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Eating "food" again


lperry
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I'm currently reading Thomas Pawlick's "The End of Food", and learning more about what Pollan mentions briefly in his article: that item by item, the foodstuffs grown commercially in the US (tomatoes, potatoes, etc.) have been found in regular testing by the USDA to contain approximately 25-30% less nutrition (vitamins, minerals, fiber) than when they were tested at each previous ten-year interval. 

Funny. I bookmarked a general news story on related research some time ago: Fruits, vegetables not as nutritious....

Yet, cf. Pollan's remarks concerning problems in nutritional research, especially when it comes to isolating sources of nutrition. In a brief article, he does not delve very deep into what he tries to demonstrate: vitamins, etc. are cultural constructs, not natural phenomena. We've invented the idea of nutrients, based on cultural understandings of food that shift over time. I'll leave this issue to those with more comprehensive scientific training...for the moment.

You know, the comment that Hathor made about smacking herself upside the head isn't exactly self-affirming, but it's something to keep in mind when we're all pointing to conflicting evidence to support oppositional POVs.

The concept of "complexity" (see Pollan's article) is critical when thinking about historical changes in the way we eat. Not only does a single individual hanker after a Whopper (at the very least, go to a decent Johnny Rocket outlet, please) and a pile of microgreens, but there is no such thing as a single, monotonous string of complementary food trends within a given family, graduating class of Junior High, generation, city or nation.

At the same time that Moms stopped baking birthday cakes from scratch, and a home-baked cake decorated with canned frosting is treated with more respect than a store-bought one from Safeway, more and more people are buying fewer to zero cans of green beans. It may be a status symbol among the moneyed in McMansions (irony intentional) as opposed to the antimaterialistic hippies on communes, but fresh bunches of leafy greens are hot now.

There are more varieties of fresh, healthy and healthful plants to eat than ever before, in more and more venues despite the traditional ones long gone.

"Ripe, strawberries ripe!" No one is hawking produce on horse-drawn carts in low/no-income neighborhoods and we've talked about our failures to buy the flavorful berries we recall from our youths, even at the farmers market far from suppliers to Driscoll's. Yet, we have quinces, persimmons, mangoes, Tuscan kale, golden beets and raddichio.*

Someone who has never eaten Lean Cuisine before is buying chard. Someone who is eating Lean Cuisine still hasn't seen chard down in the neighborhood store and never cooked a fresh vegetable in his life. If the chard's there, she's not having anything that strange and unfamiliar, but will pick up a bag of frozen spinach, right next to the Lean Cuisine, instead. And yes, someone else is picking up Stouffer's Mac & Cheese, Lean Cuisine, a big bunch of chard and two pounds of pork belly during the same round of grocery shopping.

We are a complex people living in an age of complexity.

* * *

We're also a bunch of North Americans. I wonder what the folk from other countries make of the article and whether it applies to their lives.

*ETA: I meant to give credit to maggiecat for making this point on the first page of this thread.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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"But it's so interesting that you said 45 minutes of weights. Dude, it did not work and believe me, I was pissed. It's the whole insulin thing and glycemic index and the being 50."

well, the latter can certainly be a factor.  It can prevent you from working out with sufficient intensity.  From what I've seen, most people who lift for the cardio/caloric-reduction benefits don't lift anywhere near heavy enough....or do enough compound lifts.

Good point. I sweated wrong three times a week for a year. My bad. :rolleyes:

Isn't muscle mass heavier than fat? Seems I remember that from son's lifting in high school and college.

Well yeah, but 185 to 199 is far outside the body mass index for me at 5'8". I think like 164 is the max. Something like that.

