Sunday, July 5, 2009

Healthcare Reform and Our Food System

The headlines are discouraging – ‘Obesity rates soar among boomers,’ ‘Serious ailments in our health-care debate.’ Somehow things don’t change.

I wrote this letter to the Blade 3 years ago:
"I am disappointed that the Blade is promoting the misleading recommendation that a low fat diet is still best. True, if you follow a low fat diet, you avoid the troublesome fats, like trans fats and highly refined vegetables oils that are too high in omega-6 fats while short in valuable omega-3’s, and you limit the high calorie feed-lot fattened meat that is lacking in omega-3’s, vitamin E and antioxidants that are found in good pasture raised meat. But you can still fill up on white bread, low fat cookies and ice cream, leaving you short on many vitamins and minerals, while lacking the good fats that leave you satisfied and supply essential fat soluble vitamins. The real secret is to avoid highly processed and refined foods, but watch the sparks fly from the food industry when you say that! If you eat old fashioned whole foods in moderation – fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy from pastured animals, butter, whole grains properly prepared, you’d do well. The notion that saturated fats are not good for you is based on bad science, however much you see that repeated. After all mother’s milk is high in saturated fat! But the company that saturated fat often keeps just makes it seem bad by association."

So what do I see in today’s Blade – a recipe for ‘Creamy Caramelicious Milksicles’ from that "expert" authority, the National Dairy Council. What does it contain? Low fat milk, sugar, cornstarch, and caramel topping – 20% of low fat calories from milk and 80% from highly processed and refined foods of little nutritional value! It works out to about 125 calories each milksicle, containing a measly quarter cup of milk, missing the valuable nutrients in the cream, and leaving you hungry for sure for something more satisfying. The typical dietitian response – ‘kids need the calories.’ My response – those kids need the calories and nutrients in real foods. We have no idea what the long term consequences of such empty calories will be, though the research of Dr. Weston A. Price revealed that when previously healthy isolated groups of people started eating Western refined foods they developed cavities, crooked teeth and a host of other health problems. What a shame that Dr. Price’s research has been ignored (suppressed?) in our modern world of commercial foods.

Why is that? A thumbs-up review of "The Liberation Diet" in the new issue of the Wise Traditions Journal gives a clue: "About one hundred years ago Carnegie and Rockefeller, who had a large vested interest in pharmaceuticals, established the accreditation system for medical schools. Only schools teaching a pharmaceutical approach to medicine received accreditation. Before that there was plenty of competition from natural, homeopathic and nutritional approaches." I can see signs of that same heavy handed influence in the world of dietetics. The milksicles of dubious value are the result. Healthcare reform will never succeed if we don’t also somehow reform the food system.

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