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Eating "food" again


lperry
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I think that the Pringles of the world weren't really what Pollan was after. I think it was the Snackwells and the Lean Cuisine and all the foods that profess to have this or that ingredient that might just lower your cholesterol, keep you regular, or make you live two days longer because science told us so. Eating simply and letting all of this noise pass us by in an already noisy world will add greatly to our enjoyment of food, and, therefore, of life. That's what I got out of the article.

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^ I guess I thought that in trying to simplfy choices that were likely to also be healthier, Pollan's choice would *not* be between organic corn chips or Pringles. The idea would just be less chips.

That is, less processed foods, not keeps lots of processed foods on the menu and trying to tiptoe among them for those that look like they have or omit this or that ingredient. I know part of your point is that many foods we eat are processed and therefore where is the cut off point for what is "too" processed?

"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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^Also true. The concept of "whole foods" was brought up again and again. I can't imagine, though, that anyone would honestly consider chips a staple in a healthy diet. Even the people who manufacture them call them "snack food." But I also admit, I eat very differently than most Americans. I just looked in my pantry, and the "un-whole" foods I have in there are crackers, pasta, various condiments, and my chocolate stash (the uber-processed indulgence). Must be time to go shopping. :smile:

Thank you for your posts, Ludja. I enjoy reading them.

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I think one of Pollan's principle points was that the idea of eating foods that were designed to be "healthy" just hasn't borne fruit, so to speak. Taking some of the perceived nutrients, isolating them and returning them in another package with a completely different package does not appear to work as it seemed it should have. The message that I took is that one shouldn't eat foods simply because they are supposed to be healthy.

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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I think one of Pollan's principle points was that the idea of eating foods that were designed to be "healthy" just hasn't borne fruit, so to speak. Taking some of the perceived nutrients, isolating them and returning them in another package with a completely different package does not appear to work as it seemed it should have. The message that I took is that one shouldn't eat foods simply because they are supposed to be healthy.

He did go after the processed, packaged "health food." I will admit to having a box of Barilla Plus Healthy pasta in my pantry. :hmmm: I picked it up because of the Omega 3 label. :hmmm::hmmm: Hook, line, and sinker, I suppose. Next time I'll just go for the whole wheat.

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I think one of Pollan's principle points was that the idea of eating foods that were designed to be "healthy" just hasn't borne fruit, so to speak. Taking some of the perceived nutrients, isolating them and returning them in another package with a completely different package does not appear to work as it seemed it should have. The message that I took is that one shouldn't eat foods simply because they are supposed to be healthy.

That is the sense I got from Pollan as well. And the inverse is true, as well. Don't discard a food because it "seems" unhealthy.

And all this moderation - everywhere. Sheesh, live a little. Sometimes.

Smile, be happy, and if you do nothing else, eat well.

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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.

I'm a little confused by who the "we" is that you're referring to. The generation that's currently living longer then previous generations is not the babyboomer generation or any generation younger then the boomers, it's the generation that went through the Great Depression. Or the generation that, if Pollan's research is correct, grew up when food was still relatively expensive (the article refers to 1947 as a year when food was expensive and since then food prices have decreased), and they might've also had less to eat during the Depression and the rationing during WWII. That generation or general age category would've been likely to have eaten primarily what Pollan calls, "real food", at least into adulthood. We don't know yet if the babyboom generation (or the whichever generation is considered to be the first generation to have opportunity to eat lots of processed foods) will experience a similarly long life span, since, as far as I know, the oldest boomers are just starting to reach retirement age.

For all we know, the average life span of the boomer generation will be significantly shortened by a pandemic caused by a flu virus that finally makes the jump from chickens to humans to human to human transmission. If so, that viral evolution will have been caused, or made much more likely, by the way chickens are often raised today, very much en masse.

I think no one knows for sure yet just what the impact of a diet rich in processed foods will be, at least not on longevity. I don't know about general health--I seem to see alot of articles talking about increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and obesity related health problems (for instance, joint problems). But I don' t know if there's a clear connection with those problems and processed foods--for instance there's a study that indicated that veterans exposed to Agent Orange developed diabetes at a higher rate then average. Agent Orange, a herbicide, was used quite in bit in the US before it was pulled off the market.

The healthiness and longevity of babyboom generation and those following in the US may be the test, although it may be difficult to separate out what's caused by processed foods and what's caused by, for instance, degree of exposure to a variety of pollutants through other means then food.