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John, you are consistent in your defense of large agribusiness in this topic and elsewhere. One of the reasons many are so distrustful of them is that their raison d'etre is profit and not altruism. Of course not as that is what business is. If the nature of the business were to look for long-term profits and sustainability over short term gains and maximizing current profits for stakeholders, concerns would be much less. However, they are responsible to current stakeholders and maximizing current and near-term profits potentially at the expense of later generations. In addition the stakes are huge. Is it any wonder that so many are suspicious of their motives and their actions? It is not as if big business in general has historically cared for anything other than profits. That is not to say that big business is evil or hasn't contributed great things to the world or even that what large agribusiness is doing and has done is necessarily wrong or not good. At least some of it probably is. Sometimes the interests of big business and the rest of the world do intersect, but their motives must constantly be scrutinized.

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this is getting off-topic so I won't post again on the working out part, but:

"Isn't muscle mass heavier than fat? Seems I remember that from son's lifting in high school and college. "

pedantically, it's not heavier...it's denser. but that's what you meant.

sure, some enormously strong male lifters can weigh quite a bit and be in shape. women (except for a few genetic--almost hermaphrodite exceptions) don't have the hormonal capability to put on much muscle mass...

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John, you are consistent in your defense of large agribusiness in this topic and elsewhere. One of the reasons many are so distrustful of them is that their raison d'etre is profit and not altruism. Of course not as that is what business is. If the nature of the business were to look for long-term profits and sustainability over short term gains and maximizing current profits for stakeholders, concerns would be much less. However, they are responsible to current stakeholders and maximizing current and near-term profits potentially at the expense of later generations. In addition the stakes are huge. Is it any wonder that so many are suspicious of their motives and their actions? It is not as if big business in general has historically cared for anything other than profits. That is not to say that big business is evil or hasn't contributed great things to the world or even that what large agribusiness is doing and has done is necessarily wrong or not good. At least some of it probably is. Sometimes the interests of big business and the rest of the world do intersect, but their motives must constantly be scrutinized.

Doc

I know quite a few farmers (and ex farmers).

Everyone should feel good about their work.

I also know many people who work for large corporations and feel just as good about what they do. A lot of folks who work for Monsanto for example should be proud of the work the company is doing to alleviate hunger.

Are they any less (or more) "noble" than a farmer? Let's remember that all corporations are people.

I feel this is a silly game of tit for tat--who's the noblest of them all.

I have no particular stake in defending large corporations. It is difficult to assess each persons criteria Few of us do any work purely for enjoyment so money is most always an issue whether you work in the fields or in a field (chosen or otherwise).

Truth be told I am more suspicious of the self righteous. I can deal with the capitalist--I understand the game--I benefit--they get my money. I am a bit unsure of the altruist--but the situation is the same--if they make a good product I like--I buy it. Either way, I respect the result of their hard work--why they do it is up to them.

I also believe that starry eyed altruistic people leaving the big city rat race for the simple life and a chance to serve mankind aside--much of the artisinal farming today is a result of serious professional farmers who have turned to these crops and products from less profitable one's. (I know personally both types of folks). Even the most altruistically motivated people are in the game for money to a certain extent--no one is giving products or labor away for free (ok Mayor Bloomberg works for a dollar a year).

Who do I trust most--someone who is motivated to produce the best quality product for whatever reasons. I simply don't ask and don't care. If it's to make a lot of money great! (outside of Wall Street--I really don't know many people who work hard for only money and remotely enjoy what they do. There are always trade offs.

You make some very good points. I always read your posts carefully. I don't really disagree with you--I think we are looking at the same issue a bit differently here.

