I am going to lead off this post with a disclaimer that I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician. I am a person who cares about what he puts into his body and I cannot digest enough information while also trying to make heads and tails of it all. The beauty of this idea is that my body will give me the answers to the questions that arise from consuming certain foods.
That being said I wanted to dedicate today’s post to two documentaries that I have recently watched. The first movie I watched was Food, Inc. According to the website for the film: Food, Inc. exposes America’s industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights. I watched this film on the recommendation of a friend and after I had already made the decision to eat a more plant-based diet and really to become vegetarian. For those of you that are new to this site I made the change not based on a movie, being a member of PETA or any other reason than the fact that I wanted to see how my body reacted to eating a vegetarian diet. After watching this movie I will say that my decision was confirmed.
I learned about Monsanto, ConAgra and GMOs from this movie. I have more research to do but this was a terrific start to increase my knowledge of what I feed my body, and more importantly what my family eats. It is amazing to find out where our food comes from and how there are only a handful of companies that actually own our food supply. You might say that is not possible because there are thousands and thousands of items in the grocery store. That is true but that is nothing more than marketing. The package on the outside is different but there is a good chance that it came from the same plant.
In addition to learning about these companies I also started the process of learning what a GMO is. Do you know what a GMO is? Well, fortunately for you I can tell you that a simple Google search revealed that a GMO is a genetically modified organism or is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (thanks Wikipedia.)
How does this affect you and our food supply? Straight from Wikipedia comes this description:
To date the most controversial but also the most widely adopted application of GMO technology is patent-protected food crops which are resistant to commercial herbicides or are able to produce pesticidal proteins from within the plant, or stacked trait seeds, which do both. The largest share of the GMO crops planted globally are owned by the US firm Monsanto. In 2007, Monsanto’s trait technologies were planted on 246 million acres (1,000,000 km2) throughout the world, a growth of 13 percent from 2006.
In the corn market, Monsanto’s triple-stack corn—which combines Roundup Ready 2 weed control technology with YieldGard Corn Borer and YieldGard Rootworm insect control—is the market leader in the United States. U.S. corn farmers planted more than 32 million acres (130,000 km2) of triple-stack corn in 2008, and it is estimated the product could be planted on 56 million acres (230,000 km2) in 2014–2015.
It is daunting to read these numbers. It is daunting to know that this is happening and what was disturbing was the way Monsanto enforced the use of their GMOs.
The second movie that I saw was Food Matters: You Are What You Eat. This movie spoke to me with the title. I am not a believer in going to the Doctor for any reason outside of a physical. When I get sick I eat my way to health. I do get upset when I see all the commercials on TV from pharmaceutical companies touting the latest drug to curb the next problem. In my mind some of these ‘diseases’ are created by these companies so that they can sell drugs. The pharma industry is huge. They spend a lot of money on research and need to turn a profit to keep their board members happy.
I watched with delight as the movie discussed dealing with disease with Niacin and Vitamin C. We all know where we can find Vitamin C (oranges, strawberries, kale, broccoli) but where do you get Niacin. Good sources of Niacin are mushrooms, soy sauce, asparagus, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, mustard greens, summer squash, and boiled green peas. Want to eat meat? No problem as tuna, chicken breast, turkey and halibut amongst other are good sources of Niacin.
The notion that vitamins and minerals can help cure your ills is not new to me or my belief but this movie reinforced that theory, the same way Food, Inc. reinforced my decision to remaining a vegetarian.
These are not in your face documentaries that will make you cringe. They present one side of a story, like any documentary, so I encourage you to do your own research. I can say that I have never felt better about cooking and ensuring that what goes in is what I want to feed my family and myself. I have a responsibility to make sure that they are healthy and I take it seriously. I do research and while not always right I will keep working to make sure that what goes on the plate is wholesome and good for them.
My suggestion to you is to watch these movies simultaneously as they approach our food and food supply from different angles. In combination the movies will have you thinking and talking to your family and friends. They won’t make you an expert but they will open your eyes to the discussion. You may or may not agree with them but at least you will be engaged. As most readers of my site are endurance athletes you already know about how food impacts your training and racing but this will force you to think deeper.
I enjoy talking food and the benefits of it as well as discussing recipes so please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to talk about these movies or anything relating to food and how it has an impact on your ability to train and race. Have suggestion of movies or books please email those as well.