health news
February 10, 2011 posted by

Strange Culture

I want to be inspired by two recent headlines that promise our government is taking a positive role when it comes to our health. I really do. And I was until I Roku’d a film recommended by Netflix when reality came crashing back down. While I’m sure there are people who work for government that are doing their best to make the world a better place, the bottom line is that we are living in an oligarchy. Money is what makes the world go round. Unfortunately, many of those with a lot of it are blinded by the sight of obtaining even more, making everything that falls into their wake of greed irrelevant.

Let’s start with the good news. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released Jan ’11, are now highlighting the merits of vegetarian and vegan diets. From the Huffington Post (or is it AOL/Huff Post now?):

The new guidelines sing the praises of plant-based diets: “Vegetarian-style eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes — lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower total mortality. Several clinical trials have documented that vegetarian eating patterns lower blood pressure.”

This is good health news if ever I’ve heard some. Never mind that when George McGovern was put in charge of this task, back in the 70s, his research told him pretty much the same thing. When he tried to enact the changes, however, the meat and dairy industries lobbied to have him fired. They were successful and our food pyramid’s been championing way too much meat and dairy ever since. But, hey, better late than never right?

Next is an AP wire about Colorado considering adding more exercise in school. Given the last study I read on this, now a decade old, showed that kids in 2000 were getting approximately 23% less exercise than they were in the 70s all I can say is about time. Too bad it’s not a done deal. But with the testimony of their expert I’m sure it’ll happen.

“I like that. Going to recess is fun,” said 9-year-old Nathanial Guzman, a 4th grader at Knowledge Quest Academy in Milliken, Colo. “Personally, I don’t think our brains would work if we didn’t exercise enough.”

The proposals co-sponsor, Rep. Tom Massey, liked Guzman’s endorsement. “Perfect, there’s our tagline right there.”

Which kind of reminds me of the scene in Aliens when the stranded little girl seems to have better ideas than all the specialists sent to study and/or kill the aliens and Wild Bill’s “let’s put her in charge” reaction. Yep, the kid’s right. Active kids are smarter kids. And how are the people running our school systems supposed to know unless the kid’s tell them?

Finally, in the film that spoiled my good mood, an artist/college professor is falsely accused of terrorism on the eve of his modern art exhibition’s opening that was going to show the dangers of allowing genetically modified foods to spin out of control without public knowledge. The government has spent millions of dollars to prosecute this guy, even it’s such a flimsy case that the defense attorney continually jokes about the absurdity of it.

At the film’s end, the case has dragged on for years but yet to go to trial because the government can’t find enough evidence—any real evidence—to convict him of anything. It seems obvious that the massive GMO industry is somehow behind the odd persecution. After all, they’re trying to force the entire European Union to eliminate the labeling of GMO foods so it’s not stretch to think that they could push the FBI around. And since they’ve got nothing on the artist it all plays out as more bizarre than scary. But we do live in a strange culture indeed.


  • Well, its got Tilda Swinton in it, so it's pretty much worth watching right there.I have to take exception with one aspect of the new guidelines: "Vegeterian-style . . . associated with . . . lower total mortality."Um . . . are they saying that people don't die if they eat a vegetarian diet?Total mortality is not changeable. We all die, eventually.Unfortunately, the science on whether or not eating vegetarian is better for you isn't perfect. There are plenty of studies that say people who choose to eat vegetarian make different life choices than those who choose to eat meat; and subsequently those life choices may contribute to longer life. Vegetarians tend to exercise more, for one thing. But, in America the real consideration is this: People choosing a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle tend to come from a higher socio-economic class. They have access to better health care, better living conditions and better opportunities for a healthy lifestyle. Plus, they tend to have access to a broader knowledge base regarding healthy choices.While you could say that eating vegetarian/vegan is cheaper than eating meat, you'd be missing the fact that the vast majority of Americans don't have easy access to healthy foods. To her great credit, Michelle Obama is trying to change that. But I digress . . . I think there's a false dichotomy too often drawn in these discussions. You either eat meat or you eat veggies. But in fact, you can eat both. And, you can still live a long time. And live well. And be happy. And have nice teeth. And a clean closet. And not watch too much TV. And get regular exercise at the gym. And not be a pig tied to a stick that is driven into frozen winter shit.Now, I've got to finish my burrito (venison, pinto beans, rice, salsa), because I've got an afternoon of skate skiing, snow-biking and climbing ahead of me. But then, my life circumstances allow me a flexible work schedule. The guys working in a mine to provide the ore that powers my Intel i7 processor probably aren't going to get much exercise today. And, at the end of their long day, they probably aren't going to want to look at a plate of brocolli. They're gonna want a cheeseburger and fries and a couple of beers. And I think they might just be right. And I think they should.J

  • You're not even talking about Bigfoot!

  • Not to kick you while you're down, but have you seen epic mealtime on youtube? Hilariously disgusting, plus they're all Canadian, so it doesn't really count.

  • Is this what happens when Josh changes his lifestyle. That's not a comment, it's an essay!

  • I had some vegeterian friends in Redlands. They had a bad diet. They didn't really eat that many vegetables, they just didn't eat meat. I think their diet consisted of cheese and bread and a few soy products. Vegetables were almost non-existent. I don't think they're a very good example of healthy eating.

  • Very well said Josh. My feeling is to educate people on the benefits of a healthy diet, just don't legislate it me.

  • It would seem that there is a risk of this turning into a debate on vegetarianism vs. meat-eating. This really isn't the point though. The point is that the food guide was changed to accommodate healthy eating and broke away from it's traditional sponsors of the Beef and Dairy industries – which I think is a great thing.I'm pescetarian myself and have long had to explain to others that the food guides given to us from the government are incomplete and possibly flawed due to the the influence of special interests. It wouldn't be a problem if we could ignore them, but they are used in elementary schools to tell children about health and they are used to "train" nutritionists.So, rather than sing the virtues of one diet over another (I know and feel comfortable in my choice) – I would just say that it is about time the meat industry stopped controlling the guide contents. It's great to hear that other options are getting the respect they deserve – whether people pursue them or not.Of course, I'm Canadian – so it doesn't really count 😉

  • This is why local control of public education is so important. Federal standards eat up much time and budget for local districts. They account for about 90% of the regulations but give less than 10% of the funding of most districts budgets. Once they get you hooked on the purse strings you are enslaved to their Ideas and demands.

  • Whether you CHOOSE to follow a vegetarian diet, or CHOOSE to eat meat is what is important. I am for as little government involvement as possible. Let people educate themselves from the wealth of information out there, and act appropriately. The government has done so much wrong especially in the health and nutrition realm, that if you see any recommendations from them on nutrition, you stand a better chance of a healthy lifestyle doing the exact opposite. I'm sorry, but it is not the government's role to take care of me, but to stand aside and let me live freely. It is we who should be taking care of the government.

  • It's startin' to sound like a bunch of my fellow Montanans are commenting on your blog Steve!Keep the government off our bodies, out of our bedrooms, out of our gun closets and out of our refrigerators.And keep your churches out of my government.Suddenly I'm so popular. I should run for city council.J

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