I need to do more reading about omega fatty acids so that I can learn more about them. I know that there are several types such as omega-3, omega-6, omega-12, etc., but I do not know whether one can be converted by our bodies into another. If they cannot be converted, then there is a big problem with our foods because these substances are way out of balance in our present food system in America and it may be leading to poor health for Americans.
Generally speaking, my understanding is that we need a balanced ratio of about 1:1 when it comes to omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. When we eat them, they go to our brains and an over-balanced ratio does damage to our brains. Unfortunately, our present food production system creates foods that are way out of balance with too much omega-6.
We create the problem by feeding too much corn and soybeans to our livestock which includes beef, pigs, chickens and fish, for example. You would think that eating farm-raised catfish would be a good thing, but when you read the label on catfish food, you will see that the protein is from soybeans which are rich in omega-6.
I am not sure what the protein source for feed pellets for farm-raised salmon are, but the fact that some stores use artificial coloring to make the salmon appear red tells me that it may not be a good idea to buy farm-raised salmon. We stick to the much more expensive wild-caught salmon and just do not eat so much of it.
According to an article in a recent Mother Earth news magazine, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in pork is about 25 to 1. Talk about being out of balance. I love pork and especially bacon, but we definitely limit our consumption. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that finding pork that is not fed on corn or beans is pretty hard to do. I think that some places allow the pigs to run through an oak forest to glean the acorns, but letting pigs run in the woods can destroy the woodlands.
Chickens have got to be difficult to feed if you are not going to feed them corn or beans, although on a home-scale farm or garden, you could allow them to glean the insects from an open range area, but then you have to contend with aerial predators on the chickens and how to feed them in the winter.
Cows can be raised entirely on grass as they are naturally prone to do, but you cannot raise very many cows and you have to have plenty of hay put away for the winter months to keep them fed.
My point is that if we want to feed the world with healthy food, we cannot do it with modern agriculture if the result is food that has been fed mostly on corn and beans. I may be wrong on this, but there is a large and growing culture of organic gardeners and farmers who try to grow food so that it is a healthy source of protein for us and to produce food that has a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
That is why I am interested in whether our bodies can convert out-of-balance foods to foods that are properly balanced for us. The fact that two-thirds of Americans and overweight and one-third are obese leads me to think otherwise. The military considers our health situation to be a national security concern.
If we cannot produce healthy foods with mass production methods, then maybe we have to produce healthy foods with better methods that may result is less food for the masses. In my opinion, we would be better off with a smaller population of healthy people than with a large population that may not be able to sustain itself due to poor health.
I wonder how the thousands of folks who are planning to live on Mars in the future will treat their foods.
Matt Nowak is a retired natural resources specialist and lives in Lansing.