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in today's New York Times, titled Abundance Doesn't Mean Health.

Consider the following information, derived from Oxfam's "Good Enough to Eat" index rating of 125 nations:

The results for the United States make a fine case for American exceptionalism, though not in the way chauvinists will find pleasing.

We rank first in food affordability; food is cheap compared with other things we buy, and prices are relatively stable. We also rank highly (4th) in food “quality,” which is measured by (potential) diversity of diet, though access to good water is shockingly low (tied for 41st, about a third of the way down the list).

Then the hammer falls: When it comes to healthy eating as measured by diabetes and obesity rates, we’re 120th: sixth from the bottom, better off only than Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Fiji and our unlucky neighbor Mexico. (Canada fares a little better; it’s 18th worst.) We’re also in a tie (with Belarus and other powerhouses) for 35th in “enough to eat.” Really.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine having a food supply as abundant as ours and doing a worse job with it.

Please keep reading.

Bittman points out that what we grow does not necessarily turn into nutritious and health food:

- we grow corn for fuel
- we turn otherwise healthy food into junk food products
- we feed grains that should go to humans to meat-producing animals for whom it is not a natural food source (and which leads to many Americans eating far too much meat, with ensuing and expensive health problems associated with such a diet)

He also points out how we fail to get adequate distribution of food here with specific commentary on how SNAP does not reach all that it good.

We also do a horrible job of educating about food, with our financial support of such education being dwarfed by

the barrage of “fun to eat” ads for the food that is worst for us.
People do not learn how to cook, or even how to properly shop for food. And to that observation by Bittman I note that we still have too many food deserts in this country where access to healthy food is quite limited.

I am going to push fair use with two more snips, about each of which I will offer some additional commentary of my own.

There are also issues of economic justice and education, and all their complications, which is why talking about food and eating inevitably leads to talking about the structure of society.
I agree, but also point out that this is an indicator of ourneed to reexamine ALL of society, not attempting to address the myriad of issues in separate policy silos.  Bittman makes reference to education.  I talk about access to food.  This is also connected to health policy.  Think how much of our medical expense is related to unhealthy eating habits.  

But given how our economy is structured, for many people on the margins the only employment to which they have access is tied to aspects of that economy that produce these unhealthy situations.

And far too many profit handsomely from the perverse situation in which we find ourselves, and will push back with all their economic (which translates to political) power, regardless of what the costs are to society at large and to so many of us in that society.

This is also an issue of global importance, because we tend to forget that some of our inexpensive food is the result of economically and societally destructive policies imposed in developing nations, whether it is the production of fuel under circumstances that devastates the culture of indigenous people or the destruction of rain forests for the production of beef for the fast food market dominated by American corporations.

Bittman thinks our political priorities on addressing this are skewed, as he notes in his concluding paragraph:  

In the long run, what’s needed is not a Farm Bill — that tangled mess that’s been stalled in Congress since its expiration in 2012 — but a national food and health policy, one that sets goals first for healthful eating and only then determines how best to produce the food that will allow us to meet those goals. It doesn’t make sense to tell people to eat vegetables and then produce junk; that leads only to bad health in the face of evident abundance. What’s so great about that?
Yet the relevant cabinet department, that of Agriculture, does not have healthy eating as sole or necessarily even its primary mandate, although the current Secretary Tom Vilsack (who I note is a personal friend) has attempted to change the culture of the agency.  We need to remember that we are an agricultural exporter, that agriculture is big business, that there are unfortunately major corporations in the food industry who wield humongous influence over key Congressional figures.  Also, when we separate the production and cost of food from its health aspects, as to some degree we do by the way power and authority are distributed not only in the Executive Branch (HHS vs Agriculture) but also in Congress (think of committees in both chambers with overlapping authority), we do not necessarily wind up with the most sensible policy.

I am late in life.  I have the ability to choose a healthier diet.  I have the resources to purchase a varied and healthy diet, whether to cook for myself at home or when I eat out.

Far too many Americans do not have such choices available to them.

