Commentaries, Environment, Health June 18, 2019

Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food

by Jonathan Latham

Dr Vandana Shiva

The ontology and ecology of food

 Food is not a commodity, it is not “stuff” put together mechanically and artificially in labs and factories. Food is life. Food holds the contributions of all beings that make the food web, and it holds the potential of maintaining and regenerating the web of life. Food also holds the potential for health and disease, depending on how it was grown and processed. Food is therefore the living currency of the web of life.

As an ancient Upanishad reminds us “Everything is food, everything is something else’s food. “

Good Food and Real Food are the basis of health .

Bad food, industrial food, fake food is the basis of disease.

Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine”. In Ayurveda, India’s ancient science of life, food is called “sarvausadha” the medicine that cures all disease.

Vanadana Shiva
Vanadana Shiva

Industrial food systems have reduced food to a commodity, to “stuff” that can then be constituted in the lab. In the process both the planet’s health and our health has been nearly destroyed.

75% of the planetary destruction of soil, water, biodiversity, and 50% of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agriculture, which also contributes to 75% of food related chronic diseases. It contributes 50% of the GHG’s driving Climate Change. Chemical agriculture does not return organic matter and fertility to the soil. Instead it is contributing to desertification and land degradation. It also demands more water since it destroys the soil’s natural water-holding capacity. Industrial food systems have destroyed the biodiversity of the planet both through the spread of monocultures, and through the use of toxics and poisons which are killing bees, butterflies, insects, birds, leading to the sixth mass extinction.

Biodiversity-intensive and poison-free agriculture, on the other hand, produces more nutrition per acre while rejuvenating the planet. It shows the path to “Zero Hunger” in times of climate change.

The industrial agriculture and toxic food model has been promoted as the only answer to economic and food security. However, globally, more than 1 billion people are hungry. More than 3 billion suffer from food-related chronic diseases.

It uses 75% of the land yet industrial agriculture based on fossil fuel intensive, chemical intensive monocultures produce only 30% of the food we eat. Meanwhile, small, biodiverse farms using 25% of the land provide 70% of the food. At this rate, if the share of industrial agriculture and industrial food in our diet is increased to 45%, we will have a dead planet. One with with no life and no food.

The mad rush for Fake Food and Fake Meat, ignorant of the diversity of our foods and food cultures, and the role of biodiversity in maintaining the our health, is a recipe for accelerating the destruction of the planet and our health.

GMO soya is unsafe for the environment and the eater

In a recent article “How our commitment to consumers and our planet led us to use GM soyPat Brown, CEO & Founder of Impossible Foods states that:

“We sought the safest and most environmentally responsible option that would allow us to scale our production and provide the Impossible Burger to consumers at a reasonable cost”.

Given the fact that 90% of the monarch butterflies have disappeared due to Roundup Ready Crops, and we are living through what scientists have called an “insectageddon”, using GMO soya is hardly an “environmentally responsible option”.

In writing this, Pat Brown reveals his total ignorance that weeds have evolved resistance to Roundup and have become “superweeds” now requiring more and more lethal herbicides. Bill Gates and DARPA are even calling for the use of gene drives to exterminate amaranth, a sacred and nutritious food in India, because the Palmer Amaranth has become a superweed in the Roundup Ready soya fields of the USA.

At a time when across the world the movement to ban GMOs and Roundup is growing, promoting GMO soya as “fake meat” is misleading the eater both in terms of the ontology of the burger, and on claims of safety.

The “Impossible Burger “ based on GMO, Roundup sprayed soya is not a “safe” option, as Zen Honeycutt and Moms across America just announced:

“that the Impossible Burger tested positive for glyphosate. The levels of glyphosate detected in the Impossible Burger by Health Research Institute Laboratories were 11 X higher than the Beyond Meat Burger. The total result (glyphosate and it’s break down AMPA) was 11.3 ppb. Moms Across America also tested the Beyond Meat Burger and the results were 1 ppb.

“We are shocked to find that the Impossible Burger can have up to 11X higher levels of glyphosate residues than the Beyond Meat Burger according to these samples tested. This new product is being marketed as a solution for “healthy” eating, when in fact 11 ppb of glyphosate herbicide consumption can be highly dangerous. Only 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has been shown to destroy gut bacteria, which is where the stronghold of the immune system lies. I am gravely concerned that consumers are being misled to believe the Impossible Burger is healthy.”

Recent court cases have showcased the links of Roundup to cancer. With the build up of liabilities related to cancer cases, the investments in Roundup Ready GMO soya is blindness to the market.

