90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Can Processed Food Be Healthy?

Burger King makes a low-cal French fry. Processed food wants to compete on the health front. Can it?  Fake meat. Super soy. We’ll look.

Kraft macaroni and cheese, Stove Stop stuffing mix, and Velveeta are seen at a Ralphs Fresh Fare supermarket in Los Angeles Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. (AP)

Kraft macaroni and cheese, Stove Stop stuffing mix, and Velveeta are seen at a Ralphs Fresh Fare supermarket in Los Angeles Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. (AP)

We all know the mantra of healthy eating these days.  Lots of vegetables and fruit on the plate.  Not much meat.  Organic if you can.  And local is lovely.  We like to picture that armful of dinner ingredients fresh from the farmers market.

But what about all the people who don’t get close to that.  And maybe can’t afford it.  There’s a new buzz around processed food that’s being made and pitched as healthy.  Burger King’s low-cal fries.  Fake meat.  Seaweed chips.  Factory-engineered health goop.

This hour, On Point:  could processed food be re-engineered to save our health?  Or is that dreaming?

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Caitlin Roper, senior editor at Wired. She conceived of and oversaw Wired’s food issue. (@caitlinroper)

Ethan Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Beyond Meat.

Michael Moss, investigative reporter for the New York Times. Author of “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.” (@mossmichaelc)

David Freedman, writes about medicine, obesity, technology, and business for The Atlantic and the Scientific American. He wrote “How Junk Food Can End Obesity” for The Atlantic in June. (@dhfreedman)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: How Junk Food Can End Obesity – ”If the most-influential voices in our food culture today get their way, we will achieve a genuine food revolution. Too bad it would be one tailored to the dubious health fantasies of a small, elite minority. And too bad it would largely exclude the obese masses, who would continue to sicken and die early. Despite the best efforts of a small army of wholesome-food heroes, there is no reasonable scenario under which these foods could become cheap and plentiful enough to serve as the core diet for most of the obese population—even in the unlikely case that your typical junk-food eater would be willing and able to break lifelong habits to embrace kale and yellow beets.”

Wired: Tastes Like Chicken — “The production floor at Beyond Meat’s Columbia, Missouri, factory runs some major industrial equipment. Here, large-format mixers the size of Subarus fold together a blend of soy and pea protein isolates, fiber, and a few other ingredients—including a little titanium dioxide to lighten the gray of the soy into something more like pale saffron.”

USA Today: Burger King concocts lower-calorie ‘Satisfries’ – ”In a move destined to shake up the fast-food industry, Burger King Tuesday will unveil a simple but startling french fry innovation: french fries with 30% less fat and 20% fewer calories than BK’s current fries. (And 40% less fat and 30% fewer calories than McDonald’s fries.)”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Yar

    No its not Soylent Green, its soldier flys. Doesn’t sound much better, but it appears to be an efficient converter for protein. I think I prefer to have my flys processed by chickens first.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/19/223728061/making-food-from-flies-its-not-that-icky

  • George

    First requirement would be to define “processed food.” People throw the term around about as much as they do “organic” and “natural” without really thinking what it means. Cut a piece of cheese? It’s been processed. Washed celery? It’s been processed. Using the term as a catch-all for additives, preservatives, and the like muddles the conversation surrounding agriculture and food.

    • J__o__h__n

      Celery shouldn’t be washed; it should be thrown out.

    • Don_B1

      There is a definition:

      “Processed foods have been altered from their natural state, either for safety reasons or for convenience. The methods used include canning, freezing, refrigeration, dehydration and aseptic processing.”

      See: http://nutrition.about.com/od/askyournutritionist/f/processedfoods.htm

      Thus cutting cheese does not fit that definition, unless you consider changing the shape or size of something as changing its state. And washing celery, unless it is then thoroughly dried, can support bacterial growth, etc., but it does not change its state in most people’s minds.

      • keltcrusader

        What about home canning? I only use stuff from my garden or from trusted local farmers to can for winter use and so I can control the amount of sugar or salt added needed for preservation. I would think home-canned goods would be better for you than canned foods from the grocery store.

  • 2Gary2

    You can not polish a turd

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Just how many pounds of pesticides does the average American eat every year?

    How much of our water supply is doped with the big pharma drugs of other people.

    Oh, well, it is comforting to know that bananas are naturally radioactive.

    Hey Tom, why not book a banana. All of that radio activity is sure to boost ratings !

    Bon

    appétit !

    • AC

      whomp whomp

    • northeaster17

      A few years ago Tom actually did a show on the Banana. Was a good one.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        Mr. Cavendish, I presume ?

  • AC

    7billion and growing? it’s going to have to be, no? the expense of that many cows and produce would be $$$$

  • arydberg
  • ToyYoda

    Tom. Please bring up Soylent. New liquid diet designed to replace eating. It was launched as a kick starter company.

    https://campaign.soylent.me/soylent-free-your-body

    Here’s someone’s blog about his 2 weeks of use:

    http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2013/08/20/soylent/

  • AC

    vanilla ‘flavoring’ is made from beaver butts!
    and jelly beans are shiny thanks to bug pooh!

    • keltcrusader

      That sounds pretty gross even if it is all natural. :(
      I make my own vanilla with vodka (use good stuff, not cheapy) and vanilla beans in a glass jar – keep in cool, dark place and shake daily for a couple of weeks and it is ready to go. As you use it, you can add more vodka. Beans need to be replaced every couple of years.
      You can also make vanilla sugar by placing a vanilla bean in a jar of regular sugar, it takes about a month, but the smell is wonderful and you get the hint of vanilla flavor. Use in place of regular sugar in recipes – it is like heaven when making homemade whipped cream!!

      • TFRX

        Isn’t the next natural (haha!) step making your own infused vodkas?

        • keltcrusader

          Yes, well, I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I do work with someone with a moonshine still, so it may be in my future!

  • RolloMartins

    Can processed food be healthy? Looking at a variety of packages…nope.

  • keltcrusader

    no

    • AC

      boy. the last couple times i’ve come on here, i notice someone thumbs down EVERYTHING you say. how did you earn such notice?
      they thumbs downed a stand alone ‘no’ just because you said it. this is something interesting….

      • skelly74

        I’m gonna give you a thumbs up on posting what I was thinking.

      • Mari McAvenia

        I’ve noticed this, too, and have abstained from commenting as a result. Now, watch my reply to your relevant post get a thumbs down. There’s a knee-jerk troll in our midst. Hmmm. I think I know who….

      • keltcrusader

        I can be pretty outspoken, so that appears to be their way of putting me in my place. Too bad a down vote is anonymous, people might be a little more discerning it their use.

        • J__o__h__n

          I don’t see why the down votes are anonymous. Up and down votes are a bit silly but they should be treated the same.

        • Mari McAvenia

          The aim is to silence those of us who don’t agree with this person. So, speak louder and more often! It appears that this individual is very unpopular here, already, hence the anonymity of his (or her) negativity.

          • Ray in VT

            Yeah, one shouldn’t let down votes deter one from speaking. Just pay it no mind.

          • 1Brett1

            I’ve noticed that when one commenter in particular (decidedly neo-conservative) who comes here regularly and makes snarky/snide comments only, generally, leaves a comment, down votes appear at around the same time, and those down votes are suddenly appear only toward the liberal commentators on here. So, I agree with you whole heartedly.

  • 1Brett1

    No, processed food can NOT be healthy…thanks a lot, Obama!

    • keltcrusader

      LOL

      • 1Brett1

        Thanks for getting my humor…I wonder about the “down” votes?! Do people believe I was serious? Did the usual neocon suspects, as it were, catch a whiff of irony and “down” vote because they actually see no sarcasm in my comment? Who knows…? Who cares?

    • AC

      i want to say a ‘dammit moon moon’ for some reason, but ‘dammit obama obama’ sounds too silly….

      • Don_B1

        It’s all in the extra syllables!

      • 1Brett1

        It’s a good thing you didn’t go with ‘dammit moon moon’ as a stand alone! The moderators would have censored you!!! –No, wait…

    • Ray in VT

      I’m pretty sure that Obama created processed food just after he was born in Kenya. I heard it on the Internet so it must be true.

  • Emily4HL

    Frozen veggies and canned beans. Not perfect, but much more affordable. Dr. Oz wrote a great article in Time last year about a healthy diet for the 99%. The question becomes: How processed? and From what?

    • Don_B1
      • Emily4HL

        I think we have to start with healthier processed foods, such as minimally processed veggies. The first thing, as Bittman says elsewhere: Is it a plant? After everyone is eating enough fruits and veggies, then we can start worrying about organic and local. Frozen and canned has the added advantage of being very quick to table, without any added ingredients besides a little salt.

        Personally, I do as much fresh produce when its available. When it isn’t, we go frozen and canned. Eventually, I’d like to do much of the freezing and canning myself, but in my tiny apartment, I don’t have enough space to store it, let alone make it.

        I wish the Dr. Oz article was available free online. Unfortunately, you need a Time subscription.

  • skelly74

    Processed nutrition? It’s sounds like the processed food industry is trying to eat up some of the “processed” vitamin market profits.

    French fry flavored vitamins?

    Can I get me a Coq10 strawberry milkshake with some fish oil fries?

    How do like me now cholesterol?

  • Citizen James

    The quality of the on-line comments is really unworthy of this show. There needs to be some monitoring for trolling and off-topic comments.

    • Ray in VT

      Do you mean today or just generally?

      • Citizen James

        Both. What are your thoughts?

        • Ray in VT

          Well, I think that there are some very productive and thoughtful comments that generally get posted. Today I see a few that are clearly jokes, such as my one below regarding the President, and those pop up and are recognizable to those who know the poster’s history.

          Some people have their hobby horses. Some don’t get along with others, and tangents can be pretty wide ranging and on going. Do I like it? Well, often not, but it is an open forum for conversation.

          Do I think that a highly moderated forum would produce a more meaningful conversation? Maybe. I’ve been trying to remember the name of the guy whom I heard on On the Media a couple of years ago who has a site that he heavily moderates, and he gets what he thinks are some very good results, but that’s his choice.

