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    • Chris

      Netflix has (so far) six episodes of a documentary about our food supply. This stuff fascinates me but for those who prefer the tl;dw (spoiler alert) I'll summarize:

      #1: Honey

      Americans have come to believe honey is a healthy sweetener, so demand is booming. Trouble is, the bees aren't doing well, so production is decreasing. No one knows how to solve the bee problem, so China started mixing rice syrup into the honey to meet demand.

      They dumped huge quantities of cheap rice syrup honey in the US, putting US producers out of business, so the US slapped tariffs on Chinese honey. And suddenly rice syrup honey started coming in the same quantities from Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.

      So the government set up test labs, which created an arms race between the honey adulterators, as they're called, and the test labs.

      Meanwhile, the price pressure on US producers got so high they started shipping their bees to the California almond orchards for a few months each spring to use the bees as pollinators and supplement their income. Which became like daycare for bees, germs spreading from colony to colony, so some producers started using antibiotics for the bees, which gets in the honey, and some of the antibiotics are not safe for humans.

      Moral of the depressing story: buy local honey from beekeepers in your area. Honey laundering.

    • ba

      We have viewed all 6 episodes. The poultry episode is spot on. It is a shame the producers explain the issue and then only use one scenario as their example. The episodes on chicken, garlic and fish were interesting, point only delve into a very small portion of each industry.
      That said, I would still watch new episodes, as they are very interesting.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      #2: Food allergies

      The number of people with serious food allergies has at least tripled over the last 20 years. It seems as though the incidence has grown far faster than that because the majority of people who report food allergies think they have them but don't.

      It's a huge problem for restaurants because the list of common allergens is long: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, and shellfish. If the restaurant make mistakes, their customers could have violent reactions or die.

      Once a serious reaction begins, the only life-saving procedure seems to be an EpiPen. The trouble is, if you're a parent with an infant or toddler, the first time you learn about your child's allergy is often when they have a terrible reaction.

      No one is certain why allergies are on the rise, but there is persuasive evidence that the natural reaction in the US—to protect children from the foods that harm them—amplified the problem. In Israel, where the incidence of peanut allergies is rare, they have a ubiquitous snack called Bamba which has peanuts.

      The effective treatment for allergies now is to expose allergic people to small doses of their allergen, increasing the dose until their allergy subsides.

      Also, there is a belief that in America we have limited our microbiomes with sterile conditions and antibiotics. The belief is that just like exposure to allergens, exposure in general, to dirt, etc., reduces the incidence of allergies.

    • Meditrider

      Growing up in North Carolina in the 50's I spent lots of time outdoors, gardening, hiking in the woods, working on a nearby dairy farm. Poison Ivy was everywhere and after even the slightest contact with the leaves or vines I'd break out in rashes all over my extremities. One day when I had large patches covering hands, arms and lower legs my Dad took me to see his sister, a Nurse/Midwife who lived in a rural community and was the only health care provider for those in a several-county area who could not afford traditional medical services. My aunt said she had become immune to poison ivy by simply making a tea from the leaves and drinking a small amount every other day for a week, then every day for another week and so on up to twice a day for a week.

      That tea business didn't appeal to me, but we found a product at the drug store called Aqua Ivy which purported to be poison ivy extract in pill form. That was less revolting, so I followed the same protocol, starting with one pill every other day and working up to 3 or 4 a day for a week. After that I could work around the stuff for hours and end up with one or two small blisters, no more. Can't run a chain saw as long nowadays, but the immunity remains.

    • Chris

      That's amazing. When I was a kid I got poison oak so bad I was out of school for almost three months, eyes swollen shut for more than a month. During the outbreak, I had to have a shot in my butt every day for 30 days. I don't know what that was.

      And then every year they made me take a course of 30 green pills, one a day for a month. I've always wondered what those were. Maybe extract of poison oak.