Poor health, obesity, diabetes, heart disease - these are but some of the concomitant results of the lack of that choice., something compounded by lack of understanding, and exacerbated by policies that advantage corporate profits for some over the well-being of society as a whole.

That does not even come close to including the costs imposed upon society at large - shortened life-spans, loss of productivity at work, absences from and inattention in school.

We are in some ways a very rich society.  That is, we have all kinds of wealth, including food and nutritional wealth.

We are an increasingly unequal society.  That wealth is concentrated, malapportioned, and used to perpetuate power and control on behalf of the few at the expense of society as a whole.

Bittman is right: Abundance Doesn't Mean Health.

I wonder when we will fully confront that and begin to make the changes our society so desperately needs?

Originally posted to teacherken on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 04:07 AM PST.

Also republished by Environmental Foodies.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Begin with Monsanto. (17+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 04:26:55 AM PST

    •  With Monsanto cronies Vilsack and Taylor in charge (6+ / 0-)

      of USDA and food safety, what can go wrong?

      "It was clear that any research would be in the nature of a post mortem." - Rachel Carson

      by todamo13 on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:47:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I quite agree... (4+ / 0-)

        since the USDA has made Monsanto et al responsible for testing their products and passing on their safety. Talk about outsourcing!

        Expecting anything good to come of national efforts to change this picture is rather hopeless. Here in my county, we are taking matters into our own hands.

        We are lucky to have a multitude of organic farmers who have worked hard over 40 years to provide local quality foods. Even with that concerted organized effort, our county still imports 98% of our food. That is a major public health danger since, in the event of an emergency where truck traffic is disrupted perhaps for weeks/months, the grocery selves will be empty in a few days.

        I will be writing about our local effort.

        We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

        by occupystephanie on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:12:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My daughter has many food sensitivities (15+ / 0-)

    She has Fructose Malabsorption and had to pull a number of items out of her diet. However, she continued to have a multitude of digestive and behavioral issues when eating. Through trial and error, I finally realized that she's sensitive to corn. The nutritionist told me that I'm screwed because corn is in about 90% of processed foods.

    I know that I shouldn't be buying processed food -- but she's 12. Sometimes she just wants something quick and wants to rip open a bag like all the other kids get to do. Even when I find something that uses pure cane sugar, it has some other corn product in it.

    My life has turned into food obsession. I spend my days searching for recipes that are fructose free, corn free, and wheat free. Oh, and looks like nut free now as well. And then I cook. Sigh.

    I'm increasingly dependent upon coconut flour and sugar and I've read that isn't so great for the environment either... Right now, I'm burying my head in the sand and pretending I never heard such a thing because my kid needs to eat.

    First the thing is impossible, then improbable, then unsatisfactorily achieved, then quietly improved, until one day it is actual and uncontroversial. ... It starts off impossible and it ends up done. - Adam Gopnik

    by theKgirls on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 04:44:53 AM PST

    •  are oats and/ or rice ok? (7+ / 0-)

      i used to make a lot of rice pudding. and instead of pie crusts, i'd make apple or fruit crisps with lots of oat crumble on top.

      To save time at dinner, I make big batches of rice and freeze it in small containers. Different kinds too- basmati with a little saffron, Spanish rice, etc.

      Is there any chance your daughter could outgrow any of the allergies?

      "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

      by thankgodforairamerica on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 05:03:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thankfully, it really is a sensitivity rather than (12+ / 0-)

        an allergy. It builds in her system -- if she eats something with dextrose one afternoon her stomach hurts, but her behavior won't be affected. But eat it again the next day and we see the effects.

        She also has pancreatic insufficiency, which means (so I've been told by her doctor) that her pancreas is in 95% failure. She'll never outgrow that and the doctor feels that it's unlikely she'll outgrow the food sensitivities since her system just doesn't process foods well.

        Corn is even in inhalers. She has atypical CF, but we couldn't use inhalers because one puff and she becomes homicidal and suicidal. OMIGOD. I just read that inhalers uses ethanol as the propellant. Her Pulmonologist prescribed a different system and she's finally able to treat her breathing problems. Seriously -- corn is in EVERYTHING.

