Those hard-to-pronounce chemicals that are in the list of ingredients on the label are used for more than just flavoring, appearance, and preserving the food (Food Additives). Those additives are used in some other very harsh items such as bug repellent (Food Additives). However, there are some simple and sustainable options that can help consumers avoid running into harsh chemicals and additives that may be lurking in their food. These changes will not only help them make healthier and safer choices, but also help them to save some money in the long run.
Many unanswered questions will be addressed within this paper such as: What are the hormones in some of the foods such as dairy and meat and what exactly are they used for? How do they affect us? What can consumers do to avoid purchasing these items? How can one avoid unsafe drinking water and are additives really that bad? According to Credit Loan, Americans consume on average 110 pounds of red meat a year, 600. 5 pounds of dairy products (not including cheese), and 31. 4 pounds of cheese a year (Food Consumption in America). The common theme here is that all of these food groups come from cows.
It is not, however, that we are eating cattle and beef, but what that cattle is being fed into its body. “In 2005, 32. 5 million cattle were slaughtered to provide beef for U. S. consumers. Scientists believe about two-thirds of American cattle raised in for slaughter today are injected with hormones to make them grow faster (Sustainable Table). ” This does not include hormones used for the increased production of dairy/milk. With just beef alone, there are six natural and artificial hormones that are injected into cattle and they include: Oestradiol, Progesterone and Testosterone (these are natural occurring hormones).
Then there are Zeranol, Trenbolone and Melengestrol (these are artificial hormones) (Sustainable Table). Although there has not been any significant case studies done on these hormones, scientists believe that these hormones pose some threats to human health. “The Committee [European Union’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health] also question whether hormones residues in the meat of ‘growth enhanced’ animals can disrupt human hormone balance, causing developmental problems, interfering with the reproductive system, and even leading to the development of breast, prostate or colon cancer (Sustainable Table).
Scientists also believe that those at the greatest risk are children, women who are pregnant and unborn babies (Sustainable Table). “Hormone residues in beef have been implicated in the early onset of puberty of girls, which could put them at greater risk of developing breast and other forms of cancer” (Sustainable Table). However, health risk of humans is not the only factor. Aquatic ecosystems are being greatly affected by hormone residue in the manure of cows by contaminating run-off and groundwater. Recent studies have demonstrated that exposure to hormones has a substantial effect on the gender and reproductive capacity of fish, throwing off the natural life cycle” (Sustainable Table). The United States and Canada, however, continue to allow the growth hormones to be injected. The European Union does not, and they strictly prohibit trade with the U. S. and Canada on hormone-treated beef. Injecting growth hormones into cattle is not the only kind of hormone they are being given either. RBGH is a hormone that gets injected into cattle for an increase production of milk. Developed and Manufactured by Monsanto Corporation, this genetically engineered hormone forces cows to artificially increase milk production by 10 to 15 percent” (Sustainable Table). The natural hormone for growth and lactation is Bovine Somatotropin. When it is man-made it is known as rBST or better known as rBGH. “Approximately 17% of all cows in the US are given the artificial growth hormone” (Sustainable Table). FDA approved the drug in 1993. However, “According to opponents of the drug, effects of rBGH were never properly studied,” (Sustainable Table).
RBGH poses many health risks to the cows and what is effecting the cows, could quite possibly effect us. “Problems included an alarming rise in the number of deformed claves and dramatic increases in mastitis, a painful bacterial infection of the udder which causes inflammation, swelling, and pus and blood secretions into milk” (Sustainable Table). IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1) is a naturally occurring hormone in human bodies. It is also is in rBGH. “Humans also naturally have IGF-1, and increased levels in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancer” (Sustainable Table).
America consumes about 31. 4 pounds of cheese every year, along with 600. 5 pounds of other dairy products (Food Consumption in America). “In 2006, the United States dairy industry produced over 20 billion gallons of milk. This milk is pasteurized and sold, or transformed into cheese, butter, cream, and ice cream for consumers in the U. S. and around the world” (Sustainable Table). However, it was never this simple. Back in the 1700’s milk was not a familiar drink and was not studied enough. The conditions under which the milk and the cows were kept were not clean.
There was no form of refrigeration and insects could easily be accessible to milk that was left out (Sustainable Table). It was not until the end of the 19th century when pasteurization was invented (Sustainable Table). Pasteurization means “to expose (a food, as milk, cheese, yogurt, beer, or wine) to an elevated temperature for a period of time sufficient to destroy certain microorganisms, as those that can produce disease or cause spoilage or undesirable fermentation of food, without radically altering taste or quality” (Dictionary). However, this may not be enough.
Farmers are continuing to use the rBGH, antibiotics, and high-concentrated feed for the increase production of milk (Sustainable Table). In a way, it is benefitting the consumer. By injecting these artificial hormones, the cows are producing almost four times as much milk as they previously were, in turn, is cutting down the cost of milk and other dairy products (Sustainable Table). “The biggest fear surrounding this breeding technique is the eventual inability to ward off viruses or mutation in the dairy cow’s DNA chain, resulting in rapid spread of disease and possible death” (Sustainable Table).