          • J__o__h__n

            The npr.org site is really restrictive of comments and they are really arbitrary. And the review before posting slows down any exchange of ideas. It isn’t a right or left bias but not wanting to post anything that anyone could possibly find offensive which makes for worthless comments. Then again, the comments on Yahoo articles are 99% garbage. Most people who listen to On Point aren’t stupid so that a majority of the comments are worth reading. Many of the trolls have lost interest and have departed although some of them are still here.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that there should be some clear moderation standards where they exist, and a knock on On Point is that such a set does not exist here.

            I agree that attempting to get rid of the offensive or the controversial is not good for debate, but should there be an attempt to keep comments on topic or to deter abuse? Maybe.

            The comments section just about anywhere can be pretty miserable. My wife asked me about something online last night where some people were just being terrible in the comments section for something that was really benign, and she asked why even bother. My response was that some people are just a-holes, and it is easy to be one online.

          • 1Brett1

            I’d like to think on balance, there are a decent mix of asides, off-topic comments, jokes and serious, more thoughtful comments coming from most of us. There are those usual suspects who wish only to be on some ideological/single issue crusade, or want to turn everything into a conspiracy theory diatribe or something…Some days, the forum seems untenable, some it’s not so bad; others, it’s great, with a lot of insightful, informative and stimulating threads.

            I was a little surprised at the comment from “Citizen James,” as today’s forum isn’t that bad, in terms of trolling, or mud slinging…I’m surprised my Obama joke (or yours) didn’t get some neocon reply about Michelle Obama’s obesity/healthy diet initiatives! They must be on vacation or something.

          • Ray in VT

            It depends a lot on the topic, doesn’t it?

            I wonder if maybe some folks are out stockpiling more guns to guard against the arms control treaty that will lead the government to seize all guns, or maybe they’re all squeezing in one last checkup before their local doctor’s office gets taken over by the IRS.

        • Mari McAvenia

          Somebody is trying to divert the conversation from the topic at hand to personal attacks. It’s unimportant in the long run but rather distracting and unproductive behavior in the present. Perhaps eliminating BOTH up and down votes is the solution.

    • 1Brett1

      Eh, today wasn’t nearly as bad as some days, but I make jokes some days, too. My one about blaming Obama, early on, was making fun of people who will take any topic and bend it back to what they want to talk about. I have coming here for almost five years, and most of us “regulars,” as it were know each other’s personalities well and see comments in context.

      I didn’t have time to leave a thoughtful comment this morning, so a left a quip; I returned this afternoon and made a comment on topic that at least gave some of my thoughts on the subject.

      I do find an irony (nay, hypocrisy, perhaps?) in your comment, in that you’ve chosen as your contribution to this discussion an admonishment of others who are off topic by being off topic. You also solicited others to comment on being off topic, which invites a whole conversation about being off topic!

      Why do you feel compelled to self-righteously seize the moment to finger wag other comments?

  • rich4321

    One thing I don’t understand is why the food industries put so much salt in everything they make? I

    am hypertension, my doctor
    told me 1/3 of US population has hypertension, he told me to stay away to any processed food. Many of these processed food has over 1000mg of sodium. And I was told 4200mg of sodium is the maximum intake a person should need. There is even 100mg
    sodium in ice cream! And they wonder why so many people are hypertension.

    With all the salt, one can’t even taste the favor of the the food such as the true taste of the shrimps or the turkey meat or a chicken breast.

    Why doesn’t the FDA do something about it?

    • MarkVII88

      Hello Hypertension, nice to meet you. Are there a lot of hypertension clones, since you said “so many people are hypertension”?

    • J__o__h__n

      If they coordinated phasing it out gradually over a number of years, no one would notice that it has been decreased. Obviously people won’t like the taste if they eliminate it overnight.

      • Don_B1

        Exactly!

        I remember a program on salt reduction (Here and Now?) where a company slowly reduced salt content until somewhere between 20% and 30% and beyond that sales simply dropped off sharply.

        What gets me is the people who grab the salt shaker the moment the plate arrives on the table and apply a heavy dose of salt.

        It goes both ways, as one chef insisted on no salt on the tables of his restaurant so his patrons would taste his food as he wanted it to taste, But then some chefs also use too much salt.

      • rich4321

        I think it’s a master plan between the food industries and the health industries and drug makers. more hypertension sufferers, more money they make, every body happy, except the patients.
        Oh and why is that low sodium meat cost more in the super market? Seems like if they put less salt, it should cost them less to make.

  • Mari McAvenia

    “Processed” means altered, engineered, chemically manipulated. Whatever the substance was before being “processed” it’s definitely something that you wouldn’t want to eat. Color it, flavor it, package it and it’s still just dressed up, messed up crap in my opinion.

    • ggiotopoulos

      So true. My idea of food science is yeast. Nobody knows what the hell it does because they’d rather make a 3 minute meal and get in front of the TV. People get what they deserve. If they cut corners they can’t expect healthy foods.

      • edrea

        True, cooking itself is science — if you are willing to see that it is.

        • Don_B1

          There is a growing group of authors of books on the science of cooking. One of the earliest, if not the first of this era, is Harold McGee [On Food and Cooking and a blog, Curious Cook], and, just this year, Chris Kimball (of America’s Test Kitchen program on PBS), but the most radical and thorough (and expensive) is from Nathan Myhrvold [Modernist Cuisine], who was the first Technology V.P. at Microsoft.

  • J__o__h__n

    From the people who brought us transfats, put corn in everything, labeled carb filled foods as “low fat” and want to hide GM food from being labeled . . .

  • ToyYoda

    None of this is new to anyone who works out at the gym. Body builders have been eating processed food in the form of protein shakes for decades.

    Nursing homes often feed a liquid diet, Ensure, to elders who cannot chew.

    I think processed food is great in a liquid form. For the past few years I’ve been skipping dinner for a liquid meal. It’s fast and convenient, from opening the bottle to chugging my meal, it takes 1 minute and clean up is a breeze.

  • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

    Are they kidding? People can’t afford farm to table vegetables & fruits because the government heavily subsidizes huge agribusiness and factory food. It’s a rigged system!
    And what about human hubris? How recently did we decide that there were vitamins in food? What about ‘phytochemicals’? Their importance in human nutrition is so recent, it’s still controversial.
    What I’m asking is this: What other factors about food have we yet to discover? What if we’ve only scratched the surface regarding the compatibility between foods and human nutrition? And we’re pretending that we can engineer nutrition with this tragically limited knowledge? It’s time we got a little more humble, I think!

  • AC

    i have thyroid issues – soy is one of my biggest enemies (and ITS IN EVERYTHING-ANNOYING!)
    - i hope to see more variety and microfungus in meat alternatives….

  • ggiotopoulos

    Interesting conversation.

    I like the climate change aspect to this. However, I just wonder why we have to change what people may consume in the market place to appease those in our society who have no control.

    I run, I bike, I stay in good shape and I eat relatively healthy. Why should I eat food engineered for fat people who refuse to get off their couch?

    This sounds heartless but obese people have nobody to blame but themselves. People can afford good food. They just refuse to take the time to make something healthy. Food has become a drug more dangerous than cocaine or heroin. . . and these companies just seem like drug dealers to me.

    • keltcrusader

      Weight issues are not only caused by diet or lack of exercise. I have a sister who has thyroid disease. She is vegetarian, works out, and eats healthy, but still has weight issues due to the thyroid medicine she takes.

      • ggiotopoulos

        If you expect me to believe that the ridiculous amount of obesity in the US is because everyone has a thyroid issue I have a bridge to sell you. Without looking at the statistics I can say that (most likely) around 90% of the obese people in the US suffer from no health issue that keeps them from losing weight. . .other than their own laziness.

        However, this does not mean I don’t feel for people who are suffering from something real. I just don’t think someone with a thyroid issue is going to benefit from this.

        • keltcrusader

          No, that is not what I said at all.
          You said “This sounds heartless but obese people have nobody to blame but themselves. People can afford good food. They just refuse to take the time to make something healthy.”
          My point is not all weight issues are caused by bad eating habits. Sheesh, calm it down a bit.

          • ggiotopoulos

            I’m very calm. Just don’t take the exception and make it the rule. That’s a poor debate practice and seems to rule conversations these days. Maybe you should calm down. People can afford good food. Congress sucks for trying to cut food stamps, but there are a lot of options for healthy foods on a food stamp budget.

            Once upon a time I was a very poor teacher. I made next to nothing and lived with two roommates. I could barely scrape by and got into debt a couple times when I was pink slipped. I never complained about food options. I never went to McDonald’s every day and blamed someone else for my obesity.

            It’s a fact that people need to become more responsible for their actions. I’m as left leaning and liberal as they come, but I think people have to take responsibility. Make good choices and you won’t need manufactured fat food to fulfill your life.

          • J__o__h__n

            Food stamps should only be able to be used for healthy food. It makes no sense to pay for subsidized corn for the agricultural companies, subsidized unhealthy food for people with low incomes, and then subsidize heath care.

          • ggiotopoulos

            Agreed John. In MA I believe you can use the EBT card at farmers markets. It’s a start. Not saying that is the cheapest option but I live right near a Market Basket and the veggies are dirt cheap there. Yet, I see most people buying stacks of meat and processed food. . .

            And Kelt Crusader. Give it a rest. You’re changing the argument and it’s boring. This conversation is not about people struggling with weight issues for valid reasons, it’s about food science trying to appease a culture of fatness. Nobody is talking about people who (for medical reasons) gain weight. That’s not even remotely close to this discussion so take your bruised ego elsewhere. Haha.

          • J__o__h__n

            I find the prices at the farmers markets in Boston to be reasonable. Certainly cheaper than most fast food if you don’t stick to the dollar menu.

          • keltcrusader

            Spare me! You are the one who made the case that all obese people are like that because of the way they eat and live. That isn’t true and we both know it. Stop trying to make it like you aren’t wrong when you use a blanket argument to deflect the fact that your comments aren’t correct and are stereotyping people.

          • ggiotopoulos

            wahhhhhh. poor baby. :-(
            Get over it. Most people are fat of their own doing. Most. Not all. MOST.

