Scary Foods (or why we should support local food producers)

by Catherine Haug, January 26, 2012

Supporting local food producers (gardeners, CSAs, farmers, orchards, ranchers, dairies, etc.) is not only an excellent way to build a strong community, but also the best way to ensure the quality and healthfulness of the foods you and your family eat. A side benefit is a cleaner, sustainable environment and  reduced energy consumption. You can effect food production practices by voting with your dollars.

Given the basic truth of “you are what you eat,” I am astounded at the toxic and unhealthful junk so many of us eat without giving it a second thought. Big Ag and its control of our media have certainly done a good job at getting us to make unhealthy choices voluntarily and enthusiastically. The problem is endemic in our society and affects all aspects of our diet.

Scary Foods

When you buy foods such as breakfast cereals, meals-in-a-box, commercially canned foods, frozen pizza, and TV dinners, how can you know what all has gone into the food or how it has been processed? The label doesn’t tell the whole story and many harmful ingredients are not required to be listed, such as GMOs, “natural” flavors, pesticides & herbicides, solvents and so on.

Commercially grown fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with GMOs, pesticides, herbicides and other toxic substances. Even fresh meats, eggs and dairy from your grocer can be suspect. Think CAFOs and their inhumane treatment of livestock, dairy animals, and hens. Think of the the GMO feed, absence of fresh air, sunlight and exercise that typifies the animals’ daily routines.

Lets look at a few specific examples of how our modern diet has degraded and poses a serious threat to our health.

Glued Meat

The other day, a local restauranteur sent me the link to an appalling video. When it started to play, I hoped it was a hoax, but unfortunately it is all too true – not only in Australia (where the video was made), but also in the USA. It’s about “glued meat (1),” and is disgustingly worth the watch.

Please note that this phenomenon affects primarily meat (steaks, etc.) served in restaurants and fast-food operations. For the most part, at least at present, the meat you buy from the meat counter of your local grocery store is not glued. If you eat out, you are at risk for substantial health hazards – primarily disease outbreaks such as that E. coli problem in hamburger meat a few years ago.

Meat processors create a lot of waste, as tiny scraps of meat trimmed from the desired cuts. Instead of composting them, they have found a way to turn them into salable meat products like steak. Of course it’s a good thing to reduce waste; that’s not the issue. The issue is that this process opens the door to food contamination and potential disease.

Here’s my synopsis of the issue explored in the 6- minute video, Meat Secrets Exposed: Gluing Meat Together (1):

An enzyme, transglutaminase, is extracted from the blood of hogs or cattle, then used to glue together scraps of meat to look like a cut of steak, etc.. Many different meat products can be made in this way: beef steaks or roasts, pork chops, bacon, lamb chops, and so on. Even chicken can be glued – think chicken nuggets.

The resulting meat product doesn’t necessarily look like the real deal it is mimicking, especially when raw. But when cooked or breaded, it is impossible to tell the difference – it even tastes like the real deal.

The big concern is pathogens….as explained in the second half of the film. Unlike the real cuts of meat they mimic, those scraps of meat can easily become infected with pathogens, which can then grow to infectious levels in the interior of the ‘cut,’ much like ground meat can be infected (think E. coli…).

If you eat that a glued steak rare, you face a high risk of infection. But if you don’t know it’s a glued steak, you would not know the risk you are taking. Because of this health risk, glued meat is banned in the EU; and in the USA, it must be labeled (see FSIS labeling requirement for use of transglutaminase (2)). Note, however, this labeling rule does not require restaurants to disclose this use on their menus…

Agent Orange and Other Poisons in our Foods

GMO crops such as Roundup-Ready corn and soy are already poisoning our foods, as soy and corn oils, cornmeal, cornstarch, soy protein, and many more with Roundup contamination. These crops are also used as feed for livestock, which means that the meat/dairy/eggs from these animals is also poisoned with Roundup. See my earlier posts for more on this:

But it doesn’t stop there. Dow Chemical is now seeking approval for GMO 2,4-D Tolerant soy and corn, which is seen as the successor to Roundup, as weeds are developing resistance to Roundup.  And of course, 2.,4-D has even worse health consequences as a contaminant to our food supply than Roundup.

From Wikipedia on 2,4-D (3):

“2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) is a common systemic pesticide/herbicide used in the control of broadleaf weeds. It is the most widely used herbicide in the world, and the third most commonly used in North America. 2,4-D is a synthetic auxin (plant hormone), and … was a major ingredient in Agent Orange”

Not familiar with Agent Orange? From Wikipedia on Agent Orange (4):

“Agent Orange is the code name for one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program … during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects. …

Studies showed that veterans who served in the South [Vietnam] during the war have increased rates of cancer, and nerve, digestive, skin and respiratory disorders. Veterans from the south had higher rates of throat cancer, acute/chronic leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, soft tissue sarcoma and liver cancer. Other than liver cancer, these are the same conditions the US Veteran’s Administration has found to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin, and are [now] on the list of conditions eligible for compensation and treatment.

2,4-D and Agent Orange are often contaminated with dioxin, which is a major culprit in the ill-effects of these herbicides. Again, from Wikipedia:

“Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is classified as “carcinogenic to humans” by International Agency for Research on Cancer [part of the WHO].”

For more on the harm of 2,4-D, see the Sierra Club article: Overview of the toxic effects of 2,4-D (5).

To learn more about this potential GMO hazard, or if you wish to take action on the potential approval of 2,4-D Tolerant crops, see The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) article: Stop Agent Orange Frankencorn! Don’t Let the USDA Approve Dow’s 2,4-D-Tolerant Corn!


  1. Video: Meat Secrets Exposed: Gluing Meat Together from Australia  (
  2. USDA: FSIS labeling requirement for use of transglutaminase (
  3. Wikipedia on 2,4-D (,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic_acid)
  4. Wikipedia on Agent Orange (
  5. Sierra Club: Overview of the toxic effects of 2,4-D (
  6. OCA: Stop Agent Orange Frankencorn! Don’t Let the USDA Approve Dow’s 2,4-D-Tolerant Corn! (

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