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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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221 Responses

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin February 25, 2013 at 11:07 am |

    I would like it if food stamps could be used at farmer’s markets, however, I’ve seen $7 per gallon prices for milk. In a supermarket, a gallon of milk ranges from anywhere from $3-$4.

    Obesity doesn’t just occur because people make bad food choices. I know people who have chronic pain issues and simply cannot exercise. It’s easy to gain weight when you can’t burn off what you eat.

    This also is a class issue. My working class relatives are much more obese than my middle class family because of the poor diet they consume and a total ignorance in respect to other food choices. As an aside, two of my working class relatives won money in a court settlement. The first thing they did was to invest in gastric bypass surgery. Now they’ve lost over a hundred pounds a piece.

  2. gwyllion
    gwyllion February 25, 2013 at 11:25 am |

    there is no BAD FOOD – unless you mean it is spoiled or rotten or contaminated. There are just varying degrees of various nutritional components. STOP with the BAD FOOD crap – it contributes to disordered eating and thinking about food.

    1. Andie
      Andie February 25, 2013 at 11:42 am |

      This, thank you.

    2. samanthab
      samanthab February 25, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

      There is, however, food that is scientifically calibrated to maximize its addictive properties, so that you want to eat more than you otherwise would: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?ref=magazine&pagewanted=all

      Maybe the food’s not “bad,” but the people formulating it almost certainly are.

    3. chava
      chava February 25, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

      I have to say, I used to be totally on board with the “there is no BAD FOOD” crowd, but after reading the above expose on how this food is consciously engineered to be addicting? I’m starting to feel comfortable labeling it as bad (yes, morally, as well as health-wise) food. Choosing to eat it is not an immoral choice; marketing it to people rather is.

      1. matlun
        matlun February 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm |

        food is consciously engineered to be addicting

        That is not really the case in any meaningful sense. The “addicting” components in this case are just sugars, fats, and salt. And the industry puts those into their food due to consumer demand. They try to produce good tasting food as measured against what people actually buy.

        Any food is unhealthy when consumed in enough quantity.

        The “problem” today is how rich our society is. Anyone can afford far, far more food than they actually need. And basic human instinct evolved to cope with a world where food was relatively scarce and the need for physical activity much higher than today. So to avoid overeating most people will have to fight their natural instincts.

        1. mamram
          mamram February 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm |

          Any food is unhealthy when consumed in enough quantity.

          I agree, but some foods, like refined sugar, are unhealthy for most people in much smaller quantities than other foods would be. And when our environment encourages us to eat more of those foods, or makes it impossible for us to avoid them or obtain other foods, that’s a problem too.

        2. Sarah
          Sarah February 26, 2013 at 2:33 am |

          True, any food in excess is bad.

          But at the same time, in the real world, most people are much more likely to end up overconsuming sugar, than they are of ending up overconsuming carrots.

          Both are possible in theory, but only one is a large-scale practical problem in the real world.

        3. EG
          EG February 26, 2013 at 9:26 am |

          Anyone can afford far, far more food than they actually need.

          No. That’s not true.

        4. Katniss
          Katniss February 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

          Anyone can afford far, far more food than they actually need.

          They can? Damn I wish I had known that for the many years I spent in poverty!

        5. samanthab
          samanthab February 27, 2013 at 12:35 pm |

          Uh, except that this is by the food engineers own accounts. It’s not something I made up, however much you might like to knock me. Did you actually read the piece? Sure, it’s not physically addictive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not psychologically addictive. That still counts as addiction! Its not a descriptor I personally made up. You can read Chava’s excerpt or not, or you can just choose to ignore food engineers’ own account of their own process. But please don’t accuse me of making things up or insult my intelligence. It’s not fair.

        6. matlun
          matlun February 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
          Anyone can afford far, far more food than they actually need.

          No. That’s not true.

          Literally speaking, you are correct. It is not true for absolutely everyone even in the developed world.

          It is still true for the vast majority. The problems are not about getting enough calories to survive.

        7. matlun
          matlun February 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

          @samanthab

          however much you might like to knock me.

          If have been giving the wrong impression here, let me just say that my intention has not been to “knock” you or anyone else on this thread. If you in some way felt personally attacked, I regret that.

          On the semantic question on how we should define what is an addiction, then Ok. I guess these kinds of psychological habits can be seen as an addiction just as much as for example a gambling addiction or sex addiction.

          Personally I do not really like this wide definition of addiction. How do we differentiate between any bad habit and an addiction?
          Still – probably an off topic question that can be saved for some other time.

    4. Part-time Jedi
      Part-time Jedi February 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

      THIS. I work at a Girl Scout camp where we regularly climb mountains, and I can’t tell you how many kids have been packing their lunches and said to me, “But I shouldn’t bring chips, because chips are unhealthy and bad for me.”

      “You’re climbing a mountain!” I tell them. “You know what you’ll need at the top? Fat and carbs and salt. Pack the chips, you’ll want them, trust me.”

      Food is healthy when it gives you the nutrients you need, in the amounts you need them. There are no bad foods, just foods that don’t give you what you need right now.

      1. chava
        chava February 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

        So, there’s nothing wrong with thinly sliced fried potatoes, no.

        There is something wrong with thinly sliced fried potatoes engineered and covered in additives and the *precise* amount of sodium and fat such that you cannot have just one bag.

        Matlun–No. They aren’t engineering “tasty” food, actually. Read the article–it talks about how the food is just bland and tasteless enough to keep you feeling less than full and wanting more, yet crunchy and salty enough to make you crave it.

        1. matlun
          matlun February 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm |

          They aren’t engineering “tasty” food, actually

          Well, that depends on what you mean. If you measure “how tasty something is” by “how much of it people want to buy”, then it is what they are trying for. Tasty is all subjective, after all.

          Personally I quite like crisps, for example. Bland? Not in my opinion.

          The basic problem will remain. Our naturally evolved instincts are not optimized for our current environment. Which is a problem unless we intelligently adjust and control our own behavior.

        2. chava
          chava February 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm |

          Arg, matlun. Not “bland,” like ” utterly tasteless.” Here’s some quotes from the article:

          “He ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. “It’s called vanishing caloric density,” Witherly said. “If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it . . . you can just keep eating it forever.”

          “They liked flavorful foods like turkey tetrazzini, but only at first; they quickly grew tired of them. On the other hand, mundane foods like white bread would never get them too excited, but they could eat lots and lots of it without feeling they’d had enough.”

          “This contradiction is known as “sensory-specific satiety.” In lay terms, it is the tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more. Sensory-specific satiety also became a guiding principle for the processed-food industry. The biggest hits — be they Coca-Cola or Doritos — owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating. “

        3. matlun
          matlun February 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm |

          @chava: I am not really disagreeing with anything in your last post.

          Even at gourmet level restaurants, there is one school of thought that you should be left with a desire for more. Ie not really reaching full satiety. It is a subjective issue of what it means for a meal to be “tasty”. Does this mean just an experience of sensory pleasure (the more prolonged, the better), or should there also be an element of reaching satiety?

          The food industry is in the end just going for earning as much money as possible, and selling the kind of food that will sell the best. Looking at this in isolation, it is clearly an amoral stance in that it is not taking any responsibility for the common good.

          But I still feel that in the end this comes down to the decisions of the consumers. Ie what we choose to buy. We have the choice what we want to eat.

          I think I am probably not disagreeing with Jill’s approach as to what actions that state should take (which was a bit unclear in the OP). But I feel I come to the same type of conclusion from a slightly different viewpoint. It is still for the common good, but the problem is not primarily how to control “the food industry” but rather how to manipulate the choices of the consumers.

        4. Part-time Jedi
          Part-time Jedi February 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

          I’m not going to argue that there aren’t a lot of Americans who are eating more fat and sugar and salt and calories than they need, and that this contributes to poor health outcomes. That’s pretty obvious. I’m also not going to argue that there aren’t issues with the way the agriculture and food industries work that contribute to that. I think that’s pretty obvious, too.

          What I take issue with, is the fact that a lot of people seem to forget that fat and sugar are nutrients. There’s so much emphasis placed on reducing caloric intake, particularly by reducing sugar and fat intake, that large swaths of perfectly healthy children (and adults) are getting neurotic about it and calling fat and sugar “bad” in all circumstances.

      2. (BFing) Sarah
        (BFing) Sarah February 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm |

        Why would they need something salty after climbing all that way? They would need water to hydrate themselves. Chips are not good for you, they are delicious, so its okay to eat them occasionally. But, I think its a mistake to pretend like all food is created equally.

