April 20, 2024

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

Although these genetic modifications are generally considered safe to consume, there is scant long-term research on the effects on human digestive function or other bodily processes. We just don’t know. People who consume them may be unwitting testers.

However, there are indications that some herbicides remain in grains, even those labeled as organic. One of these that is increasingly concerning, is glyphosate which has been linked to non-Hodgkins-lymphoma, and other inflammation-related diseases and disorders such as diabetes, gut disorders, and autism. This chemical is used to kill unwanted grasses and other weeds in crop fields and is the most widely used herbicide in the world. Residues of this herbicide have been found in kidney beans, lima beans, and peanuts; barley; dry beans such as chickpea, lupin, and fava; canola; field pea; flax; lentil; oat; soybean as well as wheat.

One type of corn is even advertised as “Roundup Ready”, that is, it has GMO gene strands inserted that allow it to grow despite spraying by this herbicide.

Glyphosate has been demonstrated to cause damage to nerve function as well as being implicated in cancers, hormone disruption, celiac disease, leaky gut disorder, “gluten” intolerance, blood cell changes, and autism. In 2015, glyphosate was listed as “probably carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Other studies question those relationships.

Even more concerning is that glyphosate is used to dry plants at harvest, those that have no resistance to the chemical. This is where some organic grain growers may slip over the line. They do honestly grow their crop by organic methods, but they use the herbicide to dry up all the plants for uniform harvest.

A USDA pilot study ten years ago found various pesticide residues in 6 types of organic crops, apples, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, and bell peppers. These are the most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. There are hundreds more that were not tested. All had pesticide residues, although the broccoli did not exceed 0.01 parts per million. Remember, they did not test conventional non-organic commercial crops, where residues are likely to be higher!

Add to all this, the relatively new use of a plant-based resin coating on fresh produce, one of which goes by the trade name Apeel. This is supposed to help avoid food waste by sealing the exterior of things like lemons, cucumbers, and mangoes so that the normal aging process is delayed. The food can sit on the shelf much longer, and still appear fresh. The resin cannot be washed off, unlike the old varieties of wax that could be removed at home. There’s no indication that it remains only on outside of the food, or whether it might be absorbed into the interior.

The developers say it is perfectly edible, even though it has to be applied by trained technicians. It is used on both commercial and organic items. It contains either or both heptane and ethyl acetate, solvents that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

I searched for any study that looked at the use of Apeel products in combination with glyphosate, other herbicides, or pesticides on the foods — there were none that I could find. I also looked for information on the maximum allowable amount of Apeel that a typical consumer might be exposed to — and found nothing. Keep in mind that there is no requirement that any foods treated with these preservatives need to be labeled.

One way to tell if preservative resins are on your food, aside from their unnatural longevity, is that the items appear slightly glossy, flawless, and feel smooth.

More About Food Sensitivity

Sudden adult food sensitivity, like my relative developed with his reaction to commercial onions, is now believed to affect about 10% of adults, although different sources suggest that the problem is a silent epidemic affecting many more. One sufferer stated that her symptoms began in adulthood and progressed so that she almost could eat nothing except milk, rice, and meat.

Food sensitivity is considered different from food allergy, as allergies tend to have more severe symptoms up to and including anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.

Various sites list different possible causes for adult-onset food sensitivities, including:

  • stress
  • genetics
  • gastric infections
  • disordered bowel bacteria
  • antibiotic use
  • latent childhood allergy that is triggered by excessive exposure
  • inadvertent exposure to an allergen such as eating an apple that has cedar pollen on it

One comment that kept reappearing in multiple websites was that last bulleted item: that a person may consume something, such as an apple, that has something on it that the person is actually sensitive to, and then think it was the apple that triggered the reaction. While this seems reasonable, how likely is it really that commercial apples, or celery, or onions, which are washed after harvest, bagged, and put in cold storage, are uniformly carrying a sensitizing pollen? That every time you eat commercial apples (or onions), the same sensitivity reaction occurs, but doesn’t happen when eating one grown in your backyard?

The potential reasons for sudden adult food sensitivity that are generally not included on websites are:

  • GMO changes to plants
  • herbicide residues (such as glyphosate)
  • pesticide residues
  • irradiative changes to the food products
  • anti-fungal sprays
  • antibiotic treatments on foods
  • changes to ingredients
  • resin chemical coatings on fresh foods

…or combinations of several of the above

Something in this list seems to be the problem for my onion-sensitive relative. We are certain of it, not only because he can still eat onions we have grown at home and wild onions, but also because dried onions prepared prior to 2013 do not bother him. But commercial onions dried after 2013 will set off the same unpleasant symptoms.

New Thoughts on Food Storage

One of the traditional tenets of storing up foods is to use your supplies in rotation. In that way, older stored goods are used first, then replaced with newer purchases. This keeps your supplies fresh.

