Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food Food Yup Yup

the other day i was watching Book TV on CSPAN-2 and they were doing an interview with two authors. one was the author of the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and he was basically making the case for eating more consciously. he was a vegetarian, and at best, i think he advocated veganism, but i think he simply wanted people to think about what they were eating; what they were feeding their kids, as well as the type of industry meat is in the united states. he threw out a few statistics and facts. one thing he said that stood out to me was that chickens, for example, have been bred not to live past puberty, so their immune systems are extremely weak, if not non-existent. this causes the people who breed them to pump them with antibiotics their entire short lives. so we're consuming sick animals. he also noted how meat has been the culprit of some of the worst diseases in the 21st century (swine flu, mad cow, etc.).

so i've been thinking a lot lately about what i eat and how i go about it.
its not a secret that the biggest consumers of this cheap, sick, highly processed and medicated animals are those in low-income communities, which tend to be filled with people of color. blacks feel as though foods like fried chicken, chitlins, and just about anything deep fried is a part of our "tradition" or "culture", while not realizing that this type of food is doing nothing but killing us and adding to our health problems.
excluding homicide, the biggest killer for blacks is Heart Disease, whose biggest risk factor is high blood cholesterol and being overweight...which have a direct link to the type of foods we consume. and while i know that many people consume these unhealthy foods usually because they are cheap. i know this more than anyone. the $1 menu at McDonald's with their processed "meat" can fill me up, as opposed to a meal of $5 at any other restaurant. even a salad at McDonald's is around $5. fresh fruits vegetables cost more and rot faster than canned fruits and vegetables (which contain additives, preservatives, and typically contain large amounts of sugar or salt). we all know this, but i think for the majority of us, we can at least cut meat from our diets for one or two days a week. and even that can make a difference for your health as well as for the environment.

this is an excerpt from the book Medical Apartheid:
"...medical experts of every persuasion agree that African Americans share the most deplorable health profile in the nation by far, one that resembles that of Third World countries. ... Twice as many African American babies as babies of other ethnic groups die before their first birthday. One and a half times as many African American adults as white adults die every year. Blacks have dramatically higher rates of nearly every cancer, of AIDS, of heart disease, of diabetes, of liver disease, of infectious diseases, and they even suffer from higher rates of accidental death, homicide, and mental illness. before they die young of in droves from eminently preventable diseases, African Americans also suffer far more devastating but equally preventable disease complications, such as blindness, confinement to wheelchairs, and limb loss. studies continue to demonstrate that, far from sharing in the bounty of American medical technology, African Americans are often bereft of high-technology care, even for life-threatening conditions such as heart disease."

the book lacks the sources for these claims, but almost all that i have found back up what is being said.

i think for us, we have been trying to find some type of culture that is our own that we have come to cling to anything resembling a "culture", even when it may be detrimental to our wellbeing. slaves didn't eat the innards of animals because they wanted to, it was because they had to. even if they knew it was contributing to their plethora of ailments, they had to eat this to survive. but most of us live in a financial state (and under a government) that allows us to eat what we want. which makes it all the more ludicrous that many of us are still eating slave food (no, not soul food, SLAVE FOOD)?
we are survivors; our people are survivors. nearly everything about our lives was controlled in an attempt to break us down. the way we thought was attacked, the way we lived, the way we communicated, and lastly, what we ate. again, we are survivors; our people are survivors, and if we attempt progression in all of these other aspects, then why not in the arena of food consumption? why then are we continuing destroy our bodies?
and this is not just for blacks (although there is more cause for concern amongst blacks), this includes southerners, Chicanos, and Americans as a whole, seeing as how we're the most obese nation on the planet.
i think in order for one to progress; to aid in the progression of others; to aid in the progression of our cultures; our societies, that we must be conscious of everything we do- from how we dress, how we live, how we socialize, how we love, how we think, how we spend our money, how we make our money, how speak, AND what we eat. they are all a reflection of yourself.

i am not advocating vegetarianism or veganism (not at this moment in time anyway...), because i myself am neither of those. however, i do advocate being more conscious of what you consume, what your children consume, and how it effects you as an individual, and ultimately your society. if you want to eat meat, you should know where your meat comes from, how it is slaughtered, and how it was raised, how that industry impacts our nation and the ultimately, the world, and how the meat will effect you. we can decrease our intake of meat, for example, or buy meat that is steroid/antibiotic free or pasture raised. most of us (including myself) do not know these things about most of the meats we consume (let alone items we don't, such as other processed foods, soaps, all-purpose cleaners, and cosmetics). but we should

comment. criticize. comment. try some veggie burgers. whatever.

here's some websites i found that deal with health statistics:
Black Health Care.com statistics from the '90's
Meat vs. Veggie
minority health.hhs.org
Minority Women's Health

and heres some interesting websites about the environmental aspects of vegetarianism:
Vegetarian Lifetips
Meat Industry's water consumption
Deforestation caused by meat consumption
Vegetarianism is the new prius article

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