        For what its worth, I can get behind eating something because it tastes good. I do it all day long. But, I can’t just paint all food with the same brush. The KitKat I just ate was delicious, but it gave nothing to my body but pleasure, whereas the spinach salad I ate before that gave my body nutrients. Not all foods are created equal, some do more for you than others. I understand that women put a lot of pressure on themselves to eat to be thin, and that’s not what I’m saying we should do. Hell, I was raised with a sister who is in recovery from an ED (which she is combating by eating only non-addictive foods). But, I think its still fair to say that eating chips after a hike is not replenishing nutrients, its making you happy, but its not giving anything in the way of making your body healthy.

        1. tigtog
          tigtog February 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm | *

          A litle bit of salt is good for one’s electrolyte balance after vigorous exercise, and the carbs and fat in a small packet of crisps fuels small fast metabolisms whose previous meal was probably fully burnt off by the hike up and who need an energy boost for the hike down – the carbs for quick energy and the fat for a longer burn.

        2. chava
          chava February 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm |

          BFSarah—

          Trust me. You need the chips. Really, you need anything salty with a high fat and carb content, preferably with a protein chaser.

          Have you ever tried serious running without proper salt intake? Its the same idea.

          Now, do I think that the companies making these chips are Doing It Wrong, yeah. But the basic idea of salty, fatty, carb heavy snack is sound. I usually go with cheese and sausage backpacking.

        3. tigtog
          tigtog February 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm | *

          chava – my parents always packed two small containers for each of us on our bushwalks – one with cubes of extra-tasty cheddar and bite-size bits of cabanossi, and the other with a mixture of dried fruit and peanuts and squares of chocolate. We were taught to ration our energy snacks for a weekend away, too.

        4. Part-time Jedi
          Part-time Jedi February 26, 2013 at 5:52 pm |

          But, I think its still fair to say that eating chips after a hike is not replenishing nutrients, its making you happy, but its not giving anything in the way of making your body healthy.

          Yes, it is replenishing nutrients, because calories are nutrients and when you exercise, you need to replenish the calories you have burned. We call fats, proteins, and carbohydrates macro-nutrients for a reason.

        5. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom February 28, 2013 at 8:56 am |

          When we visit my mother in eastern Washington state, we generally go camping – among other places, along the Selway river. When you go down to the beach to read, you take a big bottle of water and your salty snacks. Very dry there, very hot during the day and you sweat more than you realize because it dries right away. Lots of water and a few goldfish crackers does the trick.

        6. Caperton
          Caperton February 28, 2013 at 10:19 am | *

          When I was trying to collapse on a mountain bike outing, a friend hooked me up with a Stinger, which is basically just a little round waffle soaked in honey. It offered no nutritional value outside of boosting my blood sugar and providing rapidly accessible calories, but it was exactly what I needed. When you’re engaged in physical activity, you need to replenish the things your body is getting rid of — replace energy burned with calories, and replace sweat with salt and water.

        7. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah February 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm |

          Um. A package of chips has more than “a little bit of salt” 150 mg is quite a lot of salt (10% of your intake for the day) and they can be up to 600 calories in one little package. I can understand that they are tasty, but there are other ways to replenish electrolytes and fat after vigorous exercise. I don’t know a single nutritionist that would recommend that a child consume chips to replenish anything…like ever.

          The only real reason to eat them is because you want to, because you think they taste good. Why not just say that? Its okay to eat something because you like it and feel like it tastes good. You don’t need to climb 7 miles to “deserve” to eat a package of chips. You never “need” to eat a package of chips if there are other foods on offer. And you don’t need to justify a package of chips by making the argument that they are actually good for you. They aren’t good for you, they do pretty much nothing for your body, but some people feel they TASTE good and THAT is a good enough reason for anyone to eat anything. Why expend your efforts trying to CONVINCE a child to eat something that is not good for them by telling them it is actually good for them (esp when its not)? They will know that’s not true. Why not just have a policy that its okay to eat things because of taste and pleasure? Why do we always have to justify our food choices based on nutrition, metabolism, and fat burning?

        8. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah February 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm |

          Disagree. I have never consumed chips after exercising, hiking, or any vigorous exercise and I am still alive and well. There are other things that you can eat that would be better for you and would replenish salts and fats and energy. I noticed that not a single one of you said “And when I was done with that rock climb, I opened up a bag of Doritos/Lays potato chips/Cheetos and I felt MUCH better.” The point is, there are healthier options that do the same thing so chips are not NECESSARY. You can eat granola bars or trail mix or cheese and crackers…none of those things is “a package of chips.” If you WANT to eat chips instead of those things, fine, but the child was saying that she shouldn’t…why argue with her by telling her things that aren’t true? I’ll never argue you shouldn’t eat something terrible for you, but I won’t agree that its good for you.

          @Part time Jedi, I don’t actually think a calorie is a nutrient. A calorie is the way to measure the energy in food. You need calories to live, but they are not nutrients. The way it was explained to me is that when you eat you consume both nutrients and calories. See below:

          http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/healthieryou/html/chapter6.html

          http://nutrition.about.com/od/nutrition101/a/nutrients.htm

          Then again, I’m not a nutritionist, so I’m not sure. I would kind of venture to say you aren’t a nutritionist either, though, right? I’m not being snarky, I really am just assuming.

          And, actually, sometimes we DON’T need to replace the fat and calories we just burned…that is often the POINT of exercise, right? To burn fat and calories? I mean, not for a kid, but for an adult that’s often the reason given for vigorous exercise. The average American consumes more than 2700 calories a day, which is more than we need sooooo…I don’t think we are really suffering lack of calories (or carbs, for that matter).

        9. chava
          chava March 1, 2013 at 2:31 am |

          Sarah–

          The chips taste good AND they fill a nutritional need. I’m getting the feeling you haven’t done a lot of relatively extreme athletic activity? Sure, you could eat something else, but it would also need to be damn salty and high in fat. Yes, 10% of a daily salt intake seems like a lot, until you account for people sweating out salt during exercise or heat stress.

          I once knew a thru hiker who wore an ammo belt type-thing of Snickers. He would rip a Snicker off as the need hit, eat and carry on. He was, fwiw, thin as a rail. The Snickers had just the right ratio of protein, fats and sugars to keep him fueled. So the panic about chips just seems a little…misplaced.

        10. Part-time Jedi
          Part-time Jedi March 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm |

          @ (BFing) Sarah:
          You are correct, a calorie is just a measurement of energy. But all the things that contain calories (protein, fat, carbohydrates) are considered nutrients (in bio/chemistry, they’re referred to as macro-nutrients, to distinguish them from micro-nutrients like vitamins and minerals) and you need to consume food with a certain number of calories worth of chemical potential energy in order to sustain life, so I think it’s a matter of semantics whether you call calories a nutrient.

          I get what you’re saying about not wanting to send the message that you need to do physical exercise in order to “deserve” to eat tasty food that you want to eat. And you’re right, I’m going to have to be more careful in the future that I don’t send that message. I guess what I’m hoping to get through to them is that watching your weight, or trying to lose weight, doesn’t have to be a universal thing. There is no one universal “healthy” that fits for everyone; healthy looks different for different people in different circumstances.

          Because the fact that the average American consumes X calories and only exercises X hours a week means absolutely nothing to a child who isn’t following those patterns. Just because the “average” American is overweight, doesn’t mean that underweight people don’t exist. The median household income in the US is around $50,000, but we still offer financial aid to come to camp because lots of kids live in households that make significantly less.

          In fact, the reason I’m so adamant about this to my kids is that on two different occasions, I have lost an unhealthy amount of weight by maintaining my normal eating habits while significantly increasing my activity level. Once was during an Outward Bound course, and once was my first year on staff at camp. Both times, I lost over 5% of my body weight in two weeks, when I was already at a perfectly healthy weight.

          So I have to be super conscious of increasing my caloric intake while I’m at camp. I basically have to eat enough at every meal that I’m stuffed. I have to seek out high calorie density foods, because otherwise I can’t physically fit enough food in my stomach to keep up with my metabolism. I have to shove bacon and chips and Girl Scout cookies in my face at every opportunity, because those “empty” calories are totally necessary for me to not lose an unhealthy amount of weight.

          Is this diet healthy for the average American? Probably not. Hell, it’s not even healthy for me 9 months out of the year. But under those circumstances, with my particular body, it is. And following the “normal” guidelines for what is healthy for most people is actually unhealthy. That’s what I think is important to teach my kids, that when it comes to the health tips we are surrounded by, their mileage may vary.

