Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yum... Wikileeks

Last week, I presented low-stress solutions on how to chintz out of this gift-giving season without feeling like a complete, low-class schmuck.

I’d like to take back everything I said, and instead recommend that you buy the book “In Defense of Food” for all your friends and relatives. Spend the $6.99 per copy at Amazon if you have to.

Author Michael Pollan insists that we are supposed to enjoy eating, and guides you into some basic principles that would result in a fully healthy and satisfying diet if you weren’t too lazy to change your habits.

So never mind.

But the book also details how the U.S. government twisted already-flawed science to appease industry, resulting in all sorts of dietary nastiness among the general population.

You see, back in the 1970s, scientists were noticing that people who ate a lot of animal products often wound up dead. Because death is one of those Undesirable Outcomes to be Avoided at All Cost, a federal advisory board wrote a report recommending that people eat less meat and cheese.

Predictably, the meat and dairy industries had a cow (ha!), and the panel whipped up some revisions, instead telling America to “choose meat, poultry, and fish that will reduce saturated fat intake.”

At the time, we all thought saturated fat was the evil substance causing all our problems. Lots of us switched to margarine and other replacements, only to learn later that they were loaded with trans-fats, which are way more hideous.

For some reason, people listen to the federal government about food, even though the government is clearly controlled either by whimsical overreactions to incomplete science or by corporations peddling “edible food-like substances.”

Pollan recounts how the FDA declared Frito Lay chips offer health benefits because (get ready for this) every moment you spend stuffing your mouth with polyunsaturated fats is a moment you’re not stuffing them with saturated fats.

In other words, the government would be happy to have me drinking soda and coffee all day, because, at least then, I wouldn’t be drinking used motor oil.

The most irritating part of all this how little the public knows/knew about it.

Did we see a NBC News “Fleecing of America” Expose on Frito Lay and the FDA? No way.

Where was Wikileaks when we needed them, when all those ranchers and dairy farmers lobbied to make sure they could keep making a living at the expense of public health?

If you’ve been following the news, you know that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is the world’s foremost persona non grata at the moment, having published thousands of classified documents purported to compromise security interests and political relationships for no clear benefit to mankind.

Yes, we found out that our government has some secret deal with some place called Yemen, wherein we kill off a bunch of people and they take the blame for it. And, it turns out, we actually do have military forces “engaged in combat operations” (why can’t we just say “fighting” anymore?) in Pakistan.

Assange’s wildly radical theory is that governments keeping secrets is generally a bad thing.

But now that these secrets have been exposed, do we really expect contrition? Promise never to do it again, cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my document shredder?

Or are we going to keep wringing our hands over health care costs while lobbyists infest the backrooms of bureaucracy to write our nutrition guidelines and labeling regulations to suit their profit margins, and we just fill our stomachs with whatever the hell they feel like making?

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Great commentary! I always enjoy your pieces, but particularly this one.