Tag Archives: food industry

Finding Neutrality in the Genetically Modified Food Debate

GMO debate IntentI’ve been heavily involved in understanding and tracking the GMO debate for many years.  As an expert for the natural products industry, the issue of genetic modification and the role it should or should not play in natural products is a heavily debated (and litigated) topic. You need look no further than the New York Times, the Dr. Oz show, or your Facebook feed to get a dose of the emotion and polarized positions on both sides of this subject.

Over the course of these years I have come to a couple conclusions that I believe heavily influence our ability to productively communicate about this issue: 1) Despite the rapidly growing debate on this subject, there is still an incredible lack of awareness about GMO and an even bigger level of ignorance about the various topics at play under the “GMO” label, and 2) the emotional intensity this topic carries with it makes improved education, understanding and rational dialog a seemly impossible task at times.

I confess that I also feel a lot of emotion about this subject and wish for more information and understanding. I am troubled by conventional farming practices, the petro-chemical use required to keep it going and the seeming disregard for the natural wisdom of nature. I worry about the global impact the spread of these farming practices into developing countries will have not only to the health of the soil and people but to the traditional farming wisdom that will no longer be passed from generation to generation.

On the flip side, I believe that as humans we are hard-wired to experiment, research and evolve our understanding of the world. Given what I know of evolution and farming, biotechnology seems like a logical place for exploration in science. It’s in the application of this science that things start to get complicated to me. My sense is that, like most things, the best scenario for people and the planet as it relates to GMO is toward the center from either side of the extreme.

Last week I came across a series of articles that are currently posting on Grist.org attempting to do the thing I’ve been hoping I would have the ability to do myself someday – investigate and dissect this issue without emotion and understand the impact of biotechnology in food crops on human and planet health.

Like me, the reporter, Nathanael Johnson, has been wishing for a rational dissection of this issue for many years. I’ve spoken to some of the same people he’s interviewed for this series and am impressed by the depth of his research. I’ve been reading and note taking as each of his articles are published and hope that if you’re also seeking to understand this complex issue, you will take the time to read his pieces as well.

You can find a link to the first article in his series here and can find links to subsequent articles in the series at the bottom of the piece.

Like this post?

Image by Steve Rhodes

Why Cooking Will Save Our Lives in the Face of Obesity, Diabetes, and Addiction

ginger chickenThe cure for what ails us—both in our bodies and in our nation—can be found in the kitchen. It is a place to rebuild community and connection, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, enrich and nourish our bodies and our souls.

Yet, in the twenty-first century, our kitchens (and our taste buds) have been hijacked by the food industry. In 1900 only 2 percent of meals were eaten outside of the home; today that number is over 50 percent.

The food-like substances proffered by the industrial food system trick our taste buds into momentary pleasure. But our biology rejects the junk forced on our genes and on our hormonal and biochemical pathways.

Your tongue can be fooled and your brain can become addicted to the slick combinations of fat, sugar, and salt pumped into factory-made foods, but your biochemistry cannot handle these foods, and the result is the disaster we have in America today—70 percent of us are overweight, and obesity rates are expected to top 42 percent by the end of the next decade (up from only 13 percent in 1960).

Today one in two Americans has either pre-diabetes or diabetes. In less than a decade the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent.

Really?

Almost one in four kids has pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes?

Yes, and, perhaps even more shocking, 37 percent of kids at a normal weight have one or more cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar, because even though factory food doesn’t necessarily make you fat, it does make you sick! The food industry taxes our health and mortgages our children’s futures. Obese children will earn less, suffer more, and die younger.

It is time to take back our kitchens and our homes. Transforming the food industry seems like a gigantic undertaking, but it is in fact an easy fix. The solution is in our shopping carts, our refrigerators, and our cupboards—and on our dining room tables. This is where the power is. It is the hundreds of small choices you make every day, choices that will topple the monolithic food industry.

We need a revolution. Cooking real food is a revolutionary act.* We have lost the means to care for ourselves. We have now raised the second generation of Americans who don’t know how to cook. The average child in America doesn’t know how to identify even the most basic vegetables and fruit; our kids don’t know where their food comes from or even that it grows on a farm. Cooking means microwaving. Food “grows” in boxes, plastic bags, and cans. Reading labels is supremely unhelpful in identifying the source of most foods—the ingredients are mostly factory-made science projects with a remote and unrecognizable lineage to real food.

We are brainwashed into thinking that cooking real food costs too much, is too hard, and takes too long. Hence, we rely on inexpensive convenience foods. But these aren’t so convenient when we become dependent on hundreds of dollars of medication a month, when we can’t work because we are sick and fat and sluggish, or when we feel so bad we can’t enjoy life anymore.

The average American spends eight hours a day in front of a screen (mostly the television) and spends more time watching cooking shows than actually cooking.

Convenience is killing us.

In fact, real food can be inexpensive. Choosing simple ingredients, cooking from scratch, shopping at discount club stores, and getting produce from community supported agriculture associations (CSAs), community gardens, or co-ops all build health and community and save money. Europeans spend nearly 20 percent of their income on food, Americans only about 9 percent. Food is the best investment in your health.

I believe in the power of collective intelligence. Within my community are hundreds, if not thousands, of unheralded chefs experimenting with food and creating extraordinary meals and recipes. Within our individual and our national communities is the cure for what ails us. We are the answer. We are the revolutionaries who will change the face of food in America and around the world.