        Oats seem okay, I think. My husband is allergic to rice, so that doesn't make it on to the menu very often. Bwahahaha! And my daughter cannot eat brown rice or other variants.

        The absolute worst thing about trying to buy packaged foods is manufacturers are allowed to use "natural flavoring" without specifying what that means. It could be corn, fructose, just anything. If you have actual food allergies processed foods can be downright dangerous.

        First the thing is impossible, then improbable, then unsatisfactorily achieved, then quietly improved, until one day it is actual and uncontroversial. ... It starts off impossible and it ends up done. - Adam Gopnik

        by theKgirls on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 05:31:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Does she like pumpkin pie? My pumpkin nog might (4+ / 0-)

          be the ticket for her, then. My version is low carb but you could use whatever sweetener works for her (I was a little puzzled by the combo of fructose malabsorption and dextrose problems - does the poor dear have both?)

          Low carb pumpkin nog (9+ / 0-)
          - 6 large eggs (I use raw but you can use the pasteurized if you prefer)
          - 2 cans (15 oz) pumpkin
          - 1 to 1 1/2 cup xylitol/Splenda
          - 1 tsp NaCl
          - pumpkin spice for two pies
          - several dashes of ground allspice if you like it
          - 10 to 15 oz unsweetened Silk

          Blend thoroughly with whisk or stick blender.

          This is very versatile. Lovely to drink off by itself, it can make a sumptuous addition to chai or coffee. It can be cooked for custard in custard cups. It's stable quite a while in the frig and freezes well too.

          I realize that I've posted this a few times, but it is really delicious, high in nutritional value, easy peasy and versatile.



          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:01:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The buildup effect is what I've experienced (4+ / 0-)

          with food sensitivities in my life, as well.  You may not feel it immediately, but a half day or even two later, if you've had enough concentration of sensitive ingredients in a certain timeframe, your health status will change and making the correct trigger association takes rigorous trial and error.

          Gastroenterologists  and nutritionists did not have insight to help me explore such a direction, though.  I'd been seeing such folks - and others - since four years old, but only decided to experiment with removing specific components from my diet after age 35, finally having given up on those professionals: they typically had a cookie-cutter approach to either disease symptoms or diet, with almost no consideration of interaction between the two.

          Natural flavoring is in almost none of our foods at home, for example - some processed foods are OK or only mildly issues with my system, others are relatively quick switches of worse symptoms.

          Yeah, corn is in everything - hope she becomes slightly less sensitive over time (i.e., it's happened to me for some items) and can find a stable, interesting diet which keeps her symptoms down.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:17:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  the corn list, online, find it (6+ / 0-)

      my (grown) daughter has a corn sensitivity. We cook from scratch. The corn list is full of people with the same problem. hard to diagnosed right. It causes migrains, acne and a whole bunch of other things.

      even anything with asorbic acid or vitamin c contains corns because they make it by growing black mold on a corn slurry, rather than the more expensive method of getting it from citrus.

      Maple sugar is generally safe.. and we have a new one demerara sugar/ florida crystals

      fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

      by mollyd on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 06:11:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I know it can be difficult (3+ / 0-)

      but have you considered a plant-based diet?  My husband and I switched last year.  It was difficult, but we did it.  We are late 50's, early 60's and my husband was a cowboy and raised beef all his life. Thus you can see it was a challenge.

      Animals get the nutrition from their food and eating animal products, we get 30% of that same nutrition.  By eating plant-based, you get 100% of the nutrition.  We are also not what we "vega-nazi's" because we give ourselves permission to eat some animal products on occasion and also are realistic to know there are animal products in things we might eat out or at a friend's house.  We figure we get 5% animal products a month, which is acceptable to us.

      Good luck.

      Human dignity + compassion = Peace (Anonymous)

      by Raggedy Ann on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 06:48:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do you have a Trader Joe's (5+ / 0-)

      in your area? They have lots of stuff in a bag that might be fine for your kids to eat as a snack- and they label their stuff well.

