Sunday, May 2, 2010

Defending FOOD

Food is what grows in gardens and grassy pastures.  Food is biologically alive, or recently so.  It is amazing that food companies can advertise their dead, manufactured concoctions as food, and people eat it and feed it to their pets.

I just read  Michael Pollan's, In Defense of Food.  He offers good advice for feeding yourself and, indirectly, your pets.  Rules are simple:
  1. Don't eat anything your grandmother would not recognize as food. 
  2. Avoid products that contain ingredients that are (a) unfamiliar, (b) unpronounceable, (c) more than five in number, and (d) contain high-fructose corn syrup.  This rule eliminates all processed "foods".
  3. Avoid food products that make health claims; they are guaranteed to be less healthy than fresh produce and meats that make no health claims.
  4. Shop the peripheries of supermarkets, where the produce, dairy and meat coolers are.  Stay out of the middle aisles where processed foods are shelved.
  5. Get out of supermarkets and into farmers' markets whenever possible.
  6. Eat mostly plant leaves, not seeds.  Corn, wheat, and soy make up most processed foods -- all seeds -- that make you fat and hungry.
  7. Eat less, savor food more, and make eating meals social-cultural events, not solitary, rushed, eat-till-it's-gone episodes in a day filled with snacks and sodas.
Pollan's excellent advice is to avoid the Western processed food diet that is making millions of people sick and to return to more traditional diets of fresh, local foods you prepare and serve yourself.

THE SAME ADVICE APPLIES TO PET FOODS.  Here's a rendering of Pollan's food advice for pets:
  1. Don't feed anything that your grandmother would not have fed her pets (which was raw meaty bones and table scraps).
  2. Avoid pet foods that contain ingredients that are (a) unfamiliar, (b) unpronounceable, (c) more than five in number, and (d) contain high-fructose corn syrup.  This rule eliminates all manufactured pet foods.
  3. Avoid pet-food products that make health claims; they are guaranteed to be less healthy than fresh meats and meaty bones that make no health claims.
  4. Shop the peripheries of supermarkets, where the meat coolers are.  Stay out of the middle aisles where processed pet-foods are shelved.
  5. Get out of supermarkets and into meat wholesalers and raw-pet-food co-ops whenever possible.
  6. Feed mostly meats and bones, not seeds.  Corn, wheat, and soy make up most processed pet foods -- all seeds -- that make pets fat and hungry.
  7. Feed once a day, help your pet savor food more by giving him large-enough chunks of raw-meaty-bones to chew and gnaw, and  do not provide bowls filled with junk foods for him to snack on all day.
Serious critics of our food supply, such as Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle, are unanimous in condemning processed foods that distort eating habits, create an epidemic of obesity and the chronic diseases that ensue from overweight, such as diabetes, heart disease, liver and kidney disorders.  Food manufacturers and fast food chains are sickening and killing millions of people worldwide.  Similarly, pet food manufacturers (same companies) are sickening and killing millions of pets with processed nutrients they call food.

How did this very sad state of affairs happen?  To get the whole story, read Pollan's In Defense of Food and Nestle's Food Politics.  First, quantity over quality of food became the US Government's priority after World War II.  Starvation could be eliminated if farmers could produce enough calories.  Grains and seeds (soy) became the staple US agricultural crops to feed a hungry world.   Today, the same government-subsidized, staple crops are making people around the world  fat and malnourished.

Second, nutritional pseudoscience claimed to know all the essential nutrients that people need to ingest to be healthy.  Nutritionists speak of nutrients, not food.   The list of "essential nutrients" changed many times over decades of this nonsense, as new "essentials" were found and some were eliminated as harmful.  Nutritionists worked closely with manufacturers to add nutrients to cheap processed grains to simulate food.  Pollan reviews the dismal history and arrogant failures of "nutritionism" and processed "food".

Third, food is more than the sum of its nutrients (including many yet to be defined or simulated).   Food is biologically alive.  Foods, such as vegetables and meats, act on our bodies in far more complex ways than nutritionists can find in studies of isolated nutrients.  People do not need to know how isolated nutrients affect their bodies.  They need only to eat a variety of fresh foods to supply themselves with all essential nutrients.

As I said in an earlier blog. animal flesh and bones cannot be replicated in a laboratory.  Many of their constituents are unknown, and the complex whole of living matter is impossible to replicate  The living mystery of flesh and bones makes manufacturing healthy pet foods from isolated "nutrients" impossible.  But pet owners do not need to know the nutritional constituents of  meat and bones.  They need only to feed their pets a variety of meats and meaty bones to assure proper nutrition.

Many voices are being raised today to defend FOOD against nutritionists and processed food manufacturers, whose advice and products are responsible for enormous health-care costs in the overweight and malnourished human population.  Obesity brings with it huge increases in chronic health disorders.  Pets' situation is identical.  Processed grains fed to carnivorous cats and dogs are making pets fat and sick, incurring enormous vet bills for their owners, and causing huge, unnecessary suffering for pets. 

So, raise your voice for Raw-Meaty-Bones -- the only FOOD for carnivorous pets!

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