          • keltcrusader

            oh, you’ve wounded me to the core, little man.

            next time try using qualifiers

          • ggiotopoulos

            lmao

          • keltcrusader

            What does all that have anything to do with what I said?
            You said obese people are like that because of poor eating habits and lack of exercise and I said that isn’t always the case and gave you an example of a condition that can cause weight gain independent of healthy food and exercise habits. There are many people who have various health conditions or are on medications that cause them to gain weight even when they are responsible.

          • Don_B1

            keltcrusader was only giving one example of why some people have overweight issues. There are many more.

            One of the big ones is the excessive presence of sugar (particularly HFCS – high-fructose corn syrup) in almost all processed foods. See Dr. Robert Lustig’s videos on the subject:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM&noredirect=1

            In his earlier videos he equates fructose as equivalent to table sugar, but recent research has indicated that may not be true.

          • ggiotopoulos

            Don

            C’mon. I shop at Market Basket. It’s not a nice one either. They have fresh (enough) fruits and vegetables. I’ve never been poisoned. I’m for programs that make vegetables and fresh food more available to everyone, however to say the poor are forced to suck down high fructose corn syrup is a disservice to then. They are not helpless children. The adults (not kids) need to take some responsibility. Why can’t people make that a point of fact.

            I grew up with a simple phrase uttered all the time. You are what you eat.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    Good food is a luxury. Some people of limited means buy flat panel televisions and fancy cars in an effort to live large; others buy good food in an effort to live well.

    I, like most people, have to live within limited means, and I choose to sacrifice other luxuries so I can eat real food. Real meat from naturally-raised, naturally-fed (e.g., grass-fed for cows) animals; fresh fruits and vegetables; nuts and berries; and (because it doesn’t seem to bother me) dairy from grass-fed cows.

    No processed food: no grains (corn, wheat, rice), no legumes (soy, beans, etc.), and absolutely nothing that comes in a box.

    Combined with an intense fitness regimen, and I am in better health and feel better than I did 20 years ago.

    Like anything, processed foods are probably perfectly fine in limited amounts: the occasional piece of cake or bowl of macaroni and cheese isn’t going to kill you. But that should be the treat you have once every few weeks, not every day, and certainly should not be what sustains you. Unless you are very poor and thus are forced to eat whatever is cheapest, you too can make the choice to eat natural foods: you just have to sacrifice something else that ultimately won’t be as important as the food that makes up your very body.

    • jefe68

      You don’t eat beans? Why? Wheat I can understand.
      Rice, well I love the stuff with beans. Nothing like a good homemade vegi chilly.

      • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

        Mostly because part of my philosophy is that food should only be eaten if it *can* be eaten raw. Beans are poisonous raw, as they contain ricin that is destroyed only at 176°F, and thus must be processed (cooked, in this case) to be edible.

  • MPShores

    It appears that very good efforts are being made to minimize the harmful substances that modern processing is adding to our foods. However, this does nothing to address the removal of vital nutrients (vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients) during process that do not seem to provide the same benefit when added back in.

    Michael Shores Rhinelander, Wisconsin

  • GuestAug27

    An organic farmer having trouble competing with franken-food? That’s a failure of our government policy. We subsidize everything from oil digging to Mars exploration to basic research to flu vaccines. Why don’t we subsidize healthy food as a matter of national health policy?

  • d clark

    If you aren’t going to eat meat-DON’T EAT MEAT! The pretend meat craze is perversion.

    • GP

      I don’t understand your frustration at this issue. If someone gives up meat for moral reasons, why should they be denied “comfort foods” ? Why is it perversion for someone to choose this alternative? Please elaborate.

  • skelly74

    Lets trick the poor, the lazy, the undisciplined, the ignorant into thinking that the are eating healthy junk food.

    Arrogance, greedy and speculative at best.

    How do they make these foods taste good? Salt? Fat?

    We don’t want everyone eating up the fresh healthy food now, do we.

  • Scott B

    Been eating Boca’s burgers (All-American burger) for many, many years, and gotten very good reactions from die-hard carnivore friends when I told them what they were eating wasn’t real meat. They’re even more impressed when they find out they cook quicker and easier, and can be cooked in 90 seconds in the microwave. Do that with a real meat burger! (The trick is I cook them under a small glass bowl. It keeps the juices in!)

    On another note, there’s a reason “Whole Foods” stores are called “Whole Pay check.”

  • E Travis

    Hi Tom, heard you mentioned brown rice which often contains
    contaminants from pollution. How can we eat healthy when even the
    vegetable matter we may want to eat could contain pollutants like
    mercury, arsenic, and the like.

    • Don_B1

      There are further results (see FDA, Consumer Reports, etc.) on arsenic in rice, mostly the rice grown in the U.S. Southeast, because of arsenic-laden insecticides used in cotton growing, etc. that remain in the soil.

  • edrea

    Caitlin Roper claims that food is the one area where innovation is not encouraged. Not true — just the opposite. Much has been done to alter the food we eat over the better part of the past century, it’s been the central approach of selling food. Make “more better”, more marketable. This is why we have a fast food culture of obesity and lack of taste for anything but junkfood by many.

    There is a fine line between processing food and going to far, and I don’t think we want Silicone Valley being the driving force. We don’t need fast food industry being the driving force to create healthier food products. We need to let that be region and local.

    Furthermore, soy is so great for you. And, to create a big demand is to encourage monoculture and GMOs — which undermines trying to create more healthy, sustainable grown/processed food. Small entrepreneurs across the nation need to be the developers and marketers of the food we eat.

    • edrea

      *Furthermore, soy is NOT so great for you.

    • thequietkid10

      Of course your assumption is that food is only better if it’s healthier. People by fast food for a reason, like if their job ends a 4 and their class starts at 5, or if you just getting home from work and you need to put something together for a family. Don’t be so elitist to think that health is the only factor here.

      • J__o__h__n

        For years I was too lazy to cook. I now cook about half my meals and it doesn’t take much time or skill to cook many foods. Chicken is usually cheap and there is always some variety of fish on sale.

      • edrea

        Is it elitist of me?
        I’m not rich or even considered middle class.
        But, I’ve made eating right a priority.
        That’s the key word: Priority.

        Not only that, my wife and I have convinced relatives, both worse off and better off than we, to buy better foods and to shun unhealthy fast food restaurants. You CAN buy convenient, healthy foods to eat on the fly. Going and buying that burger and fries because you’re in between classes is an excuse — because you can eat just as inexpensively — and better — NOT going for that.

        • Don_B1

          Packing a sandwich, which used to be a common thing, is easy, quick and can be highly nutritious.

  • yingyangyou

    The ‘science’ spoken of by David is all ultimately funded by the agriculture-chemical industry, based in corn subsidies and Monsanto/Dow chemical profits. “Food science” isn’t science. Biochemistry, endocrinology, physiology, cellular biology…these are sciences. And they all support eating unadulterated foods from unpolluted soil. I am a retired health-care professional. I hold a degree in cellular biology. This hi-tech food business is utter nonsense, peddled by those with vested interests in the technology.

    • Don_B1

      I can point out one counterexample: Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine because he self-funded the research from his fantastic Microsoft stock gains. But as far as I can tell, he doesn’t do a lot of chemical processing, either. Mostly he investigates different ways to heat(/chill) food.

  • Karl Prahl

    How do we get saturated fat into our systems (the source of 60% of the lipid barrier surrounding human cells) without sources of saturated fat i.e. lard, butter, animal fats? How do these trans-fat rich processed foods replace true saturated fat without compromising our overall health? Do your guest suggest that mono, poly or trans fats can replace saturated fats in the makeup of our cells?

  • MurielV

    It sounds horrible!

    There was no obesity when people ate real food made from real ingredients. Let’s go back to that.

    • Karl Prahl

      Take a look at some paintings of Henry V. There has been obesity, but it was not widespread.
      The bigger question is why do we suddenly have a huge influx of heart disease, diabetes and cancers since the introduction of processed and genetically modified foods.

      • J__o__h__n

        I think you are off by a few Henrys.

        • Karl Prahl

          But you all picked up on the message, so it hardly undermines the argument. Anyone care to address the rise in heart disease (first case in the 1920′s? several million a year today), diabetes or cancers?
          There is a good documentary addressing all of this, though I trust each one of you will check the sources on your own and come to your own decision: The Oiling of America, available on youtube for free.
          The question isn’t whether I can keep my English sovereigns straight but whether the introduction of processed and genetically modified foods in the 20th century is the reason for all these diseases.

          • AC

            because it was known as ‘agida’ or something nonsensical until modern science gave it a name and a rigid series of symtpoms by which to conclusively say that it was so. my god, isn’t that obvious? it scares me to think people think heart disease didn’t exist until 1920. you’ve got to be joking! what is the ‘rise’ in cases vs. the ‘rise’ in increasing population?

          • Karl Prahl

            Please watch the documentary. Sources are sited.
            And it was not a failure to recognize a disease. This is a radical and dynamic increase in a diseases prevalence that correlates with the introduction and proliferation of processed foods (and deregulation or superfluous regulation).
            I’ll be the first to admit correlation does not equal causation, but we should at least question it. Look at the primary sources. Don’t just swallow the story the man in the white coat tells you but know it for yourself.

          • AC

            i don’t disagree with this. i prefer all variables to be in play. also, i feel it’s never good to end with a passive agressive statement if you’re hoping to influence someone to understand your argument….

          • Karl Prahl

            My goal is not to persuade you to believe anything. Compelling Rhetoric is the province of salesmen (in all varieties). My goal is to point out fallacy in these arguments through ad speculum (conjecture) and ad ignoratium (omissions of a whole in an appeal to ignorance).
            1+1 =/ 3

          • J__o__h__n

            I didn’t say your statement was worthless just that you had the wrong king.

          • jefe68

            People had cancer as far back as the Middle ages and before, this is documented. There are eight documented cases of breast cancer found on papyrus dating all the way back to 3000 B.C.

            Hippocrates, the Greek physician who is widely considered the Father of Medicine, used the words carcinos and carcinoma to describe tumors.