John, I respect your opinions and posts, which is one reason I engage with them. i also agree that for the vastest part of this topic we are not really disagreeing. My point on the farmers wass not whether that is "nobler" than anything, just that the profit motive is not very high on the list of what makes someone want to be a small farmer. Of course, they are better off growing things that will sell and off which they can make a living. I also don't mean to impugn anyone who works for Monsanto or any other specific business. They are all doing a job. sometimes, though I think the job itself may be an issue though and whether or not it considers my or anyone else's long-term best interests as opposed to the job's. Sometimes it can be an issue of self-righteousness. Sometimes not as for opposition. I am also not anti-capitalist. i am all for making a profit and think the market is often a good way and often the best way for things to sort themselves out. When things get too big, however, sometimes the market economy gets left behind. In any case I enjoy your posts when we joust and also when we agree. :smile:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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John, you are consistent in your defense of large agribusiness in this topic and elsewhere. One of the reasons many are so distrustful of them is that their raison d'etre is profit and not altruism. Of course not as that is what business is. If the nature of the business were to look for long-term profits and sustainability over short term gains and maximizing current profits for stakeholders, concerns would be much less. However, they are responsible to current stakeholders and maximizing current and near-term profits potentially at the expense of later generations. In addition the stakes are huge. Is it any wonder that so many are suspicious of their motives and their actions? It is not as if big business in general has historically cared for anything other than profits. That is not to say that big business is evil or hasn't contributed great things to the world or even that what large agribusiness is doing and has done is necessarily wrong or not good. At least some of it probably is. Sometimes the interests of big business and the rest of the world do intersect, but their motives must constantly be scrutinized.

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It's more than just "eat your vegetables." I have been following this piece of Pollan's advice for my own family for quite some time:

7. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.  Confounding factors aside, people who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than we are. Any traditional diet will do: if it weren’t a healthy diet, the people who follow it wouldn’t still be around.
moving us away from the food culture of my youth with it's Cream of Mushroom soup, frozen vegetables, and endless casseroles, to more seasonal ingredients, good bread and cheese, wine with meals, and yes, less processed food.

(The food culture I chose to emulate is mostly French. Feel free to talk smack about me over in this thread. :wink: )

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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...

As for the Pollan piece. He goes through a lot of writing to reach a conclusion that "we should eat our vegetables"

millions of grandmas and mothers should be splitting up the money that Pollan has been making offering this wisdom!

That's what I think!

:wink:

Yes! It is very simpler, practical advice! The other parts he emphasizes besides eating more fruits and vegetables is to have smaller portions overall and less processed food products*.

"Eat (real) food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Although simple and full of common sense, it is very easy to lose sight of this very normal (not too long ago) approach to eating.

*I think one can figure out what he means by "processed" foods in the article.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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It's more than just "eat your vegetables."  I have been following this piece of Pollan's advice for my own family for quite some time:
7. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.  Confounding factors aside, people who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than we are. Any traditional diet will do: if it weren’t a healthy diet, the people who follow it wouldn’t still be around.
moving us away from the food culture of my youth with it's Cream of Mushroom soup, frozen vegetables, and endless casseroles, to more seasonal ingredients, good bread and cheese, wine with meals, and yes, less processed food.

(The food culture I chose to emulate is mostly French. Feel free to talk smack about me over in this thread. :wink: )

I was being a bit facetious.

I wouldn't make assumptions about other cultures being healthier. It is not that simple.

For eg the Japanese get a different set of diseases than we do. Just going on life expectancy is a bit more complicated as well. There are so many factors in addition to diet that impact how long and how well we live.

Comparisons are difficult--America is a geographically very large and diverse country. maybe one of the few places where one can eat such a wide range of foods and chose italian or french or Chinese or..

Pollan is a thinker. I do not always agree with his process or his perceptions but I do agree with many of his conclusions.

We can have large farms and small farms, organic and non organic, processed foods and natural foods. Each has upsides and downsides. I think they all bring something to the table.

We need to look carefully at people who profess to have all the answers and especially when they get our attention with messages of doom and gloom.

If we have choices we can make them based on moderation, common sense and what works for each of us and our families.

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[

Although simple and full of common sense, it is very easy to lose sight of this very normal (not too long ago) approach to eating. 

But I wonder if is that we have lost sight or that we would prefer another, easier, approach.

I think, speaking generally, we want a magic bullet: eat whatever you want but take a multi-vitamin, or eat whatever you want and drink this magic potion, eat whatever you want, except carbs, etc, etc. Isn't that what diet claims are all about - eat whatever you want and still lose weight.

Maybe for not the people here but, speaking of the overall North American population, I understand that convenience and health are the two big food industry themes. I think many people would like to combine the two with the assistance of food scientists, not in a traditional diet which many would find very inconvenient.