      My daughter shops there because it makes life a lot easier- higher quality food, no aisles full of crap, and you don't have to check labels for high fructose corn syrup because nothing they sell contains any.

    •  Bless you... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, corvo, FloridaSNMOM

      for working so hard for your daughter's health. Rest assured that effort will pay off in a better more healthy life for her.

      My 27-year-old daughter has sensitivities similar to your daughter. She has gone on a diet of non-gluten which means that she eats only organic food and has improved. What I learned last night watching the film Genetic Roulette is that her symptoms are likely to be related to the GMO foods I have been feeding her over the past 20 years--totally unaware that this was in her food.

      The GMO food can cause intestinal permeability so that undigested food in the gut makes it into the bloodstream where the body's immune system attacks it, leaving the person allergic to not only the GMO corn or soy but even the organic corn or soy.

      There is some evidence that this is reversible with the proper diet.

      We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

      by occupystephanie on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:22:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, we have a food problem all driven by (6+ / 0-)

    Corporate greed & aided by the evil GOP.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 05:53:54 AM PST

    •  I don't see Democrats in power (5+ / 0-)

      doing much to combat agribusiness.  And wait till we get a former Board member of Walmart in the White House!

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:24:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A great piece to read in conjunction with (11+ / 0-)

    Bittman's is this NYT piece on how American companies have engineered food to be literally addictive: http://www.nytimes.com/...

    In my book, it's a must read, but it will make your skin crawl.

    Thanks for sharing the Bittman piece. He's a personal hero of mine. He was also very supportive of Occupy, unlike most of his co-workers.

    •  I came to that conclusion from personal experience (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, gramofsam1, corvo

      When I got serious (again) about changing my diet I noticed that whenever I would drink soda or eat chips or oreos ... that I simply could not stop.  I would eat some of that junk, and 10 minutes later I'd be mindlessly opening the bag again.

      I truly believe (from personal experience) that these foods cause some sort of chemical dependency in how a body typically digests them.  It effects the hormones and precursors to metabolizing.

      Having been addicted to nicotine in the past, I understand how subtle chemical dependencies are.

      Some people might object to me calling an addiction to junk food a "chemical dependency".  But that's exactly what it would be.  Your body starts producing chemical signals when you eat the shit, and now it wants more.

      I would be interested in any research on this topic.  But I can tell you, I experienced this.  I won't eat that shit anymore, and I'm not at all overweight anymore either.

      Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

      by yet another liberal on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:34:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We eat WAY too much meat (6+ / 0-)

    It's causing our obesity problem in large part, along with the super-size culture and the overuse of HFCS and other processed grains and sugars.

    But, as you say, many lack the education or access to healthier foods, or the means to shop and eat healthier.  The unhealthy food is cheaper and easier to find, which also needs to be addressed before any progress is made.

    •  We eat way too much meat, but... (4+ / 0-)

      it's not the meat that causes obesity, it's the fat. Animals are raised in factory-type settings, with no space to move about or to rest, and are fed (virtually force-fed, really) mostly corn and soybeans  (which are not their natural foods), all to put as much weight as possible on the animal in the shortest period of time. The fat in animals produced this way lacks conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and is high in bad (LDL) cholesterol.  If you eat a diet high in this kind of fat plus sugar and starch you will get fat.

      Animals that are raised naturally, with a varied diet as they would have in nature, and that are allowed to roam pastures grow more slowly, put on less fat, and the fat they do put on is high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is good for you. You can eat as much of this type of meat as you want and actually lose weight as long as you consume only complex carbohydrates very low in sugar and starch.

      "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

      by Involuntary Exile on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:45:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Meat consumption and obesity are linked (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo

        Whether from increased intake of fat associated with meat, or the increased calories that people eating a high-meat diet consume, or the replacement of vegetables and grains with meat in a high-meat diet, there is no doubt that there is a direct correlation between a high-meat diet and obesity.  Don't take my word for it, try the International Journal of Obesity, a peer reviewed medical journal:

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/...

