Friday, January 07, 2011

What is wrong with us?

Today's paper carried a story about the purported link between autism and vaccines. Old story, I know, but as the Times put it, today's story is in the details: the editor-in-chief of the BMJ (British Medical Journal) called the 1998 study "a deliberate fraud."

Nice.

Then over my afternoon snack (a delicious Pinova apple and a fruit 'n' nut Kind bar) I read in Humboldt's Northcoast Journal about the use in the U.S. of hexane, a known neurotoxin, to process soy and oilseed products. Soy milk, soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, soy lecithin, the list goes on. Here's a bit from the "Un-natural Foods" article by Ari Levaux in the Journal:

Consider the widespread use of hexane, a neurotoxin, in processed foods that aren’t certified organic (those lame organic standards do at least prohibit hexane use). Hexane is a highly flammable EPA-listed air pollutant that is used in the manufacture of cleaning agents, glues, roof sealer, automobile tires, energy bars and veggie burgers, as well as soy, corn and canola oils. If these food products are not certified organic, some of the ingredients have probably been processed with hexane, no matter how many times the word “natural” is stamped on the package. Since hexane is used in the manufacturing process, it’s not listed as an ingredient in the foods it helps produce, though residues find their way into the finished product. The European Union has strict standards for acceptable hexane residue levels in soy and oilseed products, but in the U.S., there are no such limits.

Nice! Even nicer, when I flipped over the now-empty wrapper of my Kind bar, "soy lecithin" was on the list of ingredients.

Oh, and if you're wondering why hexane gets a free pass in the U.S., it's because it's a by-product of gasoline production. Why pay to dispose of a toxin when you can get paid to add it to the food supply? You know, like mechanically-reclaimed meat.

My step-son Jason was up here visiting us this week, and while pushing back from the dinner table (chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, and salad) my husband told the story about his last date with Spam. We had it as sushi the last time we were on Oahu, and when we got back home he thought to himself, Oh that was so good! I'm going to get a can of Spam and fry it up just like we used to do when the kids were little. He did, and then suffered the rest of the day with the worst headache he's ever had, worse than any hangover headache. Thank you, Spam.

How has it gotten to the point where using a petroleum waste product to get another 5- or 10-percent more food oil over expeller-pressed methods, or treating living chickens like this so we can buy a dozen eggs for $1.69 is now okay? [Don't click that chicken link unless you're made of stern stuff.]

What is wrong with us as a society that price dictates morals?

And, I wonder how many of those vaccine-avoiding parents stop to think, Was my child's autism caused by a vaccine—or the hexane? Or the BPA? Or the...and the list goes on.

I think at this point, when I'm finally dead and cremated, my body's gonna burn like a DuraFlame log.

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