And the malls, of course, had lots of products, exacting their own toll on human and environmental health. Many products are made with untested chemicals and furnished with slow-to-degrade plastics, often leaving consumers blind to the products they purchase. As Jenkins has explored in his book, "Contamination," Americans have since witnessed unprecedented chemical concentrations in their bodies, as well as a correlating rise in cancer rates.
He went on to discuss the American diet and the accompanying changes in farming, the subject of his most recent book, "Food Fight: GMOs and the Future of the American Diet." The desire for food that is fast and cheap has put intense pressures on farm productivity, leading to the loss of 4 million small family farms replaced by corporate industrial farms growing wheat, corn and soybeans — a large percentage of which feeds the billions of animals consumed per year. High-calorie, low-nutrient food has replaced the previous selections of nutritious foods. Jenkins cited consequences such as "skyrocketing" rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
He voiced concerns about the environmental condition of Delaware and surrounding areas. The industrial farm waste that is dumped into rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, encompassing a range of states from New York to Delaware to Virginia, is highly contaminated. Jenkins showed photos of the damage that was visible even from outer space, such as "dead zones" in the Chesapeake Bay. While everyone has heard of Amazon deforestation, the East Coast of the United States is about 80 percent deforested, leaving few barriers to absorb and block industrial waste draining into the bay.
Those forests left are fragmented and unable support a healthy system. Invasive species such as Japanese honeysuckle, Oriental bittersweet, porcelain berry and mile-a-minute all contribute to the forest deterioration. Moreover, southern Delaware faces other sources of water contamination, such as leaking septic tanks, and is vulnerable to rising sea levels.