Book Review: Hands Off My Food! Focuses on What’s on Our Plates
by Pete Hardin
Dr. Sina McCullough brings three critical disciplines to her newly-released, initial book. McCullough is a mother of two young sons, she’s a long-time sufferer from food sensitivities… and includes a Ph.D. in Nutritional Science among her academic pedigree. In tandem, these three back- ground elements have yielded an amazing book: Hands Off My Food!
In her early 20s, severe adverse reactions to many foods impaired McCullough’s health. For two decades, she struggled to determine just why her energy was sapped, why she was perpetually bloated and discomforted by foods. Ultimately, it was determined that Dr. McCullough suffered from “leaky gut syndrome” – an emerging health affliction in which food proteins pass through the walls of the small intestine to create allergic reactions in the body. Sometimes diets she tried brought temporary, partial relief. But the core health issues remained unsolved. At times, Dr. McCullough writes, she was so weak that she had to lie on the floor. That overwhelming lethargy direly contrasted with her younger lifestyle, when she would commonly bicycle 100 miles a week.
McCullough summoned her research skills as a Ph.D. nutritionist to probe deeply into what was in her food. Over time, through eliminating and re-introducing foods into her diet, she pared down her diet to a core group of foods that did not disable her. In her search for answers to her own physical problems, the author developed a critical theory of our nation’s modern food system. Hands Off My Food! scorns inclusion of more than 10,000 synthetic chemicals in our foods that are untested and unregulated by FDA, genetically modified foods (GMOs), and subsidized processed foods that even the CDC admits are making us sick.
Hands Off My Food! contains three chapters that are particularly cogent – chapters covering:
• FDA’s “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) precepts for food ingredients and additives. Most of those food ingredients/additives are considered “safe” only because company-sponsored “experts” have so claimed.
*Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) is scorned as the first biotech hormone that FDA approved for use in the human food supply. The chapter on rbGH contains 118 citations. McCullough really did her homework on the rbGH subject.
• GMOs. The human safety precepts that lead to approvals of GMOs by USDA and FDA were clearly politicized and inadequate.
Each of those three key chapters is cause for thoughtful readers to consider what they’re eating. McCullough’s clear messages to readers:
• The government cannot be relied upon to determine what ingredients and foods are safe.
• “Big Food” doesn’t want citizens to know what’s in their food, period.
• And government overseers of “food safety” are safely snuggled in the pockets of “Big Food.”
Dr. McCullough – now in her early 40s and home-schooling two young sons – offers what could very well be a realistic, futuristic, Libertarian perspective to the conjoined issues of food and personal health. That Truth: Each individual is ultimately responsible for his/her own behavior and health. McCullough doesn’t ultimately assign blame to FDA/USDA and “Big Food” for what she paints as an unhealthy, chemical and additive-infused array of commercial foods. Instead, she assigns responsibility to individuals to learn about what’s in the foods they eat, and vote with their checkbook by buying (or growing) far healthier foods. (Obviously, for parents, these determinations must be made for the children, ideally making those decisions learning experiences for the youngsters.)
Looming behind all discussions of food quality and safety, but unmentioned specifically in Dr. McCullough’s book: The emerging reality for this nation’s struggling health care system means in the future, if not at present, there may never be adequate public or private resources to cover health care programs for the vast majority of citizens. Health care costs – however covered (or not) will only escalate. By 2035, it has been estimated that costs for treating Diabetes-related health problems will surpass costs for smoking- related diseases. In the United States, rates of various forms of Diabetes have been climbing sharply in recent decades. Higher rates of Diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions are particularly exploding in younger persons. Those medical conditions will carry through to adulthood. McCullough reports that diabetes can pare ten years off the average life span of a sufferer.
When President Trump recently and belatedly admitted that health care reform is “complicated,” he was just starting to see the light. In years ahead, health care costs will simply keep escalating and our nation’s tab for health care will grow to seemingly impossible levels. Thus, Dr. McCullough’s thesis that individuals must be responsible for their own wellness – starting in great part through their food awareness – is a bedrock rationale for the future.
McCullough is a big proponent of the economic power of citizens. Food firms need to know why some buyers of their products back away from prior purchases. That’s a “market- place” solution that requires information and study, prior to wiser food purchases.
The Milkweed strongly recommends Hands Off My Food!