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Hello, Mr. Norris, a friend was telling me that imported foods can be more dangerous than domestic foods. Have any thoughts about that?” – Terry L., Flagstaff, Ariz.
A few years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the number of farms in 1935 was 7 million, and today there are roughly only 1.9 million.
Compare that to the growing stats of the U.S. population for the same period: from 127 million people in 1935 to 308 million people in 2010.
The math is easy to figure. America has less than 5 million farms since 1935 and more than 181 million more people.
So where do we get the food to feed the increasing number of Americans? Answer: abroad and overseas.
In 2007, USA Today reported that, unbeknownst to most in the U.S., the average American consumes 260 pounds of imported foods yearly, or roughly 13 percent of their annual diets.
We consume that much not only because we don’t necessarily know what is imported vs. what is domestic, but also because we trust that the Food and Drug Administration is doing its duty as it explains on its official website: “Imported food products are subject to FDA inspection when offered for import at U.S. ports of entry.”
Here’s the bad news. USA Today went on to explain that in 2007 only 1.3 percent of imported fish, vegetables, fruit and other foods were inspected. Actually, while imported foods have increased, the percentage of FDA inspections has declined – from 1.8 percent in 2003 to 1.3 percent in 2007 to 1.1 percent in 2008.
And the super tragic aspect of those extremely few inspections is that they regularly revealed that the imported foods were unfit for human consumption. For example, USA Today noted that in March 2007 alone, the FDA found potentially harmful elements like unsafe food coloring to pesticide contamination and salmonella in nearly 850 shipments of vegetables, fish, grains, nuts, oils and other imported foods. What is that saying for the other 88.7 percent of imported foods that are not inspected?
To add insult to injury, just this past week Bloomberg News reported that, according to figures from the U.S. Labor Department, a sluggish dollar and growing economies abroad pushed up the cost of imported food by 1.8 percent over last month, with costs up 20 percent from a year earlier, the greatest annual increase since records began in 1977.
This is one more extreme illustration of why we must take our health and fitness back into our own hands. For both nutrition and economic reasons, it’s time to renew our commitment to buy U.S. local organic foods and frequent only those grocers and restaurants that do, too.
Here are my top 10 reasons to buy U.S. local organics, and the first two reasons I’ve already given you:
10. Buying and consuming imported foods are leaving you more at risk – like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates, “never knowing what you’re going to get.” On the other hand, buying local produce increases adherence to U.S. proper produce protocol and regulation.
9. The costs of imported foods (like fuels) are going up.
8. Buying imported foods is boosting other countries’ currencies and economies, while further crippling our own. Bloomberg further reported this past week that: “A weakening U.S. currency has also made imported goods more expensive. The dollar fell 7.7 percent against a basket of major currencies from the beginning of the year to the end of April. … The cost of goods from China rose 0.4 percent, while those from Japan were increased 0.3 percent. Goods from Latin America climbed 3.5 percent, and those from the European Union increased 0.8 percent. Prices of Canadian imports rose 2.4 percent, and goods from Mexico advanced 2.5 percent.”
7. Buying U.S. foods not only supports local merchants but rebuilds the U.S. economy.
6. Buying from local farmers (roadside stands and markets) builds up the farming communities.
5. Buying local produce provides fresher fruits and vegetables. According to fruitroutes.org, the average produce travels 1,300 miles on average from farm to table. And if coming from abroad and overseas, it can be thousands of miles more and, hence, take much longer in transit.
4. Buy local, and go green. Buying imported produce and foods includes supporting their extended shipment and increased emissions and shipping supplies in getting to us.
3. Buy local, save farmland and stop creeping concrete. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s own website, “Some 3,000 acres of productive farmland are lost to development each day in this country.”
2. Buy local, and hold back global governance regulations from infiltrating U.S. domestic food policies and freedoms. This past week, the Alliance for Natural Health expressed the natural health community’s concern about the growth and overreach of the United Nation’s Codex Alimentarius Commission and its guidelines. Far more than a trade and safety commission, its universal codes of food conduct are infiltrating the corridors of government and even being enacted into laws overseas. Though international influence is currently prohibited by U.S. food policy, global governance is a slippery slope. By diminishing the supply and demand of imported foods, we diminish the needs and greed of global governance agencies.
1. Buying local and organic is better for you (of course). Less tampering and pesticides, and fresher quality, provide better taste and more vitamins.
One last admonition: Don’t just assume your local grocery store has produce that is domestically purchased. Ask department managers (including fish and meat) about the geographical origins of particular foods. And, when you go to restaurants, even by coastal waters, ask where their food and fish come from, as well.
It’s your body – protect its borders from the invasion of terrorist cells!