Tag: food

They’re Coming for Your Vittles Too

One of the fantasies being pushed around in progressive circles is the idea of “national food policy”. I’ve been mulling this article for a few months and have finally decided on a response. Here is their case:

The food system and the diet it’s created have caused incalculable damage to the health of our people and our land, water and air. If a foreign power were to do such harm, we’d regard it as a threat to national security, if not an act of war, and the government would formulate a comprehensive plan and marshal resources to combat it. (The administration even named an Ebola czar to respond to a disease that threatens few Americans.) So when hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable — as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are — preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.

The national food policy could be developed and implemented by a new White House council, which would coordinate among, say, the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA to align agricultural policies with public health objectives, and the EPA and the USDA to make sure food production doesn’t undermine environmental goals. A national food policy would lay the foundation for a food system in which healthful choices are accessible to all and in which it becomes possible to nourish ourselves without exploiting other people or nature

They then go on to list a smorgasbord of Nanny State desires: restrictions on advertising, farm policies guided by environmental concerns (because starvation is a good cure for obesity), a “fair wage” for people in the food industry (because food made at minimum wage makes you fatter), humane animal treatment, sequestering farmland for global warming purposes and making sure “all Americans have access to health food”. The last one is particularly odd because all Americans do have access to healthy food. The so-called “food deserts” are a myth. The problem is that too many people choose to eat junk.

Reading it again, I’m struck by the ignorance and panic-mongering. To give one example: farming has become much more environmentally friendly over the last couple of decades thanks to improved methods, technological advances and genetic engineering. We are feeding more people on less land than we used to.

I have to agree with Daniel Payne.

As a practical matter, this plan is utter nonsense and transparently authoritarian. In the past I have used the term “food system” as shorthand for the industrial paradigm of food production, but for Bittman et al. to talk about the “food system” in such a way exposes it for the ridiculous concept it really is. There is no “food system,” not in the sense of a truly unified body of fully interdependent constituent parts: the “food system” is actually composed of millions of individuals acting privately and voluntarily, in different cities, counties, and states, as part of different companies and corporations and individual businesses, in elective concert with each other and with the rest of the world. To speak if it as a single “system” is deeply misguided, at least insofar as it is not a single entity but an endlessly complex patchwork of fully autonomous beings.

Here’s the thing. We don’t have to speculate whether government food policy would be a good thing or a bad thing. We know. We already have a raft of government food policies and they have been a disaster. Our government has spent decades pushing food policies that helped create the very problems these authors lament. And it was based on special interests, nannyism and junk science.

Our government spent years telling us how bad salt was for us. The health nuts wanted dietary salt restricted by law. They have now been forced to admit that the salt guideline they pushed on us for decades was unhealthily low and that salt intake is only important to high-risk individuals.

After years of telling us that cholesterol was evil, they’ve had to admit it’s not that harmful. After years of pushing us away from animal fats toward trans fats, they had to reverse course when it turned out trans fats were worse than animal fats. Ron Bailey today summed up just how wrong the nannies were.

Most of the government’s recommendations were derived from “consensus statements” based largely on the results of observational epidemiological studies. The new revisions tend to be based on prospective epidemiological studies and random controlled trials. Observational studies may be good at developing hypotheses, but they are mostly not a good basis for making behavioral recommendations and imposing regulations.

(I would add that the low-fat fad had its origin in the seriously flawed and possibly fraudulent Seven Countries study.)

The thing is that all these supposed menaces were presented with absolute certainty. Salt was evil. Animal fats were killing us. Cholesterol was destroying America. Organizations like the Center for Pseudoscience in the Private Interest would label foods as lethal and scream for restrictions and bans. People who dared to question them were branded as tools of “industry”.

We’re still not done. Our government spends billions of dollars subsidizing food production and targets subsidies toward the foods that are the least healthy. It is spending enormous amount of money and destroying our freedom to get us to burn ethanol. That is, it wants us to burn food in an engine-destroying, atmosphere-polluting, greenhouse-gas belching special interest orgy.

Under Obamacare, restaurants were forced to include calorie counts on their menus. But calorie listings not only cost money, impinge freedom, they don’t fucking work.

Under Obama, school lunches have been made almost inedible and high schoolers are going hungry. Day care centers will soon be forced to limit juice and ban fried foods. The condescending privilege is so thick you can taste it. The Obama people think every school and daycare in the country can run down to Whole Foods and pick up some low-fat, low-sugar organic produce that never casts a shadow. And then they wonder why daycare is so expensive.

