The Daily Banter

As America Burns, Let's Talk About Food

My column yesterday was an extended rant about recent developments in the barf-inducing world of American food. Check it:

I'd like to preface today's column by making this abundantly clear: I'm not here to smack the McRib sandwich out of anyone's chubby, butter-slicked fingers. However, when it comes to food and food reform, I'm admittedly pretty radical. Above average, at least. But I'm not fanatical about it. I still occasionally eat crappy foods. I'm not a strict vegetarian, though I avoid beef and don't eat any pork products at all. I eat seafood, chicken and turkey, regardless of where it came from -- organic or otherwise.

I'm vocally opposed to genetically modified food (GMO) and its primary producer, Monsanto, because of the damage it does to family farms and the insides of our bodies. I'm in favor of more humane treatment of livestock (eat all the beef you want, just insist that the cattle aren't terrorized and tortured just so you can stuff your yammer). I'm against the use of steroids, antibiotics and added growth hormones in our food supply. I'm in favor of tough regulations on corporate agribusinesses. I'm in favor of more thorough labels on food, especially the inclusion of a GMO notation on labels. I'm against the cheap marketing of fast food to lower income Americans. And I strongly believe that crappy food and the resulting obesity is a major contributing factor to our healthcare crisis.

That said, you should be allowed to eat whatever you want. In moderation.

The problem is, too many Americans are eating everything they want whenever they want at the expense of our healthcare system and, in a larger sense, the condition of our climate. We're a greedy, entitled, self-indulgent people and we're killing ourselves and everyone around us. Continue reading here...

  • Vinnie N

    fearmongering GMO or GM food is ridiculous. Monsanto is an evil company, but the technology has the potential for so much good. It saddens me to see people on the left act like Republican propagandists when it comes to this. The site you referenced for showing that GM foods are bad for you link to Dr. Mercolas health and wellness site. The dude doesnt even believe HIV causes aids and claims that vaccines arent necessary. He totally misrepresented the study done on BT corn and mice, here is an accurate debunking of it

    • Bob Cesca

      And smoking cigarettes allows us to take a break and relax for five minutes, which, in turn, reduces stress. It’ll kill us, but there’s the relaxation benefit. [/snark] The downsides of GMO far outweigh the upsides. They create superbugs and resistant weeds that destroy non-GMO crops. They force farmers to become dependent upon a proprietary technology and can therefore be manipulated (or worse) because of it. They allow one or two corporations to control our food supply from the ground up. Etc, etc… Nothing good about that.

      • Vinnie N

        I don’t understand the smoking metaphor.

        Genetically modifying food is meant to make food production more efficient. Human beings have been doing this for the last 10,000 years by selectively breeding livestock and plants to exibit traits that we want. By modifying the genome of an animal or plant we can induce the same beneficial traits. The plants and animals that you believe to be all natural ARE GENETICALLY MODIFIED. its just that its happened through human selection as opposed to natural selection. Breeding cows to produce more milk and genetically engineering one have exactly the same effect except–except with genetic engineering we dont have to go through generations of breeding cows who produce slightly more of a certain hormone that stimulates milk production, we just make sure the gene responsible for the hormone produces more of it. I agree there are still drawbacks to this like producing super bugs and possibly ultra high levels of hormones may have unintended consequences (hormones are signal molecules that require the smallest concentrations to be effective, they are rarely intact by the time we injest them, its just that it sounds gross to people who dont know shit about genetics). However the positives far outweigh the negatives if used in a constructive manner.

  • reginahny

    We’ve brushed ruffled feathers on the “oh noes obesity epidemic is causing health care crisis oh no eleventy!!!!!1l1l1l! before Bob, and I truly wish you would take some time to look at how the diet industry pumps this meme to keep its billions in profit flowing in. I absolutely agree that Big Agra, Big FastFood and the usual suspects are a detriment to our country’s health — but overweight people are NOT causing the health care crisis. It’s just a way to continue to divide and conquer and the statistics DO NOT add up. From the BMI (not intended to be used to determine policy) to the assumption that heavy people are unhealthy while thin people are not — it discourages me to see you perpetuating this meme. I wish you and many other writers could find a way to decry our horrible food policies without placing blame on so-called overweight people for a “health care crisis”.

    Here is a link to a thoughtful post around this issue, and a portion of that link:

    1. Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized). In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events, and some studies have shown that fat can protect against “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” Yeah, you read that right: even the goddamned diabetes. Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and get fat for our health (which we wouldn’t be able to do anyway, because no one knows how to make a naturally thin person fat any more than they know how to make a naturally fat person thin; see point 4), but I’m definitely saying obesity research is turning up surprising information all the time — much of which goes ignored by the media — and people who give a damn about critical thinking would be foolish to accept the party line on fat. Just because you’ve heard over and over and over that fat! kills! doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means that people in this culture really love saying it.

    I read your site every day and respect you and your contributors deeply — I hope you can open your eyes about this “fat people caused the health care crisis” meme.

    • Bob Cesca

      I’ve never said or written that “fat people caused the health care crisis.” All I said was that the increasingly unhealthy food being foisted upon Americans is making us fatter, and the resulting obesity is a burden on the healthcare system. You clearly visit the blog every day, and yet you somehow missed the thousands of posts I’ve written about the broken healthcare system and the hundreds of things that are causing the crisis. Seriously, I’ve posted more about healthcare than any other topic here.

      • reginahny

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply, I do appreciate how often and clearly you talk about healthcare. As I said, I agree with your insights regarding food / the food industry but when you say: “And I strongly believe that crappy food and the resulting obesity is a major contributing factor to our healthcare crisis.” I read that as obesity = major contributing factor. Not to pick on just that one sentence — but those typse of sentences are common in policy statements about obesity (in itself problematically defined) being a crisis. I think what I am trying to say is please consider that obesity = healthcare crisis is an easy target for lazy thinkers to abdicate responsibility both for Food issues, and for healthcare issues. Sort of like Cadillac Welfare moms and other scapegoats so popular as soundbites. Again, thanks for all you do, and all I ask is that people be careful about making “obesity” (in our society anything above a size 6 for women) the culprit for bad policy and systemic problems.

  • Christine Mitchell

    The problem I have with this Bob is that in this whole issue, people are not usually against any of these foods, they are against fat people. If skinny people eat this crap no one says a word. But when fat people eat this crap then all of a sudden we hear the complaints about them burdening the healthcare system and jokes about fat people. I think a lot of the complaining is really a disgust of fat people, not of the food.

    • Bob Cesca

      I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not against fat people. I’m against corporations that exploit our penchant for self-indulgence by offering us cheap, unhealthy food that makes us sicker. They’re feeding us drugs — chemically enhanced processed foods that intentionally trigger our brains to crave more.

  • Robert “Hairfarmr” Scalzi

    Chicken and seafood are potentially the most dangerous foods in the store… and Bacon is health Food. hehehe (I do love Bacon) But Seriously Bob Seafood is going to kill you, 50 yrs ago it was healthy , now it is chok full of all kinds of nefarious chemicals dumped by man…. My food is almost exclusively terrestrial these days ( but i can’t resist good Salmon).

  • Terry Maguire

    well, not a strict vegetarian, or a vegetarian, at all.

    • Terry Maguire

      but, i agree with you. food matters.