            Humans have been dealing with cancer for as long as we know. The ancient Egyptians concluded back in 1600 B.C. that “there is no treatment” for the disease.

          • J__o__h__n

            Everybody knows papyrus gives you cancer.

          • Karl Prahl

            Argument is not existence of these diseases. Argument is proliferation of these diseases. At this point we leave the realm of my knowledge as I do not know the qualities of the poly, classical, medieval or industrial diets. I have read some, but I wont even pretend to speak from a position of knowing.

            Cancers, diseases and their histories have to account for changes in entomology over time as well as failures in comprehension both on those involved (our ancestors keeping records and their abilities to comprehend ideas [read: germ theory, but apply to any train of thought]) and those deciphering the historic record. Both are prone to error. Both can be correct.

            Regardless I am under the impression that all of these diseases (cancer, heart disease, etc) are much more prevalent in the current era (clear exceptions are diseases based on sanitation which can still plague the developing world). I am also under the impression that up until the current era food was mostly natural, the processing usually limited to preserving through salts, fermentation and molds (or some combination).

            Current food supplies go well beyond that in the use of modern chemistry, changing the very make up of molecular structures, forcing our bodies to adapt to digesting these new structures.
            Considering the above, modern changes in food structure and modern proliferation of heart disease, cancers etc, there seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the effects these food sources have, especially over long periods of time.

            Please correct me with primary source documents so that I can educate myself and fix these misperceptions if they are indeed that.

          • J__o__h__n

            Are cancer and heart disease rate increases up for young people too or could the fact that we live longer and die from aging related diseases more now explain it.

          • Karl Prahl

            I have no idea! :-)
            The evidence I have been shown says yes and no depending on what expert you ask and what study you look at. From this I garner that even the purported experts have no consensus and a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted.
            We are presented with the option “GMO’s and processed food or death” and we have to decide RIGHT NOW. I say bull. We “could” utilize our entire military might to distributing food throughout the world. We “could” defund the pentagon and dept. of education entirely and create X jobs producing and transporting food.
            There is a lot we can do to alleviate hunger and there will be no one magic bullet to fix everything. This may be one solution, but there is a lot of proof wanting as to it’s legitimacy. The link to disease is just one of them.

      • Ray in VT

        It’s funny that in the Victorian era some level of obesity was associated with wealth and leisure, whereas now it more associated with poverty or low incomes. And John is right. I think that you’re thinking of the VIIIth.

        • jefe68

          In the Victorian era people who lived in poverty often died of TB, dysentery or some other disease associated with poor living conditions.

          The wealthy also died of TB but with gout as an added offense.

          • 1Brett1

            Gout was often called “king’s disease” and was associated with aristocracy, etc. Too much meat, wine, beer, etc.

      • TFRX

        But back then, wasn’t it called something different? Not “obese”, rather “fed enough”. Very, very few people were in the position to both eat excessively and also not work physically.

        Henry VIII bragged about his stout legs. It was a compliment then–now, unless you’re a football lineman, it’s a health hazard.

      • jefe68

        You mean Henry the VIII. Who was a king who made overindulgence a sport. In his prime he was quite the specimen of health. From what I’ve read about him he was as strong as an Ox

    • AC

      yes. go back to when life expectancy was less than 50 years; now that was an all natural diet!

      • hellokitty0580

        Yes, and there were also much less advances in medicine and understanding of disease. Conditions were not as sanitary. There weren’t the same vaccinations there are today. Childbirth was basically a death sentence… I dunno if life expectancy had as much to do with diet as it had to do with disease and medical advances.

        • Karl Prahl

          I love when people bring out this one. Back when life was “nasty, brutish and short” Thomas Moore knew exactly what life was like throughout the millennium in 1651.
          Never mind the wealth of data archeologists have turned up about pre-historic societies and lifestyles in the interceding centuries. /endsarcasm
          This is what I mean by believing the man in the white coat. Just because he is wearing a white coat doesn’t mean he is right. He COULD be right, but you better check it out if it affects you, just to be safe. It’s an appeal to authority, a fallacy.

        • Don_B1

          AC TFRX jefe68 Ray in VT MurielV Karl Prahl J__o__h__n

          The use of “life expectancy” is fraught with misinterpretation.

          It is true that the life expectancy of someone born in 1900 was under 50, but was increased into the high sixties as public sanitation spread, greatly reducing the huge rates of infant and child mortality, and thus removing their high death rates from the life expectancy calculations.

          That is why the conditional life expectancy is the more appropriate statistic to use in many issues. The conditional life expectancy is one’s expected life duration given that you have reached an age where the issue under discussion begins. Thus when discussing Social Security or Medicare, the conditional life expectancy of a 65-y-o person is the relevant statistic. [That will show, for example, that it is the wealthy that have increased life expectancies of more than 7 years while the poorer people have increases of less than 2 years.]

          For those in earlier ages, the conditional life expectancies may not be available, although the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company maintains tables back a long way. But even they may not have data on the conditions relevant to all relevant diseases, etc.

    • seyton144

      My hard working Germanic great grandmother was 5’2” and about 300lbs her whole life. Was she obese? Absolutely. Was she healthy?… well, she lead an active life and died at the age of 80, so probably not too bad. I’m convinced that eating whole foods and getting plenty of exercise is vital to health, but that it doesn’t necessarily magically fix obesity. That would certainly be the case in my own life. Lustig has a lot to say on the subject and it is quite fascinating.

      But yes, there was obesity in the past, among people who ate read food made from real ingredients.

  • J__o__h__n

    Even worse than the food scientists are the food accountants driving costs down by substituting cheaper ingredients. Compare the Cadbury chocolate made in non-American countries to the stuff for the US market. (I know it isn’t the healthiest example.)

  • Mari McAvenia

    The caller, “M.L.”, nailed it! It is a socio-political issue.

    • AC

      but i feel she missed a huge point – there are 7 bil mouths, and growing. how do you assure they are all fed? it can’t be done the old fashioned way. heck, it couldn’t be done then either. there are hungry people simply from weather/regional disasters….

  • AC

    this must be perfected – how will i be able to live on Mars??!! people are so afraid of change….

  • Karl Prahl

    The alternative is to stop subsidizing Big Ag and Big Chem. Stop cutting the checks. People will step up and farm the food if it is profitable and the deck isn’t stacked against them from the get go.
    Free-trade and the influx of foreign foods doesn’t help much either. Protect our small farmers.

    • Don_B1

      The biggest coming scam has just been enabled by the FDA allowing chickens raised in the U.S. (mostly the Southeast) to be slaughtered and then shipped 7,000 miles to China for further processing and then shipped back to the U.S.

      This is unlikely to be economic, except that China wants to get its nose under the “tent” and then slip chicken raised in China, contaminated with pollution, into its shipments to the U.S. There are not enough inspectors to prevent this.

      There is no current shortage of U.S.-raised chicken for the domestic market; a year ago the USDA had to buy a lot of extra chicken as part of the Farm Bill price supports.

      • Karl Prahl

        And the likely outcome? U.S. based slaughterhouses will close and we will lose capability of processing our own food, becoming even more reliant on those few that own freighters and dictate international trade. I’m sure we can process our own chickens, and I’m sure the Chinese can do the same for themselves.

  • Pax Bobrow

    I cannot believe that there is a conversation about Nestle attempting to reduce THE MOLECULAR SIZE of fat to improve taste without questioning what it would MEAN to our overall physiology to EAT fat that has a smaller molecular size and configuration. We cannot evolve fast enough to synchronize with the changes that are being made to our foods. We will have to start genetically engineering ourselves just to keep up.

    • Mari McAvenia

      Nestle is spearheading the campaign to re-designate potable water as a tradable commodity rather than a human right, too. If they had it their way, we’d all be swigging from plastic bottles of Nestle branded water.

  • Karl Prahl

    We are pumping 85 BILLION into wallstreet every month. What would 85 BILLION a month do for food quality in this country?
    It’s not all dollars and cents

    • ToyYoda

      It would help taper the weight problem we have.

  • AC

    i really don’t understand why people can not grasp the numbers issue here. we have to start somewhere – this MUST happen.

    • Karl Prahl

      How about empowering local production through FSA and USDA programs instead of subsidizing Big Corn. Put several million into the publicity that YOU can be a farmer and the government will help you pay for it. If you’re not competing or compelled to comply with Monsanto’s monopolistic approach and Washington’s insistence on subsidizing this big business approach we’ll all be better off.

      • AC

        ? what does this have to do with a world population of 7 bil mouths and growing? in areas where regional climates/environments do not allow mass food production? what happens when a plague/virus/weather event/god takes out an entire region worth of growth? why do you think you should dictate who goes hungry and who doesn’t?

        • Karl Prahl

          I don’t believe I should dictate this. I don’t believe government should dictate this either.
          This is the Malthusian fallacy that was disproved rather completely by the introduction of dwarf varieties of cereals.
          If you want to push for this, you should also be pushing to end the WTO (and there insistence on no protection for local industry. Go ask a Mexican corn farmer how they are doing these days) and the insistence on water rights for all people instead of allowing corporations like Bechtel to seize water supplies through treaty and then insist on selling the water to the local populations (go ask a Bolivian how that water thing is going).
          We work against local independence by forcing people the world over to rely on someone else to bring them food instead of empowering them to grow it themselves. Give a man a fish… teach a man to fish…

          • AC

            you are still avoiding the base logistics. mexico won’t even update their sewer system for heavens sake, they won’t accept env regualtions. just because you can point it out, doesn’t help the problem, it means you have joined other voices already pointing this out but not working to change it. there are more of us then them. i seriously don’t get how you don’t realize the mexican farmer is himself being complicit in the situation. go and help him change his mind.
            in the meantime, realize that the earth, and farm land/water/etc IS limited and the population IS growing. if you want to keep meat in a diet, that is even more plant food diverted to livestock that is limited in SIZE to how many mouths get to eat it.
            so.
            now think about it….we must start somewhere. NOW.

