds per square inch) to push the milk through tiny tubes that break the fat molecules into far smaller pieces, from up to 15 micrometers down to less than 2 micrometers.823 When complete, this process keeps the milk fat evenly distributed throughout the finished product, so it does not rise to the top and the milk doesn’t have to be shaken up.


While that sounds convenient, some research has pointed to the theory that homogenization is dangerous to health. Why? Because it ends up producing fat globules so tiny that the particles of proteins that would normally be digested instead pass through intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream, undigested. There, they may interfere with healthy cardiovascular function and arterial lining. They also release the enzyme xanthine oxidase (XO), potentially causing damage to arteries and inducing arterial plaque formation, ultimately leading to heart and circulatory disease.


Like many other processed foods, then, milk begins as a wholesome, nutritionally intact product. But through homogenization and pasteurization, it is artificially modified into a beverage that serves the interests of the industry producing it while simultaneously exposing consumers to health risks that aren’t present in the pre-processed form of the product.


The theory of the XO enzyme posing significant risk to human health was first published by Dr. Kurt Oster, a cardiologist, and his coauthor, Dr. Donald Ross, in 1973,824 and it was immediately attacked. Andrew Clifford and Charles Ho published their oppositional study on bovine milk xanthine oxidase in 1977, claiming that large intravenous doses of XO administered to rabbits did not lead to arterial plaque formation, nor did it deplete plasmalogens.825 The study, however, was funded by the National Dairy Council.826 Oster and his colleagues continued undeterred, in 1981 publishing further research that evaluated the blood of 300 heart attack victims over a five-year period and discovered significantly elevated XO levels in every single one.827


Researchers have also debated whether the cause of the damage in question came from the XO naturally occurring in the human liver or in the cow’s milk, but XO in cow’s milk is fifteen times more prevalent.828 Cow’s milk is the largest source of dietary XO, and while pasteurization destroys about half of it, the other half is still being ingested by homogenized milk drinkers.829


The debate over XO’s role in artery damage and heart disease rages on today, but further evidence has emerged that Oster and Ross were right. A study in 1997 reported that XO was at least partly responsible for impairing heart function, and inhibiting XO in patients with high cholesterol reversed these effects, though not entirely.830 Two years later, another study concluded that “circulating XO can bind to vascular cells, impairing cell function via oxidative mechanisms.”831 A 2002 study concluded that the presence of increased XO was closely associated with increased vascular oxidative stress in people suffering from chronic heart failure.832 Overall, XO has been linked in research to more than fifty inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.833


Researchers have also noted a positive correlation between milk consumption and coronary heart disease death rates.834


Steve Bemis, lawyer and board member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, notes that in the years prior to World War II, milk competition was based entirely on the “cream line” in the milk—the more cream, the better. Bemis argues that milk cream was considered the premium portion of milk, which could be used in other products such as cheese; so having to leave more cream in milk undermined potential profits in what would become an exploding grocery industry. The homogenization process helps solve this problem because it removes the cream line, leaving producers free to use much of the cream in other dairy products.835


Homogenization was important to the burgeoning cheese industry because it improved texture, flavor, and softness in some cheeses.836 Just as we’ve seen in other food additives and processed food commodities, the production of cheese was altered to (excuse the pun) milk it for all it was worth; improving appearance, taste, and shelf life were valued far above nutrition or tradition. Additionally, standardizing the production and redirecting valuable cream from milk to other dairy products was a boon for the dairy industry because it resulted in a new ingredient supply for cheeses, dessert products, and more, substantially increasing revenues.837


Additionally, homogenization led to the standardization of both milk and cheeses, which further lowered production costs and increased profits. Once milk is homogenized, it must be pasteurized, or treated with high heat; otherwise, it will spoil within hours. (The reverse, however, is not true—pasteurized milk does not require homogenization.) Another issue with homogenization is that it’s paired with pasteurization, and more broadly, the large-scale commercialization of the dairy industry that began in the post– World War II period. Prior to this, milk was locally pasteurized in urban areas, while many rural areas offered fresh, raw milk. This allowed consumers in cities who still wanted fresh, whole milk to acquire it from rural areas if they chose.


Dairy processing for mass commercialization became mutually beneficial for milk, cheese, and other dairy products, making homogenization and pasteurization a necessary, standard combination process for producing finished products. This is despite the fact that these heat treatments destroy valuable nutrition in the milk, including an array of essential amino acids and important enzymes. One reason so many people are allergic to lactose in milk, for example, is because pasteurization destroys the lactase enzyme that helps the human body break down the proteins. Undigested proteins lead to allergic reactions.