        While there are surely other factors as well, such as portion sizes and excessive sugar, eating too much meat (of whatever quality) is directly correlated with weight gain.  Our country needs to dramatically cut back on meat consumption.  In addition to being healthier, it is better for the environment as well.  No-brainer, really.

        •  That survey is flawed. (3+ / 0-)

          This is their definition of meat is as follows:

          The different meats and meat products were grouped into the following: total meat (including all animal source food), red meat, poultry, seafood and other meat products. For example, red meat was the sum of beef, pork, lamb, veal and game. Poultry included chicken, turkey, duck and other poultry. Seafood included fish and shellfish. Other meat products included frankfurter and sausage, organ meats and food mixtures, mainly composed of meat, poultry and fish. For simplicity, we call the combined meat groups ‘all meat’ in contrast to all plant source food.
          They fail to distinguish between grass-fed/-finished and concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) derived meat.

          One is straight from pasture to plate, the other fattened on a diet of corn and grains before it makes it to a plate. There's a huge difference in fat quantity and quality between the two.

          They also don't differentiate between the cuts and kind of red meat. For instance, ground chuck is much different than a lean top sirloin when it comes to fat content. Or how it is prepared for that matter. A fatty New York seared in and topped with butter would be a lot different than a broiled flank.

          I mean, they seem to be asking whether or not someone had some red meat on a given day, and assuming a certain energy intake based on the answer. Was it a McDonald's Big Mac? Or a boneless rib eye? Corn-finished or grass-finished? Cooked in a pan or over a flame? I don't see that they distinguish.

          In any case, you are correct that Americans eat way too much meat. It's cheap (if it comes from a CAFO), you can drive past a window and have it ready for you, and they sell it ground with lots of fat in 5 lb. packages these days.

          People just want fast, cheap and convenient which is way it is predicted that in the near future 70% of all beef sales will be ground. The industrialization of animal husbandry, the most indignant form of food production.

          Every once in a while meat consumption is fine. Just choose wisely. Buy it from a local producer that brags about his/her environmental stewardship.


          "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

          by Pescadero Bill on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:11:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I blame the super-size culture more. The (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, Pescadero Bill, FloridaSNMOM

      McDonald's hamburger was the small patty found in today's Happy Meal. I was in college when the Quarter Pounder was first introduced. That was way more meat than the original patty.

      The original McDonald's meal was a regular hamburger, fries (what we now call small), and a drink, which only came in two sizes neither of which were bigger than today's small. Is it any wonder America is fat?

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:46:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's true that we eat too much meat, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gramofsam1, corvo

      thanks to the awful industrial feedlot CAFO system that turns subsidized cheap junk food (corn) into cheap low-quality meat and dairy products.

      But it's carbs and sugar that make Americans fat.  Eating protein and saturated fat don't make you fat, and (in addition to being necessary for health) help you actually feel satisfied so you don't overeat.  Carbs and fructose, on the other hand, make you leptin-resistant so that you never feel satisfied (in addition to causing inflammation and chronic disease).

      Fructose especially causes obesity, because 80% of it immediately goes to your liver to be turned into body fat.  So you have to put a lot of the blame on soda, since that is loaded with fructose.

      That being said, we need to obliterate the feedlot CAFO animal 'production' model and get the animals back on pasture.  Corn feeding in a concentration camp environment is horrible both for the animals involved and for our health.

      "It was clear that any research would be in the nature of a post mortem." - Rachel Carson

      by todamo13 on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:06:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I followed the link to Oxfam's site (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    but didn't see the ranking on water.  I have never been anywhere in the world where safe water was readily available for free as it is in the US.

    •  Oxfam hides all the good stuff (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Involuntary Exile

      behind a paywall.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:25:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My niece and her husband (8+ / 0-)

    are exhibit A for abundance not equalling health. They have lots of money, they have two houses with big kitchens.
    Both kitchens have stacks of cases of soda, cases of diet soda (which I cannot convince her is just as bad), boxes and bags of terrible food. She can't fit it all in her zillion cabinets.

    She was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and so was her 18 year old son- the 15 year old is probably not far behind. She's supposed to see a nutritionist but keeps avoiding it.

