Lethal Diets – The Poetry of Science

Corn copied on carbon
queuing to fill the shelves,
a litany of yellow
maimed in
smelly rainbows
of our globalized excess.
firework colors,
neatly arranged
to attract attention :
hydrogenation,
molding,
dyes,
stabilization,
flavors,
lies.
Nutrients stripped from the cob,
leaving open sores
filled with greenbacks
across a country
it could have lasted
always.

A selection of ultra-processed foods that now make up our globalized diet (Image credit: Nico Smit/ Unsplash).

This poem is inspired by recent research, which has revealed that a globalized diet that increasingly includes ultra-processed foods is having a negative impact on human and planetary health.

Ultra-processed foods are foods that go through multiple processes (eg, extrusion, molding, grinding), contain many added ingredients, and are heavily handled. Examples include soft drinks, candy, ice cream, packaged soups, chicken nuggets and ready meals. These types of foods are less filling and raise our blood sugar higher than minimally processed foods. They are also generally higher in calories and sugar, lower in protein and fiber, and are associated with higher risks of obesity, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer. , frailty, depression and death. Yet despite the fact that ultra-processed foods are so obviously bad for human consumption, they now form the basis of our globalized diet, becoming dominant in the global food supply, with growing sales and consumption in all regions. and almost all countries.

In this new study, the researchers highlight how this lack of diversity not only negatively impacts human health. Due to increasingly transformed and less diverse global food patterns, the planet’s agrobiodiversity (i.e. the variety and variability of animals, plants and microorganisms used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture) is also declining. Today, 90% of humanity’s energy supply comes from just 15 cultivated plants, and more than four billion people depend on just three of them: rice, wheat and corn. This lack of agrobiodiversity is bad because it reduces the gene pool, making it more difficult for agriculture to adapt to global environmental changes such as climate change and desertification. In addition, the production of ultra-processed foods uses large amounts of land, water, energy, herbicides and fertilizers, which leads to further environmental degradation in addition to the accumulation unnecessary packaging waste. As such, this new globalized diet is seriously harming both the humans who consume it and the environments that are used to produce it. This study concludes that researchers and policymakers need to highlight the destruction of agrobiodiversity caused by ultra-processed foods and agree on policies and actions designed to slow and reverse this catastrophe.

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