The Oft-Ignored Question: Discovering if Our Food is Toxic

unsafe toxic foods

When shopping for food, most of us judge if our food is toxic or not by how it looks. If our food looks aesthetically pleasing, we often conclude, quite erroneously at times, that our food is safe to consume. At skwealthacademy, I have always opined that society’s view of wealth and success is completely wrong, with a need to widely expand the exclusive single-handed focus on material wealth for a happy and meaningful life. This singular focus on material wealth as the mark of a “successful” person, aggressively promoted by mass media, social media platforms, and academia, has failed humanity by normalizing immoral behavior in the corporate world, whether the sector is pharmaceuticals, technology, clothing and retail, or food and agriculture. For this reason, I spend a significant portion of one of the 20 courses in the impending launch of my online skwealthacademy discussing the need to reinstate morality over the “profits at any cost” mindset in the corporate business environment, with a need for corporate executives to emphasize leaving a positive social footprint upon the communities in which they operate that does not just consist of lip service and empty promises, but of real, observable practice with sustainable, lasting effects. The grave nature, high infection rate, and significant mortality rate of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China serves as a reminder that viruses and severe health afflictions do not discriminate when it comes to socio-economic status. Rich and poor alike have thus far been equally as likely to contract coronavirus and die from it. Consequently, I wanted to explore a question that is far too often relegated to the realm of the unanswered – Are our physical ailments related to the question of whether or not our food is toxic?

Having lived in multiple nations on the Asian continent for various amounts of times, and having visited many others, I have been appalled by the lack of food regulations on the Asian continent. Consequently, at times, unscrupulous restaurant owners and food vendors, in order to maximize profit have substituted toxic, poisonous chemicals as food substitutes and served such toxic food to unsuspecting customers that fail to ask whether or not the food we so eagerly ingest is toxic or not.

For example, in China, melamine, a chemical that is high in nitrogen content, was added to baby formula by immoral and criminal food vendors to simulate high protein content and maximize their profit. This practice likely caused significantly more damage than the six baby deaths and physical complications such as kidney damage and kidney stones in significantly more children than the reported 300,000+ children affected by this crime. Though these were the official numbers reported, since the Chinese government is well-known for hiding and covering up such scandals, and many mothers are still complaining of massive suffering in their young children from feeding them tainted and poisoned baby formula, it would not surprise me if the real numbers were thousands of babies dead and millions of children still negatively affected today, more than eleven years after this scandal came to light.

For those that believe food regulation in Western nations guarantees “clean” non-toxic food and obviates the need to ask whether or not our food is toxic, think again. Some of the world’s most poisoned unhealthy salmon you can ingest is farmed in Norway and exported to nations all over the world for sale to unsuspecting consumers and in China, one of the worst violators of selling poisonous baby formula to Chinese citizens, Sanlu, was manufacturing the formula in a joint business venture with the New Zealand company Fonterra.  Consequently, just because food is manufactured in a Western nation with much stricter food regulations, because these food regulations are rarely strictly enforced or overseen by agencies that are woefully understaffed and cannot successfully enforce such regulations, often food produced in nations with much stricter regulations are just as toxic and dangerous to consume.

The US Food and Drug Administration, tasked with the mission of ensuring clean food is offered for sale to US consumers, reported, as of their most recent statistics, that they employed an estimated 17,468 full-time employees in 2018. However, of these 17,468 full-time employees, only 1,001 employees were tasked to their food safety and nutrition division. Do you really think that 1,000 employees can adequately enforce food safety regulations for a nation of more than 330 million people? Several years ago, Barry Estabrook, an investigative journalist excoriated the efficacy of the US FDA to protect US consumers:

In report after report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, has uncovered woeful shortcomings at the agency. Its product recall process is ineffective and confusing. It has done a poor job of dealing with the overuse of antibiotics in livestock feed. It lacks the scientific capacity to perform its duties. Even when it does uncover health violations at food-processing plants, the FDA takes enforcement action in only about half of the cases and almost never imposes fines. In the coldhearted calculus of turning a profit, it is perversely logical for corporations to risk making hundreds of people ill when the worst they can expect is a warning letter.” William Marler, a lawyer that has represented food-poisoning victims in court for 20 years, echoed Estabrook’s findings and stated in regard to food regulations violations in America, “Yeah, you might get caught, but in reality the chances of that happening are zero.”

To emphasize his point about the FDA being woefully understaffed and inefficient in fulfilling their duties, Estabrook stated, “[T]he FDA is being slowly starved of the resources and manpower required to fulfill its mandate. In the 1970s the agency conducted 35,000 inspections of food-processing plants each year. Today, it inspects fewer than 8,000, although the number of facilities under its jurisdiction has skyrocketed…The FDA employs about 1,000 food inspectors, who have to cover 421,000 registered production facilities.” Clearly, such revelations expose the need to ask and answer the question, “Is our food safe to consume?”

