How Junk Food Can End Obesity

Harnessing our inner junk food cravings …and the fast food nation…to improve our nutrition.

Late last year, in a small health-food eatery called Cafe Sprouts in Oberlin, Ohio, I had what may well have been the most wholesome beverage of my life. The friendly server patiently guided me to an apple-blueberry-kale-carrot smoothie-juice combination, which she spent the next several minutes preparing, mostly by shepherding farm-fresh produce into machinery. The result was tasty, but at 300 calories (by my rough calculation) in a 16-ounce cup, it was more than my diet could regularly absorb without consequences, nor was I about to make a habit of $9 shakes, healthy or not.

Inspired by the experience nonetheless, I tried again two months later at L.A.’s Real Food Daily, a popular vegan restaurant near Hollywood. I was initially wary of a low-calorie juice made almost entirely from green vegetables, but the server assured me it was a popular treat. I like to brag that I can eat anything, and I scarf down all sorts of raw vegetables like candy, but I could stomach only about a third of this oddly foamy, bitter concoction. It smelled like lawn clippings and tasted like liquid celery. It goes for $7.95, and I waited 10 minutes for it.

I finally hit the sweet spot just a few weeks later, in Chicago, with a delicious blueberry-pomegranate smoothie that rang in at a relatively modest 220 calories. It cost $3 and took only seconds to make. Best of all, I’ll be able to get this concoction just about anywhere. Thanks, McDonald’s!

If only the McDonald’s smoothie weren’t, unlike the first two, so fattening and unhealthy. Or at least that’s what the most-prominent voices in our food culture today would have you believe.

An enormous amount of media space has been dedicated to promoting the notion that all processed food, and only processed food, is making us sickly and overweight. In this narrative, the food-industrial complex—particularly the fast-food industry—has turned all the powers of food-processing science loose on engineering its offerings to addict us to fat, sugar, and salt, causing or at least heavily contributing to the obesity crisis. The wares of these pimps and pushers, we are told, are to be universally shunned.

The Atlantic Monthly Article

Paula Deen and Smithfield Farms

…just went up to CNN for a news break from my writing and saw Smithfield Farms is dropping their sponsorship of Paula Deen with the statement:

Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen. Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food industry leader and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned.

I just three weeks ago drove from Raleigh Durham, North Carolina to Wilmington, North Carolina. In the middle is a small town named Wallace.

Our visit took us to a friend’s home and meal at a gated community and country club named River Landing…on the edge of Wallace.

Evidently River Landing was developed by the Murphy family. I was told the Murphy’s were large hog producers …and that the Murphy’s had sold their hog operations to Smithfield Farms.

I would suggest folks might want to take a look at Wallace, North Carolina and the surrounding area.

World Food Prize

This year…the World Food Prize is likely to get some publicity, some of it in the form of anger and protests. The prize will go to who played prominent roles in creating genetically engineered crops: Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert Fraley.

The NPR Report

Farm Free or Die

New Englanders have never been shy about revolting against what they see as unfair food regulations. Remember that whole thing?

So perhaps it’s not so surprising that in Maine, towns have been staging another revolution: They’ve declared independence from state and federal regulations on locally produced foods.

In May, the tiny Isle of Haut became the tenth town in the state to pass what’s known as a food sovereignty ordinance. Essentially, these resolutions claim that small local food producers don’t have to abide by state or federal licensing and inspection regulations if they are selling directly to consumers.

The NPR Report

Slave Labor and the Food You Eat

A recent briefing paper by the International Labor Rights Forum and the Warehouse Workers United noted labor abuses at Thai shrimp producer, Narong Seafood, which has been a major supplier to Walmart and a leading shrimp processor for the U.S. market. But despite the prevalence of abuse, the paper recommends that Walmart not drop Narong as a supplier, but instead “work with labor and human rights activists in Thailand to ensure the rights of the workers who produce shrimp for Walmart in Thailand are respected.”

Forced labor, including debt bondage, also continues to sustain palm oil plantations in Malaysia, also on the Tier 2 Watch List, and Indonesia. (Palm oil is used in lots of processed foods, from Dunkin Donuts to Girl Scout cookies.) Cargill, the largest importer of palm oil and trader of 25 percent of the world’s palm oil supply, says it has a policy of not using any slave or child labor. But the Rainforest Action Network has alleged that one of Cargill’s palm oil suppliers used slave labor on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Even in the U.S., food workers aren’t exempt from abuse and even slavery. As our NPR colleague Yuki Noguchi last month, men with intellectual disabilities who worked at an Iowa turkey-processing plant suffered severe verbal and physical abuse for over 20 years. A jury eventually awarded the men approximately $3,000,000, the largest jury verdict in the history of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The NPR Article

How many slaves work for you?

http://slaveryfootprint.org/