        11. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah March 1, 2013 at 9:45 pm |

          @Chava: That’s weird that you know a person that eats Snickers while they hike. I know absolutely no one like that. And I know quite a few “vigorous exercisers.” My husband used to competitively weight lift, my cousin played college football, my dad is 58 and just ran another marathon. I used to swim for two hours a day and then eat a cheese sandwich while waiting until dinner..but I guess that’s not very extreme. I asked my hard core runner/rock climber/triathalon friends just to be sure it wasn’t just me of the “only an hour every other day of exercising” puniness talking…and they concurred. No chips for a single one of them. Sodium supplements maybe for two or three hours of running. My friend who ran an ironman said that even for that she just drinks this disgusting salt and syrupy drink thing to replenish. No chips, no Snickers. My husband once went on a long training run in full gear for the ROTC with no water (he forgot it) and did just fine. Then again, he was young (like the kids mentioned above), so he could handle it. Actually, most of the people I know that do a lot of extreme running and other exercise tend towards really healthy eating in general. Most of them don’t eat chips as a general rule. In contrast, I don’t have a problem with chips and eat them when I want to eat them. I just don’t call them “healthy” or “necessary” when I do and I hope someday there isn’t a troop leader who tells my kids that they are “allowed” to eat chips because they just climbed a mountain.

          Like I said above, no panic about chips, I’m 100% cool with people eating whatevs the hell they want with or without exercise, like I said. I don’t personally feel you need to have an excuse to eat whatever you want. However, you are never going to get me to agree you “need” a bag of chips after exercise, vigorous or not.

        12. Part-time Jedi
          Part-time Jedi March 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm |

          Also, I have totally been on the verge of an attack of exercise-induced hangry, and averted it with chips. They are fantastic for that.

          @ Caperton
          That stinger honey waffle thing looks AMAZING. I wish my camp had the food budget for some of those. They look like the perfect food to recharge the batteries on a drooping 8 year old.

        13. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah March 1, 2013 at 9:57 pm |

          @Jedi: I’m not mad at ya, I’m just saying…I don’t think that young girls should have to justify food. I think a healthy weight for a person varies. I think terms like “underweight” and “overweight” need to be used a lot less. Its not about how much you “should” weigh, its about eating foods that are good for you and foods that make you happy. Its not about exercising X amount, its about feeling good and feeling vibrant. I think when doctors say you are “underweight” or “overweight” and make you feel like there is a certain weight you “should” be, they are doing you a disservice.

    5. Wayne
      Wayne February 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

      You are right there is no such thing as “bad food”.

      There is food: meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs and fish

      Then there is poison: candy, soda, chips, cookies, refined grains (bread, pasta, etc), and all of the processed garbage that is sold in the grocery store

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie February 25, 2013 at 10:36 pm |

        Thanks for the foodsplanation! Hereafter, I will believe nothing else.

      2. Part-time Jedi
        Part-time Jedi February 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm |

        Oh FFS, candy, soda, chips, cookies, refined grain, and processed food are not poison. They shouldn’t make up the majority of a person’s diet, but they’re not like arsenic or cyanide. They are treats that need to be consumed in small quantities as part of a balanced diet.

        When you call them poison, all this does is encourage disordered eating habits, and unhealthy attitudes towards food in general.

        1. Wayne
          Wayne February 26, 2013 at 10:09 am |

          Would you say that the tar and nicotine in a cigarette is healthy, ok or a poison? Just because something doesn’t kill you immediately doesn’t make it safe and ok. Added sugar, refined carbs like pasta and bread are all responsible for elevated blood sugar and insulin. These foods lead to high triglycerides, decreased insulin sensitivity, heart disease and diabetes. If you eat these “foods” for long enough it will kill you. Not right away but over the course of 20 to 50 years like cigarettes. These “foods” are also responsible for making our country obese which lowers your quality of life for those 20 to 50 years before you die.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 26, 2013 at 11:10 am |

          Would that be the 20-50 years of life the average human couldn’t expect to live back before sugar and cigarettes were a thing, Wayne? ’cause I’m thinking that’s really quite a nice trade, and I don’t even smoke.

        3. Part-time Jedi
          Part-time Jedi February 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

          Way to completely miss my point, Wayne. I’m not saying that just because something doesn’t kill immediately, it’s ok. I also understand that if sugars and refined starches make up the majority of your diet, that it leads to diabetes.

          But guess what? I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was 7, selling cookies every year, and every year my family would buy a case or two of delicious, sugar and refined starch filled cookies. And over the course of the year, we’d slowly eat the cookies as occasional treats.

          Somehow, despite ingesting all this “poison” for 17 years, we’re fine. Our blood sugar levels are fine. Our body fat percentages are fine. Because when you eat refined food occasionally, as a treat, as part of a balanced diet, and with regular exercise, your body can digest it and handle it just fine.

          I’m assuming from your name and profile pic that you are a man, and therefore haven’t had to bear the full force of the other side of the obesity scare, which is the intense body shaming that women and girls go through at ever younger ages. So I’m going to repeat what I said above: When you call these foods poison, all this does is encourage disordered eating habits, and unhealthy attitudes towards food in general.

          You are part of the reason why my kids at camp feel guilty about eating an increased amount of food to keep up with their increased activity levels. You are part of the reason why they feel guilty over packing 2 cookies and a bag of chips to eat at the end of a 7 mile hike. You are part of the reason why I can’t just ask kids whether they weigh over 90 pounds so I can fit them with the right life jacket without starting off a torrent of self-loathing and body shaming and diet talk from 9 year olds.

          These are children who are, by and large, healthy, as determined by a doctor and indicated on their medical forms. And guess what? Most of them eat candy and soda and chips and refined grains from time to time, because pretty much everyone does that. Saying that a healthy diet can only consist of meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs and fish, is not just patently false. It’s also a message that makes women and girls feel intense shame over their perfectly healthy diets and lifestyles.

        4. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

          Saying that a healthy diet can only consist of meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs and fish, is not just patently false. It’s also a message that makes women and girls feel intense shame over their perfectly healthy diets and lifestyles.

          OMG, so much truth here.

          Also? The pressure to be perfect and the guilt that comes along with it only increases when the diet demagoguery further narrows the acceptable food women may eat in order to maintain their trim, ladylike figures and appear sufficiently feminine down to basically nothing more than salad. No carbs, you’ll bloat! Don’t eat meat, didn’t you know that real ladies don’t eat steak! Dairy, it’s the devil making you fat!

          I am so, so sick of the food and body shaming under the guise of concern trolling that is so fashionable these days. Bonus points for pushing women into an even more narrow and confining little box marked as feminine. Screw that, for real.

        5. gratuitous_violet
          gratuitous_violet February 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

          If you eat these “foods” for long enough it will kill you. Not right away but over the course of 20 to 50 years like cigarettes

          I’m 26. You know what else will kill me in 50 years? Living. So shut the fuck up about what’s on other people’s plates and pass the pasta. With garlic bread please.

          How long will it take you to figure out that human bodies are not made up of identical interchangeable parts? If Wayne starts blathering on about “calories in calories out, weight loss is simple because SCIENCE (or a poor understanding thereof), ill have Dietsplainer Bingo.

        6. gratuitous_violet
          gratuitous_violet February 26, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

          And I guess people who are allergic to nuts or certain vegetables should just die already and stop being an impediment to evolution?

          Never mind, don’t answer that.

        7. EG
          EG February 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

          I’m old enough that the idea of something taking 50 years to kill me seems like a pretty good deal, actually.

      3. EG
        EG February 25, 2013 at 11:31 pm |

        It’s amazing how long I’ve lived when I consume so much poison on a regular basis. It’s almost enough to make me think you’re full of shit.

      4. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 26, 2013 at 12:19 am |

        POISON. IT’S ALL POISON I TELL YOU.

        I guess this is why I’m a regular Visha Kanya now. Because I ate POISON ALL DAY LONG.

        1. Wayne
          Wayne February 26, 2013 at 10:17 am |

          You know the progression of a new idea:
          First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then it is accepted as truth. I guess the paleo diet is moving to stage two, thanks.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 26, 2013 at 10:26 am |

          First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then it is accepted as truth you win.

          Fixed it for you. Fuck, if you’re going to quote an Indian at an Indian, at least TRY to get it right.

        3. A4
          A4 February 26, 2013 at 10:35 am |

          then it is accepted as truth

          Oh man check out the hilariously objectivist twist in Wayne’s appropriation.