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I'll try to read the article again when I'm not so ****in exhausted and can actually think. He sure seems to bring up some good points. If nothing else, his opening statement is certainly good common sense. Oh, you can argue against it and pick it apart and digress and rant and rave--but it's still good common sense. Not that "mostly leaves" are as appealing as an elk flank steak with duck-fat-roasted heirloom potatoes; but a meal like that is a shabby imitation of its potential self without a really good crisp salad of garden squeezin's and maybe some fresh-foraged chanterelles and morels

:wub: I love morels :wub:

Edited by Reefpimp (log)

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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I'll try to read the article again when I'm not so ****in exhausted and can actually think.  He sure seems to bring up some good points.  If nothing else, his opening statement is certainly good common sense.  Oh, you can argue against it and pick it apart and digress and rant and rave--but it's still good common sense.  Not that "mostly leaves" are as appealing as an elk flank steak with duck-fat-roasted heirloom potatoes; but a meal like that is a shabby imitation of its potential self without a really good crisp salad of garden squeezin's and maybe some fresh-foraged chanterelles and morels

:wub:  I love morels  :wub:

That's far too simple :biggrin:

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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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. [...]

Are you then taking the position that, failing to disprove an alternative hypothesis, both propositions are made equally plausible?

Edited by Mallet (log)

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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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.

I'm a little confused by who the "we" is that you're referring to. The generation that's currently living longer then previous generations is not the babyboomer generation or any generation younger then the boomers, it's the generation that went through the Great Depression. Or the generation that, if Pollan's research is correct, grew up when food was still relatively expensive (the article refers to 1947 as a year when food was expensive and since then food prices have decreased), and they might've also had less to eat during the Depression and the rationing during WWII. That generation or general age category would've been likely to have eaten primarily what Pollan calls, "real food", at least into adulthood. We don't know yet if the babyboom generation (or the whichever generation is considered to be the first generation to have opportunity to eat lots of processed foods) will experience a similarly long life span, since, as far as I know, the oldest boomers are just starting to reach retirement age.

- good content snipped by me to decrease quote length -

I think no one knows for sure yet just what the impact of a diet rich in processed foods will be, at least not on longevity. I don't know about general health--I seem to see alot of articles talking about increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and obesity related health problems (for instance, joint problems). But I don' t know if there's a clear connection with those problems and processed foods--for instance there's a study that indicated that veterans exposed to Agent Orange developed diabetes at a higher rate then average. Agent Orange, a herbicide, was used quite in bit in the US before it was pulled off the market.

The healthiness and longevity of babyboom generation and those following in the US may be the test, although it may be difficult to separate out what's caused by processed foods and what's caused by, for instance, degree of exposure to a variety of pollutants through other means then food.

Take a walk around an old cemetary or research some death certificates. The small plots are the most heart breaking.

A significant portion of that generation didn't even make it to adulthood in order to eat "processed" foods. Check the dates. It is even sadder when you see a family plot in which little stair steps have been laid to rest, alongside a mother, from the days before RH factors were routinely tested for and gestational diabetes was not understood, much less the factor of the poor mother going through pregnancy after pregnancy - because of lack of birth control - and the wear and tear that put on her body. Before school lunches, before WIC, before food stamps.

I know a very dear lady who survived cancer only to die within six months from a heart attack. But the point is, she survived breast cancer which would have certainly gone undiagnosed a few decades earlier, because mammograms were not routine and even if they did find it, they didn't have a clue how to deal with it. Ironically, there was some speculation that the target area for her radiation weakened an artery.

My mother was widowed at 32 when her husband died of lung cancer at 35 in the early 1960s. She had 5 children.

I guess I am cautious when I feel like the Depression Era is being aggrandized. It was an awful, awful period in our history, and for humanity in general.

I think it is pretty easy to say that things have improved since. However, the human animal does not settle into complacency.

Edit to add: My Grandfather lost his first wife and two sons to Malaria in the early 1910s. My father lost all his hair due to high fever when he contracted Scarlet Fever as a teenager in the 1930s. He lost an older sister to pneumonia when she was three. Three of his younger siblings were stillborn. One of my Uncles contracted polio as a child, and died in his 30s. My Uncle on my Mother's side died at 4 from a congential deformity in the late 1940s. They ate organic, though.

Edited by annecros (log)
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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.

