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PURCHASING FOOD: VALUE FOR MONEY OR VALUE FOR HEALTH?

When making food purchases, most of us love to choose the big items. When buying a chicken whether dressed or live, eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables and so on, we usually go for the biggest. Sometimes we even completely shun farmers/sellers whose food items are not always big. Understandably, we want to get the highest value for our money. But if you are aware and have to choose between a big food item that can negatively affect your health and a smaller one that is safe for your health, which would you choose? Your answer…… ?  My answer is B- I’ll choose safe food not big food.

That is the crux of this write-up- the size should not be the most important factor in choosing a food item but how healthily it has been produced. Of course, you can choose the bigger sizes if all the food items before you have been healthily produced.

A few years ago, I was experiencing ill-health constantly – feeling tired or weak most times and having body pains. I had always enjoyed good health all my life- I asked some health experts and they said some of those ‘pains’ were normal and some recommended some drugs.

Two of the few times I was really sick with fever – one was Typhoid and another Malaria was about 20 years ago thereabout– I went to the clinic both times and was given some drugs – the effects of the drugs on me on those two occasions made me decide I would do as much as I could to stay healthy. One of the things that has helped me (the most important I believe) is having a good relationship with my creator – my God. So when I started having symptoms of ill-health, I decided to pray first about it – I wanted to know what was causing it – because the few times I had any health issue in the past, I always identified the cause– sometimes it was overwork – because I normally enjoy so much good health, there were periods in my life I would just overwork. Thankfully I had learnt to caution myself on that. So I checked and knew it was not that this time around. I prayed and prayed to know what the issue was – the answer started coming when I was directed to this scripture in the bible - Genesis Chapter 1, verses 29 and 30

Genesis, 1:29 - And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Genesis, 1:30 - And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

I checked up the dictionary meaning of herb: any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavouring, food, medicine, or perfume. No doubt, food can be medicine

In verse 30, God the creator said He had given Green herb for meat to animals – that includes livestock   - chickens, goats, ram, cattle, rabbits etc and fish. Green refers to organic. So, if animals are fed food that is not directly from plants such as steroids, antibiotics, some animal by-products or any chemical-based substance they are inorganically grown and that will have adverse effects on the consumers of such animals. Due to ignorance and/ or the fact that it is much more economical and fuelled by the fact consumers love big- big food items, some farms feed livestock and fish inorganic products that will make them grow big.

I discovered that eating livestock products - eggs, milk, beef usually made me put on weight. So I decided to go more for catfish when I could and I was still experiencing same results – in fact I started getting really fat. Some would say –so what is the big deal about getting fat? No big deal at all if a person doesn’t mind getting/being fat- in fact some people look really nice and admirable that way. But if getting fat is being accompanied with symptoms of ill-health, one needs to take action.  Also, if one puts on weight and you want to shed it and it is so difficult no matter what you do, check what you consume – it could be extra sweet inorganically produced foods, if not that, check the livestock products you consume – if livestock/fish have been fed inorganic items that will make them excessively big or fat, their meat and by-products would also make people who eat them uncontrollably fat or unhealthy because the human body was not designed to consume them.

 But not all livestock and fish has that effect. I have spent about a week in two resort centres- I wont mention the country now and the farmers there produce their livestock very close to nature. I drank lots of milk from cattle and not one frizzy drink and virtually all the meals served were one form of beef delicacy or the other. When I returned home I had not put on weight, in fact people kept saying ‘wow- your face/skin is glowing. I also saw when I was at a village between the two resort centres that chickens reared organically looked very luscious.  

So few years ago in my own country, when I was led to those scriptures in Gen 1:29-30 and started cutting down or completely cut off on those livestock products and catfish except when I could verify they are organically produced, my health started improving. I later also heard different speakers and writers confirming these things. But remember I started by praying and being led to a scripture in the bible. No doubt these speakers and writers have been pointing out those things long before but I just overlooked what they had to say just as some of you may also ignore this. Cancers, kidney diseases and such like are not our portion but they are realities in our world and food is a major cause. While we would keep appealing to producers of food to produce safe food, consumers should also be mindful. For those of us living in cities or suburbs, you may not be able to cut off completely from foods especially livestock and fish produced inorganically but keep trying, make enquiries and whenever there is a Farmers’ Mart or exhibition or food delivery business near you or within your reach where they advertise that the food has been produced organically, try to patronise such- the items may not look as big as those inorganically produced but choose safe food above big food’- but if they are all organically produced, of course choose the biggest! 

I saw a blog called BODY BALANCE online. They do have lots of insights confirming some of what I have just shared with you. Check: https://bodybalance4you.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/non-organic-vs-organic-meat/

But Note: when livestock/fish  are fed animal by-products – if the animals from which the by-products are got were reared organically without steroids and antibiotics, they are still safer to be fed to livestock. For instance, the intestines of catfish organically produced, rather than being thrown away, can be fed to live catfish but the intestines should be boiled a little before being fed to the live catfish to avoid cannibalism (a catfish farmer in Port Harcourt told me this). If the fish that fishmeal is got from have been organically produced it is safe just as maggots which are organically produced and rinsed before being fed to fish or any livestock is safe.

But on steroids, I am yet to find any farmer or health expert to attest to the fact that giving livestock/fish steroids at any point in their lifecycle is good in any way for the health of the human consumers of the livestock/fish.

So be mindful, and watch out for safe food but please don’t become paranoid.

OLUYINKA ALAWODE

Writer/Agric Extension Media Practitioner 

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