        4. EG
          EG February 26, 2013 at 10:37 am |

          But don’t forget the progression of a silly fad: first they ignore you, and then they mock you, and then they mock you some more, and then your feelings are hurt, and then everyone forgets all about it, and then ten years later somebody says “Hey, remember when we were young and thought that the paleo diet was a good idea?”

        5. Alyson
          Alyson March 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm |

          I’ve got nothing against the paleo diet, and much of what I cook is paleo since my partner’s doctor advised that it would be helpful in managing his Crohn’s disease.
          That doesn’t mean I think that EVERYONE needs to eat like us, or that foods which fall outside of the paleo realm are “poison.” Even my sick man can eat non-paleo foods some times.

      5. chava
        chava February 26, 2013 at 12:44 am |

        pasta is poison? dude, my Sicilian peasant grandparents are going to rise up from the grave and kick your food fad’s ASS.

        Poison, phhhft. How people can look at bread and pasta and see poison will never cease to amaze me. It’s BREAD. You break it with people. I hear Jesus liked the stuff. But by all means, reject one of the oldest culinary bastions of civilization. I’ll be over here with my baguette.

        1. Wayne
          Wayne February 26, 2013 at 10:15 am |

          Eating paleo (no processed food) may be a fad diet but it is the longest fad in the history of the earth lasting millions of years. We evolved to eat meats, fruits and vegetables, not the frankenfoods that the laboratories of general mills has created for us. If eating pasta and cereal and bagels is so healthy why are 70% of America overweight or obese? Why has the diabetes rate skyrocketed over the past 40 years since we began consuming more processed foods? Why are teenagers starting to have strokes and heart attacks (which is totally messed up)? Our bodies aren’t designed to eat these foods.

        2. EG
          EG February 26, 2013 at 10:38 am |

          If eating pasta and cereal and bagels is so healthy why are 70% of America overweight or obese?

          It’s true. In Europe, they never, ever eat pasta, cereal, or bagels. Clearly that’s the difference between the US and Europe.

        3. A4
          A4 February 26, 2013 at 10:43 am |

          Obviously you are a tool of Big Cereal

        4. chava
          chava February 26, 2013 at 11:55 am |

          I imagine you won’t care, Wayne, but for the sake of science–

          1) 10,000 years is short compared with the span of human history. However, evolution is not always a glacial process. The lac operon, for example, is the fastest spreading mutation in the human genome. It was highly advantageous to be able to thrive on dairy, so it spread like wildfire.

          2) Bread, cereals, and legumes are not in themselves bad for you. No historical cuisine survives without one of them, and they certainly weren’t dying of The Obesity Epidemic OMG.

          3) Countries with diets primarily high in meats and animal fats but correspondingly high rates of exercise still develop heart disease. It’s a fine foodway, they all have their risks, but yeah, the Japanese get hypertension, the French get liver disease, and Norweigans get heart disease.

          4) There was Less Meat than you think in pre-agricultural societies. See here and here.

          5) People did not become flabby and emasculated with the onset of agriculture. There seems to be a lot of this “civilization was horrible and feminizing took away our manliness!” floating around paleo. Also? The animals and veggies ya’ll on the paleo diet eat? A result of organized agriculture, or as its more commonly called, animal husbandry. Unless you’re running down your own deer with a atalatl and gathering wild sunchokes, dude, you ain’t got no authenticity.

        5. samanthab
          samanthab February 27, 2013 at 12:43 pm |

          Wayne, that’s a serious misunderstanding of physical anthropology. Our bodies are very different than Paleolithic bodies, for one. Also, the Paleo diet pulled those “facts” out of their ass. It doesn’t jive with evidence to convince yourself that we have historically eaten a diet that high in protein. It’s completely manufactured, and it’s a manipulative manufacture- protein is a diuretic. People lose water weight and convince themselves they’re on an effective diet, when, in fact, it’s dangerous for the body to be consume diuretics- natural or not- for the long term.

          Also, guess what? People did not get fat upon the domestication of agriculture. That’s a completely dishonest/ ignorant assertion.

        6. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom February 28, 2013 at 9:08 am |

          I don’t want to see you eating any orange carrots or sweet almonds on that paleo diet, and hot peppers only, no bells.

        7. Li
          Li February 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

          5) People did not become flabby and emasculated with the onset of agriculture. There seems to be a lot of this “civilization was horrible and feminizing took away our manliness!” floating around paleo. Also? The animals and veggies ya’ll on the paleo diet eat? A result of organized agriculture, or as its more commonly called, animal husbandry. Unless you’re running down your own deer with a atalatl and gathering wild sunchokes, dude, you ain’t got no authenticity.

          Hey, remember when we argued that no one ate grains until the onset of farming and then we noticed living non-farming societies that regularly ate wild grains as part of their diet?

      6. Li
        Li February 26, 2013 at 1:38 am |

        You can’t just come in and claim things are poison without giving us the LD50s. How else will we know how much we can eat before our bodies are overcome with linguini toxicity?

        1. EG
          EG February 26, 2013 at 1:40 am |

          How else will we know how much we can eat before our bodies are overcome with linguini toxicity?

          I will nobly throw myself on the unexploded linguini and be the test case, especially if we’re testing it with clam sauce.

        2. chava
          chava February 26, 2013 at 2:29 am |

          now *that’s* a hill to die on.

        3. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 26, 2013 at 11:09 am |

          now *that’s* a hill to die on.

          I will only die on the hill of deliciousness!

        4. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom February 28, 2013 at 10:17 am |

          No, EG! Don’t do it! You’ve got a whole 20 to 50 years of life ahead of you!

  3. Drahill
    Drahill February 25, 2013 at 11:28 am |

    My problem with arguments for government incentives towards health is that those incentives tend to focus on nudging INDIVUDUALS towards certain positive behaviors while it allows the same government that pushes them to not change its own behavior. Do you know why 32 oz. plus sodas exist? Because the US subsidizes corn to such an extent that soda is incredibly cheap to produce and companies can turn a profit off selling a Big Gulp for dirt cheap. That’s why. Soda taxes (and taxes on all the other junk that generally is also created from subsidized crops) would be largely uneccessary if subsidization did not result in them being the cheaper options on the market.

    So basically: Government subsidizes crops – crops are used to create products that, due to subsidization, can be marketed at rock bottom prices – Lower and middle class people largely respond to this and buy cheapest products at rock bottom prices – cheapest products then begin to effect public health – government bemoans individual behavior – government decides to place tax on product it helped create massive demand for – government recoups money not from industry that it subsidizes, but from consumers.

    Gotcha. Makes perfect sense. I just dislike that all these “incentives” seem poised to address individual behavior that is largely a result on the government’s misguided moves in the marketplace to begin with. When we stop enabling the worst products, then maybe we can have an honest conversation about individual buying behavior and personal responsibility and taxation. But how can we now? The Guardian article makes a brief mention of the subsidies, which I think sort of under-emphasizes how damaging they have been. How can the government stand in any position to try to sway eating and nutrition when it largely helped create this position (and isn’t going to stop any time soon?)

    1. chava
      chava February 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

      QFT. Stop incentiving companies to consciously trainwreck people’s health in the name of profit, and your need to punish people for their individual choices goes away.

    2. jacy
      jacy February 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm |

      um…i don’t have any sources for this so please only take this at face value, but dosn’t the american government also majorly subsidise the meat industry as the British government subsidises the dairy industry? meaning that what could be cheaper options for poorer people eg. quorn, tofu and various other protein alternantives which don’t contain the same fat and cholestaral as meat products do, which makes it much harder for poor people to be vegetarian/vegan.

      1. chava
        chava February 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm |

        We heavily subsidize corn, sugar, soy and the meat and dairy industries. Part of this is a leftover from the Depression, part of it is not. We do not in any form subsidize produce, much less sustainably grown food of any kind which bothers not to abuse its workers.

        There is something deeply sick about hurting both the consumer and the wage laborer in this equation in order to achieve the outcome you want. But I guess we have to keep the fat cats in Washington happy…

        1. jacy
          jacy February 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

          There is something deeply sick about hurting both the consumer and the wage laborer in this equation in order to achieve the outcome you want.

          I’m sorry I probably shouldn’t have said anything, what I meant to imply was that if the government subsidizes other industrustries other than meat and corn than there would be more affordable healthy options for poorer people to eat, aswell as poorer people being able to make ethical food choices if they/we choose to do so, my comment was also meant to be a stab at middle class vegans who wonder why poor people can’t make that choice. I don’t see how this would hurt the consumer or wage laborour but that would be down to my own ignorance, I don’t doubt that point you made.