    Lots of money, access to everything, and plenty of evidence that she's ruining her kids' health, but nothing changes.

    •  Addiction (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gramofsam1, Involuntary Exile, corvo

      It only took me 45 years, I've come to the conclusion that my eating habits have a lot more to do with addiction than they do with reasoned choices.  

      I lost more than 100 pounds in the last few years, and have put back on 40.  During the gain time, I've struggled with out-of-control eating.  I know I don't need it, I'm not hungry, I know it will cause weight gain, I know I will not be satisfied, I know I cannot control it... and I overeat anyway.  

      It's a daily battle for control.  If I severely restrict trigger foods such as simple carbs (any bread, even whole wheat, is a trigger), I can maintain control.  But it's incredibly difficult.

      Food manufacturers and restaurant chains know that the trifecta of fat, sugar, and salt set off the reward/addiction centers of our brains.  They craft their products with "cravability" in mind.  

      In my case, it has nothing to do with what I can or can't afford, it's battling a lifetime of disordered eating.

      We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

      by Tracker on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:42:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you're right- there is a deliberate (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tracker, Crider, corvo

        intent to manufacture foods that will create cravings. And apparently it's been quite successful.  

        My niece is 16 years younger than I am, but our diets growing up were very different. When I was a kid we ate pretty healthy stuff, and if we had soda it was only occasionally, not part of everyday life. She grew up when processed foods were becoming all the rage, and her mom hated to cook so she jumped right on that bandwagon (and now she has diabetes too).

        I was just looking at the picture of my 50th (yikes) high school reunion- everyone was pretty much just as slim as they were in high school. I think the food we grew up with is a big part of that.

  •  there is a geography of food as well (6+ / 0-)

    i live in a poor/working class neighborhood (jersey city nj) which happens to be very close to more well off areas (hoboken for instance....).

    I can walk to mcdonalds, kfc, subway, 3 pizza places, about 5 liquor stores and several bodegas and 2 or 3 low grde supermarkets. if i want organic, i have to drive to hoboken...or take two buses there. i can also drive 20 minutes to whole foods. but i can only get low quality stuff in my actual neighborhood.

    the distribution f the availability of food is part of the problem. and its not a money issue. the prices in the grocery stores and bodegas--many of whose costumers are on food stamps...are higher than the better stocked supermarkets in driving distance.

    many folks round here dont own cars. part of the advantage of living in jersey city is being to survive without a car. but no car means limited food access since better sources arent in the neighborhood.

    better food education might make marketing better food to lower income neighborhoods more effective. but as it stands now, education wont do enough if the supplies arent available in the neighborhoods

    I cant tell if its a West End musical or Marxism in action.

    by Evolution on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:39:25 AM PST

    •  Sounds like yo ulive in a food desert, as (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, corvo, FloridaSNMOM

      teacherken described in the diary.
      This is one of those issues that gets so little attention, but really need to be part of the main solution.

      I understand Fresh and Easy had a goal to server under-served areas, and include real food on their shelves.

      I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong. Seldom turns out the way it does in this song.

      by mungley on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:08:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. Thank you. Bittman is awesome. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, FloridaSNMOM

    We use his "how to cook everything" almost daily.

    I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong. Seldom turns out the way it does in this song.

    by mungley on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:04:46 AM PST

  •  What the world eats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    Your diary reminds me of this.

    Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio traveled the world documenting that most basic of human behaviors — what we eat. Their project, “Hungry Planet,” depicts everything that an average family consumes in a given week–and what it costs — laid out in thought-provoking detail. Their results will be exhibited by The Nobel Peace Center to give viewers a peek into kitchens from Norway to Kuwait, and to raise awareness about how environments and cultures influence the cost and calories of the world’s dinners.
    Check out the link and take a look at the photos!
  •  Confusion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crider, FloridaSNMOM

    31 Comments in, in this one thread, people have individually asserted that:

    1. Eating meat makes you fat
    2. No, fat makes you fat
    3. No, carbs and sugars make you fat.
    4. No, fructose from HFCS makes you fat.

