I get Reader's Digest in the mail (thanks to my hubby's grandmother). Most of the time, I look up the vocabulary quizzes and then put the publication in the basement's bathroom until the pile becomes intolerable at which time I burn them in a fire pit.
This month (October 2013), however, there is an article that I actually read. It is a clever piece of propoganda filled with wrong premises and lies that I just couldn't pass up the chance to talk about. It is called, "Have the elite hijacked healthy eating?" by David H. Freedman (edited from his first version in the Atlantic). Freedman writes for the Times, Inc., Newsweek, Scientific American and has written his own books, one named Brainmakers: How Scientists are Moving Beyond Computers to Create a Rival to the Human Brain.
Here is the overview:
- eating real food is expensive, elitist, inconvenient and unrealistic.
- people who adhere to Michael Pollan's (of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food, Inc. fame) ideas are impeding science and progress.
- things that are called health foods have more fat than a Big Mac, so just eat the Big Mac.
Let's take a closer look, shall we? Because I don't want to misrepresent what Mr. Freedman is saying, I'll quote his article directly at vital points I want to share with you.
Mr. Freedman begins his article on a quest across the nation to try some healthy food options. He went to Oberlin, Ohio, to Cafe Sprouts and got an apple-blueberry-kale-carrot smoothie which his friendly server "spent the next several minutes preparing" for him. He said it was tasty, but was (according to his rough calculation) about 300 calories and at $9, he wasn't about to make a habit of it. But being a man of such perseverance, he tried again at L.A.'s Real Food Daily and got a green veg juice. The poor man suffered and said, "I could stomach only about a third of the oddly foamy, bitter concoction. It smelled like lawn clippings and tasted like liquid celery. It went for $7.95, and I waited ten minutes for it." (italics mine)
Pause. What is Mr. Freedman used to? Based on what you read here, what is his palate used to? How much time is Mr. Freedman used to spending/waiting for food to be ready? Does this display anything about his character to you?
He reveals more to us in the next paragraph: "I finally hit the sweet spot just a few weeks later...Thanks, McDonald's!" (He had their "delicious blueberry-pomegranate smoothie" - even though it contains artificial flavors, demineralized pineapple juice, and xanthan gum.)
Mr. Freedman (what an ironic name! Am I in Orwell's 1984?) then says that the foodies are wrong when they say that processed food is making us overweight (false. See article here: Link between processed foods and obesity, cancer, etc.). He quotes Michael Pollan and says that Pollan's solution is to "replace - through public education and regulation - Big Food's engineered, edible evil with fresh, unprocessed, local, seasonal, real food." (Is it weird that he has a problem with this? Isn't this the way of all history up until our very present age?)
He then states that, "there is no reasonable scenario under which these foods could become cheap and plentiful enough to serve as the core diet for most of the population - obese or otherwise..."
Screech the brakes, baby. Hold up, homeboy.
WHY is junk food so cheap? Is someone subsidizing it? Is the government tied in with this food industry to make sure crap costs less than real food? The answer is heck yes. (To the tune of the government paying out $20 BILLION plus a year for the subsidized products, corn leading the pack: read here - agricultural subsidizing)
Now let's go the other way. Even if we can't change what the government has decided to subsidize, we can change what we do and how we spend our money. If you have cable TV, quit it. If you have a car lease, dump that and buy a cheap car in cash. If you have a smart phone, ditch it for a flip phone with no data plan (or don't have a mobile phone at all). Never go out to eat. Don't go to the movies (they aren't any good, anyway!). Don't go to the mall so your greed gene won't even be tempted to kick in. Get media from the library instead of paying for it (Netflix, books from Barnes and Noble, etc.). Learn how to do stuff yourself. Want fresh food? Plant your own garden on the space you have, even if it is small. Get chickens if you can. Learn how to preserve your own food. Stop buying junk food and convenience food and you'd be surprised at the rest of your grocery budget. Make do, fix it up or do without.
If you just said that was totally unrealistic, then you haven't met me and many other people who are doing exactly those things.
I'd rather pay for the good stuff now than to pay out in health care later.
Next point - Freedman (I can't get over that irony) says real food is fattening, too. He repeatedly points out calories and fat in his examples. This is built upon an untrue premise that foods that have fat and calories are inherently unhealthy. "What the [Vegan Cheesy Salad Booster] does contain, though, is more than three times the fat content per ounce of the beef patty in a Big Mac...and four times the sodium."..."By weight, [Trader Joe's Inner Peas] has six times as much fat as it does protein, along with loads of carbohydrates. I can't recall ever seeing anything at any fast-food restaurant that represents as big an obesogenic crime against the vegetable kingdom."
The point that is trying to slide by under the radar is that you probably should just skip the other stuff and go for the Big Mac. And just because he "can't recall" ever seeing anything at a fast-food place that has more fat than TJ's Inner Peas doesn't mean it's not there, doesn't exist and is healthier for you. But if you take a closer look, you'll see something that still doesn't line up: he's comparing one processed convenience food to another and to another. The "Pollanites" (as he calls them) would probably more likely aim you toward comparing a Big Mac to a grass-fed burger with the organic raw carrots you grew in your back yard, not the bag of Inner Peas. Don't let them slide things by you. Let's always pay attention to what is trying to get in.