Homogenized milk can be avoided by looking for nonhomogenized products typically carried in natural, organic food stores and buying local, raw milk and milk products. While some countries such as France sell raw milk in vending machines, strict raw milk purchasing laws vary by state in the United States, with some completely banning sales and others allowing retail sales, while others will only let people buy it directly from the farm.838


Hydrogenated fatty acids


Hydrogenated fats are commonly found in fast foods, from French fries to chicken fingers; in dairy products such as margarine; in breads, cakes, and biscuits; and in TV dinners and sweets. Because it isn’t a saturated fat, consumers who do not expressly know what it is may mistakenly think it’s somehow healthier for them. Unfortunately, they would be wrong.


Hydrogenated fat is liquid vegetable oil that has been treated with hydrogen. These are normally healthy oils that undergo manufacturing processes that ultimately turn them into poisons. First, the oil is heated from 500 to 1,000 degrees under high pressure; then it is exposed to hydrogen gas. Finally, a catalyst, typically a metal such as nickel or aluminum, is injected into the oil for several hours to change the molecular structure, increasing the oil’s density. The finished product is either semi-solid, known as partially hydrogenated oil, or solid, known as hydrogenated oil.


The resultant synthetic fat is heavier. It actually thickens the blood after it’s been eaten, forcing the body’s circulatory system to work harder to push blood around inside it. Hydrogenated oil sticks to and readily clogs arteries, leading to an increased risk of high blood pressure, blood clots, and heart attacks (and that’s just for starters).


The thicker blood also has a hard time circulating through the brain, leaving a person open to everything from muddled thoughts to Alzheimer’s disease.839 The use of the metal aluminum as a hydrogenation catalyst can’t be helpful for brain-related disorders either.


Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are the main sources of trans fats, and an abundance of scientific studies litter medical journals declaring one after another just how bad trans fats are for people. One 1997 Harvard University study involving more than 80,000 women found that simply decreasing one’s dietary trans fat intake by a mere 2 percent reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by a whopping 53 percent.840 Researchers in another study discovered that eating just 5 grams of hydrogenated fat a day—particularly partially hydrogenated fat—increased coronary heart disease risk by 29 percent.841 Yet another study showed that eating foods considered major trans fat sources, such as biscuits, cookies, cakes, and margarine, was significantly tied to higher coronary heart disease risks.842 The FDA admitted in 2013 that ridding the U.S. food supply of industrial trans fats could prevent approximately 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 heart-related deaths a year.843


“Trans is a secret killer. Labels tell you how much saturated fat you’re eating. With trans, it’s anybody’s guess,” Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition department, told the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 1996.844 Dr. Willett is a pioneer in establishing a link between heart disease and trans fats.


Trans fats in the United States were not required by law to be listed on nutrition information labels until January 2006, but even after that point, the product had to contain 0.5 grams or more.845 This standard means that up to half a gram of trans fats could be in a product and the manufacturer could still claim it had zero trans fats. Yes, to the FDA, 0.5 grams rounds down to zero. Maggie Stanfield, author of Trans Fat: The Time Bomb in Your Food, explained to the British Independent that, due to their synthetic nature, hydrogenated vegetable oils confuse the body’s cells. “They identify the fat as unsaturated—it comes from vegetable oil, after all—but because of the industrial process involved, they can’t handle the fat as they would a truly unsaturated one.”846 Industrially produced hydrogenated oils are not natural and the body cannot process them as such.


Hydrogenated oil shares a molecular resemblance to plastic. It’s non-essential, serves no nutritional purpose, and has no known human health benefit whatsoever.847 So why would food manufacturers knowingly put it in people’s food? Simple. It’s a cheaper, taste-free butter alternative that extends a product’s shelf life. How long? One American television program featured a cake that appeared to have just been made but was actually baked over two decades ago.848 Consider what happens when this substance enters the body. Unless governments force the issue, it’s a safe bet companies will continue to show more concern for their financial bottom lines than the health risks their trans fat–laced products pose to the public at large.


Some countries have forced the issue. Denmark became the first country to initiate strict regulation on the sale of trans fat foods in 2003, effectively banning partially hydrogenated oils with its limit of 2 percent oil and fat ingredients destined for human consumption.849 Iceland followed suit, as did Switzerland.850,851 Canada passed a Commons motion similar to Denmark’s ban, although it is not binding (as no motions that pass through Commons are legally binding on the Canadian government). The European Food Safety Authority released an official scientific opinion on the effects of trans fatty acid consumption in 2004, admitting the link between eating hydrogenated fats and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.852 In 2013, the EU margarine and vegetable fat trade association tightened the Code of Conduct for the third time since 1995 in a bid to reduce retail food’s trans fat levels.853


Due to the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence that trans fats are detrimental to health that has continued to pour out, the FDA finally took action, announcing in November 2013 that it was going to revoke the generally recognized as safe status for partially hydrogenated oils854 in a move FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor called “the next step” in removing these oils from the nation’s list of approved food additives.855


Because more and more evidence is stacking up against hydrogenated vegetable oil all the time, some food manufacturers are turning to palm oil instead. Unfortunately, a 2006 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study and a 2009 U.S. Agricultural Research Service–supported study both found that palm oil impacted the lipoprotein profile even more negatively, resulting in higher levels of bad cholesterol.856,857


