Is Our Modern Food Supply Killing Us?

paleobetic diet

John Deere combine harvesting wheat

Well, it’s complicated.

Many in the blogosphere wring their hands and pace to-and-fro worrying about GMO food, food preservatives, HFCS, sugar, gluten, artificial chemical additives in our food, arsenic in our water, mercury in our fish, factory-farmed food animals, industrial seed oils, hormones in our milk, antibiotics in our meat, pasteurization of milk, etc.

Consider this: worldwide life expectancy at birth has increased from 52 in 1960 to 70 in 2010. So just how bad can the food supply be?

I wonder how many items in the list above will turn out like dietary cholesterol, saturated fat, and total fat. That is, not a big deal.

You can argue that life expectancy would be even longer if we had better food. I’m sure that’s true to a degree. You can argue that there have been myriad helpful cultural and technological changes, irrespective of the food supply. Very true.

I’m just trying to put things in a perspective. An 18-year improvement in life expectancy over a half century is a big deal. Regardless of how you feel about wheat, Norman Borlaug deserves some credit.

Steve Parker, M.D.

One response to “Is Our Modern Food Supply Killing Us?

  1. Frank Weir

    Great post Dr. Parker and needed to be said. Your blog is the first mention I have ever seen about Norman Borlaug! Make sure to visit the Borlaug World Food Prize building if in Des Moines, Iowa. A great movie about the GMO debate is King Corn. It’s free on the internet and talks partly about Earl Butz. Butz made increased grain production a priority when secretary of agriculture using hybrid seed development and other technology. To his dying day he was proud of his accomplishment and said he wanted food to be simply available in poor countries and affordable here. He wanted Americans to be able to have money for their children’s education and a better life, not going to buy food. Imagine what a loaf of bread would cost today without GMOs; it’s difficult to estimate but it would be much more than it is. Look at how car and housing prices have increased since the 1960s when Butz took office. People who attack GMOs seem to me to be quite affluent and need not worry about buying their next meal and they don’t seem to consider food economics in their attacks. Talk to a person of low to moderate income that we will end use of GMOs but bread will cost double or triple.