    No wonder people are confused.

    "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

    by nightsweat on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:54:54 AM PST

    •  They all make you fat (0+ / 0-)

      Fast food contains all four in each and every bite. Me, I subscribe to the whole foods, plant based diet. It works for Bill Clinton and it works for me. I only wish I had eaten like this for years and years instead of starting so recently.

      "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

      by Crider on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:12:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're right it can be confusing- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM

      and there is evidence that all of the above is bad for you (and too much of any of it probably is).
      But maybe there are clues in the obesity rates in other countries- for instance the obesity rate in France has doubled, and is especially high among young people. The analysis seems to suggest that junk food is the culprit.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...

  •  Bring back Home Economics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1

    And unlike in my day in the Paleozoic era, make it mandatory for all students.

    Good eating habits have to be taught because society in general encourages us to eat poorly and time constraints encourage us to wolf down something that is prepared commercially.  Eating well isn't expensive and it isn't overly time consuming but you do have to have a bit of knowledge in how to put together a nutritious and satisfying meal.

    •  only problem with that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM

      is that even in the heyday of Home Ec, such courses and programs were little more than indoctrination centers for the likes of General Foods, General Mills, Kellogg, etc. etc. etc.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:43:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll take your word for it (0+ / 0-)

        And I can see where there would be a financial incentive for schools and corporate interests to do that.

        But there isn't anything preventing schools from developing courses designed to teach how to cook healthy food, even incorporating some processed food.

        •  ideally, yes, (0+ / 0-)

          and at the local level you might actually manage to exert some control.  But expect the USDA and the Feds to try to thwart you at every turn, because they represent agribusiness and corporate food products.

          I'm reminded of the huge and ultimately losing battle Jamie Oliver fought to get decent food into a few local school lunch programs here a few years back . . .

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:56:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wealth and access to FOOD (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    Education is so key here along with a way to hit the key motivators to change. Like most addictions, and diets rich in processed modified filler 'food' are truly difficult to alter until like other drugs one hits a true life crisis.  Yet even a diagnosis of diabetes is not enough to beat and perhaps in many cases that is a result of lack of access to true "FOOD" as well environmental cues,cultural factors and $.

    But lets be clear here, Many of the world's richest cultures and individuals continue to maintain diets which are not only unhealthy for them but disastrous for the health of the planet.  Just using organic foods and Rockie Chickens and expensive cuts of meat are not the solution here.  The finest restarurants continue to serve veal, lamb, steaks, creamed spinach and offer bread whose gluten is poisening and inflaming the digestive systems and brains of people regardless of their economic status.

    Will read the piece,

    RIP Nelson Mandela

    by boatsie on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:24:01 AM PST

  •  Moderation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, gramofsam1, FloridaSNMOM

    Just like your mother may have told you.

    One occasional dessert or steak or bag of chips won't harm you. It's the idea of eating meat 3 times a day and dessert with lunch and dinner plus supersized processed snacks.

    We in this country tend to base our diets on what should be occasional foods while relegating to sidelines what should be the foundation.

    BTW, on supersizing. I bake and I have a lot of cookbooks from various eras. Up to about the 1980s a standard cake recipe for layer cake was made using 2 8" round pans. Then a standard cake recipe began using two 9" round pans. By the beginning of this century recipes used two 9" round pans with 2" high sides (previously cake pans had 1 1/2" sides). So the volume of cake kept getting bigger, and that was assuming the recipe stuck with two layers and not three, but the number of servings per cake remained the same. I actually have 3 sets of cake pans to conform to recipes in cookbooks from so many decades.

  •  Sad Commentary Indeed (0+ / 0-)

    The question raised at the end is distressing.  Not because of the question but because of the reality we see around us.

    I doubt that people who value money and profit over the priorities of health and a viable eco-system are capable of seeing the error of their judgment.

    It seems to me our way of life is destined to consume us just as we have consumed the life of the earth.

    "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," Allen Ginsberg

    by Hermenutic on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 10:30:19 AM PST

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