Killer at Large

Convenience and low price may allow us to get a bigger telly and have more time vegging in front of it  (pun intended)… but is it really worth it?

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  • Is it comfort or laziness we are seeking?
  • Do we want more nutritious food? Or or just lots of flavor, with no or little regard for nutrition?
  • Are the man-made food-like substances with all the calculated nutrients really matching up to the whole foods that come with no nutrition label?
  • Has food science got a one-up on the nature?

I have an inkling that marketers and the government shun aside morals as they fool us in to thinking that they have it figured out, and they know best. 

Looking at the health of the west (and in particular the US) should we trust what the government (USDA and FDA) is saying about nutrition?

I don’t think so. But at least those lovely pharmaceutical companies have our best interest at heart by providing us with lots of pills to treat all the western diseases (yeah, right!).

I wonder, if we changed our approach to eating, would we need them?

Many cultures that have not been infected with the western diet show us convincing proof that we would not.  Western diseases are absent without the western diet.  Not to mention better individual health and the health of the community.  Meds are a good tool that can be used in treatment of disease, but it seems we could avoid many diseases with preventative methods.  A healthier diet.

It’s true that the west is spending less of their earnings on food, but the lesser known fact is that the money we are saving is going to pay for our medical bills, which often come as a direct result of our poor diet.

Simpler food chain:

Sun → greens → little bit of animal → nutritious food

Complex, and ironically cheaper food chain (due to government subsidies and the power of industrial/intensive agriculture):

Sun+chemicals+antibiotics → corn/soy→ fuel for transport → processing plant → more fuel → breeding lot → fuel → feeding lot → fuel → processing plant → fuel → packaging plant → fuel → super market → food void of nutrition but with very colorful and deceptive health benefit label

Is organic better?

Not necessarily.  Take a look at a possible organic food chain:

Sun→corn/soy→fuel for transport→processing plant→fuel→breeding lot→fuel→feeding lot→fuel→processing plant→fuel→packaging plant→fuel→super market→food void of nutrition but with very colorful and deceptive organic health benefit label

The simpler food chain that goes beyond organic is undeniably better for our health, our communities health and the health of the earth.  I could go on, but I’ll give you a few resources that I have found very helpful (see end).

Better than just filling up with good facts, why not give a simple, sustainable, seasonal and local diet a go?

Will the benefits speak for themselves?

If you are not convinced by the facts, I’m confident you will find the proof of the pudding in the action of eating it (pun intended).

I have spent the last 6 months incessantly researching, reading etc… but I admit I have only had one foot in taking part in the matter.  I am excited to jump in head first to this life style–and watch a steady, holistic transformation.

The farmers markets start next week and I’ve a few locally run eco-friendly grocery stores to try out, up my sleeve.  I would be excited to hear  some stories, tips from others who are taking a step towards a simpler and more eco-friendly lifestyle  or who have been living it for a while.

I know that it will take good planning and  some sacrifices (time, money) to make the change initially.  However, I am confident, that as the change becomes routine the physical, emotional, relational, environmental and spiritual payoff will far outweigh the cost.

Some good resources:

Films:

Killer at Large,  Food Inc.,  No Impact Man, Botany of Desire, Life off the Grid, King Korn.

Books:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan,   Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran-Foyer, The End of Over-Eating by David Kessler, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge, The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert and Five Acres and Independence by M.G. Kains

chubby children

I’m enthralled with the spring sunshine and having a major sweet-tooth attack…. and I just finished reading 3 more books on food:  Our Overweight Children: What Parents, Schools, and Communities Can Do to Control the Fatness Epidemic by Sharron Dalton; The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David A. Kessler; and Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. Quite a variety, yes, but I’m interested in all aspects of the subject.

First up, my thoughts on Our Overweight Children:

Our Overweight Children begins by presenting the dire weight situation among US children. One third of 6-19 year-olds are overweight or at risk (p 29). This should concern us because overweight children are more likely to be bullied, face numerous health risks and become obese adults.  If nothing else, the enormous cost of treating obesity-related heath problems should urge us to treat the obesity epidemic as a matter of importance. In addition low-income and minority families suffer from the highest rates of obesity.

Dalton addresses a myriad of subjects–from terminology to weight assessment to parents’ and childrens’ perceptions of their weight to eating disorders. But over the years, her research has led her to these five predictors of obesity:

1. Parental Obesity

2. Unhealthful eating patterns

3. Low Physical activity

4. Excessive “screen” time

5. Low socioeconomic status

But what impressed me most about Dalton’s book was that more than half of it focused on solutions to the obesity epidemic.  Yes, parents need to act, but she also stresses the need for support from schools and communities.

Dalton urges parents to take a middle ground – don’t let your kids eat whatever they want whenever they want it, but also don’t force them to eat only certain foods and “clear their plate”.  She suggests parents decide on the what, when and where of eating, while children choose how much and if. The goal is to help children develop a taste for a variety of healthy foods and also respond to cues of satiation. Our Overweight Children is full of specific and creative suggestions that foster not only healthy eating but also more healthy families. Her advice expands beyond “eat healthy foods in proper portions” to important life skills for any family.

Many would stop there, arguing that if a child is overweight his or her parent is to blame. But a remarkable amount of meals are now eaten away from the home – at schools, day cares, camps and after-school programs. As a community we need to ensure these places provide and promote healthy eating.  There are small steps we can take–like organizing “walking trains” to school–and more over-arching goals–such as demanding development that decreases dependence on cars. I hope parents, schools and communities alike begin to embrace Dalton’s realistic and holistic approach to helping prevent childhood obesity, but first we need to acknowledge our overweight children, not her’s, not mine, but ours.