        2. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

          jacy. . .not to triangulate. . .but I’m pretty sure what chava was saying is that the current system was “deeply sick,” not that what you were proposing is “deeply sick.” I don’t read chava as criticizing you in any way here.

        3. chava
          chava February 25, 2013 at 6:48 pm |

          Arg, triple post, sorry.

          And who said they would be? I’m sure you’re totally aware that vegetarian, pescetarian and “flexitarian” diets can easily meet the average person’s nutritional needs quite effectively.

          Yeah, so pescatarian? Not any healthier for the environment. If you’re only eating sustainable fish, ok, maybe. In terms of nutrition…mercury levels make it a riskier choice for children and pregnant women.

          I’m flexitarian myself (and kosher) and am priced out of meat more than once or twice a week. That’s fine with me, but having it be more expensive….ugh.

        4. Mr Rabbit
          Mr Rabbit February 26, 2013 at 10:57 am |

          @ EG:

          Regarding B12:

          Vegetarians can get enough B12 from cheese and eggs.

          Vegans can get B12 from fortified soy milk (fairly common) and nutritional yeast. Unless you’re a raw food vegan, it’s not too difficult to have the recommended B12.

          Even nonvegetarians may need to take a B12 tablet – it’s something to be aware of, but not a reason to avoid a vegan diet.

          But if someone is on a really, really low income or has a soy allergy, a vegetarian or meat based diet may be more practical and affordable. It is possible to be a vegan and to be on a low income but it’s not practical for everyone.

          As a general aside:
          For people who want to reduce animal consumption but find it difficult, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Having an animal free food day once a week does make a difference, for example. This is for people who want to do so – if you’re happy eating meat, I’m not trying to convert your thinking.

      2. Drahill
        Drahill February 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm |

        Yes, the government subsidizes those as well. Most of the food justice movement’s anger tends towards corn and soy, I think, because its far easier to put in almost everything – whereas meat and dairy, although also heavily subsidized, are more limited to what they can go in. But you are correct – animal proteins are far cheaper than what they’d actually be if the market bore all the cost. The price has started to creep up, but that’s largely because of decreased demand and feed costs, not due to a declien in subsidies (in fact, I think this year, the government made a record push of money to the dairy industry).

        1. chava
          chava February 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

          So, it is a Good Thing to have reasonably priced animal protein and dairy. They are quality sources of high quality protein and fat, and we might not want pure market forces to determine their price. However, the U.S. policies have gotten seriously out of hand, and contribute to food safety issues and the abuse of migrant workers.

        2. Drahill
          Drahill February 25, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

          I’m not sure what you’re arguing for is Reasonably Priced. In an ideal situation, animals products would have a price that would reflect a myriad of factors, including the work that goes into them, the labor it takes to produce them, the environmental impact, etc.

          It’s well-known that the world consumes too many animal products. Animal products place a higher, more severe strain on the environment, since it takes far more plant life to produce a smaller quota of meat or dairy. It takes more human labor to raise them, slaughter them, process their carcass and transport them. So by the time you factor in environmental costs, food costs and labor, animal products inherently are going to be more expensive. The question is, if that is their “true
          price, then why not allow the market to reflect that?

          The problem is that we live in America, where the average family spends around 10% of their income on cheaply marketed foods, mostly. The freeing up of our incomes has led to a booming leisure economy. If food prices are allowed to rise to reflect an unsubsidized price, more of the American buget will be used for food and we risk a contration of our leisure and retail economies. So basically, therein lies the problem. But I see no reason why foods should not reflect in their prices the actual work and costs that go into them.

        3. chava
          chava February 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm |

          ….because we don’t want people to be priced out of basic nutrition?

          Seriously, there is an upside to having your population able to afford nutrient-rich food. We’re just subsidizing the wrong food. If we chose to throw the money we throw behind corn into produce and ethically-raised meat, everyone would benefit.

          There’s nothing wrong with letting your population bear some of the true cost of animal proteins. But I don’t think making everyone pay what, $20/chicken is a good idea, either. Meat and dairy are Good Things for children to be able to have reasonably often, if not at the insane rates we currently consume them.

        4. Drahill
          Drahill February 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm |

          ….because we don’t want people to be priced out of basic nutrition?

          And who said they would be? I’m sure you’re totally aware that vegetarian, pescetarian and “flexitarian” diets can easily meet the average person’s nutritional needs quite effectively.

          I believe that a product needs to reflect the cost that went into it. Meat and dairy (eggs, not so much) are incredibly labor-intensive to raise, harvest and process. Far more so than produce and grain production. Allowing meat prices to rise to reflect this would in fact drive down demand – more people would seek out alternative proteins – which is fine. But at least then, we’ve see a product that adequately reflects the work that actually goes into the product. But I think your point isn’t really true. The low price of meat has allowed it to become the staple protein of the American diet, but that does not make it essential (and especially not essential in the amounts we usually consume). There’s zero evidence that allowing the price of meat to rise will deny people adequate nutrition.

        5. jacy
          jacy February 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm |

          yeah I think this is where me and chava differ, I don’t think it’s good to subsidise the meat and dairy industsies not just because they are envoiramentaly unsound which affects mainly the global south and the issue of migrant workers but also because animal products aren’t healthy to eat in and of themselves and poor people should be able to make the choice not to buy into those industries. There are many healthier alternitives to meat and dairy to provide calcium, unsaturated fat and protein but poor people are priced out of those food products and seeing as how 90% of the meat we eat is fatory farmed the poor are econmomicaly forced to eat factory farmed meat

        6. EG
          EG February 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

          because animal products aren’t healthy to eat in and of themselves

          Evidence that this is globally true?

          Not healthy to eat in the amounts that most Americans usually consume them? Sure. In and of themselves? Bullshit.

        7. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

          animal products aren’t healthy to eat in and of themselves

          This is pure quackery. plain and simple. There are plenty of animal and seafood based proteins that are very healthy for humans to eat. Be a vegetarian/vegan/ whatever, but don’t expect others to make that choice if it isn’t for them.

          There are many healthier alternitives to meat and dairy to provide calcium, unsaturated fat and protein

          I pointed this out the last time we had a food fight here at Feministe, but for those with dairy, nut and soy allergies it is extremely difficult if not impossible for them to get sufficient protein in their diet without eating animal/seafood proteins. And Chava’s point about little children is especially important, because they still need a fair amount of fat in their diet on a daily basis to support sufficient brain and nervous system development. That’s extremely difficult to do without including animal products (especially milk of some kind, and almond/soy/coconut milk isn’t enough) in there somewhere.

          Also, telling poor people that they totes can just eat tofu and beans and nuts to get enough cheap protein in their diet! is annoying and insulting.

        8. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm |

          And Chava’s point about little children is especially important, because they still need a fair amount of fat in their diet on a daily basis to support sufficient brain and nervous system development. That’s extremely difficult to do without including animal products (especially milk of some kind, and almond/soy/coconut milk isn’t enough) in there somewhere.

          Um what? The optimal source of nutrition for infants is breast milk, which generally isn’t considered an “animal product” in the sense that we are discussing, though it technically is one. For children slightly older than that, there are plenty of sources of fat other than animal products. . .olive oil, vegetable oil, avocados, nuts, and so on. Children are perfectly capable of eating all these things and developing a quite sufficient nervous system. So please don’t be like the vegans you deplore and use inaccurate absolute statements to advocate your viewopint. In no way is it true that, in general, “children need to eat animal products.” Plenty of folks may need to animal products because of individual health issues, economic circumstances, or simple personal preference. . .but ALL people as whole do not need to eat them, and neither do ALL children as a whole.

        9. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm |

          Um what? The optimal source of nutrition for infants is breast milk, which generally isn’t considered an “animal product” in the sense that we are discussing, though it technically is one.

          Um, what?(!) right back atcha.

          I don’t even know why you’re taking issue with me, one of the most vocal breastfeeders and breastfeeding supporters here at Feministe. But I’m not so dogmatic as to assume that it’s the ONLY BEST EVAR! for all babies. Some parents either supplement or opt to give formula only to their babies for various reasons. Most formula is cow milk based, as soy formula is not always easily tolerated by many babies and is usually more costly than milk based formula. Also, soy is a fairly common allergen, thus making it something plenty of babies may not consume. Making one’s own formula with nut milks is a big NoNo as babies should not be given nut products of any kind.

