Book Review: The Unhealthy Truth
After proudly reading and enjoying my first ever medical book, “Healing the New Childhood Epidemic,” I was ready to embrace another (GULP) non-fiction, this time written by my new inspiration and role-model, Robyn O’Brien, founder of AllergyKids Foundation. I actually first heard Robyn’s name, not in the food allergy community, but rather from her speech at TedXAustin about the declining state of our food system. After watching the YouTube clip, it seemed I began to hear her name everywhere. And like “Healing the New Childhood Epidemic,” many parents recommended her book, The Unhealthy Truth, as a must read. Who am I to turn up a great book recommendation? Written by a fellow allergy mom? About chemicals in our food? Not me! Sounds right up my alley.
I was totally and completely unprepared for how shocking this book was. Robyn O’Brien writes about her inspiration for starting AllergyKids and how creating the foundation brought her to some very startling revelations about the state of our food and how big business and our government are happily playing a game of Russian roulette with our health.
Please keep in mind that the following information was derived from the book as published in 2009 and it’s entirely possible some of the facts have changed since then.
GMO Soy and Wicked Monsanto
According to the US Dept of Agriculture, “92% of soy grown worldwide is genetically modified.”O’Brien states “On the simplest level, genetic engineering involves manipulating genes, altering an organism’s DNA to create a new trait. A genetically modified crop might be developed to resist bugs, for example, or to withstand frequent spraying with herbicides.” And that’s where Monsanto comes in. Monsanto is a GIANT biotech and chemical company who happens to make Roundup, an herbicide and a great chemical-laden weed killer. Roundup was so powerful that it killed most of the crops it was sprayed on, nut just the weeds. So, Monsanto set out to create a soybean that could withstand chemical bathing in Roundup. (Mmmm, doesn’t that just make you want to eat a bowl of soy?) The company successfully created and patented the genetically modified soybean. More money in their pocket from Roundup and more money from the patented soy beans.
Very limited studies on genetically modified soy have been documented using humans. But then again, I suppose we are all un-knowing test subjects in this current world-wide study. Are you nervous about that? I sure am, especially since a 2005 study by the Russian Academy of Sciences found that “more than half the offspring (55.6 %) of rats fed on genetically modified soy died in the first three weeks of life – six to eight times as many as those born to mothers given either convention soy (9%) or no soy (6.8%). Six times as many rat babies (36%) were severely underweight as well, compared to those in the other groups (6%).” Of course, we’re not rats, and no, our babies on soy based formula are THANKFULLY not meeting the same horrific fate, but what is this GMO soy really doing to our bodies? I’m certainly not buying into the fact that it’s safe. The book goes on and explains other studies that have shown the effects of genetically modified soy on animals conducted in other countries; Italy – negative effects to pancreas and liver, Australia – lung damage, and so on.
Although Monsanto started this whole mess, Monsanto is no longer the only one creating GMO products. Many others have joined force, like DuPont with it’s Pioneer Hi-Bred seeds.
Corn and Bt Toxins
She then goes on to discuss how GMO corn is impregnated with its own bug killing pesticide, Bt toxin. The idea behind this toxin is that it kills bugs from the inside out by destroying their digestive track. I wonder what happens when humans eat the corn that contains Bt toxins over a long period of time? Does it destroy our digestive track slowly? Could it lead to leaky gut, which seems to be on the rise these days? What’s just a wee bit scary is that this very toxin was recently found to pass from a pregnant mother to her unborn fetus in this Canadian study.
Unfit for UK Consumption, But Safe for US/Canada?
Something I found fascinating and downright hurtful is that O’Brien claims large corporations are preparing the same food differently (Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for example) for the US market vs. UK market. I’d heard about non-food items being banned in Europe, but not here, but now food? Oh boy. Check out this article from AllergyKids, Robyn’s non-profit for more info. The same companies have also removed harmful food dyes from foods in the UK because parents demanded it after studies came out linking hyperactivity to the same dyes? Read here for more. But yet, those banned dyes are considered safe here. Are they? Is the UK being overly cautious or are we being careless?
These are just a few of the unbelievable stories Robyn shares in her book. It’s a lot of information and it’s very overwhelming and easy to feel helpless after reading much of it. To this Robyn recommends not trying to make too many drastic changes in your lifestyle too quickly. “Do one thing.” Move from that processed blue yogurt to one that is organic and without any added dyes. Or maybe the one easy change would be to only buy GMO-free corn. Small, easy steps are easier than climbing an entire mountain and that’s just the idea behind Robyn’s “Do One Thing, ” movement.
Please add “The Unhealthy Truth” to your must read list. See what she has to say and then formulate your own conclusions. And most importantly, don’t forget to “do one thing” and make one change and see where it leads you.