ARE WE POISONING OURSELVES—SLOWLY, BUT INEXORABLY?
BILL MAHER THINGS SO—AND SO DO I. WHAT ARE WE POISONING OURSELVES WITH? OUR FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT (AND MAYBE OUR WAY OF LIFE—WE CONSUME TOO MUCH AND DO TOO LITTLE).
‘Poisoning’ is such a dramatic word. Surely I should use a lesser term like “sub-optimally feeding ourselves?”
I guess if I strangle you, you will be sub-optimally breathing. God preserve us from corporate-speak (the Pentagon equivalent is not much different).
One of my core principles as a writer is to be clear, so let me start off by quoting the first definition of poison from dictionary.com.
a substance with an inherent property that tends to destroy life or impair health.
I really do mean that we are poisoning ourselves. We are ingesting stuff that is destroying life and impairing health—normally several times a day (and frequently in excess).
It might not be too good for Big Food’s commercial prospects, but it would be a great deal clearer if the poison concerned was strychnine—and the victim dropped down dead virtually immediately—but the only difference is time.
Either way, our lives are being made shorter, and the quality of our lives is being adversely affected, by what we are eating and drinking. Either way—not to put too fine a point on it—we are being poisoned.
The fact that we prefer not to think about all this while numbing ourselves with legal drugs (and variations thereof) and other distractions, doesn’t affect the reality.
Not that I want to depress you, you understand.
I really don’t like addressing such a gloomy subject, but one of the reasons we socially concerned writers exist is to make you pause and think—and preferably do.
Strange that such a sedentary bunch as writers should be action oriented—but there it is. From our point of view, words are action—though sadly not enough by themselves. But the idea is to light a fuse—to evoke a sense of well-justified outrage.
Luther, Jefferson, and Marx did it. Words are powerful things. I haven’t done it yet (as much as I would like) but I am ever the optimist.
I prefer to think of myself as a realist with a positive outlook. Optimists tend to be starry-eyed, and few writers remain that way for long. We live with rejection and failure. Why we do it is pretty weird, when you think about it—and yet we love it so. It’s rather like having a difficult mistress who is good in bed.
It’s tough to do in the U.S. because everybody knows we are the best in the world at everything so what could we possibly have to learn?
Other writers, of course, have very different views, think the marketplace will provide, and regard the fact that over half the U.S. population lives paycheck to paycheck—with virtually no wealth or savings—to be just peachy. Hell, it keeps wage costs down.
That it does—at a huge cost in human misery and taxpayer dollars, and at the expense of the vibrancy of the economy. People who don’t earn enough can’t buy—so you end up with sluggish growth (if any) due to lack of demand.
Improve the human condition in some way. Fix the hole in the roof. Help the homeless. Think twice before you saturate your yard with some pesticide which will be dissolved into runoff and end up causing fish in the local river to be two headed hermaphrodites.
I’m making this up?
No, I’m not. I truly wish I was..
I have now been studying the U.S. economy, way of life, and culture for ten years—in addition to my normal writing—and the facts of the case are pretty clear—as are the consequences. As for evidence to support my findings, it is overwhelming. But evidence of truly bad things happening doesn’t seem to result in change if most people regard such unpleasantness as normal—better than the alternatives—and something they can’t do anything about anyway.
In total contradiction to its image of a ‘can-do’ culture, Americans have become quite remarkably fatalistic. In fact, a combination of propaganda, social control, inadequate media, and ignorance seems to have drained the fight out of most of us. We work, we drug ourselves, we escape into the distraction of incessant entertainment—we get sicker sooner, and die younger..
We consume obsessively.
We could change things.There is virtually nothing wrong with this extraordinary country that can’t be changed with relative ease. However, the ultra-rich have learned how to buy those who rule us, and they have no intention of giving up control. They like the status quo just fine.
The following are my findings regarding the poisoning issue.
- Many of our medical conditions—perhaps most—stem from our massive pollution of the environment and the industrialization of our agriculture.
- The combination of monoculture and factory farming is disastrous. We are producing ever less nutritious food which is contaminated in a wide variety of ways from herbicides and pesticides to antibiotics. A apple today is not as nutritious as an apple of 50 years ago. We have traded quantity for quality.
- The soil we use to grow cops in is becoming progressively less fertile. The various trace elements that are needed to produce nutritious crops are being depleted. Fertilizer alone does not compensate.
- We are using something like 80,000 chemicals without having much of an idea whether they are safe or not—let alone in combination. In Europe, a chemical has to be proven safe before it may be used. In the U.S. virtually anything can be used unless proven harmful. Doing that is both expensive and difficult given the generally pro-business bias of both the legislation and the courts.
- Our food chain is seriously corrupted. We start off with the fact that both our air and water are polluted in a truly staggering number of ways. We then move on to soil depletions. We add herbicides, insecticides and quite unnecessary antibiotics—and throw in appalling conditions where animals are concerned. We then move on to the food processing industry itself which does terrible things to the raw material. In particular, fats, salt, and sugar in added in excess—together with ‘fillers’ and a truly staggering array of additives. Finally, we top off the whole disastrous sequence with fast food and restaurants whose so called freshly cooked food is actually factory produced (with its attendant limitations).
- The FDA is not doing its job in too many ways to list. The fact that antibiotic overuse has not been banned speaks for itself. Already, many thousands of Americans are dying because they have become immune to antibiotics. And we worry about terrorism. A chicken breast is a greater threat.
Poisoning is not not the only reason why those pesky Europeans outlive us by such a huge margin (roughly an extra 1,000 days of life) but I submit that it is a substantial one. Other factors include.
- Inadequate vacations.
- Poor working conditions.
- A truly inadequate and ridiculously expensive healthcare system—coupled with our excessive reliance on meds (which mostly have adverse side-effects).
- Our culture of violence.
VOR words 1158.