However, here’s the modern conundrum, especially for people who find themselves “suddenly sensitive” to some food item that they could previously tolerate: the older supplies may be the safest to consume, even if they are well past their “best by” date. For someone who is food sensitive, those older products may be their personal lifeline.

What my relative has done is carefully set back older items that he knows he can consume without a reaction. At the same time, he is expanding his garden area to allow him to grow things that won’t negatively affect him. In other words, he is gradually moving into more home production, canning, and preserving. He continues to hold onto his “safe” foods, though – opening jars and cans just enough to make sure he is eating well overall. He knows that when those goods are gone, though, he probably won’t be able to replace them. That’s the reality.

This has prompted me to rethink my own storage. Instead of looking at my “old” items as something to be quickly used and replaced, I’m more likely to set cans and jars of older things back – after carefully inspecting for signs of damage or aging. I’ve used those kinds of items already, and know that they are suitable for our needs without any off flavors or unpleasant reactions.

At the same time, I continue to acquire new products – but only a few at a time. We then “test consume” them to be sure they taste the way we expect, produce no weird effects, and continue to fit our needs. If they pass the test, I might acquire more. These will be dated and go into storage.

Taste Differences

One thing we have noticed is that many current production prepared foods really taste different than the same products that are pre-2020. We’ve taste-tested new and old products side by side, and the flavor differences are obvious, even allowing for aging of the older foods. Without trying to figure out why these taste differently, we are gradually cutting the new foods from our storage. They no longer taste “right”, and that’s enough reason to avoid them. Sadly, for us, this list includes most commercial chocolate candies. If we feel a need for a chocolate “hit”, it’s going to be homemade using cocoa powder from organic sources. We still have a small supply of pre-2015 semi-sweet chocolate chips, and those will be used for special-occasion cookies. I’m experimenting with making my own chocolate chips from cocoa powder, too.

Another product that no longer tastes “right” to us are most commercial wheat flours. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s different, except that there is a lightness or lack of “wheatiness” in the taste that makes the end products bland and flavorless. The colors seem pale, as well. Although I enjoy baking bread and other things at home, both by machine and by hand, these modern flours have left my homemade breads unsatisfying. Fortunately, I’ve found that grinding grains that I’ve stored prior to 2020 returns the flavor to my baked goods.

Additionally, I will occasionally use organic bread flour – even though the price has gone up about 300% in the past four years, from $3.99 for 5 pounds to $10.95 for the same product! An online source, healthytraditions.com, carries GMO- and glyphosate-tested flour and grains, most acquired from small, family, organic farms in the US and Italy. These are quite pricey, but have the flavor we expect and are tested free from GMOs and glyphosate. This makes bread expensive, so we will be likely to use it less frequently than in the past. The peace of mind is worth it to us.

We’re also label-watching in the stores. Anything “bioengineered” won’t be brought home. To my shock, my latest pantry inventory showed that a major percentage of my purchased items have that designation. Some of these items are several years old! Although I’d really prefer to just dispose of these things, our income won’t permit us to replace such a large part of our storage. Consequently, they’ll end up on the menu until they are used up. I’m not happy about that, but I figure that we will be decreasing these products in our meals while adding wholesome homemade and homegrown instead. After we run out of the bioengineered things, we will no longer knowingly buy or consume any more of them.

Making Our Own

Effectively, our home food storage is paring away many “prepared” or “pre-made” foods, flavorings, and products. Interestingly, many if not most of these are convenience foods – things we don’t really need, but have used out of habit over the years. It’s quicker, by a few minutes, to grab a jar of bioengineered mayo from storage than it is to haul out the blender and make a batch using organic extra virgin olive oil, a backyard egg, and a few spices. But those few minutes are definitely worth my time now. Fresh mayo is wildly better tasting than commercial varieties, and leftovers, if any, can store for a week in the refrigerator. Plus, I know exactly what’s in it when I make it myself.

I’m also adding batches of my own premade mixes – muffin mix, pancake mix, and so forth. These only need a few wet items added, perhaps an egg or some oil, so it’s almost like using a boxed mix. I make up big batches every six months or so, put into canning jars with moisture absorbers, and on the shelf they go. I write the measurements on the jars (“1 cup mix to 1 egg and ¼ cup milk”) so it’s handy when I want to cook.

YouTube.com is a wealth of information on making your own mixes, if you don’t already have some favorites. This approach has added rows of additional jars to my pantry, but removed boxes of products at the same time. My pantry looks different!

For the long-term future, I can’t imagine the food industry making a big turnaround and focusing on removing sensitizers, allergens, irradiation, pesticides, GMOs, resins, or herbicides any time soon. Since I believe eating a cocktail of chemicals is not conducive to my best health, I have a simple choice: buy from trusted sources or grow it myself.

At some point, this may be a decision we will all have to make.

About The Author

Anita Bailey, PhD, is the author of Cold Times: How to Prepare for the Mini Ice Age.