          • Karl Prahl

            “they won’t accept env regualtions”

            Over simplified, but let’s respond simply: Sovereignty. If you think they have to accept regulations because the UN or someone else tells them to, then I suggest you take up Islam because the Caliph insists you follow Mohammed’s teachings. Just because YOU think one source is legitimate and another is not does not make it so.

            ” just because you can point it out, doesn’t help the problem, it means you have joined other voices already pointing this out but not working to change it.”

            For one thing, you have NO IDEA what I do to work towards this goal. Keep the ad hominens at home. I am suggesting that instead of relying on the authority figure to solve the problems we step up, take responsibility and actually do it. Stop assuming that big business and government are working for your interests and DEMAND they prove it.

            “in the meantime, realize that the earth, and farm land/water/etc IS limited and the population IS growing”
            Technology and human ingenuity are also growing. I point to dwarf species of cereal as definitive proof of this possibility.

          • AC

            i’m an engineer – that is what i do, and we find the pointing, which you did again, tedious and unhelpful. i’ll work on the tech and ingenuity – you go fix the UN.

          • Karl Prahl

            How about I opt out, stop funding the government and keep growing food and raising livestock as a wholestic approach to living? Oh wait… :-D
            I suggest anyone who agrees with the principle’s set forth by Gandhi and Rev. MLK (the principle of non-aggression), vote with your wallet. If you don’t support something, don’t fund it. Don’t fall for the Aggression Principle (ad bacculum, the fear of retaliation or violence, literally the fallacy of the staff). If the only reason you support something is because you fear the man with the gun coming to take your stuff or throw you in a cage, you are living in fear.
            Opt out of this lifestyle. If you KNOW engineering will solve the problems you perceive, by good god, use your talents and create something! But don’t insist others support you, whether through regulations, funding or sympathy. Convince us to support you by informing us COMPLETELY of what you intend and convincing us to do it.
            To this specific topic “healthy processed food”, On Point entirely ignored several large veins of thought in regards to food and health (someone else mentioned Michael Pollen. There are many others.) Point being, THE DEBATE IS VERY MUCH ALIVE AND UNSETTLED. Just because You have made up your mind doesn’t mean you can insist others do the same. To cheerlead support without full disclosure is asinine.

          • AC

            why should i be found guilty without proof? that’s not fair. to assume people, thousands of us, are all going to bed, willingly destroying the human race jsu because we study and look for ways to stop problems for which there are no answers? what if we must learn from lessons where we fail? at least we’re trying – it’s just not fair.

          • Karl Prahl

            Who is blaming you? Are you blaming me for not trying? Oh, wait… pointing. You are blaming me.
            You are falling for fallacies. Logic is failing you. Just because someone does not agree with you does not make them wrong. You keep mentioning 7 billion mouths and we need to start somewhere. Why not convince your co-workers to all plant their lawns into gardens and work in concert to harvest and supply your locality with good food. Then your Whole Foods and Walmart won’t have to sell Guatemalan melons and Mexican tomatos and those people can keep their food.
            If I use your logic, I should feel picked on because you’re not planting a garden to feed more than yourself.

          • AC

            ? theres no ‘blame’, i am not asking for a side to be taken. if anything, i have agreed with you – repeatedly! – i guess i am not good at communication. giving up
            but – as a last appeal; please consider the hydroligical cycle, weather, geography, disease, diet variation, etc in this argument. i think i am focused on the actual ‘problem of mass supply’, you are worried about corp/politics, which i just don’t care about.

          • Karl Prahl

            I would look into the details of actual food production world wide. Most sources agree we currently grow enough food for the worlds population.
            The issue is logistics as you said. But logistics are forced upon the situation through corp/politics. Look into the devolving of cottage industry because of forced regulations. One good example of this is WTO mandated pasteurization on cooking oil which put upwards of two million Indian women out of work because they could not afford that pasteurization machine. Indian cooking oil is dominated by multi-national corporations nowadays. This is not inclusive. No one answer can be.
            Let me sum it up like this and replace you with anyone hypothetically: Who are you to decide? I support any efforts to try to educate and share information and points of view but the moment coercion enters the picture (as it does in this debate obfuscated by big business’ influence on government/education/thinktanks/policy) the debate is over and the idea is morally bankrupt. If you have to force a tax to pay for it, restrict usage unilaterally to support it or in anyway use threats of force or acts of coercion and omission your ideas are morally bankrupt.
            Don’t take the above “you”s to be anyone. It is everyone.
            You want to solve world hunger, fix the monetary system. Reject Nepotism. If you doubt this, I challenge you to debunk the idea that with infinite cash we could feed everyone. Then go ahead and define money for me and why we can’t do that.

          • AC

            ? i cheerlead the EFFORT – i EXPECT disclosure, but maybe because i actually have ACCESS to it.
            it’s disparaging how people view us. we aren’t always the perfect at self policing, but we do try and knowing MYSELF, i have faith i am the norm.

          • Karl Prahl

            Let me try and decipher:
            You expect disclosure. If you squeeze in “full” as in full disclosure then we are in agreement.
            I actually have access to it.
            I assume you mean the data and information regarding processed foods and their effects on the population and/or the need for proper nutrition in many parts of the world. If you mean access to the physical data then we all should have access to it. If you have some special access then I do not have disclosure and I simply have to take your word for it. If that is fair, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. If instead you mean you can access the information as in actually understand the data as it is presented then I congratulate you and remind you that you are not the only one with this ability. Either way it is no justification for anyone’s participation or support other than your own.
            It’s disparaging how people view us.
            You’ll need to expound on who ‘us’ is. I am unsure what group of people you claim to represent though I do feel symphathetic if you feel disparaged.
            We are not always perfect at self policing.
            Again, who is ‘we’. And who is ever great at self policing? No one can see all possible outcomes of their actions. It would require omnipotence and as lowly mortals we do not possess this. If anyone claims to be omnipotent they are lying. Because no one can possibly see all outcomes, the very idea of self-policing is laughable and that is discounting certain persons tendency to take advantage of leverage for private gain (read: tyranny/monopoly). So, in the end, I agree that you are not perfect at self policing. Neither am I. No one is. That is why we have to be self-reliant enough to question others actions and facts as they pertain to us.
            Knowing myself, I have faith I am the norm.
            This is a none starter. How can anyone possibly dissuade you if you have “faith” in something? You believe without knowing. You accept without fact. Individuals with faith are beautiful in all their forms, from faith in a creator to faith in the love of a partner. But by its very nature it cannot be shown to be true. You cannot prove a negative and you cannot disprove faith. But to use that as justification is paternalistic at best and self-diluting at worse.

          • AC

            i wrote a reply, but it sounded pompous so i’m too embarrassed. i think i’ll leave it here as you require more convincing than i have time to do. good luck!!

        • Pax Bobrow

          The abstract thought about feeding seven billion MOUTHS is an adolescent reduction of reality into a distant (mouths not people) and binary equation, in which either you stuff something into the mouths or the mouths die. I refuse to allow my mind to be reduced to such a level. Addressing the need to stockpile and build in transportation infrastructure to cope with natural and human-meddled disasters is also something that requires adult levels of complexity and planning.

          • AC

            i’m almost afraid to tell you…lol.
            does anyone else want to help me out here?
            if not, i’ll leave it at i’m sorry to hear you think so. glad you’re not in my industry, you’d make a huge mess of things in no time!

          • hellokitty0580

            I think what Pax says makes absolute sense. You’re reducing food insecurity and hunger into a false binary of “We completely rely on technological ideas as bandaids for starvation” or “People will go hungry.” I prefer to explore the root causes of food insecurity while also utilizing technological innovation to develop a solution. To me, I think that would provide more long-term solutions.

          • AC

            i think you’re right, but i’m sure food preservation methods were def a variable too….

          • AC

            i think this statement is only capable of a binary function….i have already said i can not respond, you have all made up your mind what you think i’m saying so what is the point?

        • hellokitty0580

          It has everything to do with preventing hunger! Our mass industrialized food complex has been bad for diets, bad for the environment, and has had several decades to prove it can eradicate hunger and it hasn’t. Just because we can create a lot of food doesn’t mean people can actually afford it. The United States produces enough food to feed those in the world that go hungry, but people still go hungry (in our own country!!). Why? Because people can’t afford food.

          For instance, Nestle and Unilever, two of the largest food corporations in the world, have been huge proponents of plantation style farming in Africa since colonization. Now that plantation style farming pulled people away from subsistence farming, which actually fed their families, to monoculture farming which doesn’t feed families because people couldn’t eat cotton and didn’t make enough money to buy food. Many countries in Africa still rely on monoculture farming. The majority of the produce doesn’t stay in Africa, not even for industrialization, it goes abroad to Europe. And then the industrialized foodstuffs get sold back to Africans. Problems: These people aren’t paid enough from farming to pay for the imported foodstuffs. There is no industrialization so that people can start diversifying their economies, earn a greater wage, and pay for imported foods. And it still pulls people away from subsistence farming which is the main source of food for many people in Africa. You want to prevent hunger around the world? Help these people move away from foreign, corporate, large-scale farming that don’t care about their workers or the communities, support and advocate for land rights, and support small-scale farmers who have historical knowledge of their environments and their native vegetation- especially those run by women. THAT will help prevent hunger. I highly doubt more food engineering will prevent hunger for the long haul.

          This is just one example of our broken global food system. Now what does this have to do with America? Well, we have similar problems with the poor and food insecurity. If we sourced food more locally, it would cost less because it wouldn’t have to travel so far and use more gas which increases the price of food. If people had access to more local foods, it would prevent food deserts and the need for people to rely on gas stations and McDonalds for “food.” They could probably afford better quality food. Plus, communities would be supporting local, small-scale farmers rather than huge, industrialized farming complexes that are actually bad for the environment and don’t produce quality food. People would gain greater autonomy over their food security, food quality, and environmental health.

          I’m not against science working for ways to make food production easier or figure out more about nutrition. But frankly, I get creeped out when it comes to frankenfood. Human beings have gotten to this point without scientifically engineered foods. I think we can continue to do so. There is still so much we don’t know about GMOs and their long-term effects on human genetics. I want to know more before I jump on this bandwagon, short-term solution to serious socioeconomic, institutional problems.

