August 6, 2014

United States of Consumerism. ~ Vince G. Sparks

Photo: Vince Sparks

I just read an article my cousin posted on Facebook.

Scientists and researchers are debunking the myth of sunscreen and skin cancer. Evidently, the use of sunscreens can enhance skin cancer rather than prevent it. A PhD scientist found that sunscreens are not only hazardous to humans, but they are dangerous to the environment as well.

Furthermore, Swedish researchers (the land of blue-eyed, blonde people) found that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die of cancer as those who sunbathe every day. It all has to do with the body’s production of vitamin D and the how it protects us from diseases.

If all the research is correct, in essence, we are doing ourselves harm. I completely have to rethink my belief that avoiding the sun is the healthiest habit for me. Also, I have to worry about the sunscreen chemicals creating three-headed fish in the oceans. For those of you headed to the Jersey shore, watch out for chemically enhanced sea monsters, just sayin’.

We are constantly being bombarded with new facts and figures about what is healthy versus unhealthy until our wheels are spinning. We need to become part-time researchers to discover what products are healthy and chemical free. We have to be chemists when we read labels to determine what that 15 letter ingredient is and how it can affect us. We must stress over if we were going to develop tumors, cardiac problems or diabetes.

We are in a whole new age of food and drug consumption, which seems to perpetually flirt with disaster.

We are exposed to new products with all types of additives and dyes. Unfortunately, it seems the research about new products occurs after we have consumed what it is bad for us. Let’s ingest all the bad things we can’t pronounce and find out later that it can contribute to, or cause a fatal disease.

Corporate America, which includes food, pharmaceutical and chemical companies, has its hands around the neck of the American consumer, and it is wringing it out for every dollar it can.

They only want to make more money and reap the profits. They are not concerned with you as a person. You are dollar signs for them as long as you are consuming their products.

The day of the genetically altered food is here and, overall, we are buying it with no questions asked. Monsanto, the company that brought us the fabulous product “Agent Orange” is now in the food business. I wonder how that is turning out?

The American diet is one of the worst in the world for healthy eating. We are a fast food country filled with saturated fats and high fructose corn syrup. We worship the mighty corn kernel, and get lost in the maize.

It seems that practically everything we consume has a corn byproduct in it. Corn has now been genetically modified and it is in products such as corn oil, snack foods and soft drinks. What are we ingesting, and what is it doing to our bodies? Statistics show that it contributes to high rates of obesity and diabetes.

It seems the more we strive to improve our food and its shelf life, the unhealthier it becomes. Do we really need to keep products fresh for years?

I rest much easier at night knowing my crackers will still be fresh at the wake after my funeral.

It is all about freshness and taste, but none of it is natural. It is all preservatives and artificial flavorings. We are slowly embalming ourselves with all the food preservatives we digest. Perhaps, we live longer today because our shelf life has increased. The funeral director now just has to seal us up and place an expiration date on our casket.

We can try to improve our diets and our health by seeing a nutritionist. There is always the Internet and researching healthy eating and how to shop more intelligently. You can determine what are the healthy products to buy and what to avoid. There are supermarkets that promote healthy eating like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, but sometimes healthy can come at a premium price.

Nutritionists and dieticians stress the benefits of organic food. The price point of anything organic is always higher, so you are paying much more to eat healthy. How do you tell a struggling middle class family or those at the poverty level to buy organic? The economics of Corporate America is driving all those consumers to buy the processed, genetically altered, extended shelf life products, which are cheaper.

It is ridiculous that most people can’t afford to buy healthy food alternatives in this country.

Instead they buy packaged Mac “n” Cheese with dry pasta and a foil bag of orange goo that is supposed to be cheddar cheese. That orange crap, which, by the way is not even the color of anything occurring in nature, is just oil and flavorings. It has no nutritional value and probably should just be used to seal a tire puncture or Spackle a hole in the garage wall.

This unhealthy imitation of food is affordable and can feed a larger family, and the kids don’t go to bed hungry.

Meanwhile, after years of this goo build up, we are faced with health issues and the need to seek medical attention.

We don’t need to worry, because once again Corporate America steps in with its pharmaceutical companies who are vying for your consumer dollar like a Side Show hawker trying to get you inside to see the
Fat Lady.

Growing up, we went to the doctor, and he would prescribe a medication to us if we needed it for treatment. We left the drug selection up to the man in the white coat who went to medical school.

Today, we rush to the doctor’s office with a shopping list of medications we have seen on television to determine if we should be taking them. We are bombarded with ads for drugs like cigarette commercials in the 1960’s.

While I am watching ‘Glee’, I am subjected to an ad for a new prescription drug for women with dry vaginas, followed by a Cialis commercial for Erectile Dysfunction.

I am just trying to enjoy my TV show and relax. Now I feel stressed from hearing about DV and ED. I need a pill so I don’t B-A-R-F. The next commercial interruption comes, and I learn about Low T and Leaky Bladder issues. During the ad breaks, I have spent more time below the belt than a hooker at a political convention.

Drugs we didn’t know we needed are being marketed to us for conditions we didn’t know existed. I really don’t want to worry about whether the lady next door has a desert in her vajayjay, or her husband’s smirk is because he is enjoying the benefits of an ED drug.

I know more drug names than a first year medical student, and all I’ve done is watched a few evenings of television.

There is a drug for every ailment, and new conditions we never heard about forty years ago. When I was younger, I didn’t know gluten from Putin. If someone mentioned gluten when I was a child, I would have thought it was a small metal container to hold craft paste for an art project. There were no gluten-free products in the grocery store.

Our bodies are developing new health issues due to our diets of all the hidden toxic ingredients we ingest.

Perhaps medical science has developed to the point where we can pinpoint and treat medical conditions we couldn’t identify previously.

I am not one to believe in conspiracy theories, but it is thought provoking to think how our chemically enhanced diets have lead to multiple health issues, and the drug companies are right there with medications for treatment.

Instead of trying to treat health issues naturally by modifying our diets first, we are given medications and then we are told to avoid the things that are causing us harm.

We take pills for High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, High Blood Sugar, etc. Our pantry looks like the pharmacy at CVS and our medicine cabinets have become medicine closets. We handle more pills than Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

If the pills aren’t effective, there are hospitals for more complicated procedures. It gives one pause to wonder if this is all one profitable cycle for the big conglomerates that own or have interests in everything from food companies to privately owned medical facilities.

Are we being chemically altered, drug induced and surgically treated all to make billions for the Fortune 500?

We must not blindly stagger to our supermarkets and drug stores like zombies just eating or consuming everything in our paths. We must make smart decisions and put our health and well being before that gooey, high fructose dessert.

It is about making smart choices and not getting caught up in all the slick marketing that can make the bad products look so attractive.

You can change gradually and detoxify your life. Don’t take it all on at once, because it can send you into overdrive.

But if you do, there is a pill for that.

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Apprentice Editor: Karissa Kneeland / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Vince G. Sparks

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