Don’t feed the models: Obesity, Part 1

Note to the reader — Be sure to click on both pictures and words with hyperlinks, they lead to sites that provide evidence and expand further on the subject. 

“Obesity is the terror within. It is destroying us, destroying our society from within. And unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9/11 or any other terrorist event that you can point out to me.”  

— Dr Richard Carmona, US Surgeon General 2002-2008

112,000 > 28

These numbers speak for themselves. Americans are in the middle of a battle far more lethal on our home turf, with very real death tolls. We’re not funding just one war, but two. Our tax money goes towards the many causes of our health epidemic.

The obesity crisis is deeply rooted within our country. I almost favor calling it a conundrum instead of a crisis because of how convoluted the issue has become with equally evasive solutions. Who do we blame? The government? The food industry? Ourselves? Biology? Is it nobody’s fault?

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Dig In

Hostess with the leastest.

If you’ve ever hosted dinner, you know that there can be snags. Maybe you’re short on fish filets because someone brought their super-secret-surprise significant other who nobody knew about. You graciously give up your comfy seat and end up on that one spare uncomfortable stool sans fish, now a head higher than the rest of your guests, eating in your lap. They indulge in both your filet and each other’s faces. Or, that cake stuck to the inside of the oven from a baking incident involving a too-small bread pan for that luscious batter? It burned, permeating your subsequent oven project of the night with a heavy, smoky flavor. Which wouldn’t have been unfortunate, if you hadn’t been baking chocolate chip cookies. Which you were.

All these pale in comparison, however to the horror instilled by these three words, “I’m a vegetarian.” (Substitute “vegan,” if desired. Then multiply the following reaction by about three times.)

"Vegetarian?!"

Hitchcock couldn’t begin to cover this moment

Oh no! What do you do!? Do you run out and get last-minute soy-based imitation meat? Morning Star or Boca brand? Seitan or tempeh? What’s the difference? Do you play it cool and heap extra servings of the side dish onto the vegetarian’s plate and hope they get the hint? How offended is this person by others eating meat? Are you expected to ask about their dietary choice and force smiles and nod while you are regaled with an underhanded holier-than-thou bildungsroman? You make sure to sit in the chair that faces the TV.

It can be awkward to have someone like this in your dinner party. The idea of this person might make you triple check everyone’s dietary preferences before sending out invitations. Maybe you have a friend like this and stash veggie meats in your freezer, just in case. Maybe you don’t, because one dinner with them was enough. Why does the idea or reality of eating in the company of a vegetarian make so many people uncomfortable, even in the absence of verbal controversy? 

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The Basics

“It’s always possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.”

Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan’s point? If you want to know the truth, you have to be willing to listen to it with open arms, rather than with arms crossed. The truth isn’t always what you’re expecting. It may not always be easy to listen to.

Advocatetaste’s Mission

I am writing to advocate the truth about our food and to advocate taste, both physical and discerning. My intended reader is someone who, like me, knows something is not quite right with the food industry and feels we’re not being told everything. If you’re here, you’re sincerely interested in understanding the personal, political, cultural, and economic implications of the intimate act that is eating. So am I. My intent is to give shape to the suspicions that our intuitions have grasped in the midst of staggering amounts of misinformation. I’d like to compile a guide that can assist you in separating truth from lies in the food industry.

Results of a government agency doing its job, both regulating and promoting industry.

Two puzzling contradictions

1. Despite our evolving technology, and the safety in food and better healthcare we’d think it would bring, we are getting sicker.

2. More food is available now than at any time in history, yet we are nutritionally malnourished.

One way to characterize these contradictions among us is by invoking the idea of the inverse relationship.  Simple enough. Two correlated factors affect each other in such a way that the two are driven to increase or decrease in opposite directions. I am not suggesting that any of these facts causes the other, as correlation does not necessarily indicate causation. The simultaneous coexistences of these contradictions, however, reveal a grim irony that we face every single time we eat or reach for medication. These conflicting relationships are anything but simple, and seem to go against our logic. What is happening? Why is it happening? Where are the regulators?

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