Many people are still laboring—and chewing—under the false assumption (strongly pushed by the media and major health outlets) that all saturated fats are bad and that butter is much worse for their health, when in reality butter from grass-fed cows is actually a much more nutritious option than trans fats, because butter contains vitamin K2 and omega-3s and has been shown to raise good cholesterol levels while lowering bad cholesterol. Although it’s been the health mantra for years, scientific studies have found no reliable association between saturated fats and coronary heart disease.858,859,860


Until more governments get on board with banning trans fats altogether, the best strategy for avoidance is to steer entirely clear of fried foods, avoid processed foods as much as possible, and double-check ingredients lists thoroughly when unsure. Partially hydrogenated oil or hydrogenated oil will sometimes show up on ingredients lists as “shortening.” Always look for the word “hydrogenated”—even if a product says zero grams of trans fat, it may still contain up to 0.5 grams. Remember, it doesn’t take much hydrogenated oil to have a disastrous effect on health.




“You are what you eat.”


One of life’s oldest adages holds remarkably true in this modern age of industrialized, centralized, globalized, and profit-driven food production.


The principles of bioaccumulation in the food chain expose us to environmental toxins consumed by fish and wildlife that end up on our plates. They simultaneously expose us to the toxins, hormones, drugs, and pathogens absorbed by the livestock raised to feed our growing population, who have less transparency, control, or input into the food we eat than ever before.


Even when consumers are meticulous about the choices they’re making when purchasing fresh produce, grains, and food staples at the grocery store, they often have little or no information about what ingredients and feed practices have gone into the meat they’re buying. Thanks to industry collusion with government regulators (USDA and FDA), nearly all meat sold in America today can be described as “mystery meat” with unknown origins, undisclosed feed practices, and unwise treatment with aggressive antibiotics and hormones.


For consumers, buying meat is much like a game of “nutritional Roulette,” where every meal comes with a regrettable list of unknowns that rightly make people concerned. And while producers of mass-marketed foods have taken shortcuts with the food we eat, adding cheap, artificial, and nutritionally void ingredients to our detriment, they have taken even more questionable liberties with the animal feed that is forced on the cattle, poultry, swine, and farmed fish that we in turn ingest.


Feed sources


The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers vast amounts of subsidy dollars through the U.S. Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation that is renewed every five years with billions of dollars annually for the biggest producers of corn, soy, and other crops as well as beef, poultry, fish, and other livestock. More than


295 billion in subsidies were issued between 1995 and 2012, including


177 billion in direct commodity subsidies.861


According to the Environmental Working Group, the top ten most subsidized crops are corn, wheat, cotton, soybean, rice, sorghum, peanuts, barley, tobacco, and sunflower, with corn subsidies topping


84 billion between 1995 and 2012. Another


27 billion in subsidies went to soybean crops during the same period. Corn and soybeans are predominantly cultivated as genetically modified crops and frequently used in processed foods of all kinds, and are a major source of livestock feed. The economics of raising meat with cheap inputs has made heavy grain diets standard with most livestock, even when other diets are more natural choices. The drive to find the cheapest inputs for feed rations makes subsidized, genetically modified corn and soybean feed the most popular choice, with smaller amounts of hay, forage, or by-product added in. Typically drenched in pesticides and cheaply produced for fodder, ethanol, or junk food production, these crops often have contaminants that, when consumed by livestock, enter into our food supply.


The rules of agriculture and livestock production are such that smaller-scale, independently operated, local, and/or holistic food producers work at a strong economic disadvantage, which creates difficult market conditions for those raising livestock responsibly.


The vast majority of meat and animal protein raised and sold in the United States and much of the global market is dominated by remarkably few companies. This is not strictly a problem of too few producers, as there are many hundreds of thousands of farmers who raise poultry and swine or own cattle operations, many of whom are relatively small-scale. The problem is a monopolized market dominated by irresponsible and inhumane animal husbandry.


The U.S. Justice Department held a workshop in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address antitrust issues with respect to agricultural competition and market concentration, frequent mergers, bid rigging, and market manipulation—including through captive ownership and supply—as well as the lack of transparency and issues of oligopoly and monopsony, a problem where many producers are impacted by one or few buyers or marketplaces, forcing low prices and often unfavorable conditions.862


Contamination of animal feed and bioaccumulation in livestock


One predominant strain of genetically modified crops—Bt corn and Bt soy, which are engineered to produce their own pesticides—have been found to contain higher lignin content than natural varieties.863 This is a clue that genetically modified crops are not nutritionally equivalent to non-genetically modified foods, and it could have a significant impact on animal feed, as ruminated animals—such as cows, goats, and sheep—are less able to digest lignin than humans.864 The widespread use of genetically modified crops could have far-reaching implications for livestock and the economy that surrounds them. For example, long-term feeding on such crops could create nutritional imbalances in livestock that ultimately require treatment with an additional burden of medications and antibiotics.