Yet somehow, these decades of failure, decades of misguided policy, decades of junk science, decades of lunacy are seen not as a reason to hesitate but as justification to exert more control over America’s diet. Because with the progressives it never really is about facts; it’s about control.

The latest demon du jour is sugar. Progressives are calling for restrictions on sugar based on the rantings of crackpots like Robert Lustig, who claims sugar is a “dangerous drug” and “poison”. With more junk science in tow and such insane abuse of the English language, the nannies are now advocating for a sugar tax, specifically on the most vile of concoctions — sugary drinks — to … well, it’s not clear what.

The stupidity of that is simply mind-boggling because our government already spends billions of dollars driving down the cost of sugary drinks through farm subsidies. So they want to tax us once to make sure we have enough high fructose corn syrup to keep us fat and happy. And then they want to tax us again to keep us from drinking our subsidized drinks.

(Lustig, in a moment of sanity, at least acknowledges that we eat lots of sugary stuff because the government subsidizes it and advocates for eliminating those subsidies.)

That’s to say nothing of progressive opposition to genetic engineering, free trade and other innovations that have made our food safer, healthier, cheaper, more plentiful and more environmentally friendly than ever before.

I’m with Penn. Fuck these busybodies. Let’s put aside the arguments about freedom and personal responsibility — even though those are the most important ones. Let’s concentrate on this: they have been wrong, over and over again. If the had the power twenty years ago that they want now we’d have less food, less money, more obesity, worse health and a dirtier environment.

This has been a long time coming..

And it is finally here:

For decades, policy makers have tried and failed to get Americans to eat less salt. In April 2010 the Institute of Medicine urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt that food manufacturers put into products; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already convinced 16 companies to do so voluntarily. But if the U.S. does conquer salt, what will we gain? Bland french fries, for sure. But a healthy nation? Not necessarily.

This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure. In May European researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the less sodium that study subjects excreted in their urine—an excellent measure of prior consumption—the greater their risk was of dying from heart disease. These findings call into question the common wisdom that excess salt is bad for you, but the evidence linking salt to heart disease has always been tenuous.

The problem isn’t salt: its genetics and bad habits. Sodium Chloride consumption is critical to help the body do a lot of things. I have believed that reducing it drastically as we are being told to do, was going to do more harm than good, and it looks like the science – real science – is now proving that. I also want to mention that I read a study a while back linking the massive rise in depression to the fact we where telling people to consume a lot less alt and to totally avoid the sun (vitamin D), both essential to keeping a healthy chemical balance necessary for mental stability.

BTW, this issue with salt was one of the things, like eggs, that for over a decade we where told the science had settled. They where wrong of course, and the scientific process, allowed to run its course, proved that. Enjoy that salt. It is good for you. I just wish we could hold the assholes that peddled this junk science accountable for screwing us all over for this long. My guess is they will just be given a pass.

A war every lib can love..

That’s class warfare, and Obama delivers big-time! I mean, BIGTIME! It’s no wonder we are now seeing things like this.

Seriously, do the democrats get the fact that even if most Americans would have let them get away with ripping of the productive off in good times, that now, when so many need jobs, this stuff is not just resented, but angers most people? Guess not. If there was only a strategic reserve of hippies Obama could use to temporaraily pretend things are going his way.

BTW, I would love for Obama to show me some of the corporate jest owned by people making $250K or even $500K that he implies is the trade off between kids not getting to attend an institute of higher leftists indoctrination (that’s a college for those of you that are liberal-challenged), food no longer being inspected and kids getting poisoned, and kids being used to excuse whatever stupid the left wants to sell. Well, Obama didn’t say the last one, but he did imply that big government has to cut back, it will do so by getting rid of those things that will cause the most harm to society at large, first, so the kids feel the most pain. Now, where do we see a similar tactic employed whenever state entities have to cut funds, huh?

The usual lapdogs in the LSM all loved the speech however, and are pissed at those pointing out this was nothing more than the usual shit you get from listening to Castro, Chavez, any of the Kims, or all those other glorious leaders of such kinds of social paradises. Pfeh!

Cutting the Wrong End

I’m sorry. I’m with the Democrats on this one:

The Republican-led House voted to slash domestic and international food aid Thursday while rejecting cuts to farm subsidies.

