People take one look at me and immediately label me a sweet little old lady who feeds the birds and goes to the library a lot.
If I had a label on the back of my head, they could read what I really am, or could they? They might think that they know what is going on inside. However, since I left a lot of stuff out of my label, they will never find out.
And that is what much of the food world and many other essentials are doing — leaving a lot of stuff out of the label. Now that most food products are labeled, the food world has become an arena of double talk, censorship, and evasiveness. The sins of omission shower the food industry, and others.
Did you know that the Teflon nonstick pot that I used to cook for my family, my children, my infant child, was carcinogenic? Well, the double talk scientists are still trying to minimize the effect of PFAS on human beings, but Teflon and several other nonstick skillet people announced in 2013 that they no longer had any PFAS in their product. How come they didn’t tell me that they had them before 2013? Why did I not know what I was possibly getting into when I scrambled eggs for my kids without butter or oil? I’m not saying that PFAS are carcinogenic — the scientists can debate about that — I’m saying that if I had known, I could have made a choice. I could have done my homework, and chosen according to the information given.
Here’s what I found out about PFOA and PFOS: There’s a bunch of them. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are the two most widely used and studied chemicals in the PFAS group. They’re called “forever chemicals” because many hang around for months, or even years, in our bodies without our knowing it, and they break down very slowly, if ever, in the environment. PFOA, which has been studied more than most other related chemicals, raises particular concerns, because according to Consumer Reports, it has been clearly linked to “health risks in humans.” I didn’t say that; Consumer Reports did.
Do PFAS harm your health? Julie Wilson of the Organic Consumer Organization says, “Yes.” You don’t agree? Go argue with her.
For some reason, in recent years, those PFAS have been replaced in the U.S. with other PFAS. Can you figure out why? Does the word lawsuit come to mind? Up until now, they were used with abandon in industry and everyday products, since the 1940s. That’s when Teflon came on the scene, with PTFE. Some are more toxic than others, but it’s hard to tell which you are dealing with, because they are not listed on the label. All of them break down very gradually in people, the environment, and animals, without you knowing it.
So, you can be eating “farm-raised” Bossy, which can be labeled “all natural,” only to find out that Bossy has been fed GMO feed. The farmer didn’t know it because it wasn’t labeled.
I don’t want to scare you, but independent tests have found per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water, as well as bottled water. How are we going to exist without water? I swear to you that I am not a naysayer — that’s just a fact. Look it up if you don’t believe me.
Worse than that, when you see that what you bought has PFAS in it and you throw it away, they can leach out from landfills or spread from incinerators into the environment, where they not only contaminate the water, but also the soil, the food, and the air. And we may be eating them, drinking them, and breathing them without knowing it, all because they were never labeled. No place to run, no place to hide.
I’m not going to say a word about Monsanto and its relationship with the FDA, EPA, and greed, but you can see where I’m going here.
Even the Impossible Burger, the vegetarian burger of choice at a fast-food chain, has 46 uncharacterized proteins.
So, say that you read “Read It Before You Eat It,” by Bonnie Taub-Dix, and you are all girded up to shop. You can read that label up one side and down the other, and still not know what is in the product, because most GMOs are not labeled.
Whether or not GMOs are toxic is not my deal. I can’t fight Monsanto or DuPont, and I don’t want them coming after me. I just want to know if GMOs are in the food that I am eating, the pots that I cook with, the products I clean with, the chocolate bars I cheat with. Where is the FDA when it comes to telling me what I am putting into my body?
Now they are coming out with a new one: GMO 2.O. And guess what, it has been deemed that it need not be included on the label.
I just bought a box of processed food. I turned to the back of the package and read, “Some products are bioengineered.” What is bioengineered? GMO. Why didn’t they say so? Why did I have to look it up to find out?
The Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit, goody-two-shoes organization, has come out with the Butterfly label. The Non-GMO Project’s butterfly label is a certification mark that indicates that a product has been independently verified to meet the Non-GMO Project’s standards for GMO avoidance. It verifies products as non-GMO (non-genetically modified organisms) through a process of testing, inspection, and ongoing monitoring. Finally, a label that helps the consumer.
Those pesky chemicals, possibly toxic, are hiding out in all sorts of places without telling you. For example, in stain- and water-repellent sprays used on clothing, pajamas, carpets, upholstery, cleaning products. OK, that makes sense.
But they can migrate to sneaky places, like: pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, paper bags for french fries, wrappers for hamburgers, molded fiber salad bowls, single-use paper plates, paper straws, candy wrappers … they have no shame. Even dental floss. I didn’t make that up. Consumer Reports tested more than 100 food packaging products from U.S. restaurants and supermarkets, and found them to have “dangerous PFAS.”
We should all give a round of applause to the Environmental Working Group. They are the ones who reported that PFAS manufacturers knew that these forever chemicals might harm human beings. For the first 60 years, people maintained that it was only dangerous to workers who were exposed to them at an industrial scale. OK, bless them for investigating, but they still did not get them to label; for the most part, those chemicals are still not labeled. It took the settlement of a lawsuit to find that “probable links between exposure and thyroid disease, higher cholesterol levels, kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.” Would labeling have made a difference? I think so, but my degree in chemistry is from UCLA (the University of the Corner of Lenox Ave.).
When I had endometrial cancer, I assumed it was my fault. Then a law firm called me and asked if I wanted to sue a hair-straightening company, because that was probably the cause. What? I have been straightening my hair since high school. Did anybody tell me that I could end up with cancer as a result? A label would have been nice. An Afro would have been nicer.
The same thing is true with talcum powder. How many of us have talcumed our baby’s bottoms with no idea it was carcinogenic? Whether or not it was carcinogenic isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about not knowing, not given the choice between talcum powder and cornstarch or any other alternative.
You wanna do chocolate bars?
I was always told that dark chocolate was the “healthier” chocolate. El Wrongo.
Consumer Reports did the research for me. They measured the amount of heavy metals in 28 dark chocolate bars. Guess how many had cadmium and lead? All of them. None of them have those heavy metals listed on the wrapper. Not just candy bars, but brownie mixes, chocolate chips, and hot cocoa.
So you can label me any which way you want by simply reading the listing of what I want you to know about me, but, like the food industry and others, I have thoughts that you will never know, and unless you sue me for a gazillion dollars, you will never find out. OK, here’s one thought: How come I have to throw out my Teflon pan? Why shouldn’t they be obliged to buy it back from me? Why are we not putting the executives at DuPont up for Murder One? It would be justified, because DuPont “behaved in a way that showed extreme, reckless disregard for life resulting in the victim’s death.” True, they did not willfully poison me, but they knew someone was going to die. You can verify these allegations by viewing the documentary “The Devil We Know,” by Stephanie Soechtig and Jeremy Seifert.
The war on drugs is not nearly as important as the war on food. You stand up and fight against the war on drugs, which punishes low-level, poor criminals. What are you doing about the war on food, which should punish high-level industrial billionaires? You know that folks are dying because of the avarice of the food industry, yet … what have you done to fight it? What does the label on the back of your head say?