          For children slightly older than that, there are plenty of sources of fat other than animal products. . .olive oil, vegetable oil, avocados, nuts, and so on.

          The American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines are to not give children under the age of 3 any nut products of any kind because of allergy concerns. Nut allergies are also becoming more and more commonplace for thus far unknown reasons here in the U.S. Finally, it’s a myth that kids will totally just eat what their parents eat if you just keep feeding it to them. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you have kids who have feeding issues or are just plain too stubborn to get with the program. Says the parent with four kids who have all refused to eat avocados and beans no matter how many times I’ve been them on their plates.

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

          but also because animal products aren’t healthy to eat in and of themselves and poor people should be able to make the choice not to buy into those industries. There are many healthier alternitives to meat and dairy to provide calcium, unsaturated fat and protein

          Poor vegetarian here, would like to point out that this statement is full of shit on infinite levels.

          1) I don’t know if you’re an evolution-denying Bible-thumper, but where the rest of us live, we evolved from meat-eaters, we are meat-eaters, just like every other branch of our immediate family. Sure, not all of us do it, and we don’t HAVE to do it, but it’s fucking ridiculous to assert otherwise. We are in general meat-eaters.

          2) Oh, yes, there’s Healthy Alternatives(tm). Most are ridiculously fucking expensive. Ask me, I know.

          3) I fully support widening food choices for poor people. However, meat-shaming is not the bloody way to do it.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 25, 2013 at 6:29 pm |

          The optimal source of nutrition for infants is breast milk, which generally isn’t considered an “animal product” in the sense that we are discussing, though it technically is one. For children slightly older than that, there are plenty of sources of fat other than animal products. . .olive oil, vegetable oil, avocados, nuts, and so on.

          Becca, what about mothers who’ve stopped lactating because they’re too malnutritioned, like several women in my family past and present? Or mothers who just plain don’t lactate for whatever reason? And let’s not forget the infants who are allergic to milk. Valoniel was one, and it fucked her body up hard because it took them a while to find a doctor with two braincells to rub together to get a diagnosis. There’s lots of reasons someone might want to not breastfeed.

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm |

          Argh I wasn’t done, wtf. That last sentence should read “might want to not breastfeed, or can’t even if they do, so it’s a bad idea to generalise on that”.

        13. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 25, 2013 at 6:39 pm |

          Lola, my comment about breastfeeding was not taking issue with you on breastfeeding. And my description of it as “optimal” only meant that it appears to be optimal in terms of infant health outcomes according to current research, as of course you already are aware. I wasn’t trying to imply that all parents are in a position to breastfeed their babies or that all parents should breastfeed their babies. I merely mentioned breastfeeding to point out that, for infants (as a whole), it’s not “extremely difficult” to have “sufficient” brain development in the absence of (nonhuman) animal products.

          Thank you for pointing out that information about nut allergies; I was not aware of that. I feel my general point still stands, though. I don’t think it’s too hard to get most toddlers to eat things that include some vegetable or olive oil in them. There’s lots of fat in a huge variety of foods readily available to American consumers, foods children often eat. Perhaps I am wrong, of course; I’ll admit I don’t have children and am not an expert on parenting. But I took issue with the absolute-sounding nature of your statements. I know people who have raised vegan children with relative ease. This doesn’t mean it’s for everybody. . .but that doesn’t mean it is “extremely difficult” for all people, either.

        14. chava
          chava February 25, 2013 at 6:41 pm |

          Second what Lola and EG said already here.

          Look, meat and dairy are not necessary or healthy *in the quantity and quality Americans currently consume.*

          But yes, they are important sources of nutrition for children and undernourished populations. Allowing the market to equalize the price to a reasonable extent, without putting meat and dairy out completely out of the price range of normal people, is fine–all I’m saying is that we probably want to keep some level of subsidy there.

        15. chava
          chava February 25, 2013 at 6:44 pm |

          Re: children and animal products.

          Yes, you CAN raise a child without any animal products at all. It takes a thorough knowledge of nutrition, careful attention to nutrient levels, and usually vitamin supplements. (There aren’t any cultural foodways that operate that way for a reason, fwiw) How about we don’t advocate making already disadvantaged populations bear that burden, ok?

        16. EG
          EG February 25, 2013 at 6:48 pm |

          I don’t think it’s too hard to get most toddlers to eat things that include some vegetable or olive oil in them.

          It is very hard to get many toddlers to eat any given food besides Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and Cheerios.

          Vegan diets do not include Vitamin B12, and vegans need to take supplements, is my understanding. So no, a vegan diet does not include all needed nutrients, and in practice, plenty develop a deficiency, according to the linked article.

        17. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm |

          I wasn’t trying to imply that all parents are in a position to breastfeed their babies or that all parents should breastfeed their babies.

          Fair enough, but even as a breastfeeding parent the way you phrased it got my back up. Because I’ve seen the shitty shaming that goes on of parents who don’t breastfeed for whatever reason, or even who opt to supplement for whatever reason. I agree that it’s optimal to breastfeed a baby as long as it’s feasible to do so. Otherwise, you do what you gotta do to feed your kid. And more often than not, you have to give that kid animal-based cow’s milk formula if breastfeeding isn’t an option, because it is absolutely necessary for sufficient baby brain development.

          I think the bigger issue as I saw it was that you didn’t really get the bigger picture reality of breastfeeding, formula feeding and feeding little kids. No judgment or hard feelings, that stuff isn’t really general knowledge if you aren’t doing it on a daily basis.

          Like I said, be veg of whatever iteration if it’s your thing. But if you want to have a veg baby you have to take extreme care to do so in a healthy way that gives that baby all the nutrients they need. And I will get my back up as a meat eater if you can’t accept my choice to not be a veg. To each their own, and all that.

        18. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

          I agree with you Mac. The breastfeeding thing wasn’t central to my point, but I still should have phrased what I said there better. My entire point is that one should not generalize that children need animal products because there ARE lots of ambiguities and social and individual differences. The same thing applies to breastfeeding. So to rephrase what I said. . .breastfeeding is USUALLY optimal but not always. . .as there are lots of ambiguities and social and individual differences.

          That said, if women aren’t able to breastfeed because they are malnourished, like happened in your family, that is certainly NOT optimal and is, in fact, entirely horrible and saddening. I’m very sorry to hear that Mac. Sending my love to your relatives in the present who are still enduring those shitty circumstances.

        19. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 25, 2013 at 7:02 pm |

          ack, I phrased that badly; the women in question are living, but not of childbearing age anymore, was what I meant to convey. But thanks for the wishes, Becca.

          Vegan diets do not include Vitamin B12, and vegans need to take supplements, is my understanding.

          Yep. As a vegetarian, I do get some share of B12, but I need supplements to keep my anxiety levels down and my ability to sleep consistently (lack of stress-induced nightmares) improves too. But it’s expensive, relatively.

        20. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

          How about we don’t advocate making already disadvantaged populations bear that burden, ok?

          Sounds good to me. I advocate taking food completely out of the market and recognizing it as the human right it is, something we communally provide for each other as part of a just society. All people should have access to sufficient, nutritious food of a type that they find enjoyable to eat.

          Fair enough, but even as a breastfeeding parent the way you phrased it got my back up. Because I’ve seen the shitty shaming that goes on of parents who don’t breastfeed for whatever reason, or even who opt to supplement for whatever reason.

          I completely agree, and I can see now that I phrased that sentence in a imprecise and kinda insensitive way.

          But if you want to have a veg baby you have to take extreme care to do so in a healthy way that gives that baby all the nutrients they need.

          This may be true. I was responding specifically to the idea that children couldn’t get sufficient fat easily without animal products.

          Finally, I am a vegetarian, but I’m definitely not moralistic about it, nor do I even “advocate” it per se. I want people to eat whatever food they need or prefer.

        21. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 25, 2013 at 7:28 pm |

          It is very hard to get many toddlers to eat any given food besides Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and Cheerios.

          ITA

          One of my twins has Sensory Processing Disorder, which has caused him to have feeding issues pretty much from the time he started solid foods and continues on seven years later. He’s a classic sensory seeker, and needs crunchy foods to meet that need. He has also had a really hard time with anything that he perceives as squishy or slimey and still often vomits if he tries to eat it. He just can’t handle it, and no amount of making it my dietary hill to die on that he must get over it and eat beans, avocado, mashed root vegetables or even very ripe bananas will change that.

