The Right to Look; Cruel Imitation in Diet; A 100 Year Committee
By John Taylor; 2008 Oct 30, 13 'Ilm 165 BE
Today, let us highlight some fallacies about diet. The following conclusions about food myths are exposed in one of the few books to look at what we eat scientifically and critically, "Good Calories, Bad Calories."
The 11 Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories
1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease.
2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars -- sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically -- are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.
4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimers Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times.
5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior.
6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller.
7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry.
8. We get fat because of an imbalance -- a disequilibrium -- in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.
9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.
10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.
Another excellent investigator of our pitiful modern diet is Michael Pollan.
"In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan describes what he says are the four principal food chains in the United States: the industrial, the big organic, the local farm, and the hunter-gatherer. Pollan follows each of these food chains from a group of plants photosynthesizing calories, through a series of intermediate stages, and ultimately to a meal. Along the way, he suggests that there is a fundamental tension between the logic of nature and the logic of human industry; that the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world; and that industrial eating obscures crucially important ecological relationships and connections." (from: "Michael Pollan," Wikipedia)
from: In Defense of Food, An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan
"Which brings us -- reluctantly, necessarily -- to the American factory farm, the place where all such distinctions turn to dust. It's not easy to draw lines between pain and suffering in a modern egg or confinement hog operation. These are places where the subtleties of moral philosophy and animal cognition mean less than nothing, where everything we've learned about animals at least since Darwin has been simply . . . set aside. To visit a modern CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) is to enter a world that, for all its technological sophistication, is still designed according to Cartesian principles: animals are machines incapable of feeling pain. Since no thinking person can possibly believe this any more, industrial animal agriculture depends on a suspension of disbelief on the part of the people who operate it and a willingness to avert your eyes on the part of everyone else."
"Much of this description is drawn from `Dominion,' Matthew Scully's recent book in which he offers a harrowing description of a North Carolina hog operation. Scully, a Christian conservative, has no patience for lefty rights talk, arguing instead that while God did give man ''dominion'' over animals (`Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you'), he also admonished us to show them mercy. 'We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality but . . . because they stand unequal and powerless before us.'"
"Scully calls the contemporary factory farm `our own worst nightmare' and, to his credit, doesn't shrink from naming the root cause of this evil: unfettered capitalism. (Perhaps this explains why he resigned from the Bush administration just before his book's publication.) A tension has always existed between the capitalist imperative to maximize efficiency and the moral imperatives of religion or community, which have historically served as a counterweight to the moral blindness of the market. This is one of `the cultural contradictions of capitalism' -- the tendency of the economic impulse to erode the moral underpinnings of society. Mercy toward animals is one such casualty.
"Salatin's open-air abattoir is a morally powerful idea. Someone slaughtering a chicken in a place where he can be watched is apt to do it scrupulously, with consideration for the animal as well as for the eater. This is going to sound quixotic, but maybe all we need to do to redeem industrial animal agriculture in this country is to pass a law requiring that the steel and concrete walls of the CAFO's and slaughterhouses be replaced with . . . glass. If there's any new 'right' we need to establish, maybe it's this one: the right to look.
"The industrialization -- and dehumanization -- of American animal farming is a relatively new, evitable and local phenomenon: no other country raises and slaughters its food animals quite as intensively or as brutally as we do. Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to do it this way. Tail-docking and sow crates and beak-clipping would disappear overnight, and the days of slaughtering 400 head of cattle an hour would come to an end. For who could stand the sight? Yes, meat would get more expensive. We'd probably eat less of it, too, but maybe when we did eat animals, we'd eat them with the consciousness, ceremony and respect they deserve.
We have a dangerously cruel way of enriching our diet with meat. It is all a symptom of short term thinking. No civilization can expect to please God, or even survive, if it treats nature as this capitalist, anarchic, short term oriented system is doing. The following proposal by George Monbiot might counteract some of the bias toward now as opposed to tomorrow that is built into our present system.
"What can be done about political short-termism? With the environmental thinker Matthew Prescott, Ive hatched what might be a partial solution. We propose a new parliamentary body - the 100 Year Committee - whose purpose is to assess the likely impacts of current policy in 10, 20, 50 and 100 years time. Like any other select committee, it gathers evidence, publishes reports and makes recommendations to the government. It differs only in that it has no interest in the current political cycle. Its maximum timeframe is roughly the residence time of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
"The members of this committee would not be equipped with crystal balls; they would simply be released from the need to balance the interests of the present against a heavily-discounted future. Their purpose would be to provide a voice for those who have not yet been enfranchised. A 100 Year Committee cannot insure us against political stupidity, but it deprives governments of one of their excuses: that they could not see trouble coming.
from: Free the Unborn! A proposal for slowing down politics", By George Monbiot. Guardian, 21st October 2008,