The more research I do the more I learn about how unhealthy our food has become over the years. Hidden food additives that we are unaware of, unhealthy raising of animals and chickens in factory farming, growth hormones in cattle, eggs from unnaturally raised chickens kept in cages - the list goes on.
I'm a vegetarian, however, the rest of my family and many of my patients aren't so I have good cause to be concerned about the foods they are eating. Most of us purchase our food without a thought as to where it comes from or what it really contains. We do this because we trust our Government and laws that are supposed to protect us but they don't. Most food labelling doesn't tell us what we need to know because of slack laws and loopholes in the laws.
I have a story I would like to share with you which will help you realize that trusting our food source is not enough, we must do our best to find out what we're actually eating.
For almost four years my little female cat had epilepsy seizures, usually about once a week and sometimes more. All this time I had been trying to find out what was causing it but in the meantime I had her on herbal medicine to try and control it. When a seizure was beginning I would do Bowen Therapy on her and give her the Australian Bush Flower Emergency Essence. Sometimes this helped but most often it didn't and she would still have to go through the whole process. She is an elderly cat - just turned 20 in September - so I thought it could be late-onset feline epilepsy which is not uncommon. The seizures don't hurt her but they are horrible for her (and me) to experience.
About five months ago I noticed my little cat hadn't had a seizure for about a month and then she started having them again. I thought about what I had done differently for her and then the penny dropped. My animals have always had a natural diet but when my cat got old and her teeth became weak I began giving her good quality tinned food for the vitamins she needed as well as continuing with fresh meat that I cut up very finely for her so she could eat it. At the beginning of her seizure-free period I realized I had discontinued the fresh meat which was barbecue steak purchased from the local supermarket. Then after about a month of not giving it to her I felt she was missing it so bought some more for her and cut it finely as usual. The seizures began again and they continued for about a week until I realized it must be something in the meat so I stopped giving it to her and her seizures ceased. I also realized I had been buying it from the same place for the four years she's had the seizures.
I questioned the supermarket butcher about the problem and he assured me they don't put any preservatives in the meat at all. Following this I went to a private butcher and asked him about the mince he sells and he assured me he doesn't put any preservatives in the mince so I bought some to try. My cat ate some that night and had a seizure about 11pm and one again at 2am. I immediately threw the meat out. That was around four months ago and she hasn't had any fresh meat since then and she's had no seizures since then.
I questioned both butchers again and told them what had happened and they still insisted they don't put preservatives in the meat they sell or the mince. So I began researching what is actually in our beef in Australia and all I have found out so far is that some of our cattle have implants containing hormonal growth promotants which are placed under the skin at the back of the ear and slowly release a low dosage to the animal. These hormonal growth promotants (HGPs) are approved and regulated by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority which, according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, ensures they are safe for consumers, not harmful to animals and effective when used according to label instructions.
Why are HGPs used? Food Standards Australia New Zealand says they are used to improve the efficiency in cattle converting stockfeed into meat so cattle can be processed earlier with less stock feed being consumed. They also say these HGPs applied to cattle contain naturally occurring hormones (oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) or synthetic hormones (trenbolone acetate and zeranol).
According to the European Commission the use of zeranol for growth promotion in food animals was banned in the EU in 1985. So why is it still allowed in Australia? If the butchers are telling me the truth and are not adding preservatives to the meat they sell then there must be something in the meat causing my cat to have the seizures. Without having her tested I can only surmise at what may be the cause or causes. Apart from hormone growth promotants there has been evidence over the years of beef being contaminated with pesticides and other harmful chemicals so any one or more of these may be causing the problem. All I know is that the meat I've given her has definitely caused the seizures.
I've replace the meat with fresh fish that I cook for her and she still has the tinned food for her vitamins. She's a very healthy girl and still enjoys life. However, the experience I've had with my cat and her seizures has made me try even harder to give my family organic food which is not easy to obtain in our area. This experience has made me think of a number of health problems that are on the increase such as obesity, autism, ADHD, cancer and so on. Could the obesity epidemic be partly related to the hormone growth promotants? Could autism and ADHD be partly related to hidden chemicals and hormones in our food? What about diabetes and cancer? What we are eating is certainly food for thought!
Until next time stay healthy, happy and most of all, wise.
Proprietor, author, and tutor of The Home Herbalist Online Course.