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The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
Food: What's wrong with today's food
Yesterday turned into a very productive and educational day. Rather than go over everything at once I want to highlight just the last few things in one go.

Sugar: The Bitter Truth (90 minutes)
Yesterday started out by discovering a blog entry on sugar via a round-about method (I was browsing the blog for technical entries). It makes a compelling case against the consumption of fructose and anything containing it, including high fructose corn syrup and sucrose (half fructose, half glucose). The video walks through the health trends, food trends, and even goes into the metabolic process of glucose, ethanol (alcohol), and fructose. One scary thing to note is the chronic effects of fructose have the majority of the same effects as excessive long-term (chronic) use of alcohol. One good thing to note is that he does not advocate against all sweeteners, only fructose. Glucose sweeteners within moderation are okay.

TED Talks: Mark Bittman on what's wrong with what we eat (20 minutes)
Also via the same blog's entry on "mark bittman on food" I discovered the following TED Talk. This one is a little over the top of the advocation of certain food consumption, but some of the comparisons are startling. We've doubled our population yet we've quintupled (5x) our consumption of meat. It appears that he is advocating we all become vegetarians, but that's not technically true. In the end he is only advocating for the reduced consumption of meat by half. Yes, meat is tasty, and we can still keep eating it, but not so much.

TED Talk: Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food (20 minutes)
I found this one in the comments of the blog post that contained the previous TED Talk. This one has a few scary parts in it. The one that strikes me as the most worrisome is that a bunch of K/1st/2nd graders can't identify the raw foods we cook with. Is that bright red thing a potato? Is that white thing broccoli? They know of some of the words, but they don't really know what they look like, how they taste, or what their properties are. The amount of sugar added to milk to 'encourage' kids to drink it is an eye-opener (see first video as to why) that we've counteracted at least some of the health benefits of drinking it.

TED Talk: Ann Cooper talks school lunches (20 minutes)
I found this one as a 'related talk' from one of the previous two TED Talk pages. She glosses over a few statistics, but the underlying principle is still relevant. What she is really trying to point out goes beyond the statistics and attributes she mentions at the beginning of the talk, and directly to the school cafeteria. This talk is where the food value fed to kids in schools really comes home to roost, when you see the multitude of processed packaged food that is handed out to kids.

Between all of these videos it gives a shocking view on the food industry and where things are headed for the majority of us. Some of us still cook our own food, but not many. We're being hand-fed whatever ingredients and chemical processes happen to be cheapest and easiest to mass produce, but that necessarily mean it will be the healthiest, or even remotely so.

What you do with this information, if anything, is up to you. As for me I'm going to finish off the last of the fructose/sucrose items (soda, especially for the volume of it that I drink in one go) I've gotten and say goodbye to them. I'm going to be adding more fiber to my diet. And get back to taking a daily multi-vitamin to help counteract and balance things. Once I can get a job and a kitchen of my own again I'll be taking much more care of what I eat, even if it takes longer.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: shocked shocked

12 comments or Leave a comment
sisyphus238 From: sisyphus238 Date: September 19th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I find it both disheartening and amusing that the corn industry has petitioned the FDA to allow them to rename HFCS to Corn Sugar. I don't know if you've seen their commercials but they're very misleading, especially if you except the research by those who are really opposed to the ubiquitous use of HFCS in nearly everything. The mainstream media finds nothing wrong with it in moderation and claim that there is not enough information to condemn it, but the MSM nearly always errs on the side of the corporations and pays no attention to the fact that the rate of obesity in this country parallels the rise in the use of HFCS over the last 30 years.
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: September 19th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
...the rate of obesity in this country parallels the rise in the use of HFCS over the last 30 years.

Careful you don't just assume causation; isn't it more likely that consumption of cheap sugars is a symptom, along with obesity, of decline in careful eating? The number of people for whom 'diet' indicates a cold-turkey restriction on intake rather than a rounded, nutrition-based plan of eating is irksome. The food pyramid may be somewhat misleading in nutritional terms, but it's probably worlds better as a guide to eating than how most people think! And noone *ever* looks at their nutrition labels--sigh.
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: September 19th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Go go Gadget accidental italics.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: September 19th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
You could have edited it to remove them before you replied to your own comment. :-P
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: September 19th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't have an edit option, I'm afraid.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: September 19th, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the examples in the 90 minute video is how 6 month old babies being fed formula are getting obese. The formula is 10% HFCS. As the guy says, any explanation of why we're all getting so fat has to take that into account.
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: September 19th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
That certainly sounds worrisome.
sisyphus238 From: sisyphus238 Date: September 19th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't assume causation, just noted the parallel. There has also been a huge increase in the consumption of fast foods, as you no doubt know. When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, fast food joints were few and far between. I don't think McDonalds gained a foothold in the town I came from until sometime in the late 70s or early 80s.
Speaking of McDs, girls are reaching puberty much younger than ever and I think that could very well be due to the hormones fed the chickens that become McNuggets, but, of course, I have only my guy suspicion and no proof.
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: September 19th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
But that's exactly my point; without a substantial reason to support a causal relationship, for all we know consumption of the worst foods imaginable could continue to rise and the population could suddenly get healthy for no apparent good reason.

Nutrition is a poorly understood science, and the human body is relatively mysterious. Unfortunately, on the heels of these deficiencies in our understanding conjecture often takes the place of science, and unfounded suppositions get more currency than they're due. Thus, people are strangely wary of Splenda, but have no problem drinking gallons of sweet tea.

I'm not suggesting that you belong in the camp of paranoid eaters; I'm just pointing out that, absent some hard connection, vague hypotheses can lead to the dark side.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: September 19th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mmm... sweet tea. :-)
zimzat From: zimzat Date: September 19th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
It may not be too bad in moderation, but as one of the videos said, it's in practically everything and it's next to impossible to moderate the amount of it you eat.

Even in moderation I'd still prefer to use a sweetener that doesn't contain fructose. One that is possible for the body to turn directly into glucose would be preferable.

And yeah, I find the corn industry's desire to rename it to something smaller and easier to pronounce ("dumber") sad.
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: September 19th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nevermind that 'moderation' is hard to define for a diet that evolved in a world entirely different from the modern.
12 comments or Leave a comment