China is officially the world’s largest agricultural product producer and consumer, while the nation is home to some of the most polluted cities on the face of the Earth.865 Pollution from China’s vast industrial complex rains down from the sky, where it is deposited into soils that are then used by the vegetation that is eaten by the livestock. The vicious cycle continues, as the manure from heavy metal–contaminated livestock contributes to toxic runoff and further concentration of toxins in already contaminated water and soils. As if that weren’t enough, Chinese farmers also regularly add heavy metals, such as copper and arsenic, purposefully to farm animal feeds for their antimicrobial and growth-stimulating properties.866,867


A 2004 survey of heavy metal pollution from thirty-one farming plants in ten major Jiangsu cities found that the majority of feed samples surveyed contained high concentrations of toxic heavy metals; manure from the animals also contained alarming levels of cadmium, lead, zinc, copper, and chromium.868 A similar survey of 104 livestock feeds and 118 manure samples from farms in Northeast China in 2012 also found high levels of arsenic, cadmium, and copper in poultry, pigs, and cattle.869 In addition, pig and poultry feeds contained higher levels of heavy metals than cattle feed, a finding mirrored by an analysis of farm and animal feeds in England and Wales.870


These heavy metal constituents, which readily bioaccumulate, are often stored in animals and then passed along to humans who consume their meat.




Beef cattle represent about a third of global meat production, with the United States, Brazil, and China leading the way. The United States has the largest beef production industry in the world, with the vast majority raised on a grain feed diet, typically composed in large part of corn, soy, and alfalfa, most of which is produced from genetically modified crops.871


According to the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, about 26 billion pounds of beef is harvested annually in the United States from about 33 million head of cattle, with about 2.5 billion pounds of beef sold in export markets. Additionally, about 34 million cattle are raised in calf operations.872


Though the industry is quick to point out the large number of independent farmers with fewer than one hundred head of cattle, it remains true that Big Agra players control the market by volume. Eighty-five percent of the fed cattle market is dominated by large-scale feeding operations, where operators like JBS and Cargill feed cattle owned by independent ranchers as well as bigger players. They also frequently coordinate or arrange for fed cattle to be sold to slaughterhouses and/or meat packers.873


Large-scale feeding operations are a function of powerful conglomerates that own and operate the feedlots, slaughterhouses, packing facilities, calving operations, and seed stock, where genetic varieties of cattle are licensed. Small-scale producers are often dependent on the feeding services and the market connections of Big Agra players—many who have major interests in each step of cattle production—who heavily influence price and conditions of sale, including the use of drug and feed inputs.874 In many cases, these smaller ranches, such as those with fewer than one hundred head of cattle, contract with large operations for feeding, which might take place in a large lot over several months of the year. These large-scale feedlots typically provide feed, veterinary service, transportation, and market access to herd owners, who contract with them or other large feeding operations.


Top players in feedlot operations are JBS Five Rivers in Colorado with a one million head capacity on twelve yards in seven states including Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. The second largest is Cactus Feeders, with the capacity for over half a million head of cattle on nine yards in Texas and Kansas. Third, Cargill Cattle Feeders, LLC, in Kansas, has the capacity to feed more than 350,000 head of cattle at a time on five yards in Kansas, Texas, and Colorado. Friona Industries, LP; Cattle Empire, LLC; J.R. Simplot Co.; Irsik and Doll Feed Services, Inc.; Four States Feedyard, Inc.; Foote Cattle Co.; and Agri Beef Co. round out the top ten feeding operations in the United States. Many of these companies are transnational, with major beef and livestock operations in Brazil and Australia, among other locales.


J.R. Simplot, which is also the largest potato supplier to fast foods and the sole supplier of potatoes for French fries to mega fast food chain McDonald’s, is emblematic of the vast control industry has over food production, from beginning to end. Based in Idaho, Simplot ranks as the largest Western-based cattle producer, and is among the largest feedlot operators as well as one of the top calf-producing firms. Simplot operates one of the largest feeding lots in the world, with the capacity for 150,000 head of cattle at one time, in Grand View, Idaho,875 and maximizes synergy by supplying beef and dairy cattle—largely destined to produce fast food meals—with “custom” feed composed in part of by-products from its potato empire.876,877 Simplot feedlots also ship in corn for grain-feed bulking on its specialized rail delivery system and can store some 1.5 million bushels of corn on site.878 It further operates meat processing plants that supply fast food restaurants, including McDonald’s, across the United States and in global markets.879


Tyson Foods is the giant of the slaughter and meat packing industry, doing even more business in beef production than it does in the chicken production with which its namesake is so closely associated. Tyson ships frozen carcass, boxed, case-ready, and value-added (processed) meats to nearly every major fast food, grocery store, restaurant, and retail chain, as well as to school cafeterias, hospitals, and prisons throughout the United States and elsewhere.880,881,882 JBS and Cargill Meat Solutions are the next largest packers, working synergistically with other branches of their operations and significant inroads with other sizeable firms throughout the food industry that they supply.883


Cow diets: grains, candy, and hormones


Despite the fact that cows are biologically predisposed to eat grass and prefer to spend their time out in pastures eating it when given access to do so (except during freezing weather),884,885 the cattle bred for the beef industry are primarily bulked on corn, soy, alfalfa, and other grain mixtures and vitamin concentrates, with hay as only one component of their diet. The primary motivation here is weight gain and the maximized use of limited land.