    • Chris

      #3: Garlic

      I have always believed that when it comes to starting businesses, you think the hard times will be when you're small. But my experience is, the crazy times roll when the money gets big.

      The good news about this episode is you don't end believing you can never eat garlic again. But, oh my God, the behind-the-scenes drama of the industry. The Chinese illegally use prisoners without paying them to do the hard manual labor of peeling the garlic, so they can flood the market with cheap garlic that drives other producers out of business so long as they can infiltrate the organizations that provide oversight.

      However, the Gilroy, California company that was hit hard in Netflix's documentary calls it slanderous and outrageous.

    • Chris

      #4 Chicken:

      Oh God. I hate watching documentaries about animal agriculture. It's a humanitarian, environmental, and health nightmare.

      But those aren't what this episode is about. Like the garlic episode, this is about Big Chicken and the battles for market share. One of the biggest chicken producers bought another big four producer with debt and then the economy turned so they had to go into chapter 11. Surprise, there's an enormous global Brazilian food giant who sweeps in and becomes the world's largest chicken producer by buying them. And then: a huge bribery scandal that brought down a son of the Brazilian founder.

      But they get chicken production up to something like 10 million birds a day. By 2020, estimates are Chicken will be the most consumed meat. Never mind how depressing the life of people who work in the chicken business.

    • Chris

      #5: Milk

      The killer thing about this episode is the eternal question: why do we tragically fall for beliefs that are sometimes fatal to our children?

      The thing is family dairy farms are falling to big industrial farms due to price pressure, but some have saved themselves by producing raw milk. It fetches higher prices. Some people believe it is better for their children due to enzymes and health-promoting bacteria which are lost during pasteurization.

      Producers believe they can keep pathogens at bay by cleaning their cow's udders before milking, chilling the milk immediately and piping it out instead of letting it fall in buckets, etc.

      Many mothers have become passionate about the benefits of raw milk. They believe it helps the immune system, provides better skin and nails, fewer allergies, better neurological support, etc. None of that seems to be supported by scientific studies.

      What is supported by data is 4 of 5 serious illnesses or death attributable to milk comes from raw milk, which is a small fraction of milk sold. A lot of raw milk comes from dairies with very sophisticated equipment to guard against pathogens, but still the lethal or nearly-lethal infections occur.

    • Chris

      #6 Fish:

      Don't watch this unless you're prepared to get depressed. The thing is the demand for fish is so high and our ability to harvest the oceans are so good, we fish until the cod population collapses. And sardines. And salmon. And and and.

      So we regulate and put quotas on the fishing industry in various schemes and the net result is it drives out the little guys and the big guys cheat to get around the regs and go to jail.

      Quotas open the markets to cheap farm-grown fish from places like Vietnam. Farm growing fish is an environmental disaster, and not so good for health. The perception is oily fish like salmon is good for the heart because of the high concentration of omega-3 fats, but salmon gets its omega 3s and orange coloring from the crill they feed on in the wild. They don't get it from the corn they eat at the farm, so their flesh is gray until the farmers dye it orange. And they are very low in omega 3s and high in pesticides and antibiotics. 🤢

    • gorudy

      Oh I hope this really isn't true for the Christopher family. I can't find much follow up to that story doing a quick google news search. Has there been any update on this?

    • dawndavis

      I have so many food and other sensitivities it's absolutely out of control. For years back and forth between an allergist, dermatologist, rheumatologist, and my MD, not to mention many trips to the ER. It wasn't until I went to a nutrionist did I get better. I followed her advice to a tittle and I was feeling 90% better in a week (ONE WEEK...omg) and within two weeks I was 95% better. I'm now experiencing some issues again, and need to get back to the nutritionist again. In the meantime, I am all natural everything! And the more research I do, the more upsetting it is to find out what the US allows in our food, cleaners, etc.

    • Chris

      Whoa, that's crazy. You look like the model of health. What did your nutritionist say?

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