Whose To Blame For America’s Obesity Problem? Part IV: Government Conspiracy?
It’s not a stretch to imagine smoke-filled back rooms where members of Congress hash out the farm bill. This momumental piece of legislation shapes food policy and make growing certain crops profitable because of protections and subsidies, and other crops worthless, not in a nutritional sense but an economic sense. About 1% of farmland is used to grow vegetables while the rest grow grain. The yield is much higher in terms of dollars and cents per acre. Of course, to protect the crops from pests, pesticides are used. The crops and the profits are protected but the toll in terms of human toxicity and suffering is not.
If you ever wondered why all processed foods contain corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, then you don’t have to look further than the farm bill. This monstrosity is worked every five years and ensures that corn and soy are grown to over abunance. The low grain prices ensures a lower cost in meat factories. Cows are supposed to graze in pasture as nature intended but that is not how it works. Cattle are factory farmed inside warehouses, in quarters so tight they can’t turn around. They are fed grains and antibiotics to stave off the diseases ensured by prison like conditions.
In collaboration with food scientists and even addiction specialists, the government construct their food pyramid or now, My Plate, in accordance with dictates of politicians and multi-billion dollar corporate entities and their lobbists. Do you think I am kidding about addiction specialists? Tobacco companies bought into the food industry 4 decades ago when smoking was in the crosshairs of government lawyers. Addiciton scientists tested with sugars and sodium to find the right balance of tantalizing essences to heighten the pleasure of a potato chip or corn chip. Quantity was tested and measured in packaging to ensure that “betcha can’t eat just one.” The single serving size is never enough, so consequently more bags need to be purchased. Profits up! Hurray! Now you can buy 100 bags of single serving size bags of chips at Sam’s club and Costcos. And the price is never more than $9.98. These are really cheap calories. Soda is even more sinister. You pay a $1.39 for a 20 oz of soda, but the ingredients cost less than a penny. It’s all marketing. Because it’s sweet, and feeds an addiction, people don’t complain.
There aren’t any nutritionists helping the politicians determine what’s best for people to consume. Doctors and nutritionists are only consulted sparingly and at the other end of the spectrum, when the government finds out how sick people are getting and how much universal health care is going to cost. Then the concern is economic, not medical and certainily not holistic. It’s amazing how many people believe that health care is going to be “free”. It’s not. As my auntie used to say, “Nothing’s free. You breathe, it costs you something.” And she was right. I am amazed every time I see a jogger on a busy road full of cars. Working the lungs and getting the heart rate up is important but be circumspect about where you exercise. Toxic fumes from cars and trucks make not for healthy air. Jog or do your intervals in parks or the gym. Walk and hike in nature where the air is purified by all those lovely trees and bushes.
So what you find in the school lunch program on the federal level is simply the over flow of a tainted waste disposal system. It may fill the belly but there isn’t much of a concept for nutrition. Some local school district are making a dent by using their subsidy to bring in local produce but it takes a lot of community action to see this kind of change through.
What we find in the store aisles are processed food-like substances, cheap and inexpensive to manufacture and healthy for the corporate bottom line, but not healthy for you to eat except for a treat once in awhile. It’s not that corporations are evil. Not at all. Their mission is different. They have investors to answer to. So the smart corporatons are open to new ideas and healthy choices if it’s going to be profitable. You cannot run a business on airy, fairy ideals. Good examples of corporate responsibility are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Remember the 90/10 diet. Eat clean, healthy, raw, organic, local as much as is possible and treat yourself to a favorite snack once in awhile.
Here is the list of priorities:
1. Eat Local. Locally grown produce is not sprayed with hormones to keep it fresh. If your tomatoes are from Holland and your Romaine is from Argentina, you know it’s been sprayed with substances for shelf life that will affect your internal eco system.
2. Eat Raw. Shop the perimeter of the supermarket for foods that don’t need to be cooked. This includes all fruits and vegetables, locally grown if possible. Again, look for farmer’s markets in the Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons.
3. Eat Organic. It will cost a little more and sometimes a lot more. If you can afford the organic version, you are at least assured some attempt has been made to avoid chemicals and pesticides. Don’t be religious about it but see how you can tweak your habits a bit.
4. Avoid processed foods as much as possible. The idea is not that you have to perfect in what you eat or even religious about it. Aim for a 90/10 diet where you can make allowance for social gatherings and doing what the Bible says, “Eat what is set before thee, giving thanks.” 90% clean, 10% fun without condemnation or judgement.
5. Nutritional science and theories are really in their infancy and the jury is still out on many ideas. Idologies and dogma tend to create stress and that is not how you should season your food. I believe that what you think in your head and in your heart, how you treat others, your relationships, familial and social, your career, all have their part in good health and in a good life. So give thanks for what you have and take care of yourself and your family, your neighbors and find a way to share goodness with others.
6. Be choosy about your meat products. I decided long ago to only eat pastured, grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free beef. Is it expensive? Yes. Do I need to eat a lot? No. Cage free chicken is not as expensive but again, use good judgement and get to know your sources of meat products. If you investigate your meat sources, your decisions will become easier.
7. “Eat real food, mostly plants, but not too much.” -Michael Pollan. That about sums it up.
Past chapters in Whose to Blame for America’s Obesity Problem.
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