Sunday, November 29, 2009

Toss Out the Myths With the Embalming Fluid

Activists like journalism professor Michael Pollan are quick to blame foods in our “Western diet” for a smorgasbord of problems -- heart disease being the most recent one. But a new investigation stuffs this foodie blame-game in a sarcophagus. Researchers examining Egyptian mummies discovered that our predecessors 3,500 years ago also suffered from hardened arteries, and they didn’t eat fast food. As The Wall Street Journal reports:
[Researchers] were able to identify the hearts, arteries or both in 16 of the mummies, nine of whom had deposits of calcification …

"Not only do we have atherosclerosis [artery hardening] now, it was prevalent as long as 3,500 years ago," said Gregory Thomas, a cardiologist and imaging specialist at University of California, Irvine, who was principal investigator of the study. "It is part of the human condition."

You wouldn’t think that it’s a “human condition” by listening to trial lawyers like John “Sue the Bastards” Banzhaf, though. Banzhaf and his fellow sharks make a living pushing the idea that foods — specifically, fast foods — are to blame for health problems like widening waistlines, and have filed a number of frivolous “obesity lawsuits” based on this premise. (Thankfully, these have been laughed out of court, both the legal and public-opinion kind.)

Hopefully, today’s news put a nail in the coffin of the idea that fast food — or any modern culinary convenience — is a unique cause of heart disease. As one of the researchers noted, heart disease “is as old as the pyramids.” So, likely, are super-sized food superstitions.


Food fanaticism: Go hungry rather than have "incorrect" food

Two different reactions by two NYC charities below. Only one has a heart

1). When a small church comes to the Bowery Mission bearing fried chicken with trans fat, unwittingly breaking the law, they’re told “thank you.” Then workers quietly chuck the food, mission director Tom Bastile said. “It’s always hard for us to do,” Basile said. “We know we have to do it.”

2). A Manhattan deli going out of business delivered a pickup truck’s worth of lettuce, sundried tomatoes, hamburgers, sausages and other food to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen last week. With 1,400 meals to serve daily, Operations Manager Michael Ottley was extremely grateful. He didn’t check the trans fat content of the food.

Lines at soup kitchens are up by 21 percent this year, according to a NYC Coalition Against Hunger report released yesterday. The city’s law banishing trans fat took effect in July 2008 and touched everyone with Health Department food licenses — including emergency food providers.

Less than 5 percent of donated food still has the artificial fat, Ottley estimated, but he said, “I can’t in good conscience throw away food.”


1 comment:

John A said...

“I can’t in good conscience throw away food.”

Comtrast with -

ScienceNOW, an online publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, reports that food waste occurs at the manufacturing level and in distribution, but more than half is wasted by consumers, according to a separate study earlier this year by Jeffery Sobal, a sociologist at Cornell University.

The methodology is not really explained, but seems to imply that total weight of foodstuffs produced is that much greater than can be accounted by the total weight of the population.

Uh-huh. Exports? Or better: that 22lb turkey your family had for Thanksgiving (US, Canada) had, what, 11lb of edible meat? So more than forty percent was "thrown away," right? For shame! Corn? How much do the edible kernels on a cob of corn weigh vs the cob, never mind stalk and roots. Terrible!