  • Denis

    I remember a food discussion where it was stated that there is no scientific evidence that organic food is any better for us than the same food that is not organic. Is this true?
    Also, are we (world wide averages) not healthier since the development of processed food then before?

    • GP

      There is some controversy surrounding this issue. Some studies suggest that pesticides build up in your system and prolonged exposure can cause neurological and immune disorders. Pesticides ARE bad for the environment and are linked to the reduction in bee populations. So, if you are worried about the environmental impact of your food choices, I would go organic. I eat organic as much as possible because I like to reduce my exposure to the chemicals and because of environmental concerns. You should ultimately look at the data available and make your own decision on the issue.

    • Xtraspatial

      Most studies on this subject consider only the nutritional value of organically-grown food versus “conventionally”-grown food. BTW, what is “conventional” about monocropping, petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, GMOs etc.?

      These studies often do not consider the difference in costs, both economic and ecological, to all species and the ecosystem services on which all life depends. This is an artifact of our neo-liberal notions of economics which consider the economy as divorced and disconnected from the ecological sphere in which all economic activity occurs and is dependent upon.

      If ecosystem services was taken into account–something ecological economists like Costanza have been doing for years–I would assert that the cost-benefit ratios would favor organic food production.

      Below is a cartogram showing the percent of agricultural production in each country under organic or transitional agricultural production (from http://www.viewsoftheworld.net/data/PaullHennig_2011_EJSS_OrganicAgriculture.pdf and WorldMapper.org). Looks like Australia and Argentina are well on their way to sustainable agriculture.

  • skelly74

    We never hear campaigns about the benefits of eating less. We instead try to fill the feed bag with magic recipes and trend diets to help us look good or healthier.

    Try taking off the feed back for a few more hours each day.

    A bag of brown rice goes a long way; a bag of beans goes a long way.

    Drink more water…eat less crap. Have more energy.

  • Xtraspatial

    On Point did a big disservice by not including Michael Pollan in this show, and instead relying on the spin purveyors of processed food place on their profit-making “food products” (as opposed to real food). These food products are not conjured up by nutritionists at companies that are trying to feed a hungry world, but instead are motivated by profit thru “food innovation” and “food entrepreneurship spun from food scientists.”

    A major point made in this story is that it is impossible to feed 7 billion people without factory farming and genetically-engineered food. Thus the notion that we can solve such problems by innovation, rather than working with what we have. Too often, we’ve adopted the notion that we can fix anything through technology. In reality, the solutions found via technology often lead to new problems unforeseen by the very techno-narcissism that created the problem! This house of cards can be seen falling down in colony collapse disorder which threatens the major pollinators of our food crops, topsoil depletion, guano depletion, food allergies, early-onset maturation of children, superpests resistant to synthetic pesticides (which must be applied at ever-increasing doses), ruination of local economies based on local food production, etc.

    The cart has been placed before the horse here. It is widely-known that we, in the USA, fail to eat 40% of the food we buy. It is also known that much of the food we deliver to foreign nations never gets in the mouths of those who so desperately need it. We export the same technology of factory farming to nations and create their reliance on megacorporations such as Monsanto, Cargill, Nestle, instead of providing them with materials and knowledge so they can begin to produce more of their own food. It is a distribution and knowledge problem, not one of scarcity, nor one that can be solved only through the application of inappropriate technology and profiteering.

    Wired magazine is especially responsible for spreading this meme to the next generation who, instead of even considering an agricultural endeavor, instead pursue innovation instead of preservation of human capital that makes it all possible.

    Whither (and wither) the family farms that consciously nurture the source of our sustenance and steward the sole planet we have. Ricaro’s theory of “Infinite Substitutability” fails when food, fresh water, and a stable climate are the subject of scarcity. Just what will these technophiles come up with as substitutes for them?

    • Karl Prahl

      Reminds me of eugenics at the turn of the last century.
      Man can improve on nature’s design. Man can and must improve on nature’s design because, gosh darnit, there just doesn’t seem to be any other option /endsarcasm

      • AC

        ….as you type on your interwebs….

        • Karl Prahl

          Ad sequitur. Does not follow.

    • edrea

      Well put. We don’t need chemists working to trick our taste buds, people need to learn they HAVE taste buds.

  • jefe68

    Eat oatmeal for breakfast! I eat a lot of oatmeal in the winter. With honey and cinnamon.
    I would also add beans and brown rice to the menu.
    Very cheap and there are tons of recipes out there.
    As to people saying they do not have the time. When I hear people say they don’t have the time I have to wonder about that. The time most Americans spend online and watching TV is about 6 to 8 hours a day.
    I’m not sure about that stat, but even if it was less than 4 hours that would be more than enough time to cook a simple meal.

    • 1Brett1

      I eat oatmeal almost every morning (with organic non-fat, plain yogurt (with a little dehydrated cranberries thrown in and walnuts).

      I don’t usually spend much more than 20 minutes preparing my meals and I eat only whole foods generally.

  • edrea

    I reject the notion that the poor can afford to eat fast food. This is not true. You can eat really great foods, you can go to a co-op, natural foodstore or farmers’ market and buy great foods — IF you make it a priority. Increasingly, you go to most grocery stores and buy better, healthier foods. You won’t know til you have the attitude to try and make it work.

    Tom made the remark that he has to watch on costs when he goes to the farmers’ market. But, with a decent-paying job comes the commensurate lifestyle that people expect with that pay. We need to lower our material expectations and raise our health expectations.

    Less expensive cars and houses, less grander vacation trips (also a matter of priorities of health vs. status) and more of one’s income on eating well.

    Faking meat through soy products are NOT healthier for you. So, you are just trading unhealthier foods for only slightly healthier foods (or that could actually be bad for you) when you think that this is the way to go. This is NOT a new and exciting development. Fake meat products are not new. And, thinking a young sector of the economy (Silicone Valley) is somehow the geniuses to lead us forward is NOT the case.

    We need to encourage REAL food innovators NOT those who believe that any and all technological innovations is all it’s about. Want to invest in inovation? DON’T invest in Silicone Valley or national IPOs. Invest in food producers that are local and regional to you.

    • J__o__h__n

      I wish the farmers markets were limited to farmers. I want to be able to quickly go from stall to stall and compare quality and price and not have to walk around people selling pies and crafts.

  • janice cohen, RD

    The second point that I would like to make is that we have communities really interested in the promotion of healthy eating. Our municipality of Cote-St-Luc is implementing what is called urban agriculture. The goal is to eventually set up eight
    public vegetable gardens in parks across the city. They already have a farmer’s market and the idea of edible landscaping is truly refreshing. It is where, vegetables would be grown among the city flowers and fruit trees on city streets. As a dietitian, this is very encouraging and hopeful…Janice Cohen, RD (nutritionist911.com

  • jefe68

    The bottom line in my view, is that no matter what is done to make processed food healthier, it’s still processed food.

    • janice cohen, RD

      It is very true, but the reality is that people are going to eat what they find on the supermarket shelves. We must help in the navigation process in conjunction with the promotion of healthier-more natural alternatives Janice Cohen, RD (nutritionist911.com)

    • AC

      it’s true. i’m about to have a cup of tea, to calm my frazzled nerves, and it’s not whole leaf, if you know what i mean.
      i have been misunderstood a lot here today. i seriously must work on my communication skills…

      • keltcrusader

        Don’t worry about it AC. I think maybe the poor communication might be on their end or that they just enjoy thinking they are smarter than everyone else and you were just the target today.

        • Karl Prahl

          Or that we all need to include a little more critical thinking in our lives so that even when we disagree, emotions are left at the door and we can share our ideas instead of relying on fallacies to compel.
          Don’t feel picked on :-) A rejection of an idea is not the rejection of a person.
          And don’t fall for ad hominems.
          Take this as a challenge to educate those of us (at least me) why these ideas are solid without relying on said fallacies. The guests today (and most days) relied on our ignorance in asking questions. Don’t fall for it. If you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.

          • keltcrusader

            well then, and here is the answer

      • jefe68

        Tea is pretty easy don’t you think?
        You can buy good quality tea in most supermarkets. When you say things like “it’s not a whole leaf” are you trying to be funny or sarcastic or both? I assume you know that tea has been sold as a dry commodity for centuries.

        • AC

          i was trying for something amusing, but i stink at it apparently!! you do not believe large scale crops have not been improved after all this time? made more resistant to pests even? all over the world? doubtful. and technically, the drying-out process is a process! lol
          i just drink the free green tea at work…

      • 1Brett1

        Eh, fogettaboutit…(I agree with keltcrusader below) I feel a common problem is that 1) People tend to look at a particular point a person is trying to make/one particular aspect of a view as an exclusion of other aspects to a topic, a kind of “no, it’s not ALL ‘that,’ it is ‘this’ too, and you didn’t consider ‘this’ approach, as if you only considered your one point and other points were beyond your thought process/NEGLECTED somehow (when you only wished to comment on one idea, etc.), as if you are supposed to address all issues of a given topic to be taken seriously or to have a valid point. 2) People also look for a weak link in one’s comment with which to argue. This is the “debate” approach to commentary.

        And then, there’s the fact that one will be misunderstood most of the time in his/her life. This is disguised because when people usually agree, it is because they mistakenly presume to know what the other person is saying (interpreting it to be what they want it to be).

      • 1Brett1

        “…to calm my frazzled nerves, and it’s not whole leaf, if you know what i mean.”

        Is that some kind of drug reference?! ;-)

        • AC

          no, it’s lame-o joke skillz

    • road.rep

      Exactly what constitutes “processed” food? What sort of process does it need to undergo to be considered a “processed food”? What kind of food is unprocessed? Harvesting, handling, cleaning, and distribution is clearly a process. With meat and many other food products, the FDA requires many processes to ensure safety. Are those considered processed foods?

  • Don_B1

    A textbook case of side effects ending an idea. It is amazing that the promoters did not have a clue to just how big a downside Olestra had.

    • J__o__h__n

      I can’t believe my comment that stated the phrase from the actual warning label on Olestra was censored. There have been jokes on network television using that phrase. Thanks for deciding what adults can chose to read.