Or the hope that fooling consumers can rescue Bayer/Monsanto.

There is another ontological confusion related to fake food. While claiming to get away from meat “fake meat” is about selling meat-like products.

Pat Brown declares “we use genetically engineered yeast to produce heme, the “magic” molecule that makes meat taste like meat — and makes the Impossible Burger the only plant-based product to deliver the delicious explosion of flavor and aroma that meat-eating consumers crave.”

I had thought that the plant based diet was for vegans and vegetarians, not meat lovers.

Big Food and Big Money is driving the Fake Food Goldrush

Indeed, the promotion of fake foods seems to have more to do with giving new life to the failing GMO agriculture and the Junk Food Industry, and the threat to it from the rising of consciousness and awareness everywhere that organic, local, fresh food is real food which regenerates the planet and our health. In consequence, investment in “plant based food companies “ has soared from near 0 in 2009 to $600m by 2018. And these companies are looking for more.

Pat Brown declares, “If there’s one thing that we know, it’s that when an ancient unimprovable technology counters a better technology that is continuously improvable, it’s just a matter of time before the game is over.” He added, “I think our investors see this as a $3 trillion opportunity.”

This is about profits and control. He, and those jumping on the Fake Food Goldrush, have no discernible knowledge, or consciousness about, or compassion for living beings, the web of life, nor the role of living food in weaving that web.

Their sudden awakening to “plant based diets” , including GMO soya, is an ontological violation of food as a living system that connects us to the ecosystem and other beings, and indicates ignorance of the diversity of cultures that have used a diversity of plants in their diets.

Ecological sciences have been based on the recognition of the interconnections and interrelatedness between humans and nature, between diverse organisms, and within all living systems, including the human body. It has thus evolved as an ecological and a systems science, not a fragmented and reductionist one. Diets have evolved according to climates and the local biodiversity the climate allows. The biodiversity of the soil, of the plants and our gut microbiome is one continuum. In Indian Civilisation, technologies are tools. Tools need to be assessed on ethical, social and ecological criteria. Tools/ technologies have never been viewed as self referential. They have been assessed in the context of contributing to the wellbeing of all.

Through fake food, evolution, biodiversity, and the web of life is being redefined as an “ancient unimprovable technology”, ignorance of the sophisticated knowledges that have evolved in diverse agricultural and food cultures in diverse climate and ecosystems to sustain and renew the biodiversity, the ecosystems, the health of people and the planet.

The Eat Forum which brought out a report that tried to impose a monoculture diet of chemically grown, hyperindustrially processed food on the world has

a partnership through FrESH with the junk food industry, and Big Ag such as Bayer, BASF, Cargill, Pepsico amongst others.

FRESH's Junk Collaborators
FRESH’s Junk Collaborators

Fake food is thus building on a century and a half of food imperialism and food colonisation of our diverse food knowledges and food cultures.

Big Food and Big Money is behind the Fake Food Industry. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are funding startups.

We need to decolonise our food cultures and our minds of Food imperialism

The industrial west has always been arrogant, and ignorant, of the cultures it has colonised. “Fake Food” is just the latest step in a history of food imperialism.

Soya is a gift of East Asia, where it has been a food for millennia. It was only eaten as fermented food to remove its’ anti-nutritive factors. But recently, GMO soya has created a soya imperialism, destroying plant diversity. It continues the destruction of the diversity of rich edible oils and plant based proteins of Indian dals that we have documented.

Women from India’s slums called on me to bring our mustard back when GMO soya oil started to be dumped on India, and local oils and cold press units in villages were made illegal. That is when we started the “sarson (mustard) satyagraha“ to defend our healthy cold pressed oils from dumping of hexane-extracted GMO soya oil. Hexane is a neurotoxin.

While Indian peasants knew that pulses fix nitrogen, the west was industrialising agriculture based on synthetic nitrogen which contributes to greenhouse gases, dead zones in the ocean, and dead soils. While we ate a diversity of “dals” in our daily “dal roti“ the British colonisers, who had no idea of the richness of the nutrition of pulses, reduced them to animal food. Chana became chick pea, gahat became horse gram, tur became pigeon pea.

We stand at a precipice of a planetary emergency, a health emergency, a crisis of farmers livelihoods. Fake Food will accelerate the rush to collapse. Real food gives us a chance to rejuvenate the earth, our food economies, food sovereignty and food cultures. Through real food we can decolonise our food cultures and our consciousness. We can remember that food is living and gives us life.

Boycott GMO Impossible Burger. Make tofu. Cook Dal.

