“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
Foers 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.
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.
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?
Inconvenient truth about convenient food.
Al Gore intended his “inconvenient truth” phrase for environmental concerns, yet a better pairing of words couldn’t be created to describe the nature of truth about most things. Food is no exception. The truth about food is incredibly inconvenient. Diet causes disease. Diet can also stop, reverse and prevent disease too.
It’s no mystery that the majority of Americans maintain a poor diet. We continue to eat the foods that we grew up with out of habit. Fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, candy bars, and the like. The way our Standard American Diet (SAD) has formed is complex, cultural, and unfortunately, convenient for everyone except those who consume it. Our food makes us sick. Deviation from the SAD can be, and usually is, viewed as pathological, or weird.
For example, Americans equate Thanksgiving with turkey. Who wouldn’t want turkey on Thanksgiving? Is it really worth forgoing social responsibility for social comfort? Most would vote no. Yet, once informed about factory farming’s environmental impact and about the effects of animal protein on cancer promotion, more people might at least consider a change. The point is not to give up turkey on Thanksgiving, the point is that our culture makes us feel like we are missing out on a holiday without a specific meat. Given the complex dynamic of Thanksgiving, I think so much focus on one aspect of the meal is absurd. Whether you agree with me or not, Thanksgiving is a strong example of how Americans feel obligated and compelled to buy and eat what we are told. (Turkey was actually not involved in the first Thanksgiving).
The more information you begin to gather about the SAD and the information (not truth) that we are fed about it, the more you realize how deeply diet is culturally ingrained within us. How long we’ve been misinformed so others can profit from our ignorance. Personally, the more I find out, the more I feel more confident in my own decisions. This is a direct relationship where two factors increase in tandem. (Thought: can a direct relationship that is knowledge reverse the inverse relationship that is misinformation?)
It is really hard to change what you eat. I can vouch for that. A lifestyle change may seem impractical, expensive, and is potentially isolating. I have to ask you though, what family diseases are you at risk for? My family has heart disease, diabetes and cancer on both sides. Is it more impractical for me to make a slow but steady lifestyle change or for me to be at risk for open heart surgery, blindness, loss of limbs, or chemotherapy? Medical intervention is costly and doesn’t always work. What is more expensive, paying for good food and my health now or for procedures later in life that insurance won’t cover? Dramatics aside, there is no denying the element that almost every disease is 100% preventable. I want to live as long and healthily as I can. All it takes is research and choice.
I am writing this blog for many reasons. However, I am not writing to make you a vegan. I want to share my personal discoveries with the people I care about. I hope my blog can serve as a referral for when you would like to make healthy choices or positively influence people that you care about. I want this information to be helpful when you not only want to know the “whats,” but also the “whys.” I hope to inspire people to start doing their own research and really look hard at what they eat and the impact of eating.
One of the most fascinating and empowering things I’ve ever learned on the subject is that every choice and bite we take imply a slew of political, environmental, economical and cultural stances. Isn’t it incredible? Food is all of these things, and we are food. You are what you eat is a literal truth.
Food safety and security is my career path that I get excited about everyday. All my posts will be made with careful thought and transparency, especially in providing my resources for everyone to investigate matters further. I present truths that I find and believe in, but also recognize humbly that there is no way I can claim any absolutes. I welcome all contributors and comments and hope for a lively exchange of intelligent opinions both personal and academic. I do ask that all posts and comments be met with respect and consideration.