Friday, March 16, 2018

ROTTEN on Netflix Is Magnificent Television.

We are a nation of complainers and we move around with our whining frequently, but what happened to all of the people who were screaming about overpopulation just a little more than a generation ago? The world's population is now over seven billion and many scientists (in a variety of categories) tell us the world is unsustainable with nine or ten billion people on it. Even the major environmental groups no longer discuss overpopulation. I've read in several locations how they were shut down by major foundations. The money meant more to these groups than the health of our green and blue spaces. We now live in a world that is more crowded and more dangerous than ever. It's also a dangerously unstable planet.

In the United States alone we have increased our population by an additional 13 million people (just via legal immigration and that isn't counting the citizen birthrate) in just the last 18 years. In the next 50 years the U.S. is expected to add 100- 150 million people and this would be roughly the equivalent to Great Britain and Canada together as a total population (as of today's population in these two nations). One need not know much about math to determine that this will add an entire third of our current population. This is not a political statement, since immigration is a battle, but it should be concerning for those who care not only about our green and blue spaces, but food and water sources. The environment, traffic and congestion will take its toll with another 100 to 150 million people packed into our space; and the vast majority of the people will be catastrophically adding to our urban metro areas. Pollution! Sprawl! These are serious situations and ultimately they will become serious problems.

Where will water come from? We are already having water shortages in large parts of the world, including in areas of the United States. If you have caught such enlightening and downright brilliant documentaries like Chasing Coral and the two Blue Planet series you will know we are destroying our oceans. Over 300 container barrels per year end up somewhere in our oceans, because in large part we have to ship cheap junk all over the planet . Plastic is now as pervasive in some parts of the ocean as species of fish. These are not ramblings. These are facts.  Go and look up water and food shortages. We have nearly one billion people of our current world population already starving to death, so how will we sustain adding to the current numbers?

The major foundations that keep telling us about how good "fake" food is are led by people who will be able to afford whatever real food will be left. These are not attempts to scare, but they are attempts to make people think. Just fifty years ago, we didn't worry about antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones. Now, if you want to eat clean you will no doubt be spending more money to do so. The western world is becoming morbidly obese and in large part that is due to people not just eating too much, but eating food that essentially isn't good for the body and mind.

Some tell us to eat in moderation, but we still have more than 50% of the population not just waking up to too much fat, but they are waking up to a body that will not last long. The U.S. has had its life expectancy rates shrink in the last few years. The data tells us much of this is caused by opioid use, but our rising rates of health related illnesses due to being overweight is also causing this. The numbers of people in their 30's having strokes and heart attacks (yes, stroke and heart attacks) has risen dramatically in the last ten years. Type 2 Diabetes is now pervasive in the West.

I go back to food. It is a completely silly thing to say that food is essential. Of course, it is essential. I've watched a dozen food-themed documentaries in the last few years (and I've read dozens of books on food). One of them even led me to stop eating meat. Food Inc. is one of the best documentaries ever made. I have also viewed Forks Over Knives, What the Health, In Defense of Food and several other films and all of them are currently available via Netflix or they can be borrowed from your public library. We should make use of our public libraries. You are most likely paying property taxes and a portion of your property tax bill goes to your local public library. Some of these documentaries  are good and some aren't worth viewing. Skip Cowspiracy. In my opinion, this is one of the worst of the docs in the food category.

Netflix recently began streaming a six part series entitled Rotten and it is for the more cerebral crowd paying for the streaming service. It is the availability of projects like Rotten which makes me want to pay for Netflix. The first season six part series is like nothing else out there. Each episode takes you through another edible item and of course, by the end of the running time you may feel down in the dumps, but at least you now have knowledge. Whether knowledge is really power is a question to be analyzed, but to have knowledge is better than not to have knowledge.

The first episode focused on bees and honey. There has been a tremendous amount of news reporting regarding the importance of bees and the decimation of our bee populations. If you think we don't need bees, you clearly need the knowledge I referenced in the above paragraph. The world seemingly is running out of bees and no one seems to know exactly why. Bees are a big business and you have to be passionate about bees to do this for a living, but we need bees.

One of the biggest businesses in the US. is the almond industry. Once we were told by the scientists that almonds are good for our overall heart health, health minded people wanted almonds. There is one small portion of the central valley of CA that grows almond trees and yes, sooner rather than later we may run out of almonds.

The second episode details the wide varieties of food allergies. Very few people used to be allergic to food. Now, it seems every other child is allergic to dairy, peanuts, various tree nuts and more. There was a restaurant owner in the U.K. who wanted to cheap up his takeaway outlets, so he stopped using almonds in his Indian food takeouts. This corrupt man started using peanuts. Someone died. Big deal? Of course, it's a big deal. A man died, because someone put peanuts in recipes and didn't reveal that information.

