Food Additives – F
Factory Farming – intensive forms of farming that put profit before any other consideration. Animals are kept in cramped conditions that prevent exercise and increases illness, injury and suffering. Pigs, cows and chickens are fed hormones and antibiotics, cows are given milk stimulants. Factory farming also contributes significant environmental problems, with run off of pesticides and faeces contaminating waterways. see also Eggs. 15, 38
Fatty acids – an ambiguous term that may include a mixture of plant and animal oils. Used in soaps, detergents, shampoos, cosmetics, lipsticks and food. 2, 3, 14
Fertilizer – Often contain ground bones and other slaughterhouse products, or using the manure of animals kept in factory farming situations, especially chickens. Mulching and composting are good alternatives to commercial fertilizers in the home. Green manure, the process of growing a nitrogen fixing crop which is then ploughed back into the soil, is used in commercial organic farming. Both methods have been proven to improve soil structure, water retention capacity and nitrogen content. 14, 3
Another simple homemade fertilizer is the liquid manure method, where weeds, food scraps, manures and urine are fermented in water. The 'aromatic' and potent result requires watering down before use. Gypsum and dolomite mixtures are also good for improving soil 'sweetness'.
Fish – Industrial dumping and runoff in the many parts of the world has rendered major bays and harbors toxic with lead, cadmium, chromium and mercury as well as high levels of aromatic hydrocarbons, known carcinogens. With many fish harvested from these areas, little wonder there is concern for humans. Mercury poisoning from fish and other sea creatures in Japan in 1950s led to an epidemic know as Minamata disease, where mercury accumulated in the brains of the victims causing irreparable damage to the central nervous system. 12, 17
Overfishing by wasteful industrial fishing concerns has rendered stocks low in all the oceans of the world, endangering the livelihood of small-time survival fishermen, mostly in the third world. 27 million tons (one quarter of the total catch) is thrown back, mostly already dead. The world's fishing fleet has increased twice as fast as the total catch since 1970, more than three and a half million fishing vessels. A decrease in the population of birds, turtles and sharks is the obvious corollary to irresponsible large-scale commercial fishing, who rely on fish as a principal food source, or are accidentally killed in fish nets. Greenpeace estimate that millions of dolphins have been killed by Tuna seine nets, and 44,000 albatrosses are killed by Tuna longliners. 34
Besides flesh, fish oils (including some vitamin D supplements) and scales (in cosmetics) are used. Fishing has been banned in some lakes in the US and Sweden due to high levels of mercury in fish. 34, 17, 14, 2
Fletan oil – rare oil derived from fish liver 75
Flour – white flour is bleached using chlorine or benzoyl peroxide. 1
Flour treating agents – hasten yeast growth and improve flour for bread making purposes. Domestic flour treatment agent contains: sucrose (sugar), amylase, ascorbic Acid 300, emulsifier 472 (fatty acids), sodium stearoyl lactylate 481, calcium steroyl lactylate 482, mineral salts 516 calcium sulphate, and L-cysteine 920. 1, 48
Potassium Bromate (924) was used as flour improver, banned in 1989 as a dangerous carcinogen; previously widely used in bread products, including McDonald's buns. 40
Fluorine (and Fluoride) – a poisonous gas that occurs only in compound with other elements. It is used in small amounts to purify water and decrease tooth decay. The fluoride ion, in combination with other chemicals is the basis of many psychoactive drugs, such as Rohypnol and Prozac. The nerve gas Sarin, used in the 1995 Tokyo subway poisonings, is also a fluoride mixture. The effect of these drugs is to inhibit enzyme production in the brain, the mildest and most common of the side effects being memory loss.
As early as 1944 the US government was aware that fluoride caused confusion, drowsiness and listlessness, as enlisted men were exposed to it reputedly at an atomic weapons base. In 1995, Dr Phyllis Mullenix, a toxicologist at the Children's Hospital in Boston, published a study (and there are others) that came to the conclusion that the most likely effects of long term fluoride exposure was "motor-sensory dysfunction, IQ deficits andor learning disabilities." Another researcher (Issacson, 1992) found that, in combination with Aluminium (sometimes added as a water clarifier), there was the added risk of an increase in the incidence of alzheimers disease. The synergistic (in combination) effects with other contaminants already in the environment and our bodies (such as lead, mercury and chlorine) have not been measured, though the prognosis is not good, as combinations with other metals in particularly seem to increase its derogatory effects. Other studies have shown that fluoride, administered for the treatment of osteoporosis, can actually weaken and decrease bone mass, though these results are controversial. It has also been implicated as a mutagen, "producing chromosome aberrations and gene mutations in cultured mammalian cells." (Zeiger, Shelby & Witt: 1993, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Carolina)
Fluoride has been proven by the American Dental Association, no less, to be responsible for fluoridosis in children and has be the cause of a spate of compensation claims paid out by Colgate in the UK, one claim resulted in a payment of ú1000 to the parents of a child whose teeth were damaged by their product. 10
Food acids – preserve the color of fruits and vegetables, coagulate sauces and jams, counteract excessive sweetness. 1, 13
Food Poisoning – It has been estimated that meat eaters have an 80% greater chance of suffering a bout of food poisoning than their vegetarian contemporaries. This is partly the result of more people buying take away foods, and unscrupulous vendors trying to make their products last longer. Salmonella is common in livestock given prolonged doses of antibiotics, especially in factory farming situations, effecting chickens and their eggs, as well as pigs. Cooking destroys salmonella, but recontamination may occur from utensils. Salmonella was responsible for the 1996 peanut butter poisoning scare, it is thought that the bacteria may have come from rat faeces. Poisoning can also occur where heavy metals have built up in the flesh of animals, such as mercury and cadmium in fish.