I'm a little confused by who the "we" is that you're referring to. The generation that's currently living longer then previous generations is not the babyboomer generation or any generation younger then the boomers, it's the generation that went through the Great Depression. Or the generation that, if Pollan's research is correct, grew up when food was still relatively expensive (the article refers to 1947 as a year when food was expensive and since then food prices have decreased), and they might've also had less to eat during the Depression and the rationing during WWII. That generation or general age category would've been likely to have eaten primarily what Pollan calls, "real food", at least into adulthood. We don't know yet if the babyboom generation (or the whichever generation is considered to be the first generation to have opportunity to eat lots of processed foods) will experience a similarly long life span, since, as far as I know, the oldest boomers are just starting to reach retirement age.

- good content snipped by me to decrease quote length -

I think no one knows for sure yet just what the impact of a diet rich in processed foods will be, at least not on longevity. I don't know about general health--I seem to see alot of articles talking about increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and obesity related health problems (for instance, joint problems). But I don' t know if there's a clear connection with those problems and processed foods--for instance there's a study that indicated that veterans exposed to Agent Orange developed diabetes at a higher rate then average. Agent Orange, a herbicide, was used quite in bit in the US before it was pulled off the market.

The healthiness and longevity of babyboom generation and those following in the US may be the test, although it may be difficult to separate out what's caused by processed foods and what's caused by, for instance, degree of exposure to a variety of pollutants through other means then food.

Take a walk around an old cemetary or research some death certificates. The small plots are the most heart breaking.

A significant portion of that generation didn't even make it to adulthood in order to eat "processed" foods. Check the dates. It is even sadder when you see a family plot in which little stair steps have been laid to rest, alongside a mother, from the days before RH factors were routinely tested for and gestational diabetes was not understood, much less the factor of the poor mother going through pregnancy after pregnancy - because of lack of birth control - and the wear and tear that put on her body. Before school lunches, before WIC, before food stamps.

I know a very dear lady who survived cancer only to die within six months from a heart attack. But the point is, she survived breast cancer which would have certainly gone undiagnosed a few decades earlier, because mammograms were not routine and even if they did find it, they didn't have a clue how to deal with it. Ironically, there was some speculation that the target area for her radiation weakened an artery.

My mother was widowed at 32 when her husband died of lung cancer at 35 in the early 1960s. She had 5 children.

I guess I am cautious when I feel like the Depression Era is being aggrandized. It was an awful, awful period in our history, and for humanity in general.

I think it is pretty easy to say that things have improved since. However, the human animal does not settle into complacency.

:unsure: I find it hard to believe that one could honestly think Pollan's article was aggrandizing or romanticizing "life in the Depression Era". However, this very counterpoint has been made several times already so I guess that it is not a willful misinterpretation! :unsure:

I don't want to misinterpret your post, but this is what it seems to be saying:

1. My grandparents and other relatives during the Depression and other times died relatively early in life and they ate predominately whole foods.

(Therefore, there is no (or little) benefit to eating whole foods and more fruits, and vegs, etc.)

2. If one decides that one wants to limit ones intake of processed food, Pollan suggests one of several strategies for doing so as you make buying decisions at the market. One can ask oneself, “Would my great grandparent recognize this as a foodstuff?”

(Therefore, Pollan is suggesting that there have been no improvements in health or nutrition, or even other arenas in life since the Depression Era. In addition, we should eat the same diet as people did duirng the Depression.)

edited to add: It is amazing to realize how much more difficult things were not too long ago with respect to what we now take granted regarding healthcare. I'm sorry for the heavy losses in your family. My sister just had her first baby. Everything went well but there were a few "small" things that would have been life threatening only two generations ago. It is something to be thankful for that we have so many advantages w.r.t. healthcare and other issues. Maybe your larger point is that we have so much to be thankful for we shouldn't carp on things that are so much less difficult, in a way. These veers the discussion into so many personal areas regarding "quality of life", etc

I guess one of the reasons we are discussing this article is whether one thinks the suggestions are good ones to increase one's day-to-day sense of well-being, ones own health and the health of one's children, the health of farmers and other food producers and of the environment, etc.

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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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:

Judith, my point was that there are concommitant, conflicting food cultures within the United States and that at the same time that I buy and cook a wide variety of produce I never encountered as a child, there is also a wider variety of processed, or already cooked meals that discourage people from "eating food".

