YHATC006 – I Poured Out My Hot Sauce


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Just recently, I did something unimaginable.  I did something so tragic, so terrible, and so wrong, it might be considered nearly criminal by some.  What was this ghastly, horrible thing that I did?

I poured out my hot sauce.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I went in the cupboard, pulled out the hot sauce, and poured the rest of it down the drain.  And I recycled the bottle, too.

Now, some may wonder what the big deal is about pouring out some hot sauce.  But for you out there who know, you just know.  Hot sauce is like magic sauce…pour it on your meat, your greens, beans, etc., and you transform a great meal into a masterpiece.  Hot sauce is one of those things that the fellas talk about when they’re trying to see who’s who…who’s the toughest, who’s the baddest, etc.  No joke, I have actually carried a bottle of hot sauce with me to restaurants before.

On a more serious note, hot sauce is one of the few condiments that you can buy at the store that you can feel good about using.  The best hot sauces usually don’t have much more than peppers and water.  That means no sugar, no salt, and no preservatives or weird chemicals.  I actually endorsed hot sauce a while back on my YouTube channel.

So why in the world am I back on my podcast telling you that I threw my hot sauce away?  Here’s why.  A friend of mine saw my hot sauce bottle on my desk at work and pointed out to me the following words on the label:

Partially produced with genetic engineering.”

When I saw this, I was shocked and even frustrated, and I felt I had little choice but to pour my hot sauce down the drain.

Now I know some are asking, what is the big deal with that?  Why would you throw away food that has the words “genetic engineering” on it.  I am happy to explain, but before I do, I want you to understand that my stance on genetic engineering is a personal stance.  We all have to decide how we feel about eating genetically engineered foods, so I encourage you to do so.  Hear me out, but at the same time, do your own research and form your own opinions.

So back to the question:  What is the big deal if a food is genetically engineered?  Perhaps the better question to start is, what does it mean for a food to be genetically engineered?

What is Genetically Engineered Food?

When a food is genetically engineered, that means that the DNA of the food was changed through genetic engineering for the purpose of increasing disease/pathogen resistance, to increase the amount of nutrients, or to make the food more desirable.  Now as far as I know, it is only plant-based foods that are commercially available for you and I to buy, but genetically modified meats are not available yet.

Anyhow, scientists and engineers take the seeds of these various vegetable and fruit plants into laboratories and add or subtract certain genes from the DNA, depending on what the desired result for the plant is.  After some field testing, which basically involves growing the foods in a controlled environment, the seeds are developed en masse and are sold to farmers, who grow the foods and send them to our grocery stores.  The company that does the genetic engineering is the company that actually owns that seed.  They own a patent on their “new” seed.

Now, altering a plant to make it more desirable, more nutritious and less disease-prone is not at all new…it’s just the process of doing it with genetic engineering that is relatively new.  The traditional way that the genes were altered was not by directly altering them, but by methods such as mating certain plants together with certain qualities.  This tomato plant seemed to hold up better against hornworms, and this one made bigger tomatoes.  So let’s mate these plants together and make a better tomato.  Such practices of selection and of cross-breeding are as old as time.

However, the genetic engineering of foods has apparently been in existence since only the 1970s.  According to Wikipedia, the first genetically engineered plant was an antibiotic-resistant tobacco plant, and the first genetically engineered and commercially available plant food was what was called the Flavr Savr tomato, which was altered to delay the ripening of the tomato and to therefore give the tomato a longer shelf life.

Today, there’s a pretty large variety of crops out there that are genetically modified and are available in stores.  The most common ones include corn, soy, canola, squash, sugar beets and alfalfa.  And consequentially, perhaps the large majority of processed foods – foods that come in packages – are genetically modified.  It’s pretty easy to see when you realize that most processed foods have corn or soy or sugar beets in some form (corn syrup, corn starch, soy lechitin, sugar, etc.).

Now, I told you how I saw that my hot sauce was partially produced with GMOs.  You used to not be able to read such stuff on your packaged foods because it wasn’t there.  It has only been within the past year or so that some level of GMO labeling was mandated by the government after President Obama signed legislation in July 2016.  So it’s good to at least be able to know more about where your food comes from and what was done to it.

My Concern about GMOs

But the question still stands…what’s the big deal about GMOs?  Especially if they’re not making anybody really sick.  It’s true; as far as I know, there haven’t been any cases of anybody immediately coming down with some serious sickness from eating genetically modified food.  But I think about it this way.