Cheers,

Anne

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Yes, I think that everybody actually can figure out what he means by 'processed'.

If there's anybody who can't, try this exercise the next time you're in the supermarket. Pick up a package of Hamburger Helper, or Stouffer's Lean Cuisine, and then find a bag of Celentano Cheese Ravioli and compare the ingredients list. The cheese ravioli are made with normal pasta dough, with a filling of cheese and eggs, the same as you'd make at home and freeze ahead in batches. They have only natural ingredients, and no preservatives, which is why they're frozen. The Hamburger Helper and Lean Cuisine look like something you could only make in a chemistry lab.

I think that the working definition of 'processed' foods and that of 'convenience' foods is easy to grasp.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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[

Although simple and full of common sense, it is very easy to lose sight of this very normal (not too long ago) approach to eating. 

But I wonder if is that we have lost sight or that we would prefer another, easier, approach.

I think, speaking generally, we want a magic bullet: eat whatever you want but take a multi-vitamin, or eat whatever you want and drink this magic potion, eat whatever you want, except carbs, etc, etc. Isn't that what diet claims are all about - eat whatever you want and still lose weight.

Maybe for not the people here but, speaking of the overall North American population, I understand that convenience and health are the two big food industry themes. I think many people would like to combine the two with the assistance of food scientists, not in a traditional diet which many would find very inconvenient.

Good point; I agree. There is more to it than "losing sight" of things, including all you have pointed out and other factors as well.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Yes, I think that everybody actually can figure out what he means by 'processed'.

If there's anybody who can't, try this exercise the next time you're in the supermarket.  Pick up a package of Hamburger Helper, or Stouffer's Lean Cuisine, and then find a bag of Celentano Cheese Ravioli and compare the ingredients list.  The cheese ravioli are made with normal pasta dough, with a filling of cheese and eggs, the same as you'd make at home and freeze ahead in batches.  They have only natural ingredients, and no preservatives, which is why they're frozen.  The Hamburger Helper and Lean Cuisine look like something you could only make in a chemistry lab.

I think that the working definition of 'processed' foods and that of 'convenience' foods is easy to grasp.

That's a good example. Pollan touched on that in the article too - I think he expressed it as foods that have five or fewer ingredients.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I think, speaking generally, we want a magic bullet: eat whatever you want but take a multi-vitamin, or eat whatever you want and drink this magic potion, eat whatever you want, except carbs, etc, etc.  Isn't that what diet claims are all about - eat whatever you want and still lose weight. 

I've seen this trend firsthand. I have a friend who is very overweight and tells me that she is not worried about weight-associated illnesses because she is young. By the time she gets diabetes and has a heart attack, scientists will have found a cure. On the other side of this, she skips from one fad diet to the next and one diet center to the next, but never loses weight. There are so many interwoven issues and contradictory factors at work.

I like Pollan's advice because I live the way he suggests. I think fresh food and exercise make my quality of life that much better now and will continue to do so into the future. And that assessment includes both health and enjoying life because the two, for me, are not separate issues.

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At the same time that Moms stopped baking birthday cakes from scratch, and a home-baked cake decorated with canned frosting is treated with more respect than a store-bought one from Safeway, more and more people are buying fewer to zero cans of green beans.  It may be a status symbol among the moneyed in McMansions (irony intentional) as opposed to the antimaterialistic hippies on communes, but fresh bunches of leafy greens are hot now. 

There are more varieties of fresh, healthy and healthful plants to eat than ever before, in more and more venues despite the traditional ones long gone. 