The third episode asks us the question - do you know where your garlic is coming from? Are you aware that most of our garlic comes from China? I didn't know that and now that I do I will be leery of my beloved garlic. The gigantic nation cheats and they have figured out all kinds of ways to dodge U.S. federal food authorities. There are farmers in New Mexico who grow garlic and they are in a tiff with each other. If you live in New Mexico find the farmer's market where these garlic growers go and buy your garlic there.

Episode four deals with chicken. I highly recommend the book Big Chicken. It is much better than this installment on our various problems with chicken. 100 years ago Americans didn't eat a great deal of chicken, but World War II saw the rise in chicken eating. Now the bland and blamed chicken deserves its bad reputation. There are some companies that don't use chickens with antibiotics, but they are few and that's not the only issue. Perdue is the big company to buy your chicken from and some others as well, but they are the biggest game in town for having no antibiotics in chicken. Also, if you must eat chicken in a restaurant  (I don't eat meat and that includes chicken) purchase from Panera Bread, Chipotle and Chick-fil-A - all of which purchase chicken without antibiotics. Much of this information in this paragraph comes courtesy of the research done by the author of Big Chicken.

Keep in mind, some of these horrific factory farms house 20,000 birds at a time. Factory farms will  potentially be feeding our ever growing population. We will have more disease and our environment will be significantly damaged, but go ahead keep eating chicken. Did you forget about animal welfare and your own health? At least, do the self-involved side of this and do it only for your health. Frontline (the PBS doc series) also did a remarkable documentary on chickens. Salmonella kills people every year and Frontline exposes the death cycle.  You can stream it free on their site. Americans eat nine billion chickens a year and worldwide the chicken numbers reach 58 million. Go ahead, keep eating those cheap, fat chickens! The chicken industry is controlled by a few big corporations and what could possibly go wrong with a system that grows birds so fast they cannot walk and the ammonia in their living space (if you will) makes their air unbreathable and they have no light.

                                                          Read This Book! Big Chicken
                                                                by Maryn McKenna

Quality matters. There is an ethical argument for giving chickens room to live. Do you want chemicals in your food? Shop at farmers markets or learn how to understand package labels like free-range, pasture-raised and organic. 

You want to eat chickens that can run-around, scratch, forage and thrive. That's a healthy chicken.

Episode five focuses on milk. Is raw milk a high priced fad and can it kill you? We learn that in the last 18 years alone the U.S. lost 30,000 dairy farms. The dreaded and feared factory farm can produce milk. Why would anyone with an I.Q. over 84 make the decision to buy milk from a factory farm?

There is a great segment in episode five where a young woman farmer says farming teaches you everything you need in life. It teaches life and death. Good and bad. The beauty of life. How to work. You have responsibilities and it keeps you grounded. What a mantra for living life. To switch your farm from conventional to organic farming is costly, but many are doing it. I read recently that a huge number of people under 35 are leaving their cubicles and offices to start small farms. Thank God! We need to get back to more family farming practices. Thomas Jefferson would be thrilled to hear this news.

Episode six takes on the cod is dead aspect on fish practices in the world and it's not just that the cod are dead. In the last fifty years we have doubled our seafood intake; and 94% of the fish that Americans eat comes from foreign countries. Much of it is farmed under unknowable conditions and we have no idea where the fish is coming from. To add more trauma to this is that the fish can be frozen 2-3-4X over. The concept of eating fresh and local fish is long gone. Of course, we have begun to deplete our fish numbers around the world. Watching Blue Planet II we learn the Puffin is a fisherman and a father, but he's running out of fish which will mean we will run out of Puffins. Most people won't care, but we will run out of a lot more than the cute Puffins if our population literally keeps swelling.

Of course, there are scandals in the fishing world and there is a detailed takedown of one greedy guy who has decimated East Coast fishing companies. American fisherman are being put out of fishing. 80% of the U.S. fleet has left the business.

I care deeply about our environment, but never be brought in by the cause in and of itself. Many of these groups sold out a long time ago.  According to ROTTEN, the Environmental Defense Fund takes huge sums of money from the Koch Brothers, Walmart and Intel, so they are in bed with the big-moneyed foundations. Don't get me wrong, some arguments at times have two worthy sides, but I don't trust these mega-foundations and I still want to know why some of the major environmental groups no longer discuss population. Why?

Want even more additives in your fish? Then continue to buy fish from foreign sources and watch out for the filth. Whatever you do, don't eat tilapia or catfish, per ROTTEN on Netflix. That's the documentary speaking on behalf of the tilapia and catfish.

U.S. wild caught fish is best. The bottom line is no one is saving fish. Thank God I'm as old as I am. The world is in big trouble. God didn't intend for humans to destroy the planet and yet we have done just that. Wait. Don't bother me. Everyone around me is texting.

Rotten is an exceptional series which should not be missed. This six part series is well done on every level and for serious minded people (we have too few of them) you will anticipate the second season. Tragic in some cases, but more than worthy of your time. Learning never felt so right.

Rotten is available via Netflix. 

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2018