A spending bill to fund the nation’s food and farm programs would cut the Women, Infants and Children program, which offers food aid and educational support for low-income mothers and their children, by $868 million, or 13 percent. An international food assistance program that provides emergency aid and agricultural development would drop by more than $450 million, one-third of the program’s budget. The legislation passed 217-203.

As they cut other programs, lawmakers rejected two proposals that would have saved money by lowering the maximum amount of money a farmer can receive in subsidies from the government. While fiscal conservatives and other critics of subsidies argued that they need to be cut as lawmakers look for ways to save, farm-state members said those cuts should be pushed back until Congress considers a new five-year farm bill next year.

This is one of the stupider things I’ve read. Farm subsidies increase the price of food (from price supports and other programs). If you cut farm subsidies, you cut the price of food for poor people, making their dollar stretch further. In the choice between subsidizing agribusiness and making sure children have enough food, why on God’s green earth would choose to keep the subsidies for rich businesses?

The GOP did show some stones in killing the Brazilian cotton bullshit and trying to defund ethanol subsidies. But this is just ridiculous.

Update: The Senate voted to kill ethanol subsidies. This is a huge win for us.

The demonization of food

Note: I posted this on a food & diet website I frequent. Thought it might be interesting to share here as well.

I’ve seen this happen in virtually every aspect of food and/or dieting. Today there was a brief flurry of stuff in my friends list about cheeseburgers and OMG HOW AWFUL

But why?

If you go to a fast food joint and get the greasy, salt-laden, saturated-fat megaburger, yeah. That’s not great. I suspect that is what people mean when they say “cheeseburger.” The Dairy Queen, In-and-Out, Burger King, Mickey D’s, Wendy’s idea of a cheeseburger, with the white, fluffy bun that is 93.5% chemicals and the rest is air. The word has sort of become a shorthand way of saying “fast food burger that is going to kill us all.”

The demonization of food

cheeseburger

Mmm...bacon cheeseburger

But…why can’t we think – and talk – rationally about cheeseburgers?

I make ‘em sometimes. With ground bison if it’s on sale, or 93-95% lean beef if that’s on sale. I get whole grain buns made without High Fructose Corn Syrup. I use 2% cheese so I get some fat and good flavor. If you use things like fresh veg, an olive oil-based mayo and go easy on the bacon, there is nothing nutritionally wrong with a cheeseburger.

Just don’t eat nine of them. And you know what? Once in a blue moon – for me it means once a month or less – eating Mickey D’s ain’t gonna kill you any faster than the diseases we’re all gonna get if we live long enough anyway.

Yesterday I got my copy of the ADA Times. Multi-page article about a woman struggling with the fact that her husband was basically sabotaging her attempts to get healthy. First of all, her husband seems like an insecure douchebag. But…the point of the article was to help us understand client issues and recognize that their relationships can have an affect on success. Which is a good thing of which to remind us. But…the article started out with a giant photo and a passage demonizing pizza.

Why? Pizza, handled correctly, can remain in anyone’s diet. Just the other day I was craving pizza. So instead of ordering one, my wife and I went and got some healthy, protein-and-veg-heavy foods for dinner but on the way home, we picked up slices. She had two, I had one (I had a massive pile of chicken breast so I didn’t get two slices). Those slices were 1/4 of the amount we would have eaten had we ordered a whole pizza, but they hit the spot and satisfied the mental craving for something “naughty.”

Pizza can even be made to be healthy. Make the crust yourself, do it with whole grains, use 2% cheese, leave off salty sauces, use a lot of vegetables as toppings, use processed meats sparingly as accent flavors, not the main topping and you’ll be eating a reasonably healthy meal. Man cannot live on bread alone, but I’ll bet my life he could live on pizza if you made it right.

Success on a lifelong diet plan cannot be based on total restriction. You will break. EVERYONE will break. Modifying your behavior and making smart decisions can delay the breaking. And if you do it well, you may find that the small rewards of a slice every month or two is all the break you need to stay on track most of the time.

Barring some specific exceptions (like HFCS), foods are not the enemy. How we act around and about them – in otherwords us, ourselves – that’s the enemy, and that is the beast which must be tamed.

So…all those “wise” words aside? ALL I WANT NOW IS A DAMN CHEESEBURGER AND SOME PEPPERONI PIZZA. :)