the first pitch.

(I know this video is old news, but it's two year anniversary is practically new-news.)

As all of my family and closest friends (as well as those who eat within earshot of me) know, I've developed an increasing fear (for lack of a better word) of what exactly it is I'm consuming on a daily basis. This has led me to torture my husband with copious amounts of information I'm sure he occasionally wishes he never learned (i.e., peanuts are contaminated with carcinogenic mold).  Although I also love to "educate" my co-workers, family, etc., I realize I may be alone in my zeal for reading food labels. Every now and then I catch myself and I realize I probably sound like Debbie Downer just as someone is really enjoying their "delicious" ham and turkey sandwich (nothing against sandwiches) {just kidding, sandwiches are horrible since most contain processed meat}.

Thus, in my attempt to irritate less people verbally, I've decided to take my [possibly misplaced?] opinions on food standards and labels in the US to a new forum, where people can choose to read rather than be forced to tune me out. Plus, I'd love to share my favorite recipes, blogs, and other sources I turn to for information. I've only successfully converted one person to Paleo to date (and she brought her husband so let's make that two), but maybe my numbers can increase. Or at least you might choose to throw out your peanut butter. Here's to hoping.

... and now, for the good stuff:

I had a post planned about peanuts and peanut butter and liver cancer. However, it seems more pressing to address the Farm Bill recently (July 11, 2013) passed by the House, so I'll save that one for next time. The Farm Bill passed by a margin of a whopping 3 votes, with Speaker Boehner voting (often, Speakers do not vote). Not that I ever intend to be political here, but sometimes frequently politics get in the way of food. The 2013 Farm Bill was clearly a partisan issue, as not one Dem voted in favor of the bill (cue conservative applause, as the bill dropped food stamps and favors big business). The dropping of the nutrition program (aka food stamps) is not the only issue with the bill, but perhaps the most obvious, and the one that will undoubtedly receive the most coverage.

Although the Farm Bill is couched as one which favors farmers by providing crop insurance, including minor losses, in actuality, there is a difference between farmers and agribusiness.  The bill does not truly favor the local, small farmer who grows organic food (or simply the local farmer, period). I came across a quote which stated, "A vote for this bill is pure and simple a vote for special interests at the expense of average taxpayers." Even conservative groups were against the bill, noting the continued protection of corporate welfare (it contains a wealth transfer program which shifts money from taxpayers to corporations for their overseas marketing).

Guess what the bill doesn't change? Sugar regulations (i.e., it guarantees that sugar producers/processors always profit, regardless of market price). Isn't that ironic in a country with an obesity epidemic? Maybe the high price of sugar will drive down consumption... if it weren't for that ever-present substitute, high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. If you start checking your food labels, you'll notice that corn syrup is EVERYWHERE. {Go check your Lowry's garlic salt, it's in there, too.} You know those commercials that say corn syrup is just like sugar? They're right, it is just like sugar. So, what is it doing in garlic salt? Corn syrup is added to more processed foods (i.e., cereal, crackers, soy milk, baby formula) than most realize. Moreover, approximately 88% of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. Are you seeing the disturbing pattern here? [As an aside, GMOs are banned in Europe, Japan, and other countries; the U.S. does not even require foods to be labeled as genetically modified. Connecticut was the first state to pass laws requiring such labeling.]

In spite of the sugar regulations remaining unchanged, in my opinion, one of the worst parts about the Farm Bill is its continued support of Big Agriculture [the bill is around 600 pages, so there are plenty of issues to choose from, beyond sugar and conservationism]. The majority of subsidies go to the largest agribusinesses, while a small percentage is provided for the small farmer, with a large percentage of farmers getting nothing. So the next time you're in the Whole Foods parking lot wondering how you just spent $200 on 15 items (happens to me more often than I'd like to admit), think about spending some time writing to your representative. It looks like the lobbying will now start for the [hopefully] better final Farm Bill, as the House and Senate will begin negotiations as the summer nears its end.

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