There are many factors that contribute to ones state of health or lack thereof, both internal (emotional, habitual, hormonal, perceived value of quality, etc...) and external (agricultural policy, social programing and pressures, convenience, marketing, etc...) and I would suggest that the majority of those factors we have personal control over as a daily choice.
Yet there is such an overwhelming tide of influences and demands on us that we can so easily give in to the flow of the way of the world, and feel helpless, frustrated and isolated. Couple that with our ingrained national pride of individualism, the belief of "I can do it all by myself" and "I'm entitled to what makes me happy", and we are stuck in a pickle between, "its all my fault for my state of health" and "I can't do anything about my health, so why bother?".
So one of the most empowering ways to ultimately improve your health, is to step out of the flow of the way of the world and see where its going, whats driving it and what are your choices. In a word...AWARENESS. By educating your self about the internal and external factors that contribute to the health of you and those you interact with (a shocking revelation for some; You are part of an ecology, your health and life influences and is influenced by your internal and external environments...that donut isn't just unhealthy for you alone!) you will be more conscientious of your choices and the effects they have, will be more motivated to chose wisely and feel good about those choices!
That said, here is an assignment for your first step. Learn about the Governmental policies that that are contributing to the state of your dietary choices here in America.
Then learn about some of the internal thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to your lifestyle and habits.
Have you ever considered what REALLY goes into your food when someone else prepares it for you at a Restaurant or other food service?
Considering that the true amount people eat out is more than 50% of the time, contamination sources from food services must be understood if you are concerned with your health.
An effective HACCP plan (http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/HazardAnalysisCriticalControlPointsHACCP/ucm114868.htm) can mitigate much of these vectors, yet they only control them to a point, not eliminate them, and the effects of these multiple contaminations and accumulations aren't considered in light of the consumers health (only to keep customers from getting sick to stay in business)
Below is a list of various contamination factors I put together from my experience in the food service industry.
Vectors of biological and Chemical contamination in Commercial Food service operations that can contribute to health complications:
-GMO's: the most insidious of all contaminations! (virtually in all
processed/packaged foods including Nutritional yeasts, sugars..)
-Humans: (the more pretty your food on your plate, the more
people touched it)
-The handling of various foods during operations contributes to
multiple cross contamination, no amount of washing and
chemicals will prevent cross-comtamination. Which makes
Allergen free food services are very rare (for that sake,
vegan/vegetarian/gluten/nut free food services if they serve
those contaminants otherwise)
-Human hair, skin, saliva (personal hygiene practices)
-They are the main cross contamination vectors (trash to sink to
food to toilet to food, etc...)
-Foods naturally contain a certain level of insect parts (from fresh
salad greens to grains),though they are rarely considered
pathological for humans.
-improperly stored foods can attract and contain insects
-Foods naturally contain a certain levels of animal parts/fecal
matter/hair, not normally considered pathological for humans, as
long as its keep to USDA standards.
-Sources of contamination: Water supply, air, humans, foods,
-Intrinsic properties of foods and processing (bacterial levels,
-Equipment (cutting boards, ice-makers, water pipes,
refridgerators, sinks, tables, small wares, storage ware, etc...)
-Animal/plant products: conventionally raised
livestock,wild/farmed fish and much of the
plant crops now contain certain levels of Hormones, pesticides,
genetic modification, environmental contaminations (organic or
-City water supply (HALO's, Chlorines, bromines, florides, etc...)
-Water pipes (copper, lead, plasticizers, iron, etc...)
-coffee filters (material made with bleaching and other
-Dishwashers (highly toxic cleaners/sanitizers/rinse agents leave
residues on flat ware and
are sent into the air and water supply)
-Cleaning agents: Tables, floors, equipment
-Cook ware: aluminum, non-stick, plastic, (cookware, utensils,
equipment) (can react with
cleaning agents, foods and cooking methods to contaminate
-storage ware: Cambros (#5, #7 containers), cellophane/plastic
wrap, alluminum foil
-Service ware: (melamine, plastic, metal) plates, bowls, cups,
-Cooking methods: High heat cooking (searing/roasting/baking
produce highly toxic compounds related to multiple health
disorders for the people cooking them and the people eating
-Disposable wares: (Plastic, wax, paper wares) my impression is
that even bio-compostable wares are even more toxic, less
stable bonds of materials and they still use petroleum/chemical
-Product packaging: Plastics, waxes, cardboards, biological
control chemicals, fumigants, preserving agents.
-Rubber/plastic/nitrile gloves: both the material and the
Talcum/cornstarch/other powder/chemicals used in
producing/packaging/ease of use.
So, its pretty much impossible to have a contamination free food service...you just have to choose your level of contamination that you are willing to accept...you control many of these factors when your produce your own food. So you see why I rarely eat out...
Blog of a Therapeutic Chef
Adventures, discoveries, experiences, opinions, and mistakes in the world of food, faith and farming