If this article was useful to you please consider sharing it with your networks.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Comments 24
  • This is a very delicate issue, which I raise only in desperation at seeing Vandana Shiva undermine her own message by her self-consignation to a Hindu cultural ghetto. It is profoundly sad that – while I agree with EVERYTHING that Vandana Shiva writes – her message is completely undermined by the enormous red disc (a Hindu ‘Bindi’) that she applies to her forehead – between her eyes. Hundreds of millions of Hindus wear a Bindi as an indication of their religion – but 99% of them use a mark about 5% as large as that applied by Ms Shiva. What is her intention here? Is it to say “If I apply an excessively large MEGA- Bindi – this will make me appear Hyper-Hindu and Super-Spiritual ??? if that is the intention it does the exact opposite. It relegates Vandana Shiva to a Hindu cultural ghetto – and undermines her global significance as a scientist and an intellectual. This is NOT a trivial point. I remember Vandana Shiva from the period 25 years ago when she wrote ‘Mono-cultures of the Mind’ – the most profound intellectual and scientific analysis of the ‘weaponisation’ of industrial agriculture. She did not sport an inch wide red disk between her eyes at that time – and she was rightly judged – and applauded on the strength of her intellectual and scientific analysis at that time. I understand that she spends much of her time in Hindu India and she needs to gather the Hindu peasant farmers under her banner – all power to her. However, by the adoption of this mega-symbol of Hinduism, she automatically alienates her Muslim neighbours and Western scientists and intellectuals – she consigns herself to a religious/ spiritual ghetto – where her opponents are very happy to see her. They can easily dismiss her as “just another Indian fakir, a spiritual nutcase’.
    I would reiterate that I entirely support Shiva’s message – but she needs to become truly ‘international’ in her intellectual fight. Just appearing at the UN as some kind of altterday Ghandi, or even Mrs Ghandi, is not going to worry the GM Corporations and the Poison Industry. Someone should tell her to alter her persona and her her message for a global audience, not merely an Indian/ Hindu one.

    • Your comment says far more about you than it does about Dr Vandana Shiva. It is entirely possible to respect her global significance as a scientist and an intellectual while she is wearing a large bindi.

    • The correct spelling is ‘Gandhi’, not ‘Ghandi’.
      It’s as if people know there’s an ‘h’ in it somewhere, but don’t know where to put it. Or they pick up this spelling from internet comments, not having read any article or book on Gandhi.

  • Many thanks. I shared your post. I wrote recently a book in French whose title MANGER DE LA VIANDE TUE” available on Amazon
    Your piece inspire my current book in preparation “Les fléaux des aliments industriels” industriels”The scourge of Industrial food”
    In addition to my works on food and alimentation, I’m researcher in political science, in history of International relations and geopolitics, you can follow me on my two websites http://www.siress-edtions.com ; http://www.siress-bio.com
    Facebook https://faceboob.com/faouzi.elmir
    Twitter @elmir1975

    Best regards

    FAOUZI ELMIR

  • Very old saying ! “You are what you Eat”. Nuf said !

  • more correctly “you are what your what you eat eats”

  • Thank you, Dr. Vandana Shiva, for your true words.

    In my lecture on July 2, 2019 at The Ravestijn Gallery exhibition “Monsanto®: A Photographic Investigation by Mathieu Asselin” (29 June – 31 August 2019, at Westerdok 824, Amsterdam) I will explain that especially small ecological farms can feed the increasing world population adequately.

    https://bit.ly/2MJiyGf

  • Not all plant-based food companies and their products are the same. From what I see so far, the “Impossible” brand clearly seems driven by profits and proprietary technology that involves GMOs.

    On the other hand, so far, the ‘Beyond Meat’ brand seems like a genuine attempt to help meat eaters switch to a plant-based diet. And there are many plant-based milk products that provide a badly needed alternative to those who do not want to consume cow’s milk for a variety of reasons.

    I just wanted to leave this comment here so as to avoid an unintended smear against *all* “plant based food companies“. There will be more of them as more people give up meat and dairy.

    It would be much better if children are *never* introduced and addicted to meat and dairy and are instead raised on wholesome plant-based food. Then there would be no need for these companies or their products.

    • No, Beyond Meat still relies on industrially grown monocropped ingredients, which are then ultra-processed. Beyond Meat is awful for one’s health and also awful for the environment. They’re just not GMO>

  • The right thing to say is, first of all, the world needs to wake up what they are eating and after that the crop that we are planting should be fertilized.