"Ripe, strawberries ripe!" No one is hawking produce on horse-drawn carts in low/no-income neighborhoods and we've talked about our failures to buy the flavorful berries we recall from our youths, even at the farmers market far from suppliers to Driscoll's.  Yet, we have quinces, persimmons, mangoes, Tuscan kale, golden beets and raddichio.*

Someone who has never eaten Lean Cuisine before is buying chard.  Someone who is eating Lean Cuisine still hasn't seen chard down in the neighborhood store and never cooked a fresh vegetable in his life.  If the chard's there, she's not having anything that strange and unfamiliar, but will pick up a bag of frozen spinach, right next to the Lean Cuisine, instead.  And yes, someone else is picking up Stouffer's Mac & Cheese, Lean Cuisine, a big bunch of chard and two pounds of pork belly during the same round of grocery shopping.

In my experience, the availability of 'fresh vegetables' outside of major cities is pretty poor. Specific example: the A&P in Golden's Bridge, NY. This is affluent Westchester county, money is not the issue. The ONLY loose unpackaged vegetable was some asparagus sitting in a pan of water. There wasn't one leafy vegetable that had not been processed, 'cleaned' and put into a bag. And other than spinach, it was only salad greens. There may have been some pre-cut broccoli. This A&P has recently 'upgraded' their produce department. That meant large signs, and everything in a plastic bag. We've a long way to go to restoring any sense of eating unprocessed foods. Is a prewashed salad in a bag processed or convenience food? :laugh:

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I just don't believe that the nuggets supply any of the nutrition that growing kids (or people, for that matter) need.  And I do believe that the corn sweetner in a daily glass of Coke (not that I think for a minute that a kid today who's being fed fast food is even limited in how much soda he drinks) is going to kill him.

Yet there are millions of strong, healthy young adults who grew up eating just that. I know plenty of families -- I mean, middle class people I went to law school with -- whose kids eat almost exclusively processed foods, starting with things like Pop Tarts in the morning, moving on to awful public school lunches, to various convenience foods for dinner, with chips, cookies and other snacks in between. They rarely eat a piece of fruit or a salad. And they're in great shape. Is it the best way to eat? Maybe not. But no matter how much you, Pollan and anybody else believes there's no nutrition in McDonald's food and that soda is going to kill our children, it's not a supportable claim.

Steven-

I know smokers who lived to be in their 80s too, but that does not mean smoking is ok for you. I think you are looking at the Pollan articel from the perspective of the "glass is half empty" and trying hard to find fault in it. I think his first statement and most of his - was it 8 pieces of advise- which he admits are not scientific, make a whole lot of sense.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Is a prewashed salad in a bag processed or convenience food?  :laugh:

What do the ingredients say? Is there anything in there besides lettuce? Has the lettuce been processed or just washed? Has anthing been added to it?

It may be a convenience. In places that keep their salad mixes loose in a bin, there's always the great chance that somebody's reaching in there with a hand that just touced a piece of fruit or vegatable with a seriously dangerous "bug", (or a dripping package of chicken), and as there are a lot of salad greens that don't get washed, this may be a giant convenience after all.

Don't get me wrong. I don't eat processed foods at all, in any way, shape, or form. But I do distinguish them from all-natural foods that have been packaged with some convenience to them.

I've given the example above of corn chips. I'm really not likely to make my own. But if the ingredients say that they're made from organic corn, minimally processed vegetable oil, and sea salt, I think of them as a convenience as well. If you make something just as I'd make it from whole, natural ingredients and freeze it as in the case of the ravioli I cited above, that too is okay. I draw the line at anything whose ingredients have had anything removed (refined) or added (stabilized for shelf-life), and which has ingredients that are manufactured in a lab. Those are my definitions of processed versus convenient.

The same is true regarding what you feed the animals or plants I eat. If possible, I'd like everything the way mother nature planned it originally.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Thanks for posting the article, lperry. It appears to have struck a few nerves and sparked a lively discussion!

And hi, JohnL! I just wanted to respond to a thing or two you mentioned:

Corporations are comprised of people. They are founded and run by people to produce products and provide services that have value. To say that corporations (or any business) exist to make money is somewhat naive and overly simplistic.