          As a parent, the greatest responsibility we have is to insure our kids’ health and well-being. Which means sometimes taking a different path than you initially intended at the outset of parenthood. I was sure I would have adventurous eaters who would eat all the things! and never eat goldfish crackers or french fries.

          And then I got over myself.

        22. jacy
          jacy February 25, 2013 at 7:29 pm |

          ugh….yeah the points people have made in this thread about it being really difficult for poor people to be vegan or vegatarian was my point aswell. I wasn’t shaming meat-eaters or poor meat eaters I was doing the oppisite and just pointing out that It’s really difficult to be poor and not eat meat and dairy, the meat most people eat is not nutrisious, and there are lots of dairy products in cheap food which could potentially be soya based (um b12 and calcium and other nutriunts/vitimins are added to soy milk and butter alternatives -in the uk- to whoever made the point about vegans needing to take added nutriants) . The reason why it’s so difficult to be vegatarian with a nut/soya/ allegy or gluten intolerant isn’t because it’s impossible it’s because there isn’t enough government support those areas of agriculture, despite people on a vegan diet having far lower cholesterol levels. At no point have I made poor people to blame for those things or for eating meat, it’s the government to blame for allowing cheap (factory farmed) meat to be produced at a cost to the envoriment instead of providing cheaper alternatives for poeple on lower incomes to eat.

        23. Donna L
          Donna L February 25, 2013 at 10:49 pm |

          Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and Cheerios.

          You said it! What is it about those two foods, anyway? No matter how vigorously other things were encouraged, for a long time when my son was a toddler this is all he was willing to eat as snack food.

        24. chava
          chava February 26, 2013 at 12:32 am |

          Yeah, so re: toddlers and Goldfish/Cheerios. Hm. I think the reason they eat so much, so insistently, is likely that the food industry has a vested interest in getting ‘em hooked young. There is something deeply creepy to me in the way the food industry targets children with food, and I like Goldfish and Cheerios as much as the next girl. But I won’t have them in my house, so the toddler doesn’t eat them. I don’t think its *bad* to eat them, but yeah, if you don’t have it around, kid eats other things.

          Disclaimer: my family is so, so not prone to sensory issues around food, so ymmv. the toddler is also prone to assert his Issues around things other than food.

        25. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah February 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

          It is very hard to get many toddlers to eat any given food besides Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and Cheerios.

          Ha! As I was reading this my son was requesting a snack and when I offered him carrots and raisins (my go to snack to offer for when I really do not need him to be eating because its nearly dinner time) he said “NO! I want something like a cracker!” UGH! Expensive, small little boxes of starch and salt, WHYYY are you so addictive to my children!??! I consider myself lucky if my kids are just eating Cheerios and don’t whine for the “honey nut kind!!! [stomp stomp stomp]” I try my best to offer other foods, but yeah…we eat a lot of cheese, starch, and meat…we even eat *GASP* [call the cops] hotdogs!! I feel so much better now that I confessed that…

        26. chava
          chava February 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

          OK, maybe I am missing something here with which I will be clobbered at the next stage of child-rearing, but my parents (and now I) just don’t buy it at the grocery store, and then it’s sorry, we don’t have anything like that, what else would you like. We can’t really afford stuff like cheerios, so kid eats what we eat, full stop.

          Does that not work for other parents? (am not being food snarky, just asking)

        27. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm |

          but my parents (and now I) just don’t buy it at the grocery store, and then it’s sorry, we don’t have anything like that, what else would you like.

          I think this can and does work, but it ultimately depends on where you want to draw the line.

          I draw the line at a place that eliminates more highly processed stuff, like most mass-market, commerically prepared chips, crackers and snack foods. Goldfish still get bought around here, although only in the whole grain cheese and pretzel variety. Granola type bars only make the cut if they are either organic or have fewer than maybe a dozen ingredients listed. I’ve found that Trader Joe’s (and Whole Foods, but talk about prohibitively spendy!) sells a lot of cracker/snack foods that have more real ingredients and no artificial flavors/colors/preservatives at reasonable prices. So I try to buy that sort of stuff at TJs whenever possible.

          Especially with having a kid with food issues, I’ve found that I needed to not be too scorched earth in my approach to what sort of food purchases I deem acceptable for my kids to consume. Like I said, I avoid the artificial stuff as much as possible. But living without any crackers or prepared snacks at all is a no go around here to keep my kids fed and continually interested in eating the food I put in front of them.

        28. EG
          EG February 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm |

          My godson discovered goldfish when a playmate offered him some from her snack. We could not buy them, but he’s quite a picky eater, and some days we’re just happy to find any solid food that meets with his approval and doesn’t get either thrown on the floor or pushed away with “Neh neh neh.”

      3. BBBShrewHarpy
        BBBShrewHarpy February 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm |

        When advocating non-meat sources of protein, keep in mind that these sources feed the less wealthy parts of the world and there can be unintended consequences including high prices and changing resource use that affects other people.

        1. Jacy
          Jacy February 25, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

          Yes thankyou for that link ive seen it before, but it’s an extremly important point and one that vegatarians/vegans have to consider.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm |

          Jacy, links to actual, verified, scientific studies would be far more convincing than a supportive essay. I also don’t think it helps the veg cause to not differentiate between say beef and fish/shellfish. There are recent scientific studies indicating that a pescatarian diet can be very beneficial for the health as the Omega 3 fatty acides present in certain deep water fish like tuna and salmon can lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

          Finally, as someone who has battled anemia for over seven years I can tell you from personal experience how hard it is to get non-meat sources of iron in one’s diet. Pills are often difficult to digest, as are plant based sources of iron. IME, the only thing that stands between me and chronic lower GI distress is eating red meat a few times a month in order to stave off the anemia.

        3. chava
          chava February 26, 2013 at 12:35 am |

          Iron pills make me unable to hold anything else down too. The monthly hamburger or liver-fest seems to keep things at bay for me, though some people need more.

        4. Katherine
          Katherine February 28, 2013 at 9:44 am |

          Here is another article on the subject of quinoa which I think is a little more nuanced:

          http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/01/quinoa-good-evil-or-just-really-complicated

          PS the Huffington Post article is a rip off of a Guardian article which was a vegan-guilt piece. I like the Guardian much of the time, but they do do guilt pieces a lot.

    3. (BFing) Sarah
      (BFing) Sarah February 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

      Agreed with Drahill above on the fact that government promotes certain foods and, therefore, they are cheaper…then they want to penalize US for choosing the cheaper foods! PSSSH! Make it cheaper to get fruit and veggies at WFs or at a farmer’s market and I will, but right now I’m going to have to be content with what I can get at ShopRite on sale. And, nope, its not going to be “local,” either, because I don’t live in Cali and can’t get good “local” produce year round.

      Not to mention the fact that the food pyramid itself has been put together with a lot of lobbyist involvement. I hardly know who to trust anymore with all this “___ food is bad” and “___ food causes cancer” and “____ food causes heart disease” stuff that flies back and forth!

  4. Barnacle Strumpet
    Barnacle Strumpet February 25, 2013 at 11:31 am |

    No. No taxes on soda, or other “junk food”. Because people on foodstamps don’t pay taxes on food, so this incentive to drink healthier isn’t going to help the poor at all. In Chicago you even get out of the bottled water tax if you have foodstamps, iirc.

    I also don’t approve of the size limits. Companies are already downsizing product sizes while increasing food prices. I’m not going to give them “eating healthy” as another excuse to starve my family for profit.

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 February 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

      I also don’t approve of the size limits. Companies are already downsizing product sizes while increasing food prices. I’m not going to give them “eating healthy” as another excuse to starve my family for profit.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe size limits have only been proposed with regard to soda, which isn’t a product the lack of which will cause anyone to starve.* I agree that it would be a bad idea to expand size limits policies beyond soda, for the reasons you state. But in the realm of incentives, requiring restaurants to publish nutritional information on their menus is a good idea.

      *Specifically speaking to the developed world here, where access to water that is safe for drinking (although sometimes bad-tasting) is essentially universal.

      1. Drahill
        Drahill February 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm |

        It’s not totally limited to the developing world. The most recent data from the EPA indicates that about 10% of the USA’s drinking water is unsafe for human consumption, if I’m recalling correct. Around 20% has been identified as having “serious issues.” Here are some links:

        http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/how-polluted-is-us-drinking-water

        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/business/energy-environment/08water.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

        I lived in several very rural areas through my lifetime, and yes, there are areas of the US where parents will feed their children cola before water because its known that the water in their town is unsafe. It’s largely dependent upon where you are, but it’s patently false that lack of access to safe water isn’t an issue in the United States. Because it is.