  • One thing to remember – it takes approx 10 pounds of GMO soybeans to grow 1 pound of beef, poultry, or pork (you have to feed your cows, chickens, pigs to make them grow). Presumably 1 pound of GMO soybeans can produce close to 1 pound of Fake Meat. I see eliminating GMO as a important issue, but reducing food needs by 10 fold reduces GMO use by 10 fold. That is certainly a positive step in a better direction!

    • Soybean meal isn’t fed to beef cattle. If it’s part of the ration, it’s used only as a protein supplement. Feedlot finished cattle are finished on carbs not proteins. Feedlot finished cattle also spend the first half to two-thirds of their lives on grass eating inedible to human food. When they’re transferred to feedlots, they then still eat a lot of inedible to human food including a lot of food waste and crop residues. In total, about 85% of their diets are inedible to humans. With 100% grass finished cattle, nearly their entire diets are inedible to human foods (grasses) grown on non-arable land with green (rain) water. Outside the US, globally most cattle is grass finished or from integrated systems, not feedlots.

      As for pigs and chickens, yes in CAFO’s they eat mainly soybean meal. The soybean oil is used exclusively for human uses including cooking oil, biofuel and as a processed food ingredient. In the US, per capita from FAOSTATS, US citizens eat nearly 600 calories per day of soybean oil.

  • The great Vandana Shiva calls crisis ‘climate change’! Please heed the words of Ralph Nader Vandana. He wrote an open letter to enviros, in which he stated:

    == =
    Today, in the midst of increasingly alarming scientific studies and giant storms, the necessary response has been diminished by this widely-accepted softening of the words we use to describe the dangerous reality that stands before us. Language matters!

    I recently reached out to two leading and widely respected ecologists, Paul Hawken and Bill McKibben, to get their input on the mainstream usage of the benign phrase “climate change.” McKibben now uses the far more potent phrase “climate chaos.” Hawken believes the proper term is “climate volatility.”
    = ==

    I think Bill McKibben’s org is bogus, but I agree with the above view.

    https://nader.org/2019/05/03/an-open-letter-to-the-environmental-community/

  • Thank you, Vandana for your wise words. I applaud the effort to lessen and eliminate meat eating. Think of all the farm and pasture land devoted to raising meat and how they can be used for food farming. I was thrilled to see and eat Beyond Burgers, and I would like to help persuade this company and others to use organic products and no GMO ingredients.

  • Beware of guides, like the one that Jonatham provides, above, that actually sell the harmful fake meats. And remember who is behind them. Powerful special, capitalist, interests (like scammers Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates) are behind the marketing of those products. If you have no problem with trouble-makers like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates – either because you’re ignorant or because you’ve thrown your lot in with evildoers – then enjoy your fake meat and ruined world.

  • the “plant-based diet” craze is just that, already tried that in the 1970’s and it failed then, too. Completely unnatural diet for primates. Agro ecology and healthy food must include livestock to replenish the soil, plants and our gut.

  • I’ve been admiring Vandana Shiva since discovering her work and brilliance a few years ago. I have mixed reactions to this article. The massive economic and political systems behind industrialized agriculture are not going to be dismantled by a call to action for simpler, localized agriculture. Stating we can end these systems by changing our food choices extremely over-simplifies the problems and solutions. In the U.S. and other industrialized, “developed” countries, industrialized farming has become vital in feeding the masses. Political and economic structures supporting these farms are currently formidable. Right now, the most viable solutions would lie in a restructuring of these systems, working to transform industrialized farming, and increase the proliferation of smaller, local farms wherever possible.
    In defense of fake meat, which is not made to please vegans or vegetarians, this is vital to helping end animal agriculture. Dr. Shiva’s suggestion to eat Whole Foods instead is certainly ideal, but completely impractical, at least at this time. Many thousands of fast food chains proliferate in the U.S. and in so many other countries. Millions and millions of people eat in these places (hardly serving any real food, and mostly dead bodies) every day. What can we do about that? Shut them down? Sure, that would be great! Reasonable expectation? NO!! Rather, plant-sourced meats are starting to proliferate these places, displacing their animal food counterparts.
    We have to prioritize what we can reasonably expect to do at this time. With all it’s faults, the Impossible Burger is still a far better solution than eating animals, who are fed and given many toxic substances, along with the toxins present in the foods they’re fed. Roundup’s glyphosate is just one toxin. If all toxic substances present in the Impossible Burger were compared with toxic substances found in fast food burgers, the list for the Impossible Burger would have to be exponentially shorter. Plus no animals are exploited then slaughtered for the Impossible Burger.
    I would never suggest eating most plant-sourced meats or animAl flesh for health, but plant meats do provide a viable alternative, use exponentially less resources, and contain exponentially fewer ingredients that can pose health risks but only if eaten in large quantities.
    Finally, Dr. Shiva is leading the fight against Monsanto’s war against humanity, and against the farmed animal business. She is featured in an important documentary, H.O.P.E.: What You Eat Matters, streaming free on YouTube and on the film’s website. This film is a brilliant expose of the food industry and why a plant-sourced diet is essential for our survival. Backed by science.