Legally speaking, corporations allow shareholders to limit their share of liability (i.e., lawsuits and debt) and to distribute the responsibilities and advantages of ownership (decision-making, profit-making) according to investment (i.e., how much money you reap is tied to how much money you sowed). Also, it allows people to own and manage capital anonymously. It is a way of sharing the ownership of capital with a group of people. Note a common thread to all of these things: money. To say that corporations exist to limit money lost and to distribute profits proportionally is a more nuanced way of saying that corporations exist to make money.

Yes, corporations are comprised of people, but the very nature of anonymous corporate ownership allows corporate directors to act less like real people and more like the faceless identity of a "legal fiction", which is what a corporation is.

Truth be told I am more suspicious of the self righteous. I can deal with the capitalist--I understand the game--I benefit--they get my money. I am a bit unsure of the altruist--but the situation is the same--if they make a good product I like--I buy it. Either way, I respect the result of their hard work--why they do it is up to them.

I can sympathize with this, though there's a tough dilemma here. What's more suspicious, the motives we can clearly discern or the motives we can't? It's probably best to dispense with the question of intention altogether. Who cares what the cook or the beef-packer has in mind? Even if they wish me all the evil in the world, it doesn't prevent the steak from being juicy and tender. But it could be irresponsible to dispense with our knowledge of how the food got to our plate. After all, even if tonight's pork chop is the tastiest and least expensive meat available, I'd maybe think twice about buying it again if I knew the packer that produced that pork chop was severely poisoning a county in North Carolina:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story...worst_polluters

(this is from a different post I just read)

Anyhow, I think you're absolutely right in ID'ing a thread of anti-capitalist sentiment in that Pollan piece and in pressing its validity. I'm just not sure that these are the strongest counter-points.

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If possible, I'd like everything the way mother nature planned it originally.

It's not possible. The corn used to make those corn chips, even if grown organically, is a human-engineered product, hybridized and industrialized over the centuries. There wasn't a kernel of it growing in the wild at any time in history. I don't even know what "minimally processed vegetable oil" means, but I assure you it's another human-engineered product: the crops are bred by us, and the process of extracting oil from vegetables doesn't involve some sort of grindstone and bucket arrangement; it's a highly scientific process. Maybe the sea salt is relatively natural, though you'd be eating it in quantities unknown to anybody on a truly natural diet.

On the question of technology and food, the train left the station a few thousand years ago. It's now all just an exercise in line drawing: how much technology are you willing to accept, and what kind? To me, it seems arbitrary to accept coffee but not Crisco, tofu but not Triscuits. Indeed the whole distinction between natural and artificial products doesn't survive even casual scrutiny.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If possible, I'd like everything the way mother nature planned it originally.

It's not possible. The corn used to make those corn chips, even if grown organically, is a human-engineered product, hybridized and industrialized over the centuries. There wasn't a kernel of it growing in the wild at any time in history. I don't even know what "minimally processed vegetable oil" means, but I assure you it's another human-engineered product: the crops are bred by us, and the process of extracting oil from vegetables doesn't involve some sort of grindstone and bucket arrangement; it's a highly scientific process. Maybe the sea salt is relatively natural, though you'd be eating it in quantities unknown to anybody on a truly natural diet.

On the question of technology and food, the train left the station a few thousand years ago. It's now all just an exercise in line drawing: how much technology are you willing to accept, and what kind? To me, it seems arbitrary to accept coffee but not Crisco, tofu but not Triscuits. Indeed the whole distinction between natural and artificial products doesn't survive even casual scrutiny.

Okay, but you're not addressing the spirit of my question. You got me on the corn chips on a good technicality, but I meant to say that I think they're a healthier snack than the Pringles. I'm not against technology, just a lot of what they choose to make with it. (I don't seem to have a problem with technology that makes me never need to leave my desk, though :wacko: ) The minimally processed oil means that it was extracted by a mechanical press, not with chemical solvents, and that it wasn't hydrogenated afterwards.

I already conceded the point that I don't want to eat the same diet that your great grandparents ate. But I'd prefer to eat the Celentano ravioli that I mentioned above over the Hamburger Helper and Stouffer's Lean Cuisine mentioned in the same post.