Have I been eating with blinders on? Granted I've only lived in either big cities or college towns on the east coast, in the midwest, and out west in the mountains. Most people I know and visit, too. A good friend in an itty bitty town in Maine lives within hiking distance of a grocery store that used to sell little more than fresh itty bitty blueberries in season along with bagels and lox for the tourists. The farm stand has a limited repertoire, i.e., Early Girls vs. Striped Germans and Purple Cherokees in August. But when you drive and you drive (half an hour?) to the one big no-name supermarket where everyone shops and her former students bag, it is the size of all the football fields of all the high schools in the state. Packaged, ready-made jello salad in red, green and pink, yes, but Parmigiano-Reggiano, red bell peppers, bunches of arugula, fennel and the like from Holland and California as well as produce local and familiar or from New York State. I could say the same for the little tiny town that used to be farming country in Connecticut where family lives, but the changes there have been even more dramatic because the demographics have gotten rather tony.

The places that come to mind that haven't been as affected by positive forces are either 1) profoundly rural which is sometimes ironic or 2) profoundly insular for lack of better word.

Often, income is a factor, but you're right, it's not the only contributing factor. There are lower-income neighborhoods where NOT eating fresh fruits or vegetables is both the norm and about the only option. Yet, I've grown increasingly aware of very well-off individuals who do not like, buy or eat most plants. Brand names other than Sunkist or New Harvest govern their diets.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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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?

Well, we may actually be living longer. But I'm claiming that we're living longer because we're being kept alive by pharmaceutical advances and the latest advances in medical technology. My first wintess may not be a scientific presentation, but I'm thinking of all the pharmacies that are saying that in order to keep up filling the record number of prescriptions presented by the baby boomers, they need to stay open 24 hours a day with pharmacists on duty at all times. Is it that there are more people now in general, or is it the case that everybody over 50 or 60 is having their lives prolonged by medicines to treat diabetes, heart conditions, coronary artery disease, and the like, and that lifespans are also extended by all the various interventional and minimally-invasive medical procedures that we didn't have a generation ago.

Between the cancer causing chemicals that have been sprayed on crops, or added to food, and between the processes of hydrogenating fats to add to shelf life, how do we know that we're not playing the game of killng ourselves via scientific mingling in what we eat, and extending our lives via scientific mingling in the drug labs and operating rooms? How do we know that if we hadn't played one from column A and one from column B in a different comination, and eaten unadulterated and unprocessed foods while availing ourselves of modern medical science as well that we wouldn't have lived both longer, and healthier?

I'm only questioning the "living longer" part of the argument.

I liked Pollan's advice, because it's largely how I eat anyway. I avoid processed foods, and try to eat foods in the state that, if my great grandmother saw them, would recognize them. I think she'd know what a melon is, even if it was one from a country that she'd never encountered in her lifetime. I don't think she'd know what half the things on the Lean Cuisine ingredients are.

Yes, it's a personal decision. And while I'm horrified by the kids whose nightly dinner comes from McDonald's and Stouffers and who've never eaten a fresh vegetable or piece of fruit, that's their parents' decision as well.

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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On a completely different note, dietary supplements were touched upon only briefly in Pollan's promotion of whole foods. Are there any threads here at eGullet in which members have discussed vitamin-taking?

The Washington Post has a regular feature called The Lean Plate Club that is dedicated to "changing lifestyles": eating better & exercising more. The journalist who runs the program advocates taking vitamins and I know quite a few who swear by them. I've always been skeptical. Otherwise, we'd all be eating white bread, cheese and steak and be perfectly healthy with one or two Brussels sprouts and an orange a year, right?

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Well, we may actually be living longer.  But I'm claiming that we're living longer because we're being kept alive by pharmaceutical advances and the latest advances in medical technology.  My first wintess may not be a scientific presentation, but I'm thinking of all the pharmacies that are saying that in order to keep up filling the record number of prescriptions presented by the baby boomers, they need to stay open 24 hours a day with pharmacists on duty at all times.  Is it that there are more people now in general, or is it the case that everybody over 50 or 60 is having their lives prolonged by medicines to treat diabetes, heart conditions, coronary artery disease, and the like, and that lifespans are also extended by all the various interventional and minimally-invasive medical procedures that we didn't have a generation ago. 

