Drastic U.S. Health Decline Since WWII-Why?

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09/24/2013
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Host: Your topic, speaking at the Health Freedom Expo this weekend, and talking about us being the richest nation, and yet we're malnourished as a country. People are getting sicker. 

Explain that a little bit and talk about some of the points you'll hit on. 

Victoria Bloch: Well, some of the points, it's actually. . . There's a book that's coming out of this. It is a forthcoming book because it's such a big topic. I'm interested in the big picture. Obviously, I like to geek out and get into the details, but I really like to step back and look at the big picture. 

I realized that since World War II, things really changed in agriculture. Things also really changed in medicine, in public health, and in how media reports all of those. So I see a confluence of those things coming together to, it's not so much dumbing us down, and I'm not a good conspiracy theorist. They're fun, but that's not my thing. It's simply that the market forces and the way people perceive them have really changed how we feel about food. 

As we've moved off the farms, with the GI Bill after World War II, a lot of young men coming back from the war suddenly were able to get engineering degrees, aeronautical degrees, and so on, and move away from the farm, which was wonderful in one respect, not in others. Farmers became kind of regarded as dumb bunnies, like, "Look, you weren't smar enough to get a real job."

We started to get more and more separated from the source of our food in many ways. At the same time, medical practice was moving away from more traditional medicine. Rather than. . . It's so funny that now we call conventionals medicine what's relatively new in the history of mankind. 

We moved away from more traditional medicine into more scientific medicine, which has separated us from our common sense approach to dealing with things for the body or looking at the whole person. 

I very much believe in holistic medicine. There's wonderful things in what's now conventional medicine, and there's really dumb thing, too. 

So public health edicts, where the whole low-fat paradigm came into being, starting around the '50s, and especially the '60s, but really ramping up in the '80s. Then, all the food additives that became possible through the wonders of modern chemistry to add flavor and enhance food that otherwise might taste like cardboard, because it was so heavily processed, and all of those. We start to see obesity rising. 

That's my point, chronic illnesses are much higher than they ever were before. To have a child that doesn't have allergies, or children without asthma, or children that are obese themselves. There was one little girl in my whole grammar school who was heavy. That was it. 

Host: Yeah.

Victoria Bloch: Yeah. There were no kids with asthma. I knew not one child who had asthma. I knew one child who had an allergy to cow's milk, so he got goat's milk in his lunchbox instead when they passed out the little cartons. 

Host: Yeah. 

Victoria Bloch: So it's really, really changed, and that's what fascinates me. That's why there's a book coming out about that, to really explain how those things line up. The talk is really an overview of that. What's changed in agriculture? What's changed in public health? What's changed in medicine, and then, what's changed in media and how has media reported on all of that? 

How did we go from a nation that ate red meat and drank whole milk and loved desserts and drank the occasional Coke, and all of that, and was not in bad shape, really, one of the healthiest nations in the world. Birth rates were high. Children lived through infancy. 

Now we're -- I forget where we are -- in the infant death, infant mortality rate, but we're below some of the Eastern European Countries that just joined the EU a few years ago. We're not in great shape in that regard, and we have a lot, we spend a lot of money on healthcare, and very little money on food. I believe my point of view is that we should switch that, that we really need to pay what food costs actually, to grow, as opposed to what the subsidized apparent cost is, where we're paying for it anyway, really, because we're paying for it in taxpayer subsidies to commodity crops like corn and soy and canola and cotton, and not paying it directly to the farmers. 

There's another documentary I'll recommend to you called King Corn, which is sensational. It's about the. . . It's two college kids, basically, that go back to iowa, where it turns out they're both from, and lease an acre of land in the middle of corn country, and they grow corn for that year. They learn how to pump ammonium nitrate into the soil because the soil is so depleted that the only way you can get the darn stuff to grow. They plant Round Up ready corn and they spray the hell out of it. 

Host: Yeah.

Victoria Bloch: Then they harvest it at the end of the year and take it to the grain elevator. Their princely sum for their one acre of corn. . . It cost them. . . You'll see it in the movie, but it said it cost them $300 to grow the whole year, and they got $125 back from just the bulk price of the corn on the commodity exchange, mercantile exchange here, in Chicago. 

Then the subsidy kicked in, and they made a profit of about $40. So, the taxpayers made up the difference. No farmer that's growing that kind of crops can make a living without subsidies. I think that's ridiculous, frankly. 

That's why. . . Again, when I buy at the farmer's market, I'm buying directly from the farmer. I have got food with the farmer's face on it, as many people have said, and I know how it was grown. Yeah, I'm paying more than I would be if I was buying it at Krogers.

Host: Mm-hmm.

Victoria Bloch: But I know what the quality of the food is. I know it's fresh, I know how it was raised. It's delicious. I can get varieties that are too delicate to bring to market. I can get Persian mulberries when they're in season, which are these amazing. . . they look like raspberries, but they have big globes on the fruit, and they taste like wild, sweet things. I don't know how to even describe it. But they're so soft that the birds get to them. They're on really prickly vines and they're just nasty to. . . You have to wear long sleeves to pick them. They will be gone within a day after you pick them, so you pick them, you bring them to market and you take them home that night and eat them. 

You can't get that at a supermarket. 

Host: Yeah.

Victoria Bloch: It's one of the most wonderful things I'll ever eat. There's a lot of food like that out there. There's carrots that will last for weeks and weeks. There's onions. But, my goodness, isn't it nicer to be able to buy them and know that you're paying the farmer what it cost him to grow? 

Host: Yeah.

Victoria Bloch: And to know that somebody's making a living off of my purchase, and not just supplying me, but supplying dozens and hundreds of other people. I think it's completely sustainable. When people say that it's not possible to farm this way and feed a country, I say, "No. You're so wrong. You are so completely wrong in that." If you grow food sustainably and you set up more localized food distribution systems, so you're not just. . . I don't need to get garlic from China. I mean, come on, that's just silly, people.

Host: Yeah.

Victoria Bloch: I live in California. There's this little town called Gilroy, which is the garlic capital of the country, and I'm going to buy garlic from Argentina or from China, which is what I see at my local Whole Foods?  

Host: Yeah.

Victoria Bloch: No, get it down for a couple hundred miles away from Gilroy, or from the farmers' market. Anyway, it's entirely possible to eat, and it's not elitist, and it's not anything. It's just real food.
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Victoria Bloch is a Weston A. Price chapter leader. Here she discusses the state of agriculture and medicine in the United States post-World War II. Find out what sent our country on a decline in terms of health. She also discusses ways to get back on track in terms of agriculture and overall health

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