Consequently, these types of problems do not only exist on the Asian continent, though the cases of food poisoning from toxic ingredients may be most well-publicized here, but they happen consistently all over the world. As an example of more instances of food fraud that occurs in Asia, here is a video that shows rice being not harvested, but manufactured, in factories in Vietnam, to be sold as the real thing to unsuspecting consumers. And in China, the list of toxic, cancer-causing, internal organ damaging ingredients that can be easily purchased in unregulated markets to manufacture fake food that tastes like the real thing, as well as banned pesticides that are regularly used on crops is far reaching. Believe it or not, fake chemicals are widely sold in Chinese local markets that can be used to make fake toxic “pork” that smells and tastes reasonably close to the real thing. In addition, chemicals that vastly shorten the process to make flour noodles by hours to produce all the ingredients necessary to make wonton soup, are readily available in local markets throughout China even though the Chinese government declared them illegal for the purposes of “manufacturing” food many years ago. Greedy, criminal restaurant owners and food vendors manufacture wonton soup, a staple food in Asian diets, for about 10% of the price needed to make the soup using fake, toxic ingredients that look and taste like the real thing.

I am certain that I have friends that have traveled through Asia and have ingested fake wonton soup that was poisonous to them at least once or twice in the past. The odds of such an event happening are just too high not to know anyone that has unfortunately and accidentally consumed fake, poisonous wonton soup for anyone that has resided in Asia for many years. In fact, given the sorry state of food regulation and safety around the world, practically the only possible way to know that your food is clean is to grow it yourself, whether one chooses to cultivate a backyard garden and/or to raise one’s own chickens, pigs and cows. For those that aren’t keen on ingesting GMO foods with built-in pesticides in the seeds and other harmful qualities, good luck on this quest as well. 

Recently the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) stated that food sold in Canada with a non-GMO Project Verified seal does not mean that the food is non-GMO containing. A spokesperson for Ontario-based Riverside Natural Foods, manufacturers of the well-known branded “Made Good” food products, stated, “We are not claiming to be free of GMO. We are stating that the product has passed the strict regulation of the non-GMO Project”, even though they labelled their food with a non-GMO Project Verified Seal. In other words, it seems as if the entire purpose of the non-GMO Project Verified seal was to simply deceive people about the content of the food they were consuming.

In fact, due to the wildly corrupt state of food regulation and safety around the world today, I believe that a great deal of sickness experienced by citizens in every nation is caused by consumption of toxic food, whether the nature of the toxic food is the plague of fast food that is chosen over much healthier vegetables, meat and fruits due to their lower cost, or toxic food manufactured with poisonous pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and straight-up toxic ingredients like melamine, bleaching agents and heavily metals. In fact, I am friends with two people in their thirties that grew up in China and have had to undergo heavy metal detoxification treatments because their bodies contained abnormally high levels of heavy metals, most likely as a consequence of eating tainted food. I myself, though I try to eat as healthy as possible and though I avoid nearly all processed foods and ensure that the bulk of my diet consists of vegetables, meats and natural grains, still managed to contract two small kidney stones a little over a year ago that were extremely painful.

Some people have described the pain of kidney stones as equivalent to the pain suffered by women in childbirth, so trust me, you do not want to contract kidney stones if at all possible. Though neither myself nor my doctor knew why or how I got them, I suspect it was through eating tainted foods in Asia. Shortly thereafter, I stopped buying vegetables at the local market where I was previously buying them. Consequently, starting my own vegetable garden at some point in the near future is high on my priority list, so I can be as confident as possible that the food I am putting in my body is “clean”. We have come a long way from the meaning of “clean food” that was used in the movie “Fight Club” to the meaning of “clean food” today, in which we hope that vegetables and food that look and taste clean are free of heavy chemicals and toxic materials. Unfortunately, we all know that today even foods labelled as “organic” and “pesticide free” often are not and still contain loads of toxins.

In any event, we all should engage in self-education regarding the quality of food we are consuming and take as many steps as possible to ensure that the food we consume and feed to our children (if we are parents) is clean. As my definition of wealth at skwealthacademy is a balance of wealth among financial security, physical health, and mental health, I believe that anyone with a lack of an adequate amount of these three major pillars of wealth cannot be truly wealthy. I will be addressing this topic in greater detail later this month in one of my two patron-only podcasts provided to my patrons here. As a corollary to this article, I will publish, on my blog, an article that addresses why I fast one time every week for 24-hours as well as engage in intermittent fasting daily for 17-hours. To read all articles when first published, please bookmark my blog here.

J. Kim

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