If you needed more of a nudge to avoid processed foods, here's one: the US government is encouraging farmers to spread waste from coal-fired power plants on their fields. This started during the Bush years, of course, but the Obama administration has continued the policy.
Yep, that's what I want to eat: coal waste. Scrub it out so it doesn't go into our air, but then spread it on our food. Makes sense to me ...
I realize that disposing of coal ash, etc. is troublesome, but getting rid of it by putting it on our crops just doesn't seem like a great idea. This waste is a synthetic form of gypsum, but it contains toxic materials such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals. The EPA claims that the amounts are so small that they have no effect on human health. Mmm-hmmm ... but what if every vegetable and fruit you eat contains these so-called tiny amounts? Add that to the mercury that's already in fish and, well, all the various toxins that seem to show up in our food, and how "tiny" are we talking? Not.
Since 2001, farmers' use of this stuff, which is called FGD (flue gas desulfurization)gypsum, has tripled, with nearly 279,000 tons used last year.
Please, please, avoid processed foods, know your local farmers and talk with them about how they raise their crops . . . and keep an eye open for whether FGD gypsum will be allowed in foods labeled organic.