  • Sy2502

    Hear hear!

  • MsAbila

    A healthy diet excludes processed food products in every form.
    Making/cooking your own meals without using processed/packaged ingredients is the most essential.
    We avoid most of the aisles in the grocery store which shortens the shopping time considerably. We also take the time to plan what we want to eat and based on that we do the shopping and cooking.
    At first glance, cooking your own meals seems more expensive but if you follow the rule of avoiding prepackaged food ingredients the cost of meals decreases. At the same time, the quality of your meals will be increasing.
    Additionally, we avoid snacks such as cookies, chips, softdrinks, etc… They are empty calories anyway, the best thing for your health is to avoid them entirely.

    • road.rep

      Sounds kind of extreme to me. If everyone ate that way, we would have little time for anything but work and cooking. With almost no time for entertainment, leisure activities, or restaurants, a substantial portion of the economy would be devastated, and a recession would be inevitable.

      • Xtraspatial

        Yes, our debt-based economy requires the piling up of more debt to keep the “machine” rolling along. This means more hours worked, lures to get us to live beyond our means, and the inability of us to entertain ourselves. Amazing how our quality of life has declined over the past fifty years (if measured in leisure time, social interaction and disposable income), while the quantity of “stuff” that fills our time and space has increased manifold. Coincidence? Cause and effect? Or merely an association? You decide.

      • MsAbila

        There is nothing extreme about cooking your own meals. It is not time-consuming either. It’s actually fun. One can even make it a leisure activity with family members involved.
        I don’t see how avoiding packaged foods creates a recession. Perhaps these corporations need to develop better and healthier products.

  • 1Brett1

    I think it’s great if companies that make junk food and processed/prepared food want to make those foods more healthy/less unhealthy.

    When I think of folks who are working three jobs/are working poor/are living in food deserts and can neither gain access to fresh whole foods nor devote the time to preparing simple whole foods (as utterly easy as that is or may be: I rarely, for example, spend more than 20 minutes on meal preparation and only eat whole food meals that are mostly meatless), I think often many people do have a difficult time getting proper nutrition out of their meals.

    Of the people who are running from one low-wage job to the next and are eating fast food (i.e., either from one of the chains or are getting a prepared meal from a supermarket deli), improving those foods to having less fat, less chemicals, less salt, less sugar, etc., may mean those people will suffer less long-term health problems from their fast-food consumption.

    While, basic nutrition information is so readily available and seems almost second nature to some of us, many people also either have limited knowledge, conflicting knowledge, or misconceptions about nutrition. How many people have we all seen eat poorly but take vitamins to compensate and think they are being healthy in their habits and feel as though their vitamin consumption is effectively balancing out their poor eating habits? How many people eat a lot of unhealthy carbs but feel because they refrain from ice cream, for example, are eating steering clear of unhealthy carbs? How many people never make any attempt to get complex whole foods, rich in fiber, say, and just rely on some product like Metamucil or something with probiotics? How many drink a lot of fruit juices and feel this is just as healthy as eating fresh fruits and vegetables?…on and on.

    While using R+D to produce some wonder food might be of some benefit in some applications, nothing replaces whole, freshly prepared foods that are minimally processed. There are so many micro-nutrients in whole foods that assist in absorption and metabolism, this can’t really be replicated properly in any other way, no matter what claims vitamin companies/makers of packaged “health” foods make.

    Eating can be used to improve health, not just to keep from dying or getting sick. You’ll probably not convince me this can be achieved with processed foods.

    • road.rep

      “nothing replaces whole, freshly prepared foods that are minimally processed”
      Where do we get such foods in the winter? The farmers market in my area is open in the summer only. Where do we buy unprocessed wheat or oats? What do we do with unprocessed grains if we can find them? I don’t have a grain mill in my neighborhood. I’ve never seen any free range farm animals roaming my neighborhood either. But my local supermarket is nearby, fully stocked, and very convenient.

      • Xtraspatial

        Yes, we trade our health and well-being for convenience now that we have the ubiquitous Birdseye frozen food, prepared meals and “food products” at the grocery store, and fast-food fry shacks dotting the landscape where family farms used to stand. We value our convenience because we’re working more hours than our forebears, spending more time/gas/energy in long commutes, and building “pyramids” to benefit corporations who are under the fiduciary obligation with their shareholders to maximize returns. How did we get there? Advertising selling us, borrowing from Dr. Seuss in “The Lorax,” thneeds: things we didn’t know we need, like the newest crunchy taco with fluorescent Dorito flavoring, or the latest electronic gadget that further disengages us from the Here and Now.

      • Xtraspatial

        To wit, it is difficult to find some foods in winter for those in the temperate
        climates of the US. There are options, such as canning and preserving
        the summer’s bounty by buying in bulk (often cheaper than any grocery
        store), establishing a food buying club to buy whole grains or their
        flours from a local or regional organic grower, and otherwise eating in season. Root
        vegetables can be stored by a farm offering year round carrots,
        potatoes, beets, onions, etc. And if you choose to eat meat, many farmers markets offer frozen beef, chicken, pork, lamb, etc. Our farmers market even has a year round fishmonger with responsibly sourced seafood from the nearest salt waterbody. Hook up with a farm or join a CSA if
        there’s one in your area.

        Convenience extends to other aspects contributing to the demise of community life, like buying from an online retailer instead of supporting your local businesses, commuting alone instead of joining a carpool or taking public transportation (where available), watching mass media instead of seeing a local band playing at the local pub, etc. While I understand that convenience often trumps what we’d like to do if we had more time, the current lifestyle of many stacks the deck in favor of convenience. Pity.

      • Michele

        An orange is a whole food. Regardless, of where it is purchased – farmers’ market or supermarket. I believe the same would hold true for bananas, apples….

  • thequietkid10

    They way you talk you would think that we don’t have free will.

  • hdesignr

    Regarding the cost of healthy food. People need to live within their means. They need to stop spending money on entertainment and the like. Put that money towards healthy, natural foods.

    • harverdphd

      Please write a book about common sense.

    • StilllHere

      Sage advice; therefore, it will be ridiculed.

      • Xtraspatial

        “All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
        –Arthur Schopenhauer

    • road.rep

      So people should strive to live healthy, natural, boring lives that could last up to 20 years longer than a fun, interesting, and entertaining life. Why? Sounds awful to me.

  • myblusky

    People seem to always manage to come up with money for a new phone or big screen TV – amazing how that happens.

    The only reason I care about the food people stuff in their faces is because I end up paying for their health one way or another regardless of maintaining my own health. Their cost gets passed onto the rest of us which sucks.

    Secondly I hate factory farming. I grew up on a small farm and the animals were treated well, but people could care less either way. Humans will shove as many pounds of dead animal flesh into their mouths as possible and not think twice about how the animal was raised or treated.

    I make a crap salary. I spend almost $4 for eggs from non-drugged, supposedly happy chickens living on free range farms. I sometimes think about driving to one of those farms to make sure those chickens are happy.

    Humans do what they want regardless and that’s just the way the species is. Most don’t care about the chicken that laid the egg they are eating or about the 8 year old child that made the shoes they are wearing. People want everything cheap despite the fact that someone else pays for that cheapness. As long as they aren’t the ones paying for it, it doesn’t matter.

    • harverdphd

      I only like cheese made from the milk of constantly hugged goats.

      • StilllHere

        Their meat is excellent too.

    • AC

      http://youtu.be/ErRHJlE4PGI
      if you like Portlandia, this is a funny skit

  • Isernia

    Agree that exercise/good food needs time, discipline and dedication. These are the same qualities of mind and behavior needed to be a good student, a good spouse, a good parent, a good craftsperson, an observant religious/spiritual life, etc. These qualities can be acquired over a lifetime, but it helps to have had them instilled from childhood. I’m lucky to have been raised in a family whose values were on the essentials of life and whose practices fostered them, so I continued the same with my own children and grandchildren with great success so far …but it’s only 76 years.

  • Regular_Listener
  • mozartman

    Or a lot of money

  • TJPhoto40

    There are several thorny issues embedded in this one discussion, and it’s a bit difficult to disentangle them and make sense. Contrary to what some of the program guests say, this is not just a matter of people wanting cheap and convenient food. It’s also a matter of prioritizing what matters in our lives and in our society, and accepting that for many people eating is a rather mindless habitual pattern which can be altered.

    I’m not opposed to developments such as meat alternatives and the notion of a healthier food that isn’t “whole”, but I’m skeptical about most of what was brought up by the guests in this program. In particular, I find David Freedman’s statements, quoted in the Atlantic article, both factually wrong and downright offensive when he refers cynically to the “dubious health fantasies of a small, elite minority”. The majority of people in this country and in the medical community are now at least somewhat aware of the importance of eating healthy whole foods as much as possible, for both the health benefits and the contribution to a sound environmental policy relative to land and water use, greenhouse gases and more. And the claims that healthy food is either inaccessible or unaffordable for many people are, in many ways, seriously mistaken.

    The processed foods we have now have been largely the result of government subsidies steering large-scale agribusiness into monocultural practices that yield a questionable product used as much for meat production and food additives as for human consumption. Concerns about the nature of livestock farming and meat production are serious and now widely acknowledged. They are cheaper because their ingredients are made cheaper by such a distorted system.

    This program doesn’t really define or question what we mean by the term “processed food”. The main objections to processed food have been that it robs the source foods of nutrients and results in a product which is laced with additives, themselves often unhealthy (such as high fructose corn syrup), and reduces complex carbohydrates to simple sugars immediately or upon eating through the body’s metabolic processes. So people eat nutritionally compromised food that contributes to weight gain, diabetes and so much more, because it’s being converted to sugar, the primary villain now recognized by virtually everyone who has studied this.

    Would these new scientific creations avoid those pitfalls? None of your guests address that problem. They talk about these other issues, some of which are truly important but often inaccurately characterized. Americans spend much less on food by percentage of household income than in many other countries, though certainly for the poor this is a critical issue. Consider it a matter of priority. Is your priority to buy a new TV or buy healthy food for your family? Is your priority to watch TV for hours or spend 30 minutes preparing a meal from scratch? Can you not make enough food that it carries over to a second meal or some lunches? This isn’t rocket science, it’s sensible prioritizing of one’s time.