Between the cancer causing chemicals that have been sprayed on crops, or added to food, and between the processes of hydrogenating fats to add to shelf life, how do we know that we're not playing the game of killng ourselves via scientific mingling in what we eat, and extending our lives via scientific mingling in the drug labs and operating rooms?  How do we know that if we hadn't played one from column A and one from column B in a different comination, and eaten unadulterated and unprocessed foods while availing ourselves of modern medical science as well that we wouldn't have lived both longer, and healthier?

That's how I feel as well. If you believe 1. there is a growing problem of poor health among Americans and 2. it is diet related, you have to decide where to look for the cause. Going back to the corn chips/Pringles issue (just for the sake of an overly-simplistic example), we know that people have been eating whole grain corn, oil, and salt for thousands of years without ill effects. While freeze dried potatoes were common in ancient Andean diets, they were whole potatoes. People have been eating refined, desiccated, dehydrated potato flakes for a couple of decades. So if this trend is a couple of decades old and is nutrition related, where is the logical place to look? Probably at the foods that have come into widespread use in the past few decades.

No, we don't know for sure that these foods are necessarily terrible for us, but it seems like a sensible place to start. From my point of view, I'd rather not take the risk. I want to live to a nice old age and not be taking piles of medication.

Edited by lperry (log)
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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.

I'm a little confused by who the "we" is that you're referring to. The generation that's currently living longer then previous generations is not the babyboomer generation or any generation younger then the boomers, it's the generation that went through the Great Depression. Or the generation that, if Pollan's research is correct, grew up when food was still relatively expensive (the article refers to 1947 as a year when food was expensive and since then food prices have decreased), and they might've also had less to eat during the Depression and the rationing during WWII. That generation or general age category would've been likely to have eaten primarily what Pollan calls, "real food", at least into adulthood. We don't know yet if the babyboom generation (or the whichever generation is considered to be the first generation to have opportunity to eat lots of processed foods) will experience a similarly long life span, since, as far as I know, the oldest boomers are just starting to reach retirement age.

- good content snipped by me to decrease quote length -

I think no one knows for sure yet just what the impact of a diet rich in processed foods will be, at least not on longevity. I don't know about general health--I seem to see alot of articles talking about increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and obesity related health problems (for instance, joint problems). But I don' t know if there's a clear connection with those problems and processed foods--for instance there's a study that indicated that veterans exposed to Agent Orange developed diabetes at a higher rate then average. Agent Orange, a herbicide, was used quite in bit in the US before it was pulled off the market.

The healthiness and longevity of babyboom generation and those following in the US may be the test, although it may be difficult to separate out what's caused by processed foods and what's caused by, for instance, degree of exposure to a variety of pollutants through other means then food.

Take a walk around an old cemetary or research some death certificates. The small plots are the most heart breaking.

A significant portion of that generation didn't even make it to adulthood in order to eat "processed" foods. Check the dates. It is even sadder when you see a family plot in which little stair steps have been laid to rest, alongside a mother, from the days before RH factors were routinely tested for and gestational diabetes was not understood, much less the factor of the poor mother going through pregnancy after pregnancy - because of lack of birth control - and the wear and tear that put on her body. Before school lunches, before WIC, before food stamps.

I know a very dear lady who survived cancer only to die within six months from a heart attack. But the point is, she survived breast cancer which would have certainly gone undiagnosed a few decades earlier, because mammograms were not routine and even if they did find it, they didn't have a clue how to deal with it. Ironically, there was some speculation that the target area for her radiation weakened an artery.

My mother was widowed at 32 when her husband died of lung cancer at 35 in the early 1960s. She had 5 children.

I guess I am cautious when I feel like the Depression Era is being aggrandized. It was an awful, awful period in our history, and for humanity in general.

I think it is pretty easy to say that things have improved since. However, the human animal does not settle into complacency.

:unsure: I find it hard to believe that one could honestly think Pollan's article was aggrandizing or romanticizing "life in the Depression Era". However, this very counterpoint has been made several times already so I guess that it is not a willful misinterpretation! :unsure:

I don't want to misinterpret your post, but this is what it seems to be saying:

1. My grandparents and other relatives during the Depression and other times died relatively early in life and they ate predominately whole foods.

(Therefore, there is no (or little) benefit to eating whole foods and more fruits, and vegs, etc.)

2. If one decides that one wants to limit ones intake of processed food, Pollan suggests one of several strategies for doing so as you make buying decisions at the market. One can ask oneself, “Would my great grandparent recognize this as a foodstuff?”