Botulism is caused by bacteria that may grow in preserved vegetables and fruit which have not been adequately sterilized. Alkaline foods are more acceptable to the bacteria, so adding citrus juice to preserves helps eliminate the spores. Other vegetable poisoning risks are green potatoes, containing solanine which is not destroyed by cooking, see also alkaloids and caffeine. 1, 2
Formaldehyde – Used to make 'staypress' fabrics, as an adhesive used to bond particle board. The US EPA estimated in 1987 that almost 5000 workers would contract cancer as a direct result of exposure to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde causes mucus membrane irritation, headaches, depression, memory loss and dizziness, and ultimately cancer. Fumes may leak out from the resin for years after use. Formaldehyde is contained in many household products including shampoos, deodorants, detergents and mouthwashes. 17, 47
Frozen foods – see processing
Fructose – a sugar present in fruit and honey, sweeter tasting than glucose or sucrose. 1, 3
Frugality – one needn't suffer to live frugally. There is much to be gained in self-respect and quality of living by becoming more dependent on our own resources and abilities. Making and growing all that we are capable of, and reducing expenditure in use of energy and bought consumables, we can improve the quality of our own lives with our own creativity, and reduce our contribution to the abuse of our planet and the dehumanization of a world geared only to economics.
"the government and multinational institutions, including education, supermarkets, fuel, medical, dole, transport, construction, entertainment and energy, have expropriated our right to stand on our own two feet" – Ivan Illich. 66
Cheaply bought consumer items, such as found in the likes of bargain warehouses are often inferior in quality and wasteful in their use of petrochemical and the pollution they create. The cost of them greatly outweighs, in holistic terms, the cost of production and they survive only because of the virtual slavery of cheap labour that produces them, often in third world nations. The easy choice is not to buy, or make it yourself. Many items bought cheaply are easily made in the home.
Dr Howden suggests to ask yourself a few question before you buy: Do I need it?
Can I borrow it?
Can I make it?
Can I grow it?
Can I buy it second hand?
Will something else do instead?
Can I share it?
Has it other uses?
How can I extend its life or usefulness?
Has it minimal packaging?
Will it last 10 to 20 years?
…such shrewd questions continually applied rapidly negate your inflation rate, with nothing but improvement to the quality of life" 66 Additionally, one might also consider who will benefit and who will suffer from the product in question.
The bottom line is again: use less, buy less, want less, recycle everything. You'd be surprised at the difference in your perceived level of wants once you stop buying newspapers, watch only non-commercial television and stick a "no junk mail please' sign on your letter box!
In the immortal words of Gandhi: "The world has enough for every man's need but not for every man's greed" 59
an excellent resource for defining your own vision for a frugal and sustainable life can be found at Sustainable Living and links to frugal and consumer-related issues can be found at
The Environment Centre of WA
see also Energy, Gardening
Fruit – some fruit, especially apples, may be waxed with shellac, an insect derived varnish 2, 14
Fungicides – some Wood preservative fungicides contain organochlorines, tributyltin oxide or dioxin, all are poisonous. Wood treated with these fungicides emits toxic gas for years after application and are implicated in causing leukemia and asthma. 12, 17, 34
Fur – the cruelties of the fur trapping trade are well known: "Animals are trapped, drowned or beaten to death in the wild and gassed, strangled, or electrocuted on fur farms" (PETA) Though the purchase of fur garments is on the decline, over one million animals are still being slaughtered for their fur each year. Steel jaw traps designed to catch wild animals leave the animal to die an agonisingly slow death, where they may be attacked by other animals or reduced to gnawing off their own legs. Half the animals so trapped are not the desired fur animal, so are tortured needlessly: "One 40' long wild mink coat can represent sixty' target' animals and 180 unintended victims. " (Real World Resource Guide) The farmed fur animals fair little better, though their deaths are quicker. Animal Liberation reports that they are "kept in dirty wire cages which are so small most animals suffer extreme mental and emotional disorders before being gassed, electrocuted or strangled to death in order to preserve the quality of the fur". National Fur Free Day is June 14th. 2, 39, 55