With grain composing the vast majority of their diets, livestock health is significantly affected.886 High levels of corn and other grains lower the pH of the cattle rumen, the primary stomach where microbial fermentation of feed takes place, causing acidosis.887,888 This condition then requires the use of antibiotics to manage cattle diseases that become common under feedlot conditions.889,890


However, cattle diets have leaned toward even more outrageous extremes in recent years when corn prices more than doubled.


CNN declared in 2012, “Cash-strapped farmers feed candy to cows,” noting that the rising price of corn due primarily to ethanol demands had farmers literally turning to candy—gummy worms, marshmallows, chocolate bars, and ice cream sprinkles—for lower cost feed. “Cut-rate by-products of dubious value for human consumption seem to make fine fodder for cows,” CNN’s Aaron Smith reported.891


Worse, the crowded conditions in factory farms has led to serious veterinary intervention to administer an array of pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, and hormone treatments all designed to make every type of livestock gain weight, remain healthy enough to survive until slaughter, and prevent the spread of diseases that could compromise other commodity creatures in confinement among close quarters. Factory farm conditions involve frequent encounters with feces and microbes of all kinds, including new strains of antibacterial resistant superbugs.


Antibiotics such as macrolide are used to fight pathogenic bacteria and the spread of disease. The antibiotics ractopamine and Zilmax (beta-agonists) double as growth hormones, helping cattle and pigs metabolize their unnatural, grain-heavy diets while promoting the conversion to lean muscle weight gain. The intention is to add a marbling effect, where fat deposits are interspersed in lean muscle tissue, adding to desirable texture and flavor in marketed meat cuts.892 However, their use has come into question in light of their studied effects on human health and behavior.893


Already, the drug ractopamine has been banned in the EU, Russia, China, and elsewhere over concerns about its adverse effects on humans, as studies have shown rapid heartbeat in animals and other human health issues, though it continues to remain legal in the United States. Even the tenderness of meat and its taste is perceptively affected by the weight gain drug.894 Refusals and seizures by Russian and Chinese authorities have added tension to international trade and impacted export profits over issues concerning the regulation of animal growth hormones. A Consumer Reports study found traces of ractopamine in 20 percent of U.S. pork products.895 The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and Center for Food Safety (CFS) have sued the FDA over allegedly withholding records about the human health effects of ractopamine, which other studies signify may include information about harmful behavioral and neurological effects.896


Zilmax, a drug produced by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., can reputedly add up to 33 pounds of salable beef to each head of cattle, making for significant market profit while ensuring corn-fed life in a confinement operation is manageable until slaughter.897 It has become controversial ever since reports that it may be contributing toward health decline in cattle, preventing harvest and requiring negatively affected animals to be euthanized. Merck halted sales in August 2013 after meat processors began refusing cattle treated with Zilmax due to concerns about debilitated cattle. Reports emerged of some fifteen cattle headed for a Tyson processing plant whose hooves were all but disintegrated, losing the ability to walk after treatment with the drug. Video recordings were reportedly circulated within the industry, raising concerns about impacts on market share if antibiotic-treated cows were thought to be unfit for consumption.898 According to FDA data, at least 285 cattle have had to be euthanized after taking Zilmax since the drug was first marketed in 2007. China and other nations have since banned Zilmax imports. U.S. processors have further expressed fear that accidental exports in violation of this ban would hamper overall trade shares.


Clenbuterol is another drug that has been used to promote enhanced muscular meat, though it is not approved for use in the United States, EU, or China in food-producing animals due to its potential to impact human health if consumed from treated animals.899 Explosive contamination scandals of unauthorized clenbuterol in pork sold in China have made major headlines, while residues reportedly made several hundred people sick in Shanghai.900 Past cases of food poisoning in humans linked to clenbuterol have also contributed to unease with the chronic effects of antibiotic use in livestock.901


The U.S. milk and dairy beef industry has been required to screen for the presence of lingering antibiotics in marketable products, finding violations in the form of trace levels of penicillin, gentamicin, sulfadimethoxine, and other antibiotic residues that could wind up in food destined for human consumption.902


Many other pharmaceutical drugs are given to livestock simply to help mitigate the hazardous conditions of living in what amount to little more than animal concentration camps. Such antibiotic treatments as efrotomycin, bambermycin, avilamycin, salinomycin, narasin, and lasalocid are widely used, despite evidence of a rise in drug-resistant strains of bacteria.903