(Therefore, Pollan is suggesting that there have been no improvements in health or nutrition, or even other arenas in life since the Depression Era. In addition, we should eat the same diet as people did duirng the Depression.)

edited to add: It is amazing to realize how much more difficult things were not too long ago with respect to what we now take granted regarding healthcare. I'm sorry for the heavy losses in your family. My sister just had her first baby. Everything went well but there were a few "small" things that would have been life threatening only two generations ago. It is something to be thankful for that we have so many advantages w.r.t. healthcare and other issues. Maybe your larger point is that we have so much to be thankful for we shouldn't carp on things that are so much less difficult, in a way. These veers the discussion into so many personal areas regarding "quality of life", etc

I guess one of the reasons we are discussing this article is whether one thinks the suggestions are good ones to increase one's day-to-day sense of well-being, ones own health and the health of one's children, the health of farmers and other food producers and of the environment, etc.

I guess I was not as clear as I should have been, so apologies.

I am in full agreement with Pollan, but wanted to address the issues that were raised by the poster I quoted specifically.

There were many losses in my family, but the family is HUGE! I am one of ten, (number 9 of his, hers and ours) and it is amazing when I consider that we all are alive and pretty healthy - with some help here and there, of course.

I think my larger point was to be grateful for what we have, but to acknowledge that the wonderful things we have to be thankful for were due to constant striving for perfection by people who were not satisfied.

I am being more observational, than analytical, I think? :huh:

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^Sorry for my perhaps overzealous reply. Upon re-reading the post, I can see that you were specifically addressing the issue that two generations or so ago, people were not "dying" from a diet linked to processed food perhaps but they were dying, on average, earlier due to other reasons. Thus, how can one compare baby boomers to the generation before in that sense?

I guess that is why, earlier, I mentioned that it might be interesting to observe the health trajectory of people born roughly in the mid-70's. This group will have had roughly the same health and other benefits compared to the baby boom generation, but they likely have a significantly different diet than some of the baby boomers--i.e. significantly more processed food and larger portions.

"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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I want to live to a nice old age and not be taking piles of medication.

Well, of course you do. I want to take a plane trip to Valhalla, live forever, and frolic barefoot.

Is there a problem with poor health in America, or is there increased efficiency in diagnostic techniques and people living longer and bodies eventually wear out? You really can't say one way or another, when you get down to brass tacks, I think and in my opinion.

The whole pharmacy argument doesn't wash for me. They are open 24/7 because older people are taking drugs that make them feel better and live longer, young people are taking drugs to fight acute issues like infection, middle aged people are taking drugs to combat chronic illness that would have killed people two generations back, and will live to old age to take drugs to combat age related disease in the future.

I used to be pretty smug about my diet and my health until I turned 38. I know I am on medications that I will need to take for the rest of my life now, and I also know that I cannot eat like I used to. But considering that I would certainly die if I did not take those meds, well, it is a pretty easy choice to make.

I think Pollan's point is reasonable. And would you really want to go to your grave never having popped a can of Pringles?

Edit to add: Frolic barefoot and NEKKID in Valhalla, hehe. Hedonist at heart, and may very well be my downfall one day.

Edited by annecros (log)
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^Sorry for my perhaps overzealous reply.  Upon re-reading the post, I can see that you were specifically addressing the issue that two generations or so ago, people were not "dying" from a diet linked to processed food perhaps but they were dying, on average, earlier due to other reasons.  Thus, how can one compare baby boomers to the generation before in that sense? 

I guess that is why, earlier, I mentioned that it might be interesting to observe the health trajectory of people born roughly in the mid-70's.  This group will have had roughly the same health and other benefits compared to the baby boom generation, but they likely have a significantly different diet than some of the baby boomers--i.e. significantly more processed food and larger portions.

The 70's and the 80's generations will have much improved health and other benefits than my generation has or will have in my old age vs. the one they will experience.

They are getting better at things out there every day. It's a wonderful world.

No apologies necessary. I understood the point you are making and arguing convincingly. I too think it will be interesting, but that the numbers will be skewed.

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Well, of course you do. I want to take a plane trip to Valhalla, live forever, and frolic barefoot.

Is there a problem with poor health in America, or is there increased efficiency in diagnostic techniques and people living longer and bodies eventually wear out? You really can't say one way or another, when you get down to brass tacks, I think and in my opinion.