And can you really tell me (I'm sure you will, and I'm half looking forward to your answer :hmmm: ) that I'm wrong because I think I'm getting better nutrition from eating a diet organic yams and broccoli (and fruits and vegetables, I mean) and unmilled brown rice and organic fish than if I lived on Chicken McNuggets, Lean Cuisine, and vitamin supplements?

Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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You got me on the corn chips on a good technicality, but I meant to say that I think they're a healthier snack than the Pringles.

You think it but do you know it? Have control-group double-blind studies been conducted to determine it? The ingredients in Pringles are:

INGREDIENTS: DRIED POTATOES, VEGETABLE OIL (CONTAINS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING: CORN OIL, COTTONSEED OIL, SOYBEAN OIL, AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL), RICE FLOUR, WHEAT STARCH, MALTODEXTRIN, SALT AND DEXTROSE.

It's entirely possible that deep-fried Pringles made from dehydrated potatoes are no worse for you than deep-friend corn chips made from dehydrated organic corn. Indeed, it's possible that neither is bad for you at all when consumed in moderation.

And can you really tell me (I'm sure you will, and I'm half looking forward to your answer  :hmmm: ) that I'm wrong because I think I'm getting better nutrition from eating a diet organic yams and broccoli (and fruits and vegetables, I mean) and unmilled brown rice and organic fish than if I lived on Chicken McNuggets, Lean Cuisine, and vitamin supplements?

Probably not, but my agreement with you is no more scientifically valid than your quasi-religious belief in the first place!

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The ingredients in Pringles are:
INGREDIENTS: DRIED POTATOES, VEGETABLE OIL (CONTAINS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING: CORN OIL, COTTONSEED OIL, SOYBEAN OIL, AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL), RICE FLOUR, WHEAT STARCH, MALTODEXTRIN, SALT AND DEXTROSE.

They must've snuck in and changed them since last I looked :shock: . Where are the hydrogenated fats and the MSG? Maybe I'm just having terrible luck with the examples I'm citing. Had I seen those ingredients, I'd never have used Pringles as my example. Nor would I have thought they're so bad.

Probably not, but my agreement with you is no more scientifically valid than your quasi-religious belief in the first place!

Quasi-religious ?!?!? For eating organic? bang.gif

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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You think it but do you know it? Have control-group double-blind studies been conducted to determine it?

One of Pollan's main points is that scientific studies on nutrition are well intentioned, but rife with confounding factors. It will take many years to sort things out, and following findings bit by bit and trying to modify your diet thisly and thusly really sucks the fun out of eating. I think FG (please correct me if I am wrong), that you have professed opinions against the validity and reliability of scientific studies in the past.

If you feel happier and healthier eating organic stone ground blue corn chips, by all means, do it. If Pringles make you happy, go for it. Moderation, I think, is important. The bottom line, though, is that Pringles are nasty. :raz:

As for quasi-religious, yes, I think. Absolutely and unapologetically. Culture, personal identity and food are so closely related that I think religion is a reasonable analogy. So much other than sustenance is tied up in food - just look at the passion that a single article brings forth. If it were not quasi-religious, I doubt this site would exist.

-L

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What I'm saying is that I see no good reason to assume that organic corn chips are better than processed potato crisps. What, it's true just because one has fewer ingredients? Is it so impossible to imagine that, when the day comes when they can actually tell with certainty that one food is better for us than another, it will turn out that the corn was worse than the potatoes -- even including all the other ingredients? Given that there's no compelling evidence either way, where do we look for answers? To Pollan's personal opinions? To Mark's? To the fact that we're living longer even though we're eating this stuff? Why assume we'd live longer without it, when we can just as easily assume we're living longer because of it? Until those questions are answered, I'm just not sure there's any advice to give. Moderation and diversity? I guess they sound like safe choices. But I'm not sure one should preach diversity while calling for as few ingredients as possible, and diversity is all well and good if you eat 23 foods instead of 22, unless the 23rd is the one that kills you.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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