One of the most widely administered antibiotics in the cattle industry is monensin, which is added to feed to control diseases that can contribute to further contamination and loss of herd potential.904 It was synthesized in 1979 to deal with coccidiosis, a pathogenic disease derived from contact with infected feces.905 The disease is most frequently a result of animals being tightly packed into contaminated pens or pastures in calving operations or crowded feedlot conditions.906 Coccidiosis can infect humans, and drug resistance to monensin has been observed in both cows and humans since 1983.907


Appearing with symptoms of bloody diarrhea, coccidiosis is considered “one of the most economically important diseases of the cattle industry,”908 as it can disqualify calves or fed cows from harvest potential. Cattle salmonellosis, as a result of contaminated feed and transmission of bacteria through feces and tainted feed in crowded confinement lots, can lead to salmonella in food-grade beef products winding up in grocery stores.


The occurrence of salmonella contamination is found in cattle lymph nodes in only about 1 percent of tested cull cattle, but averages an astonishing 11 percent among feedlot cattle,909 and this number can range much higher, from 30 to 60 percent, depending on the season and climate. Not all salmonella is dangerous, but outbreaks tied to ground beef have made headlines after sickening dozens of people who have eaten undercooked meat.910


The beef industry credits the 1997 law prohibiting the addition of animal waste—including cow remains—to ruminant feed for curbing the incidence of salmonella contamination, as well bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as “mad cow disease,” for which the law was passed.911,912,913 However, laws still allow plate waste from human food, which includes animal protein, pork, poultry, horse meat, gelatin, and blood, to be added to livestock feed, which can also lead to salmonella and other cattle diseases.914


Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the actual welfare of the animals is secondary to the profit potential of the herd, which is first and foremost focused on marketable meat weight. Livestock pharmaceuticals play a huge role in lowering the cost of food production, pound for pound, and these drugs have played a particularly important role, along with genetics and feed, in raising super-sized cattle. The use of antibiotics in farming has become increasingly controversial among conscious consumers who seek out more expensive meats labeled “hormone-free” or “antibiotic-free.”


Though meat consumption remains high in Western countries, it is overall on the decline. New markets may be developing globally—particularly in China where a large population of middle class workers are adopting Western consumption patterns—but the beef industry has experienced shrinking herds, higher costs, and drastic changes in business structure.915 These conditions, along with the lure of biomedicine and technology, have driven a focus on increasing the weight of the cow rather than simply raising more cows.


The American beef industry produced some 26 billion pounds of beef in 2012, as compared to about 24 billion pounds in 1975. The difference is that there were more than 135 million head of cattle then; now herd totals are down to approximately 91 million head of cattle. Today, the industry harvests approximately 150 percent more marketable meat from each cow than it did per head in 1975—simply by artificially growing larger cattle. Current live weights at slaughter now routinely top 1,300 pounds, with the aid of growth hormone drugs and intensive feeding practices.


Drought conditions have played a significant role in herd decline, forcing many farmers to reduce herd size and keep fewer cows. Market consolidation has absorbed former competitors, while approximately 20 percent of the feedlot industry has gone out of business over the past decade or so due to soaring costs, including competition for feed crops such as corn and soy with producers of ethanol and other biofuels. Demand in Europe and other markets for beef raised without genetically modified corn and artificial growth hormones also has some measured impact on export markets and potential future consumer confidence.916


Poultry factory farms and environmental pollution


Foul odors. Flies. Rats. A landscape lined with chicken litter, and miles of polluted rivers.


That’s how locals have described factory farm chicken operations, full of millions upon millions of birds often packed into tiny cages, and run by “growers” who execute independent contracts to raise broilers and eggs for some of the biggest global food companies.917


Tyson Foods is far and above the giant in this industry, slaughtering and packaging more than 40 million chickens per week, in addition to gigantic volumes of beef and pork. Tyson, like other Big Agra poultry players, has a long environmental record of alleged damage and plenty of controversy.


In 2003, Tyson pled guilty to twenty felony charges and forked over


7.5 million in fines, for violating the Clean Water Act by illegally dumping untreated wastewater from a processing plant outside of Sedalia, Missouri, on the level of thousands of gallons per day over the course of at least six years.918,919


A 2004 decision by a federal judge held Tyson responsible for the ammonia emissions and waste dumped by “growers” it contracted with and directed throughout the chicken production process, leading to the shutdown of a plant in Kentucky, after the activism of the Sierra Club and many concerned locals forced the issue into the spotlight.920,921


Tyson Foods was sued by the state of Oklahoma in 2009, along with Cobb-Vantress, Inc.; Cal-Maine Foods, Inc.; George’s, Inc.; Peterson Farms; and Cargill, Inc., for contaminating public drinking water through the use of poultry litter, which included salmonella- and E. coli-tainted fecal waste, on some one million acres of land as a fertilizer.922,923


