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Gourmandiary, September 2004
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Mastering the Mundane
Modern Food Issues
A Gourmands Diary.
About and Jason Ryan
One Year of Gourmandiary Pages!

Let's check back in on the big issues from this past year...
hope you've enjoyed reading through them now and again.  Just a note regarding the
old order to maximize space on my web server I'm going to start archiving
pages older than one-year.

Thanks for all your support over the past twelve months!  Can't wait to see what the
next twelve months bring!

Let's check in on the status of the big food issues from this past year...
Genetically Modified Foods and Obesity
Genetically Modified Food
label clearly indicating what they are.  Of course, the US wants these labeling
requirements dropped.  Why?  Because no European will buy foods labeled as
containing GMOs.  Would you?  Too bad we don't have that choice here.

Then again, some folks say that soon, "GMO Free" will be a thing of the past.  This
article from the Netherlands indicates that there are almost no non-GMO sources
of feed for cattle in the EU.  Without GMO-free feed none of the meat produced in
Europe will be GMO free.

The most startling information I read regarding the spread of GMOs came from
Newsweek magazine which reported this September on a study from the "National
Academy of Sciences" that pollen from genetically modified 'golf course' grass was
found 12 miles away from where the grass was planted.  (
Article)  In a world
where dust from the Sahara is shown via satellite photo to travel half-way across
the Atlantic ocean, or ash from a volcano in Indonesia causes beautiful red sunsets
on Cape Cod, what did these scientists expect!?  Of course pollen from these
plants will travel the world over.  Let's hope we're prepared for the consequences!

And just what are those consequences I am concerned about?  The same ones
named in this
article from Yahoo!.  "American physicians are reporting an increase
in the number of food-allergic patients. Some blame the environment; some blame
U.S. Farming practices; and some even fault the rise of genetically modified
organisms (GMOs)."  Over 11 million people in this country suffer from food
allergies.  Two-hundred people a year die of their allergies.  What are these
people allergic to?  Proteins found in nuts, fish, eggs, milk...etc.  All of these
products have been subject to some degree of genetic modification.

Finally, I'll end this GMO chat by calling your attention to those unfortunate people
in Africa who are caught in the middle of this economic battle between the EU
(someone who wants African GMO-free products) and the US (who wants to sell
Africa GMO-laced famine relief grains).  
The Independent, a newspaper in Zimbabwe
reports that, for all their promise, GMOs have done nothing to alleviate the hunger
problems in the places of Africa where they have been introduced.  (
Hunger in Africa is not a production problem, but rather a distribution problem.  
This year's
Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a wonderful African woman Dr
Wangari Maathai who has tirelessly fought to fix the structural dysfunction of the
economies of underdeveloped African nations, and who sees GMOs as just another
manifestation of the developing world exploiting the under-developed world.  It
was just the week before she received the prize that she
spoke on precisely that

The GMO debate continues to remain one of the most vigorous conversations
going on in the food world today.
Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance.  the 30% increase in obese
children over the last thirty years.  The causal factors the 30% increase in obese
children over the last thirty years.  The causal factors the report cites are, "urban
and suburban designs that discourage walking
the report cites are, "urban and suburban designs that discourage walking

and other physical activities; pressures on families to minimize food costs,
acquisition and preparation time, resulting in frequent consumption of convenience
foods that are high in calories and fat; reduced access and affordability in some
communities to fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods; decreased
opportunities for physical activity at school, after school, and reduced walking or
biking to and from school; and competition for leisure time that was once spent
playing outdoors with sedentary screen time including watching television or
playing computer and video games".

The recommendations they make to address childhood obesity?  Well, they're
nothing short of completely turning the lives of today's kids on their heads!  I'll be
curious to see how many of their recommendations actually get implemented.  
Geez, I sound like a real pessimist don't I?  I wonder what the kids think of all this?