The whole pharmacy argument doesn't wash for me. They are open 24/7 because older people are taking drugs that make them feel better and live longer, young people are taking drugs to fight acute issues like infection, middle aged people are taking drugs to combat chronic illness that would have killed people two generations back, and will live to old age to take drugs to combat age related disease in the future.

I used to be pretty smug about my diet and my health until I turned 38. I know I am on medications that I will need to take for the rest of my life now, and I also know that I cannot eat like I used to. But considering that I would certainly die if I did not take those meds, well, it is a pretty easy choice to make.

I think Pollan's point is reasonable. And would you really want to go to your grave never having popped a can of Pringles?

I'm not understanding your response. I proposed an argument for those who believe there is a health problem that is related to diet using what I said up front was an overly-simplistic example. If you don't believe there is such a problem, of course you will disagree. I was not trying to belittle people who are reliant on medication.

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Well, of course you do. I want to take a plane trip to Valhalla, live forever, and frolic barefoot.

Is there a problem with poor health in America, or is there increased efficiency in diagnostic techniques and people living longer and bodies eventually wear out? You really can't say one way or another, when you get down to brass tacks, I think and in my opinion.

The whole pharmacy argument doesn't wash for me. They are open 24/7 because older people are taking drugs that make them feel better and live longer, young people are taking drugs to fight acute issues like infection, middle aged people are taking drugs to combat chronic illness that would have killed people two generations back, and will live to old age to take drugs to combat age related disease in the future.

I used to be pretty smug about my diet and my health until I turned 38. I know I am on medications that I will need to take for the rest of my life now, and I also know that I cannot eat like I used to. But considering that I would certainly die if I did not take those meds, well, it is a pretty easy choice to make.

I think Pollan's point is reasonable. And would you really want to go to your grave never having popped a can of Pringles?

I'm not understanding your response. I proposed an argument for those who believe there is a health problem that is related to diet using what I said up front was an overly-simplistic example. If you don't believe there is such a problem, of course you will disagree. I was not trying to belittle people who are reliant on medication.

Oh, I perfectly understand that, and please understand that typing is not the same thing as discussing an issue face to face. I didn't feel belittled by your post a bit. I must be honest in that I probably tossed your argument in with someone elses, and my poor tired self has to go back through the messages and figure out where I lost a thread here or there. Bear with me, I beg you.

If you do believe that there is a health problem that is related to diet, you may disagree with my conclusions as well.

But, as I have said before and will continue to say (although more concisely now) you cannot pin ANY health problem on diet exclusively. You even have to have a genetic predisposition to have Type II Diabetes, although diet can cure it. There is even a genetic predisposition to obesity, or alcoholism, or Parkinsons, or anything else.

Sorry if I came of snarky with the Valhalla crack. But I really would like to live a long life without taking a bunch of meds, but that just isn't realistic.

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And would you really want to go to your grave never having popped a can of Pringles?

No, I wouldn't want to go to my grave having never had Pringles (which I don't like the taste of anyway), or a Triple Quarter Pounder with Cheese, or a bucket of KFC Extra-Crispy all dark meat :rolleyes:.

But I wouldn't want to go to my grave thinking that I had eaten those things every night of my life as dinner, or eaten Stouffer's Lean Cuisine and Hamburger Helper as my primary source of "nutrition" either.

And I wouldn't want to go to my grave thinking that I'd fed those to my kids every night either, instead of dinner made from whole, as-close-to-natural food sources as I could have.

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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I think one of Pollan's principle points was that the idea of eating foods that were designed to be "healthy" just hasn't borne fruit, so to speak. Taking some of the perceived nutrients, isolating them and returning them in another package with a completely different package does not appear to work as it seemed it should have. The message that I took is that one shouldn't eat foods simply because they are supposed to be healthy.

I have been trying to figure out what Pollan is really about.

He is a thinker in search of answers to ethical dilemmas he creates. To boil it all down, I believe that Pollan sees the answers to these ethical dilemmas about food production and eating in small local sustainable producers.

These producers will be driven by the same sense of ethics and marals that he, Pollan, has decided are critical to our well being and wholesomeness.

We will be at peace with our food and ourselves.

The bad things we must move away from are industrial, processed not local produced.

Organic and wholesome good.

Earthbound farms which produces wholesome, and organic products ( a good thing) is bad (ok partly bad) they are big and contribute to pollution because their products need to be trucked around the country.

Pollan often does not see, overlooks, ignores sides of the discussion that do not lead to the conclusions he arrives at.