Along with the fecal waste and potential bacterial contaminants is a significant amount of the poisonous heavy metal arsenic, known for its deadly potential for and incidences of skin, lung, and bladder cancer as well as its overall contribution to chronic toxicity (see the section on arsenic on page 14 for more information). Intentionally added to poultry feed to increase poultry size, it also accumulates in the edible broiler meat, as well as in the litter left behind.924


Roxarsone and arsenic in chickens


For many decades, chicken producers had been adding roxarsone, sold under the trade name 3-Nitro and composed of 4-hydroxy-3-nitrobenzenearsonic acid, to the majority of conventionally raised meat-producing birds consumed in the United States. Ostensibly used to treat intestinal parasites, roxarsone was put into the chicken feed of more than 90 percent of starter broilers and grower broilers and about 75 percent of withdrawal broilers (chickens whose feed is restricted in preparation for slaughter) up until the mid-1990s to promote fast growth in these meat-producing birds.925


Use declined somewhat until sales of the arsenic growth promoter were voluntarily suspended in the United States by Pfizer-subsidiary Alpharma in 2007, after studies showed its occurrence was widespread in U.S. chicken samples. Levels were more than twice as high in conventional poultry than in antibiotic-free or organic chicken.926 Presumably, roxarsone continues to be sold in other markets around the world (except where it has been banned).


Roxarsone was also given to pigs and turkeys to boost sale weight.927 The arsenic content had been accepted because it was an organic species thought to be harmless; however, tests found inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens, confirming that chickens were converting the organic arsenic to the inorganic type, known for its deadly toxicity. Further, inorganic arsenic turned up in chicken litter,928 which was in turn disposed of in the land’s neighboring poultry farms, leached into water supplies,929 and used as cheap fertilizer.930,931


Authorities were unable to test for arsenic accumulated in the breast meat of chicken, although arsenic compounds have been known to bioaccumulate. Tests show that roxarsone introduced into the soil by litter was capable of uptake by rice crops and other vegetation, where it could re-enter the human food chain.932


While roxarsone was withdrawn from use in the United States, it was replaced in many cases by another arsenic-based compound, nitarsone (4-nitrophenylarsonic acid), another additive put in poultry feed to increase weight and prevent disease—in this case, blackhead disease.933 Studies found that nitarsone was toxic in developing turkeys, killing all of the subjects at 0.08 percent in feed, and half (LD 50) at 0.05 percent over the course of twenty-eight days.934


In December 2015, the FDA withdrew its approval of nitarsone for use in chicken feed, stating, “Following this action, there are no FDA-approved, arsenic-based drugs for use in food-producing animals.”935


However, it is important to note that because a very large supply of arsenic-based feed additives still exist in the supply chain, they will likely continue to be used by unscrupulous poultry producers for many years to come.


Fish farming


Farm-raised carnivorous fish such as salmon require large amounts of fish meal and fish oil feed. Three pounds of other types of fish are necessary to raise one pound of marketable salmon.936 Because of the high feed requirements, hundreds of thousands of tons of uneaten, wasted salmon feed laced with chemicals is discharged by industrial salmon farms back into coastal ocean waters each year, according to some estimates. Studies have also shown high concentrations of pollutants in the salmon feed that contaminate the areas surrounding these farms, and the fish themselves are laden with concentrated environmental toxins, including poisonous heavy metals such as mercury.937


Due to expenses and the toll these operations take on the environment, the industry has been turning to cheaper alternatives for fish feed. Just as with cattle, which were never meant to eat grain, scientists have developed new farm fish feeds made of corn, wheat, and soy—turning meat-eating fish into vegetarians in the name of sustainability and profits.938 As the Pure Salmon Campaign notes, “Industrialized salmon farming relies on a deeply flawed assumption that agricultural practices for animals can be applied to carnivorous fish.”939 These issues are complicated by the advent of genetically modified, super-aggressive, high-yield salmon currently in the process of being commercialized and approved by several biotech firms.940 The FDA approved genetically modified salmon for human consumption in November 2015.941


Worse, the use of hormones to manipulate sex ratios and promote maturation has become dominant in aquatic farming for food production. Researchers say that nearly all fish bred in captivity have reproductive dysfunction, prompting those raising fish to administer reproductive hormones, with various possible effects not only on the fish, but on those who consume it.942 Control of water temperature and the administration of hormone therapy are often necessary to achieve commercially desirable reproduction. Luteinizing hormones (LH) and gonadotropin-release hormones (GnRHa) are often administered, while interrupting normal spawning behavior under captive aquaculture conditions may also require artificial forms of fertilization.943 In fish farming for many species, including trout and tilapia, sex-inversed males, altered via hormone treatments, are frequently used to fertilize female stocks for consumption.944 Studies show that some of these hormones, which can disrupt the endocrine system, end up in wastewater, groundwater, and even drinking water supplies.


Waste from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO)

The greatest concern with concentrated livestock operations is not only the low-quality food that is produced by raising livestock animals under stressed conditions to maximize space while providing inadequate nutritional inputs and unnatural dietary choices, but also, of course, the biomagnification of toxins.