Again, he says, "Check out their products' nutrition labels online: fat, sugar, and other refined carbs abound." Think. To be quite frank with you, I don't ever read the nutrition label. I read the ingredients. If your food is real food, the nutrition label is not going to worry you, or at least, it shouldn't. I certainly hope you don't pick your food based on nutrition labels. Ingredients are what matter, not calories.
Read here to check out why counting calories is actually a very bad idea: (Spoiler - the stress of doing it increases cortisol levels, causing you to be unable to lose weight at all.) Counting calories is gonna make you fat.
Read here about how eating fat doesn't make you fat and is actually healthy for vital functions in your body: Eating fat doesn't make you fat.
Read here about: how full-fat dairy is linked to skinny people and low-fat is linked to overweight people.
And about how full-fat dairy may lower the risk of diabetes.
And lastly, about how awesome butter is - why it really should be considered a health food.
Freedman (ha! It's getting funnier every time I write it!) states "The U.S. population does not suffer from a critical lack of any nutrient, because we eat so much processed food. (Sure, health experts urge Americans to get more calcium, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A, E, and C...)" This is so wrong that I almost fell out of my chair when I read it. The entire book that Dr. Weston A. Price wrote concerns this very topic. As humans, we have only the sense of hunger - we do not necessarily hunger for nutrition, although when we do not gain nutrition from what we eat, we are not satiated and our brain tells us to keep eating and searching for vitamins and minerals, thus we pack our bodies with empty food that eventually fattens us from overeating wrong things. (You can read his book online here: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration)
Did you see that he said we are urged to get more of at least seven different vitamins and minerals? Would you say that we are doing a good job? What kind of standards does Mr. Freedman have that he thinks a lack of at least seven vital vitamins and minerals is normal and expected? Is it any wonder so many people are so ill?
Freedman says that these processed foods are just fine - the proof is that they are regulated by the U.S. FDA and their "effects on heath are further raked over by countless scientists who would get a nice career boost from turning up the hidden dangers in come common food-industry ingredient or technique."
Stop. Let's talk about the FDA. Here is an article that can tell you the names of the men who have gone back and forth from their high positions at Monsanto (the world's leading GMO producer) and their high positions at the FDA. I wonder if there is any conflict of interest there at all. And here is an interesting demonstration of propaganda: Monsanto scientists are hired to pick out whether info should be accepted or rejected.
Freedman (eye roll) then dives in to the utterly inane and bewildering with, "the wholesome-food movement is impeding the progress of the one segment of the food world that is actually positioned to take effective steps to reverse the obesity trend: the processed-food industry." Dear God, please tell me I am in some weird Alice in Wonderland dream. Oh no, but wait, there's more, "In fact, these roundly demonized companies could do far more for the public's health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50."
Oh. My. Gosh.
He starts this in order to promote the industry of food-science engineering companies. He speaks of a couple companies who add in strange unpronounceables and gums in a favorable manner, suggesting that these are the saviors of our obese world.
"...there is a battery of tricks for fooling and appeasing taste buds, which are prone to notice the lack of fat or sugar, or the presence of any of the various bitter, metallic, or otherwise unpleasant flavors that vegetables, fiber, complex carbs...can impart to a food..."
Pause again. First - if you've adulterated a food, HECK YEAH you're going to notice if it is lacking fat and sugar if it was there in the first place. Do you love how he says that the presence of vegetables, fibers and complex carbs carry an unpleasant taste? What does this say about his palate? If he speaks for the masses, what does it say about theirs? Shall we dump what is right to appease the out-of-whack? Please, dear ones, let's look at this from a sane perspective!
His solution: "people can make small, painless, but helpful changes in their diets by switching from Whoppers to turkey burgers, from Egg McMuffins to Egg White Delights, or from blueberry crisp to fruit-and-yogurt parfaits." (Yeah right. That's why Diet Coke makes people so freaking skinny.)
How about - people can begin to regain their entire overall health, not just a proper or desirable weight or BMI, by eating what they actually ought to eat - grass-fed meats, free-range poultry, organic fruits and veg, and using only whole grains in their breads that they will be making at home while they skip the things that have proven to make them fat, sick, unhealthy, depressed, lethargic, infertile, undernourished and completely lacking in satiation.
You can't get around it in a way of trickery or through the back door. Dr. Price writes, "Our modern process of robbing the natural foods for convenience or gain completely thwarts Nature's inviolable program...Our appetites have been distorted so that hunger appeals only for energy with no conscious need for body-building and repairing chemicals." (Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, chapter 21, p. 378)
This is exactly where we stand in our modern society. Mr. Freedman writes to excuse himself from eating properly - such an inconvenience to his sweet-tooth and his hurried life. He writes to justify those who wish they could feel better about eating McDonald's and who adhere to the Standard American Diet (SAD). Those on the fence pondering real nutrition and health raise one cocked eyebrow and say, "Well I guess I've been right all this time. I'm not so bad." Instead of pushing people to be their best, he fills their bellies with lies, false premises and propaganda.
His diet matches his rhetoric and they bring the same results.
Be wise, my friends.
Peace, love and thinking may be hard - but it's worth it,