Because of the growing concern of all the use of artificial hormone, slowly, more dairies are turning to organic. “While organic milk makes up only 1% of the dairy market, demand has increased 477% between 1997 and 2003” (Sustainable Table). Hopefully, the trend continues to increase so the food becomes less processed and more natural at healthy level. For the most part, Americans include water in their daily diet somehow during the day. Whether it is rinsing their mouths out from brushing their teeth, drinking water, or using it to swallow down a pill, water is a part of most people’s life style.
However, it is not as clean as most people would think. A team of researchers out of Washington State has found traces of illicit drugs, hormones, and cooking spices in drinking water. The team found that certain spices “spike during the holidays. “For instance, thyme and sage spike during Thanksgiving, cinnamon surges all winter, chocolate and vanilla show up during the weekends (presumably from party-related goodies), and waffle cone and caramel-corn remnants skyrocket around the Fourth of July” (Cocaine, Spices, Hormones Found in Drinking Water).
But as stated earlier, harmless Cooking spices are not the only traces of remnants in drinking water being found/. “Around the world, scientists are finding trace amounts of substances-from sugar and spice to heroin, rocket fuel, and birth control-that might be having unintended consequences for humans and wildlife alike” (Drinking Water). One may be wondering how drugs get into the drinking water system. “After a person has taken drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and ecstasy, active byproducts of these substances are released into the sewage stream through that person’s urine and feces.
These byproducts, or metabolites, are often not completely removed during the sewage –treatment process…” (Drinking Water). This not only may post a threat to human health, but it poses a threat to the marine life as well. “Though these drugs traces are still tiny, it’s possible that the potent residues could be toxic to freshwater animals” (Drinking Water). There are still strict regulations from the EPA on the contaminates in drinking water that must be followed. The EPA claims that more than 90 contaminants must be filtered out of drinking water systems (Drinking Water).
Richard Keil said something that everyone can take into consideration. He stated; “’that everything you do is connected to the watershed” (Drinking Water). It is a simply message with a very strong meaning; No matter what one person eats, takes, or drinks, it is somehow later going to affect something or somebody and without any control. Almost half of an American’s diet includes fruits and vegetables. About 273. 2 pounds of fruit and 415. 4 pounds of vegetables are eaten (Food Consumption in America). However, these suppose to be healthy foods could be potentially dangerous to our health.
Pesticides are used on almost every major crop. “Pesticides are chemicals used to eliminate or control a variety of agricultural pests that can damage crops and livestock and reduce farm productivity. The most common pesticides are insecticides (to kill insects), herbicides (to kill weeds), rodenticides (to kill rodents), and fungicides (to control fungi, mold, and mildew)” (Sustainable Table). Pesticides are not a new invention at all. They date back all the way to the ancient Sumerians’ time. The makeup of pesticides ranged anywhere from elemental sulfur, to chemicals such as arsenic and lead (Sustainable Table).
It was not until the 19th century that the use of pesticides became more geared to natural techniques such as “roots of topical vegetables and chrysanthemums” (Sustainable Table). DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) was discovered in 1939 and was extremely successful, however a huge concern came into effect with its health impact on humans (Sustainable Table). Not only are the pesticides being sprayed on the fruits and vegetables that are eaten, but it also be sprayed on grains as well. This may not seem like that big of deal on a global scale, but when one looks at the cycle of how it effects humans, it is quite concerning.
Grains are in all breads, no matter if it is super bleached or straight off of the wheat barley. Therefore, it is a direct source. However, the grains are being fed to livestock as well. In fact, 66% of the grain grown in the U. S. is used for livestock feed (Sustainable Table). “This grain is grown by intensive farming operations that use massive quantities of pesticides while producing problems such as pesticide resistance in insects and weeds, and pollution of nearby water supplies with toxic chemicals” (Sustainable Table). It is not as common to use manure as a type of soil, but it is definitely not out of the question.
The tainted manure could be used to grow the fruits and vegetable crops, that will then again be sprayed with more pesticides, which after awhile, the dead material and soil will run off as ground water, or to a straight water supplies and pollute the water (Sustainable Table). As stated earlier, this will not only affect marine life, but human drinking water. When and if this water goes through sewage treatment plants, not all of the pesticide chemicals will be removed. So not only will humans be ingesting chemicals from the fruits and vegetables, but possibly their drink and meat as well! Pesticides are a public health concern and have been linked to a range of diseases and disorders. Many chemical pesticides are known to cause poisoning, infertility and birth defects, as well as damage to the nervous system and potentially cause cancer” (Sustainable Table). The most susceptible to these conditions are small children. “According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American child between ages six and eleven carriers four times the acceptable level of pesticides called organophosphates (which are known to cause nerve damage)” (Sustainable Table).
The CDC also conducted a blood and urine test in 2004 and that in 100% of the subjects pesticide residues were found. “Two insecticides- chlorpyrifos and methyl parathion- were found at levels up to 4. 6 times greater than what the U. S. government deems acceptable” (Sustainable Table). Somebody has to take the blame for these absurd high numbers, the question is who to blame. Pesticide use goes through a rigorous test before any products that came in contact with pesticides are even put out on the shelves. Pesticides are tested and approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which establishes “tolerances,” or maximum residue levels, that limit the amount of a given pesticide that can safely remain in or on a food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is then responsible for monitoring pesticide levels on fruits and vegetables, while the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is charged with the task of surveying pesticide residues in meat, eggs, and dairy products” (Sustainable Table).