Toxic Food, Food Scandals, leading to increased vulnerability to COVID-19

The month of September 2021 is just about gone but not without a well deserved pause; to take stock of how things have changed, some drastically, with the seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic. How does the world end this “pandemic”? From the lenses of a Public Health Epidemiologist and Wellness Advocate, it is nothing short of astonishing how the WHO and the global health community has blatantly ignored and neglected the role of safe, diverse, local and healthy African Indigenous vegetables and related nutritional interventions in the fight against COVID-19.

To make matters worse, the “junk food industry” which is the outcome of the failed industrial-chemical food system and related industry, shamelessly, continues to not only package and sell over processed foods to an unsuspecting population but they are also aggressively marketing these toxic foods, all over Africa. The focus of this month’s article is to expose the extent of these “Food Scandals” and make recommendations on alternative solutions, which among other benefits, strengthen the immune system and thereby make it difficult for COVID-19 infection to transform to more severe disease (and death in some cases) from weakened immune systems.

  • GRAIN, a relatively small international NGO, in partnership with AFSA, is determined to unearth and expose the “dirty linen” aka Food Scandals of the current conventional food system and recommend an alternative regenerative and sustainable agro-ecological food and nutrition system. Susan and team of GRAIN have systematically put together a series of “Food Scandals” and provided the requisite evidence to compel food policy makers to rethink how food is grown, processed, packaged and transported to unsuspecting consumers all over Africa: Find here the dossier: https://grain.org/en/article/6724-big-food-in-africa-endangering-people-s-health
  • A full length pdf illustrative pictorial of the food scandals can be downloaded from this link: https://grain.org/system/attachments/sources/000/006/600/original/FSAfinalEN.pdf
  • The introduction reads:

 “Food safety scandals are plaguing Africa. From contaminated meat to GMOs and toxic milk for babies, the dangers to people's health from industrial food production are real. Here we highlight seven cases that reveal how big food corporations generate new risks, increase the potential for cross-border contamination, and leave consumers vulnerable to the fraudulent actions that affect food safety.”

  • The toxic food connection with increased vulnerability to COVID-19 as indeed other infections and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is not in dispute. The weakened immune system and the body’s compromised ability to mount a robust and effective immune response by producing antibodies against the infection, in this case, COVID-19 is compromised resulting in more severe diseases manifestations. This phenomenon partly explains the higher COVID-19 deaths in the USA despite their higher vaccination coverage, as compared to Africa. The toxic industrial foods they consume weaken the body’s immune system resulting in more NCDs also referred to as co-morbidities, which in turn make the population more vulnerable to COVID-19 manifesting as more severe disease and more deaths.
  • Going forward, these food scandals, which are a manifestation of the unsafe and toxic food system, must be stopped to allow Africans make informed food choices that are aligned with their local food cultures and which enable them live healthy and fulfilling lives while at the same time earning decent livelihoods from their farm produce.

What is the alternative to these toxic foods and the ensuing food scandals?

  • Safe, diverse, local and African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) are part of the solution to these food scandals and the toxic foods they sell to unsuspecting consumers. Recently, an international team of agroecological practitioners, including local universities launched a new book; a training manual on how to grow AIVs. Prof. Mary Abukutsa, a reknown indigenous vegetables expert and nutrition advocate, was the guest of honor at the book launch, at C-SHEP
  • Need to strengthen natural immunity and the antibodies it produces from consuming a nutrient rich variety of foods. Scientific evidence demonstrates that natural immunity is superior to vaccine induced immunity and the antibodies produced. There is increasing evidence that natural immunity, from safe and healthy nutrition, is the more sustainable and protective than vaccine induced immunity: Here is the evidence: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415v1
  • A concerted and multi-pronged pan-African effort, through Food Campaigns, like the current one planned by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa(AFSA) and its various Alliances, including Organic Consumers Alliance(OCA), whose CEO and Managing Director, in the video below, makes a passionate plea and advises the UN Food System, governments, especially African governments, to make informed policy decisions and a mind-shift from blindly promoting the failed “Western food systems” towards sustainable time tested indigenous foods and food systems which make it possible for the entire ecosystem to achieve a healthy co-existence.
  • Have a listen to the benefits of mainstreaming diverse, local and nutrient rich African foods as part of the strategy to combat COVID-19 in addition to judicious(not mass) vaccination as shared by Dr. Peter Mokaya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQGWnRs1G_o&t=4s
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