Tag Archives: food

A slice of half-baked pie

It’s tricky being in the advice business, especially the “what is right to eat” one.  There are thousands of diet books enthusiastically embracing a “correct way to eat.”  I’ve read a few recently published, written by smart, educated, scientific minds, several with medical degrees — strongly advising us what we ‘should eat’ to be our healthiest, giving us our best chance to avoid disease.  They all agree on one thing:  we should be eating real whole food and avoiding highly processed (junk).  That makes sense to any dummy.  Eating an apple, they agree, is healthier than a Snickers bar.  Duh.  

Since we are all so “food group” conscious, what the books don’t agree on are the ideal proportions of those whole food groups.  Some are polar opposites over saturated fats, particularly from meats and dairy, whether they are good or harmful.  One camp exposes a strictly plant based diet, showing studies of how animal fats are directly related to our maladies.  Others point to similar studies showing why animal fats and good dairy may help cure them.  Some champion low fat in general.  Others high fat.  Some encourage whole grains, yet others endorse avoiding them.  There are loads of conflicting beliefs and recommendations.  How can smart, educated, studied, professionals be so at odds about what whole foods we should eat?  They all can’t be right.  Or can they?

We’ve all been somewhat dimwitted when it comes to what we’ve been sticking in our mouths over the last century as we’ve radically changed our diets away from natural whole to processed food.  We gain weight and have health problems, then try to reverse years of bad habits, so we listen to what we hope is smart advice.  The thing is, most well-intentioned smart, nutritional advice givers, dedicated to helping people, don’t really know what is the best formula for eating. They can only look at slices of the pie.

We know that our bodies are a collection of atoms, too numerous to put a number to.  We’ve learned that atoms join together to form molecules and that these molecules are in constant communication with each other.  Life at the molecular level is highly dynamic and interactive.  What we eat and breath, ends up communicating with our cells, made up of those molecules.  Throw in coded messages from our non-stop thoughts and the quality of sleep, and our internal systems, from brain to toes, are constantly buzzing with vibrant interactions.

In affect, the advice-business folks make blanket claims about what is good or bad with blinders on.  We are learning that our molecular messaging system is so complex that  effects are sometimes not known for decades, or even generations, leaving us little choice but to make assumptions by looking at slices.

As a complex species we are somewhat the same, but each with unique messaging systems.  Is there a “best diet” for everyone?  From a logical perspective it’s highly unlikely.  At the same time, what is also logical is that food (including the food’s source) which has been manipulated (altering the original intended message) is most probably sending less-than-desirable information to our cells, whether that food is processed, whole fruits and vegetables, or animal origin.

So a hearty thanks to those doing the hard research and giving sound advice, particularly those warning that vegetable oils and sugars are highly toxic.  At the same time, it might be helpful for certain advise givers to qualify their advice and offer caveats, that studies have limitations and that their advice may not be for everyone.  Anything less is a half-baked slice of delicious home-made pie.

We want it cheap

It’s natural for us to protect our hard earned cash by routinely searching for cheaper options — of anything.  Two product categories in which the competition has been overwhelming us with affordable (cheap) options enticing us to fork over our dough are food and clothes.

I was asked recently why apparel purchased in outlet shops tends to fall apart after a year or so.

We can make clothes so cheap we can almost give them away.

Clothing sold in outlet stores has become big business.  Once a place to unload liability inventory, most higher-end retailers have turned outlets into profitable retail chains, using lower cost (quality) products and stitching them in low-cost countries.  For all of us involved, the makers and consumers, it’s truly a race to the bottom, to the cheapest.

As in clothes, consumers have been demanding cheap food.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), industry is happy to oblige, thanks to capitalism and supply-side economics.

We’ve aggressively improved processes to make corn, meat, and tee shirts dirt cheap.  That means we look at each component in the production life-cycle and continually evaluate where/how more profit can be squeezed from less.  In almost all cases, we bastardize the original product.  You can safely bet that meat sold in a fast-food chain, whether beef, pork, chicken, or fish, is from animals who have suffered a miserable, production-controlled life.  Clothing made for outlet stores were designed to be sold, not to last a lifetime.  It’s a penny-pinching business. Good care and cheap don’t compliment each other in the race to the bottom.

An old girlfriend of mine, in the fashion business, had a surprisingly stark closet, yet she always looked up-to-date and sophisticatedly fashionable.  Her philosophy was to purchase well-made, high-end, classic pieces in a tight color range, mostly black and white.  She was able to combine all her pieces to make her wardrobe look much more expansive that it was.  She spent less on clothes at the end of the year than the average discount shopper.

Cheap clothes and cheap food are not bad, as long as our expectations are in line with the purchase price.  Our yen to buy lots of cheap clothes has provided jobs and contributed to raising the living standard for millions of Asians.  Our desire for cheap food, on the other hand, may satisfy our immediate taste buds and budget, but we’ll pay for that later, and chalk up the expense to another category called health care.