Concentrated heavy metals, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical regiments as well as hormonal treatments pose risks for environmental systems as well as humans and other animals.

Sewage runoff from factory farms has proven to be a lasting concern. Endocrine disruptors, growth hormones, and toxic chemicals have all been found in drinking water supplies.


A 2004 Conference on Environmental Health Impacts of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: Anticipating Hazards—Searching for Solutions held in Iowa acknowledged significant issues involving the contamination of groundwater and urban water supplies caused by a number of variables including long-term, low-level exposure to antibiotics, veterinary pharmaceuticals, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which can all have serious impacts on human health and the environment.945,946


In 2004, civil and environmental engineering professor Edward P. Kolodziej and his colleagues participated in a number of environmental monitoring programs near cattle and fishery operations, finding elevated levels of androgens, estrogens, and progestins from steroid hormones in the discharged water.947 Even background levels of 1ng/L are enough to pose risks to fish and amphibian life, and the endocrine-disrupting compounds have been known to change the sexual behavior and physiology of aquatic wildlife, posing population risks.


Kolodziej and his colleagues found a dairy-waste lagoon with especially high levels of 650 ng/L for hormones such as 17β-estradiol and estrone, as well as the androgens testosterone and androstenedione; these impact groundwater consumed by wildlife and humans. In humans, endocrine disruption can cause infertility, reproductive blowback, and certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.


More recently in 2013, Kolodziej and other colleagues published findings that the synthetic anabolic steroid trenbolone acetate (TBA), which is widely used in an estimated 20 million beef cattle to promote growth, was entering water near feedlots via runoff as the metabolized 17α-trenbolone, a strong endocrine disruptor.948 While scientists knew this was impacting aquatic life and the environment more broadly, they discovered that the 2013 study underestimated the 17α-trenbolone levels: Even though 17α-trenbolone and other similar compounds were found to break down by day in the light, it was discovered they regenerate at night under shifting pH conditions.949


Food contamination scandals and failed safety regulations

A number of high-profile contamination scandals have drawn attention to factory-farming practices and prompted reforms in the food industry.


In 2007, more than 850,000 frozen beef hamburger patties produced at a Cargill meat packing plant and sold at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores were recalled over E. coli-contamination concerns. Several lawsuits, including one filed by a woman left paralyzed by the E. coli outbreak and a ten-year-old girl who required a kidney transplant as a result of eating the tainted burgers, were spotlighted in the media.950,951,952 The New York Times exposed the lack of true oversight in the meat-packing business. The guise of food safety, it reported, was an illusion, as real testing was discouraged within the industry, and ground beef burgers often came from grinded parts from different cuts and different slaughterhouses, including lower-grade parts more likely to have been contaminated by bacteria.


The 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act nominally addressed many of these issues, though watchdogs and organic producers have heavily critiqued it for burdening small producers while failing to address the systematic issues in concentrated animal feeding operations and confined pens in densely packed poultry houses and pig factories.

The much-hailed reforms of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act—sold to the public as a solution to E. coli outbreaks in produce and salmonella outbreaks in egg production—have in many ways only made it more difficult for the little guy to compete.953

The most recent regulations for egg production and leafy vegetable farming—imposed by the FDA and USDA under the guise of food safety—have created extensive requirements for inspections, tracking, and standards compliance that significantly increase the time, manpower, and costs necessary for small- and medium-size farms to remain in operation, while significant loopholes exist for major factory farms that not only exempt them from the same standards but ensure that smaller operations cannot compete on a cost basis.954


Finding alternatives to factory-farmed meats

Though you’ll pay a premium for them in grocery stores, purchasing USDA-certified organic meats are the best way to avoid the issues discussed here. They come from livestock raised without the use of antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones that are emblematic of concentrated animal feeding operations;955 moreover, they must have access to pastures during the grazing season.956 USDA certification for grass-fed beef requires that cattle have year-round access to grass and other forage crops, and that they cannot be fed any grain (from corn, soy, and so on), although they may eat these crops in the vegetative state.957

Free-range poultry and egg production often go hand in hand with organically raised livestock, though not always. In the best operations, offering shelter to chickens is balanced with true and free access to the outdoors without crowding.958 New regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act have watered down the requirements for “organic” egg production, allowing many factory farms to more easily pass for organic.959 Look into the source of your eggs for better information; the Cornucopia Institute has an organic egg scorecard to evaluate how producers really stack up.960


In many cases, local producers, including those represented at farmer’s markets, have the best commercially available meats and eggs. Even without USDA-certification for organic foods, which can be quite costly for smaller producers, local family farms offer better-sourced foods. As common sense dictates, seek out farmers you know or are familiar with, and who support transparency in the food supply by answering questions and opening up to scrutiny.

Be aware of the label 'modified food starch' as it offers free reign to the producers to include such agents as styrofoam.






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