Yes, we need to change policy in order to change the food we grow and to subsidize real food instead of the walls of processed fat, sugar, flour, and trans fats that line our grocery and convenience stores. Yes, we need to end food marketing to children. We need to make schools safe zones for kids with only those products and activities that support healthy minds and bodies. There is no room for junk food or factory foods in schools. Period.

Yes, we need all that and more to take back our kitchens and our health. But each of us can start at home with a kitchen makeover. Three simple actions can change everything:

  1. Do a fridge makeover.
  2. Do a pantry makeover.
  3. Do a shopping cart makeover.

My book, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook gives you advice on what to keep and what to discard from your fridge, pantry and shopping cart. It also provides recipes—gathered from our own community of health and cooking revolutionaries—to delight your palate, stimulate your senses, and nourish your body and soul.

The recipes are designed to be made, shared, and enjoyed with friends and family. Think of this book as a roadmap to pleasure and health.

Once you have taken back your kitchen, then you can start something really revolutionary.

Find eight (or so) people you would love to know better or spend more time with. Invite them to start a supper club—once a week or once a month. Rotate dinners at one another’s houses. Share the cooking by creating a potluck, or take turns choosing some favorite recipes from this cookbook and preparing a feast for all. At each dinner pick a topic—about food, health, or community—to discuss. Then let the juices flow. The stew of food and friendship will nourish you deeply.

In this way—one by one, kitchen by kitchen, community by community—we will take back our health together!

* Pilar Gerasimo and her 101 Revolutionary Ways to be Healthy inspired the idea that cooking is a revolutionary act. To learn the other 100 revolutionary ways to be healthy, go to revolutionaryact.com or check out the app.

 

Originally published on my blog, DrHyman.com.

How Diet Soda Makes You Fat – and Other Food and Diet Industry Secrets (Part 2)

2vkzxh11Click here for part 1.

Being Overweight Is Not Your Fault

The food industry would have us believe that controlling our weight is about personal responsibility. Tell that to a 200 pound five-year-old with diabetes and liver failure. Our taste buds have been hijacked by the food and diet industry. We are programmed to like sweet, salt, and fat tastes.

And those slick combinations of sugar, fat and salt in junk and processed food have hijacked our taste buds, our brain chemistry, and our metabolism. These foods are biologically addictive. We are held hostage by the food industry and we blame ourselves.

This is food terrorism! The biggest threat to our lives is not Al Qaeda but Coca-Cola (and the other food industry giants)!

How does food addiction happen?

New research shows that industrial food full of processed sugars, fats, salt, and chemicals are powerfully addictive.

And sugar is the worst culprit.

One animal study found that sugar is more addictive than cocaine.

When rats were given the choice between mainline cocaine right into their veins or sweetened water (in fact, they used an artificial sweetener), they found that sugar was eight times more addictive than cocaine. Even the rats already addicted to cocaine switched over to diet drinks!

And what’s even more interesting is that while cocaine and heroin activate only one spot for pleasure in the brain, sugar lights up the brain like a pinball machine!

If these foods are addictive and drive overeating, then the whole idea of moderation just doesn’t work. Hey, just have that one line of cocaine or that one hit of heroin.

We can’t stop eating, but we can stop eating junk and sugar!

So we have to take back our taste buds, take back our brain chemistry, and take back our bodies from the food and diet industry.

How do we do that?

Bottom Line: By eating real food – chicken, fish, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and a little whole grains will reset your taste buds and your brain chemistry automatically.

Exercise Your Way to Weight Loss

The food industry and diet industry push exercise. Even Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative focuses on exercise in its name, “Let’s Move”. But it should be really called “Let’s Eat Real Food.”

Here’s why. Sugar sweetened drinks make up about 15 percent of our calorie intake every day.

But you have to walk 4.5 miles to burn off one 20-ounce soda, which contains 15 teaspoons of sugar.

You have to run four miles a day for one week to burn off one super-size meal. If you have one super-size meal everyday you would have to run a marathon every day!

You can’t exercise your way out of bad diet – except if your run a marathon every day.

Drinking 32 ounces of Gatorade after a workout is a dumb idea, unless you run around like Kobe Bryant on the basketball court for 48 minutes. There are better ways to replenish your energy and electrolytes than colored sugar water with a few minerals sprinkled in.

To paraphrase my friend Bill Clinton, “It’s the food stupid!”

Bottom Line: Exercise is critical to long-term health and weight loss, but you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.

Thankfully science is shedding light on the ideas that keep us fat and sick. Unfortunately, scientists don’t have billion dollar marketing budgets. But we as a community of thinking people wanting real information can speak out, can spread the word and turn the tide of obesity and chronic disease together. Share this article with your community and friends.

Get started today! Get your copy of The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook today. When you purchase this book from this link you will gain access to these exclusive Dr. Hyman bonuses:

  • 1-Week Gluten-Free Meal Plan – Maps out a full week of breakfasts, lunches and dinners PLUS all new recipes for these.
  • Access to Dr. Hyman’s Kitchen Videos – Including cooking demos, Fridge and Pantry makeover, supermarket shopping tips and more. Over 60 minutes of footage.
  • You will be invited to a live online presentation hosted by Dr. Hyman on March 27th, 2013.

Click here to learn more.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

 

Originally published on Dr. Hyman’s website.

Image sourced: Natural Running Center

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