He is "enlightened" because he has really (really) deeply thought about these very important moral and ethical dilemmas and he has some answers. Eat more vegetables that are grown on local sustainable farms.

Unfortunately, for him (and others) I do not see how we are going to go back to an agrarian society. We can improve our current state of affairs and this is a good result of the agonizers over the human condition like Pollan, but we are not going to the utopia he has set up.

IMOP Pollan overlooks the incredible benefits of the industrial age (food production included).

he sees only the bad that results. His solutions are lovely, altruistic and righteous sounding but

they do not address the fact that this country is geographically large, very diverse and 300 million people living in mostly urban and suburban areas, and we have differing growing climates.

I believe that in reality technology has a better success rate and a better future in making America smaller. There are always trade offs--

Pollan just can't seem to wrestle with these, processed and industrial are hard to define and even harder to demonize--they ain't all bad and they ain't all good.

He also tends to gloss over the potential problems inherent in small sustainable anything.

We will have to cut down a lot of trees to provide the land for those small farms--we will need a lot of small farms too!

Again, (and again and..) I think that Pollan should stop thinking and just go have a big steak (and stop reading zealots like Peter singer).

I think that we will all be fine. I like the option of having reasonably tasty green peas in the dead of winter (either frozen courtesy of the green Giant) or fresh trucked in from the southern hemisphere. pollution!!???

The answer is better designed transit systems--fuel efficient and less poluting engines--bigger planes trains and automobiles!!!

Better--than waiting for the local growing season and driving to the local farmers markets--wait! Driving--I will be polluting to get my fresh local peas! maybe I will wait for bus route or I can car pool or...maybe I can grow the peas myself in my apartment.--but wait I will need fertilizer and pesticides and...will the co -op board allow manure in the apartment......

aw hell--this is too much dilemma for me. i'll just take an extra vitamin pill(maybe with an aspirin) :wink:

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...

If you do believe that there is a health problem that is related to diet, you may disagree with my conclusions as well.

But, as I have said before and will continue to say (although more concisely now) you cannot pin ANY health problem on diet exclusively. You even have to have a genetic predisposition to have Type II Diabetes, although diet can cure it. There is even a genetic predisposition to obesity, or alcoholism, or Parkinsons, or anything else.

...

If and how to adjust one's diet with respect to health is a bit trickier than whether or not to smoke, but even with smoking there is no guarantee that you will get lung cancer or emphysema. Likewise it is possible for non-smokers to get lung cancer. This argument, that one can not absolutely "pin" lung cancer on smoking was the main justification (in his own mind) for an older relative to not quit smoking. Some people also downplay the potential bad effects of smoking (diet, also?) because then it means that they don't have to 'admit' that they have made bad choices in the past. I say, admit or not, but just get on with the better choices! I don't think one should feel "guilty" if one gets an illness that may or may not have a dietary component mixed in with a genetic one, but on the other hand, if there are reasonable steps one can take with one's diet, why not try to do it? And yes, thankfully, if one can afford it, there are medicines available to help mitigate some diseases and conditions without too many side effects.

Despite what it may seem like from several of my posts, I am not fixated on diet and health! As lperry mentioned several pages back, one of the reasons I became more consciously interested in "whole" and 'real' foods was just that it corresponded more closely to the way I grew up AND to many foodstuffs that I valued. If anything, I had a tinge of suspicion or dislike of that type of "whole food" designation or claim. But finally, I realized that whole food was pretty similar to the types of food that I grew up with and now cook. I wasn't purchasing flax seed and whole grains from health food stores, I eat chips and drink diet soda; but I was actually cooking mostly "food" and using less "food products" per Pollan's definition.

My antennae were raised when it seemed that certain foods I valued were becoming no longer available and that it seemed like they were being displaced by cheap and artificial substitutes. It is one thing to just ignore some of the food products that I don't enjoy but it is another thing when you can't even get the original food anymore! That hits the bottom line even if one is not thinking beyond oneself. Then, looking around a bit, one's eyes are opened to not just the presence of some processed or convenience foods, but to their creeping dominance in terms of choices available! That or your only choice is to pay three times the price at Whole Foods if they even a carry the ingredient or foodstuff you are interested in. (Try asking for lard, or pork belly or liverwurst or real rye bread or almond paste without corn syrup at a Whole Foods.) So, while all is not doomsday by any stretch of the means, this initial sensitisation has opened my eyes to other issues 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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