  • Most Americans can definitely increase their vegetable and fruit intake, as well as reducing meat to about 3 ounces per meal, and offsetting meat metabolizing issues by making sure choline is present, but being completely meat free is not a necessity to save the planet. Eating clean meat, free of chemicals, from animals fed a species appropriate diet while in a natural environment, in smaller amounts, may be the true game changer that most closely honors the natural life cycles of the planet.

    At this point in agricultural and microbial science, anyone not properly distinguishing factory farmed meat and fully pastured organically raised (or sustainably raised or regeneratively raised) meat should be immediately questioned. They create divides between groups that should be fighting together against industry lobbyists, creating a loss of power in an issue that is really about individual rights being trampled by corporation desire for continual unlimited profits and 100% market control.

    Properly grazed and pastured animal meat does not destroy the environment. It refurbishes soil by returning fiber and excrement products to the land (necessary nutrients for soil building and preventing desertification), provides a livegiving environment to the environmental microbiome (now shown to have a critical impact on preventing human disease) and insect populations including pollinators, and supports deep root systems that hold soil, moisture, and carbon in place. It offsets degradation caused by chemical-ridden destruction of the soil and water caused by modern monoculture, which is killing way more animals, and some would say humans too. Non-organic vegetarian or vegan meat substitutes have contributed to those problems which have lead to overwhelming human suffering and disability, all while empowering corporations bent on removing personal freedom to eat food not grown by partners of the American Chemical Society and the patented medicine pharmaceutical industry: pasture-raised meat and organic food being the main competitors to both those industries. (Just take the time to look at industry conference schedules and you will see the huge overlap between the pesticide and pharmaceutical industries) It has led to a society where over 50% of children in the U.S. now have a chronic medical diagnosis before they leave elementary school and a larger transfer of citizen wealth to corporations running the synthetic industry, and medical and insurance industries than any real estate or bank collapse probably ever has.

    Switching to diverse plant foods on the farm is only one step in the solution. Those foods must be free of chemicals in order to provide bioavailable nutrients to those that eat the food, otherwise those chemicals may block or insert themselves at cellular receptors sites in the body causing incorrect protein folding and expression which gives incorrect directions to the body and brain regarding how they should behave, creating epigenetic changes in those exposed to the chemicals in real time, and in the following generations, furthering the chronic inability of the human body to survive in the face of other uncontrolled daily pollutants. It is not enough to scream for access to cheap pharmaceuticals. Chemical free, properly pastured meat, fruits and vegetables carry the capacity to bring the human body to a state of health that PREVENTS the need for any pharmaceuticals, affordable or not, and returns wealth to the masses, thereby returning some equality and cohesion to our societies while permitting and even preserving cultural differences and diverse histories.

    Respect and tolerance are hard to find in people whose bodies, and by default, their brains and emotions, are ravaged and sickened by chemicals that block good health.

    Synthetically grown food is not necessary to feed the masses. That is a myth created by incomplete information and discussion supported by outdated and incorrect information on calories being more important than nutritional content and industry lobbyists take advantage of it to promote corporation friendly public policy and law.
    People loaded with wheat and sugar feel hunger in 2 hour cycles no matter how many calories they eat, due to the insulin and leptin responses in the body, whereas if they were eating more healthy fats with vegetables and protein, instead of grains, they wouldn’t be reporting feeling hungry and calorie intake would prove less of an issue. People who consume small amounts of healthily grown meat and fats in their diets require a lower volume of food to reap the same nutrient content compared to stringent plant eaters. Additionally, and importantly, it has already been shown that over 40% of food is wasted between the farm and the mouth. This is all to say that true starvation, an issue that everyone can agree needs to be solved and the the main argument thrown about by conventional agriculture advocates and especially soy growers, may be more a matter of difficult but solvable logistics, not a matter of needing fake food or genetically modified food for calorie counts, or more chemicals on the food, or more grain based agriculture.

  • Here is another recent, well cited article about the pitfalls of the impossible burger – https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/06/26/impossible-burger.aspx

  • Regardless of how anyone feels about the Impossible or Beyond plant burgers, eating animal flesh is only destructive.

Leave a comment

*

*