    Is your priority to buy cheap food, even if that food contributes to healthy problems such as diabetes that end up costing you and the society for health care to resolve? I’m not convinced that most people in the US have no access to healthy foods or that the costs of decent food are prohibitive for most. Careful and selective shopping would probably find good foods that are roughly equivalent in price if you compare them more accurately with the full range of unhealthy food items most people buy now–not just the main dinner items but also the sodas, chips, cookies, sauces, alcoholic beverages and other items in the shopping cart.

    Calories per se are NOT the main problem, which most people still don’t seem to get. Everyone from Dr Oz to Gary Taubes (author of Why We Get Fat) acknowledges that the real issue is the nature of the food we eat and how it contains or converts to simple sugars flooding the system. As for the discussion of flavors, it’s interesting what science is doing but let’s deal with the main issue here: How people eat is habitual more than necessary, and many of the most unhealthy foods are addictive as well as toxic. Sugar in particular has been shown to be addictive in addition to being detrimental to good health when consumed in any significant quantity. The way we eat is a habit that can be changed, with the new foods being just as pleasurable if not more so, because the body recognizes when it’s receiving the nutrients it needs instead of stoking “toxic hunger” (as Dr Joel Furhman calls it).

    Many people have pointed out that there’s not a shortage of food to feed the world’s hunger, nor is there a lack of productive capacity with the resources we have. Giving priority to healthier food in agricultural production has to be a goal here, and no matter what your guests claim, there’s at least some evidence that we’re already seeing the wisdom of that and moving in a better direction, though slowly and against resistance from large commercial interests.

    If some of those commercial interests get into producing healthier food alternatives that are in fact nutritionally sound and based on whole food sources without contributing to degradation of the soil or contributing more simple sugars to the diet, I’ll listen, even if they’re just doing it for the money.

  • TJPhoto40

    I agree with some of this, but your bold assertion about fats is only half-right. I’ve read Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat, and find the evidence persuasive that fat is not the major culprit–simple sugar is. But Taubes and others continue to discount or downplay the role of saturated fat and cholesterol (at least the LDL of small particle size) and fail to distinguish enough between simple and complex carbohydrates. As Taubes has pointed out, much of the nutritional science for decades has been seriously flawed and its conclusions not supported by the evidence.

    The amount and type of fat and its health impact is certainly still under debate and needs more research. But now virtually everyone agrees about one key point–simple sugar in any form is unhealthy as well as addictive. If you buy yogurt or anything else just because it says “nonfat,” you’re delusional–that’s true. Many of those products replace the fat with sugars to compensate for the missing fat and its flavor, satiety, etc.

  • Michele

    “What is it exactly that the food companies have to do before you’ll say well I guess they’re capable of [improving their products]? ”

    Well, how about lower sodium, the elimination of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils for starters?

  • Laurel

    I am writing in regard to a food problem that I have not heard addressed. Manufacturers make ‘heart healthy’ foods by adding less salt and using potassium chloride instead. Which makes more and more food unhealthy and off limits for renal patients. We have to severely limit out daily potassium intake. Also people on high blood pressure drugs have to avoid extra potassium.

    I am limited to 100 mg vitamin C a day. My husband is on Coumadin and he has to limit his C intake. But try to find apple juice that hasn’t had 100 % Vitamin C added.

    Manufacturers are adding phosphates to foods which makes those foods off limits to renal patients. All this is food that is healthy but being deliberately adulterated so that it is unsafe for some consumers.

    Which is OK until every food in the grocery store has these added ingredients. Then what do those on restricted diets eat?

    Some will tell me to just buy fresh foods. That isn’t easy when you are on dialysis and feeling ill and tired every day.

    • Xtraspatial

      Laurel brings up a good point. Today’s mass-marketed food may be unhealthy for the otherwise healthy person, but can be downright dangerous to those who are ill. Perhaps this is how another symptom of our failed social safety net reveals itself. Caregivers and volunteers who might be in a position to assist Laurel and her husband are treated as extraneous and not contributing to the traditional economy of producers. Reproducers, caregivers, volunteers, and a safe environment are given short-shrift by those who peg our well-being with economic growth and an ever-rising GDP (which incidentally includes provision of health care services). The degradation of community ties and a reduction in social capital have contributed to the inability of the US to provide for itself the framework for a great society.

  • phytolipide

    We’ve seen “healthier” processed food before when we were

    given low-fat and low-sugar everything only to find out that fat (good fats) are necessary and that these doctored foods made many people eat more.

    I think the bigger issue not really addressed here — and ML from Jamaica Plain (French accent) tried to address it is that whole systems need to be focused on and changed.

    We just can no longer rely upon large, centralized food systems. They aren’t sustainable and they are death for the environment, not to mention our health.

    Beyond that we can’t be accepting of an economic system in which so many are paid below what they need to purchase healthy food and live in decent housing. That just isn’t acceptable.

    We need to develop a mix of food sources that doesn’t exist to any large extent now.

    Organic foods: The reality is that now organic farming is considered a niche market that caters to the well-off and is priced accordingly.

    What we should see in future is the wide-scale adoption of organic farming methods, so that they become the hallmarks of “conventional” farming.

    This conventional farming would then need to happen more on a local scale versus the current emphasis on shipping products thousands of miles to the end-consumer. Local food farming won’t be easy or even possible in every circumstance, but what is possible needs to exploited more than it currently is.

    A good example is Milwaukee’s Growing Power which uses greenhouses to grow produce as well as to farm aquaponic fish in a symbiotic loop.

    Government and the community really should be encouraging a situation in which our major cities are ringed with productive farms as well as the host for urban farm schemes.

    Those who can also need to look to growing their own vegetables whether this is on a terrace, in a backyard or community garden plot or indoors under grow lights.

    There are other plant foods like sprouts and microgreens (easy to grow and very nutritious) and algae that can also be home-grown.

    There are also small animals that can be “farmed” on a small scale for meat such as fowl, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, snails and insects. This may go hand in hand with neighborhood abattoirs for the larger animals (since not everyone wants to personally kill an animal they have raised).

    Hunting, fishing and foraging are also viable options for many people once they have the know-how.

    Home fermentation (cheese, yoghurt, sour dough, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, beverages like water kefir and kombucha) is relatively simple and often times costs way less than buying those products in a store now.

    Other kinds of preserving (jams and sauces, dehydrated foods, frozen stuffs) are also not difficult to make.

    All of this would be a major shift because right now (as alluded to by one of the callers who said that he and his wife are often flummoxed by the vegetables they buy) many people have lost or have never had the skills necessary to produce much less cook whole foods.

    It would also be a massive shift because we might need to give up the need for immediate gratification in every service we access. This desire for 24-hour everything is what keeps a lot of Americans chained to low-wage, gruelling service jobs that leave them without the time and money to find and cook good foods.

    A major reason why our environment is being destroyed is because people don’t know enough about how their food is produced and have little control over these processes.

    As transitional measures processed products like Beyond Meat may be useful for some, but…

    I think it’s really necessary that a large part of the food production has to move out of the control of the large, centralized food system, controlled by corporations who have proven that they are not responsible – into the hands of consumers (by this I mean people who eat) and those of local producers.

    The knowledge is out there and there are Americans who are pioneering in these areas (home food production, living off the land, community food production – see http://therealknowhow.com/). We have to push forward because the status quo is not working.

  • creaker

    It’s like most things:

    cheap – fast – good pick any 2 you want, but you can’t have all 3.

  • Miss_Lilianna

    As someone who has been on both sides (way above poverty level and way below) I will say this:

    If you’re working two jobs or more just to get by, it is almost impossible to have the time or energy to prepare healthy meals everyday. It is much easier to bust open something processed, drive through McDonalds after a 10 hour shift on your feel all day, or even pick up a $5 foot long from subway.

    When I was making almost 6 figures and working 40 hours a week, I had TOO MUCH free time so I could prepare different types of healthy meals using avocados, etc. I also had money for my take out to be sushi instead of McDonalds.

  • Citizen James

    “This site was once moderated by a real person (and discussion was much better), but On Point wanted some new fancy schmancy forum with a moderation “algorithm” instead of a person.”
    I recently had some terrible trolling as a result of a comment I posted… a real a professional hole. I even wrote Discus and they replied “We are responsible for this set up, but sorry we won’t do anything to help you out.’ Just having a user ID & password tied to an email address does nothing for civility or keeping the conversation on-topic.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 24, 2014
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Covina at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, April 21, 2014. Hernandez proposed a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to again allow public colleges to use race and ethnicity when considering college applicants. The proposal stalled this year after backlash from Asian Americans. (AP)

California as Exhibit A for what happens when a state bans affirmative action in college admissions. We’ll look at race, college and California.

Apr 24, 2014
A Buddhist monk lights the funeral pyre of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, during his funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 21, 2014.  (AP)

A Sherpa boycott on Everest after a deadly avalanche. We’ll look at climbing, culture, life, death and money at the top of the world.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 23, 2014
Attendees of the 2013 Argentina International Coaching Federation meet for networking and coaching training. (ICF)

The booming business of life coaches. Everybody seems to have one these days. Therapists are feeling the pinch. We look at the life coach craze.

 
Apr 23, 2014
In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., shows a tablet displaying his company's technology, in New York. Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. (AP)

The Supreme Court looks at Aereo, the little startup that could cut your cable cord and up-end TV as we’ve known it. We look at the battle. Plus: a state ban on affirmative action in college admissions is upheld. We’ll examine the implications.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Week In Seven Soundbites: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Holy week with an unholy shooter. South Koreans scramble to save hundreds. Putin plays to the crowd in questioning. Seven days gave us seven sounds.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Space moon oceans, Gabriel García Márquez and the problems with depressing weeks in the news. Also: important / unnecessary infographics that help explain everyone’s favorite 1980′s power ballad.

More »
Comment
 
Some Tools And Tricks For College Financial Aid
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Some helpful links and tools for navigating FAFSA and other college financial aid tools.

More »
Comment