Food and Contamination: Be Careful What You Eat

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In the centuries predating mass-production agriculture, people grew their own food. They grew crops and raised livestock and, as recently as the 1970s, a majority of American homes had stay-at-home mothers who prepared meals for their families. To use a cliché, times have changed. It’s much easier for mom or dad to pick up that evening’s dinner at a deli section at a grocery store or from a fast-food restaurant. Many find it is also much easier to follow the instructions on a package of processed food than it is to prepare meals using a family or favorite recipe.

There are benefits to mass production that lead us in this direction: lowers cost and increased efficiency. But, mass production also comes with risks to our health, including cancer through increasing exposure to chemicals. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has regulatory authority, even they find themselves in the middle of action plans to clean up damage done through chemicals found in food. In March 2004, they announced an action plan for acrylamide in food. The chemical appears to form as a byproduct of high-temperature cooking. The chemical has been linked to cancer in laboratory animals in high dosages.

When we struggle to run a household and time is short, what can you as a consumer do to advocate your own health and safety in simple ways? Some steps to protect your health and that of your family include:

  • Reading food packaging labels
  • Buying organic (grown without chemicals and pesticides) food whenever possible.
  • Patronizing farmers markets, where you will get to meet the small farmer who grows the food.
  • Participating in a community garden if you do not have room to grow your own vegetables.
  • Monitor your health.

Only you know how you feel and what you ate. Chemicals and food processing methods, over time, can cause many illnesses and diseases. If you think exposure to chemicals in food has affected your health, consult a specialist. Consider hiring a personal injury attorney if medical testing corroborates the correlation to health problems and chemicals in your food.