O’Brien turns to accredited research conducted in Europe that confirms the toxicity of America’s food supply, and traces the relationship between Big Food and Big Money that has ensured that the United States is one of the only developed countries in the world to allow hidden toxins in our food--toxins that can be blamed for the alarming recent increases in allergies, ADHD, cancer, and asthma among our children. Featuring recipes and an action plan for weaning your family off dangerous chemicals one step at a time, The Unhealthy Truth is a must-read for every parent--and for every concerned citizen--in America today.
Question: What inspired you to write The Unhealthy Truth? Have you worked in nutrition or science over the years?
Robyn O'Brien: My background is motherhood and finance (I helped manage $20 billion in assets prior to having four children). When I realized that the United States recently allowed certain chemicals into the US food supply in order to enhance corporate profitability while countries around the world either banned or labeled these ingredients, I felt an obligation to convey to American eaters what eaters around the world have known for the last 15 years.
Question: Scientists claim that these ingredients have never been proven harmful. What is your response?
Robyn O'Brien: That these ingredients have never been proven safe, either, which is why governments around the world have not allowed them into their food supply. Health data presents a different picture than the one being claimed by industry funded scientists: for example, according to the American Cancer Society, the United States has the highest rates of cancer of any country in the world and migration studies show that if you move here from another country, your likelihood of developing cancer increases fourfold. Additionally, it is important to note who is funding the scientists making these claims and whether they serve on speakers bureaus for industry.
Question: Why is the U.S. the only developed country to have allowed these substances into our food supply?
Robyn O'Brien: In the United States, we allow ingredients into our food supply until they are proven dangerous. In other developed countries, substances are not allowed into the food supply until they are proven safe--a precautionary measure that puts additional burdens on corporations in the form of testing requirements and extensive research and development. This precautionary principal protects consumers, not profits.
Question: Why would the U.S. do this?
Robyn O'Brien: I think that the answer is two-fold. Looser standards and deregulation allow for enhanced corporate profitability. On top of that, I believe that we have a flawed federal policy when it comes to health care: under our commercial health care system, there is profitability in our illness. In the U.S., almost half of all Americans have at least one chronic disease. If other developed countries had populations as sick as ours, their economies would suffer given that health care is not a for-profit industry overseas.
Question: If you could speak to our government leaders about this issue, what would you say?
Robyn O'Brien: I would grab Michelle Obama and make sure that she joined us! And then I would talk about budget allocation: If we allocate $600 billion to the Pentagon and only $2.4 billion to the FDA, how can we expect the FDA to ensure the safety of the food supply?
If we allocate government and taxpayer funded subsidies to farmers growing crops laced with chemicals and then charge organic farmers fees to prove that their crops are safe and then fees to label them, how could organic food ever be affordable to everyone?
Safe food is a social justice issue. We are a nation of 300 million eaters, and I think we deserve to have the same food standards that other developed countries have.
Question: Until there is change on a national level, what can we do as individuals?
Robyn O'Brien: Take baby steps. It’s important to remember not to make "the perfect" the enemy of "the good." We live in a real world, where kids go to Chuck E. Cheese for birthday parties and get blue cupcakes. Do what you can, when you can.
Target the 80/20 rule, as I highlight in the book: do as much as you can to try to reduce your families’ exposure to these substances 80 percent of the time, then give yourself a ‘free pass’ for the other 20. Instead of blue yogurt, opt for white yogurt and add sprinkles. Instead of using the full packet of fluorescent orange powder on your kids’ mac n’ cheese, use half of the packet. Chances are that these baby steps are going to feel so good that you will want to do more. There is a lot that we can do to protect the health of our families, we just have to get savvy about it!
(Photo © Brooks Freehill)--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Excellent, informative book.
A .50 zucchini from the farmers market that will serve 5 really is so much cheaper than that bag of organic baby carrots you buy each week at the grocery store.
I loved how the author put the information out there, then gave us ways each one can help, maybe we can make a difference.
Difficult to confront the information in this book ... everyone should read it.Published 6 days ago by Stelle
An amazing review of what most people have no idea about. I think if people knew they would understand why there are so many epidemics now and massive influx of food allergies.Published 24 days ago by Amy Rheaume
This is one of those books that should be on everyone's must read list if you consider your health, and the health of your children, a top priority. Read morePublished 2 months ago by OtherWorlds&Wisdom
I couldn't even finish it. If you are buying this book because you love Robyn O'Brien and want to hear her praise herself and how hard her kids allergies have been on her and how... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amy Buessing