Illnesses Linked to Industrial Foods, Part III (Summary & Resources)

This is Part III, the final part, of my report on the link between chronic illnesses and industrial foods consumption that I researched for a graduate-level class on social evolution taught by an archeologist. My goal was to discover and describe the markers (or in non-archeological terms “physical evidence”) that are found in the human body that indicate habitual industrial food consumption. In populations that consume mostly industrial foods, the markers are mostly chronic diseases, dental deformities and some contaminated food borne infections.

Summary

Today’s global market and industrial economy drives the demand for cheap, calorie-rich but nutrient-poor processed foods. This is not just in the United States. Industrialization has transformed commodity grains such as corn, wheat and rice into “inputs” to create profitable “outputs” through industrial production and globalized commerce all over the world. In the United States, the government promotes the industrial food system with government subsidies, which in turn fosters more surplus grain production and consumption.

Continue reading

Illnesses Linked to Industrial Foods, Part II ( and health linked to non-industrial foods)

This is Part II of my report on the link between chronic illnesses and industrial foods consumption that I researched for a graduate-level class on social evolution taught by an archeologist. My goal was to discover and describe the markers (or in non-archeological terms “physical evidence”) that are found in the human body that indicate habitual industrial food consumption. What I found out was that in populations that consume mostly industrial foods, the markers are mostly chronic diseases, dental deformities and a few other pathalogies.

Research Results

“The way we eat has changed more in the last fifty years than in the previous ten thousand,” according to industrialized agriculture expert Eric Schlosser in the documentary Food, Inc. (Kenner 2009). Up until the past 200 years or so, most people lived relatively strenuous lives and subsisted on whole foods they foraged or produced themselves. When there was inadequate food, birth and survival rates either decreased to keep a population in equilibrium with the local ecology’s carrying capacity or there was societal collapse. Nowadays, the United States, the “leading industrial power in the world,” has longer life expectancies, longer daily work hours requiring little physical exertion and more affordable and abundant unhealthy convenience foods. This is resulting in both less access to nutritious foods and healthful physical activity and greater access to calories and unhealthful chemicals and food borne pathogens. Together these factors are making more and more Americans sick.

Continue reading

Illnesses Linked to Industrial Foods, Part I

Why is it that chronic deseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, dental crowding, and E. coli 0157:H7 infections have been increasing in industrialized countries (Dowdle 2009; Pollan 2008; Schlosser 2001; Wroth 2009)? Have technological advances in medicine and public health resulted in longer life expectancies and more age-related illnesses? Or, are these illnesses somehow linked with the industrialization of societies and industrial food production? Are these chronic illnesses correlated with an increasingly globalized food market that delivers exotic and out of season foods to ethnic groups that have not physiologically adapted to them? Or are these chronic diseases a product of over-population and insufficient food that is nutritious? Are the ever-more densely populated and urbanized industrial societies exceeding their carrying capacities for providing affordable and nutrient rich foods?

This report is from a research project I did in 2009 for a graduate level class called Social Evolution taught by an archaeologist. My goal was to discover and describe the markers (or in non-archeological terms “physical evidence”) in the human body that indicate habitual industrial food consumption in populations. What I found out was that in populations that consume mostly industrial foods, the markers were mostly bad.

Continue reading