November 30, 2023

Food is medicine unless it is contaminated with pesticides.

By Kelly Ryerson

The hot buzz phrase in nutrition “Food Is Medicine” should have a permanent asterisk with qualifiers. It is no surprise to most that replacing highly processed food with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should produce better health outcomes. But there is a hitch. If they are laden with harmful synthetic chemicals, hormones, and heavy metals, how medicinal could they possibly be on a biological level? 

The much-hyped White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health successfully avoided the topic of rampant food toxicity. It isn’t because organizers weren’t aware of the problem – I worked with several NGOs on suggestions to detoxify the food supply and submitted it for consideration to the conference. Nevertheless, the topic remains out of bounds.

Every few years, HHS and the USDA release a new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans to direct the nutritional recommendations to promote health and prevent disease. Oddly, within the guidelines, there is no mention of the hundreds of pesticides, fungicides, hormones, or heavy metals that often accompany foods that are universally considered part of a “healthy diet”. 

In the years following 9/11, I heard lectures from a range of experts on terrorism invited to present to the academic community. As I became a reluctant expert on all of the ways in which terrorists could attack the greater population, one possibility stood out. To cause mass human health destruction, a terrorist could poison the food supply. The tragic fact is that our regulators and leaders are allowing just that. They are rubber stamping through carcinogenic, hormone-disrupting agricultural chemicals and telling our farmers that they pose no risk to human health.

It is no exaggeration that these agricultural chemicals are chronically poisoning our food supply. The result of the daily dietary exposure to these toxicants is a staggering epidemic of chronic disease, and children rampant with conditions unheard of in the previous generation. The social normalization of conditions like food allergies, eczema, ADHD, and IBS, all treated with pharmaceuticals, is obscuring what is truly driving the misery of our kids. Just ask a functional physician or a health-savvy mom – kids can recover from a wide range of illnesses simply by cleaning up their food. I watched my own children recover from chronic migraines, digestive problems, and behavioral issues by changing their diets.

The non-profit organization Moms Across America recently performed extensive testing on over 40 school lunches and 40 fast food meals. School lunch testing results revealed heavy metals at 6000 times higher than the EPA’s maximum levels allowed in drinking water, veterinary hormones, the weedkiller glyphosate, and other harmful pesticides. Fast food toxicity testing garnered similar deleterious results, including cadmium, lead, antibiotics not approved for human use, and an aviary contraceptive.

These shocking test results did not make headline news. They are inconvenient.

The only way we are going to curb the chronic disease epidemic and restore health to our children is if we stop tip-toeing around the glaring issue that our farming practices must change. That shift off of chemical dependence must start immediately with the support of a Farm Bill redirecting farming subsidies away from the GMO monocrop culture and towards regenerative, organic practices that will heal both our depleted soil and sick bodies.

Are our leaders brave enough to take this step? USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack mentioned in a talk that his grandchild had developed food sensitivities. Perhaps not coincidentally, the last year has brought an enormous increase in the USDA grant dollars dedicated to organic farming. So that is a start. Hopefully, it won’t take much more illness to drive the nutritional change – our future as a country is dependent upon it.  

Kelly Ryerson

I’m writing on behalf of all those who are chronically sick, fatigued, depressed, anxious, cancer-ridden, hormonally off, coping with allergies, suffering with pain, digestively wrecked, and accidentally dependent on multiple medications. We deserve to know the truth about how Monsanto's herbicide Roundup has made us a devastatingly sick population.