Have you ever heard of the registry on your computer?  You may or may not know what I’m talking about, but if you’ve ever installed a program on your computer, you have indirectly changed settings in what’s called the registry in your computer.  At least on Microsoft computers that’s what it’s called.

The registry contains various background configuration files that affect how your computer runs and how programs on your computer run.  When you install software on your computer, the installation executable often goes into the registry editor and alters the settings in some way to accommodate for the software.  Sometimes, people will go into the registry separately just to affect the way a previously installed software operates.  I did this a couple of times with Microsoft Powerpoint to change the resolution that exported pictures end up having.

One thing you will notice is that, if you ever try to change registry settings on your own, folks often give severe warnings with doing so.  The reason why is because, if you mess something up, you can really mess your computer up.  Altering those configuration files without taking the utmost of care can, in the words of Microsoft, “severely damage your system.”  These background files are the DNA, if you will, of your computer and of the programs that run on it, and sometimes making changes to those files can throw your whole computer out of whack.

This concept is what makes me concerned about consuming genetically modified foods.  A lot of scientists roll their eyes at the skepticism that folks have about them, saying that nothing over the past several decades suggests that they are dangerous or potentially harmful to health.  They also argue that any potential risks with GMOs are outweighed by benefits such as higher yields, lower costs, and greater durability against less favorable growing conditions such as dry or salty land.

But at the same time, my mind goes back to the registry stuff.  The DNA of a living organism is literally information that makes it what it is.  To artificially alter such information is questionable to me.  I even consider diseases such as cancer, that often result from DNA that has been damaged, and that therefore causes affected cells to grow improperly.

Aside from my own hesitations though, there are experts that have hesitations as well that I consider.  David Williams, a genetic scientist from the University of California in L.A. was quoted in a Scientific American article as saying the following:

“A lot of naive science has been involved in pushing [GMO] technology.  Thirty years ago we didn’t know that when you throw any gene into a different genome, the genome reacts to it. But now anyone in this field knows the genome is not a static environment. Inserted genes can be transformed by several different means, and it can happen generations later.”

What he’s getting at is that, although GMOs might pass through testing in the short term, they could eventually become toxic and dangerous down the road in future generations of the plant.  He’s saying that adding genes isn’t so simple as adding more paper links to a paper chain made in arts and crafts.  A change to DNA has a more profound effect than that.

What’s more, whole countries ban and/or restrict most GMOs.  Countries in Africa, Asia and the E.U. have generally been very restrictive of genetically modified plants due to their skepticism, even though they might seem to be the solution to problems of famine and malnutrition.  You may or may not have heard of Golden Rice, which is a rice that was genetically engineered to contain more vitamin A than normal.  Because many in poor countries consume a lot of rice, this was supposed to help solve vitamin A deficiencies in such countries.  Still, folks are skeptical.

Anyhow, the main thing is this.  You should know that some of your food is genetically modified.  You should know that some of the foods that you eat have had the DNA changed so that the plants produce more, or so that the plants are resistant to pesticides.  This is just like how you should know that your foods are sprayed with pesticides, or that they might contain preservatives and colorings that your body can’t really handle very well.  Some may not really care about such details.  Some may just not want to know.  And then some may want to know to make the best decision about their food.

The purpose of this podcast is not to give you something else to worry about.  Rather, it’s to help you understand more of the freedom that you have to make decisions about your food…especially since foods are now being labeled as GMO or non-GMO.  I recall when I used to watch Schoolhouse Rock cartoons and at the very beginning, you hear the phrase, “knowledge is power.”  And it is!  GMOs may one day prove without a shadow of a doubt to be safe, but on the other hand, remember that sometimes, even though we may not know that things are hurting us, they still are.  In spite of our ignorance.  I mean, goodness, folks used to think that tobacco was safe.

So now, I search for a non-GMO hot sauce.  And once I find one, I’ll let you know.

Have a question you want answered on the Your Health At The Crossroads show?  Interested in becoming a sponsor of the show?  Tweet your question to @ShawnB2BFitness, put it on the YHATC Facebook page, or call (478)216-8536 and leave a voicemail.  You can also send your question via e-mail  to shawn@yourhealthatthecrossroads.com.  Sponsorship inquiries can be sent via e-mail or by calling (478)216-8536.

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