        1. Anon21
          Anon21 February 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm |

          I did not know that. Seriously disturbing, but thanks for providing those links. It certainly raises the question of whether soda size limits could contribute to unsafe conditions for poor people, although I do wonder how much crossover there is between jurisdictions that have adopted soda size limits and jurisdictions where access to safe drinking water is a problem.

        2. Drahill
          Drahill February 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm |

          Anon: As of now, I don’t think there is much overlap. Water safety tends to be most pressing in rural areas where animal agriculture, mining and other stuff like fracking happens. The issue would be if say, a soda tax or ban happened at a state level (as opposed to a local level). You could have an elecorate in an urban area pushing bans or taxation at the state level that will affect rural people in the same state. That’s why I think the bans and taxes are shortsighted, at least for now. This stuff tends to originate in urban areas that take things like water safety for granted.

          (I grew up rural, so I tend to have a laser-beam like focus on how this stuff impacts rural people, so I tend to get worked up around food policy, which seems to heavily focus on urban people. Just a pet peeve of mine).

        3. AK
          AK February 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm |

          It also can be an infrastructure and availability issue. I’ve lived in rural desert areas of the southwestern US most of my life, and there’s a problem with no running water to many smaller, isolated communities. Drilling wells can be prohibitively expensive in the best of conditions, and in arid areas costs are even higher due to having to drill deeper (and often through rockier ground). Even if the water is there and safe to drink, the residents may not be able to afford to get it. I’ve lived in several communities where everyone but the wealthiest had to truck in water. And modern wells can be expensive and difficult to maintain, too (depending on the conditions, of course), and that’s all personal expense.

          Even in the small towns that do have municipal water, the treatment plants and other infrastructure are often outdated. I lived in a town of around 12,000 people where at least 2-3 times a year a “do not drink” order would be issued because of bacterial contamination in the water system. The system was ancient and a few fixes would have eliminated that problem, but there was no money for it.

          I mean, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t every town in the region or anything (and I’m sure there are other communities in other parts of the US that have these same problems, I just haven’t lived anywhere else long enough to experience it), but it is a significant problem.

          The arid regions of the US are also going to be facing a serious water shortage altogether as we’re running through water more quickly than it can be replaced, and if we’re not careful we’re going to be seeing serious water shortages not so far in the future.

          Sorry for the long off-topic post, but water scarcity is near and dear to my heart, being a desert rat as I am. ;)

        4. Liz
          Liz February 25, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

          There has been a recent case in New Zealand in which a woman died and coroner decided the cause of her death was drinking 6 – 10 litres of Coca Cola per day. I’m not sure what else she consumed. It’s really shocking that someone can be so addicted to a drink.

        5. Lu
          Lu February 26, 2013 at 6:29 am |

          Is it the case that bottles of soda are cheaper than bottles of water? Drinking carbonated drinks on a daily basis can also do some serious damage to your teeth, which is another cost to consider.

        6. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah February 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm |

          Wow. Then I consider myself lucky that where I live a gallon of water is cheaper at the store than a gallon of Coke! Coke is one thing I cannot possibly imagine giving my already ridiculously energized child.

      2. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet February 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

        Why are you talking about the developed world, specifically? Water has no calories. It wouldn’t prevent anyone from starving at all.

        And a 2-litre of soda is about $1.50, sometimes cheaper. That’s 1000 calories for a little over buck.

        That’s cheap calories. $1.50 on fruit won’t get you even 200 calories, a lot of the time. Same goes for a lot of healthy food. It’s less calories for more money.

        I guess it comes down to what’s worse for your health: drinking a lot of soda, or living on 300 calories a day?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm |

          I guess you weren’t around for the last thread on soda, which turned into a lovely merry-go-round of fat-shaming, classism and sneering despite all that evidence up there and further being presented.

          Also, in further support of your point, I would respectfully ask anyone wahhing about soda (which I don’t drink more than once a month on average) to compare its price to the price of water. Then compare bulk soda prices to bulk water prices. Then look at the map of areas with unsafe water again, look at the average incomes and racial distribution of those areas, the TOTALLY COINCIDENTAL I SWEAR NO RLY TOTALLY COINCIDENTAL proximity of many of those areas to Native lands, and then get back on that.

        2. RichardVW
          RichardVW February 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          That’s cheap calories.

          It’s cheap sugar. It’s lacking whatsoever in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, fat, or non-sugar carbohydrates. A person can’t just live on soda; they’d literally die.

          Also, your hypothetical soda is 15 cents per calorie. The expensive kind of brown rice at my local grocery is barely over 6 cents per calorie.

        3. Part-time Jedi
          Part-time Jedi February 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm |

          RichardVW, that assumes that the person in question:
          -Has access to a grocery store that carries rice
          -Has access to a kitchen and the cooking supplies they need (like a pot)
          -Has the time to sit around waiting for rice to cook
          -Has access to clean water to cook the rice in

          Those things aren’t a given for everyone.

        4. Drahill
          Drahill February 25, 2013 at 1:02 pm |

          Richard: Sure you could live solely by consuming soda. You’d be a miserable human, but you’d live. Your body needs calories, period. It prefers some over others, but it’ll run on any form of calories. Soda is mostly water, with the rest of its calories coming from sugars. It’s not the best, but it will sustain your life functions.

          And dude, are you really gonna pull that “but brown rice is so cheap” thing? There’s something to consider – Because of the cheapness, you’re also talking about buying in bulk (i assume). Which means its not parboiled rice, which means you can’t microwave it or buy it ready to eat. And guess what else? If you’re a poor person, you might live in an apartment/home that doesn’t have gas consistently (either because you can’t pay the bill or because your landlord isn’t the best about keeping the gas on or working). Or maybe you live in an area where the water isn’t too safe and you can’t cook with it. If you don’t have gas and/or water, oops, there goes your rice cookery.

          Why do you think “junk food” is so popular among the poor? Its not because they’re lazy. It’s because cooking, which you take for granted, is premised upon a lot more then being about to buy food. It takes a space to cook. It takes safe water to cook with, electric or gas to cook with, etc. Things that many low-income Americans don’t have. Junk food tends to be sold either ready made to be eaten out of the package or preparable in a microwave. There’s a reason for that.

          You’re reducing it solely to a matter of calories, but the decision about what and how to eat assumes a lot more than that. Limiting food generally impacts certain classes more than others, and that is a problem.

        5. matlun
          matlun February 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm |

          @Richard:

          Also, your hypothetical soda is 15 cents per calorie

          15 cents per calorie?
          That seems to be miscalculated one way or another from the example you referred to. (1000 calories, which probably meant 1000 kcal for $1.50. Which is 0.15 cents per kcal (or 0.00015 cents per calorie)).

          In general 15 cents per kcal would be hideously expensive compared to most food. Here is a reference with pictures if anyone is really interested.

          @Drahill

          Sure you could live solely by consuming soda. You’d be a miserable human, but you’d live.

          Until you started to get scurvy, night blindness and other diseases due to lack of necessary nutrients.

        6. RichardVW
          RichardVW February 25, 2013 at 1:44 pm |

          Okay, so my privilege is showing, and I’m not an expert here.

          Maybe this only-drinks-sugar-water person wouldn’t die, but I think it’s one hell of an understatement to say “[they'd] be a miserable human being”.

          re. rice:

          Is a 5-pound bag “bulk”? I really don’t know. You’re correct that I misspoke though. It’s not the most expensive rice available at my store; it’s the most expensive among 5-pound bags, and yes it requires water and a significant amount of heat to cook.

          I’m not going to hold it against someone who drinks a 32 ounce of soda if they’re starving or if it’s the cheapest route to safe water, but there are at least some American communities where it’s possible to live below 10K and still have the requisite resources required to consistently cook the rice I mentioned. To those in such a position, I wouldn’t recommend choosing the soda instead.

        7. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date February 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm |

          Sure you could live solely by consuming soda. You’d be a miserable human, but you’d live. Your body needs calories, period.

          No.

        8. Drahill
          Drahill February 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

          Past my expiration date: And how so? I live in a mostly low-income area, and I know plenty of people who consume soft drinks as their only form of liquids – and their solids are pretty crappy too. They’re not healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re alive. They’re malnourished and not in good shape, but their putting enough calories in to ensure they’re not dropping dead. Rather, they’re dying very slowly. You’d be full-amazed at what the human body can run off of.

        9. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date February 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm |

          @Drahill — “Consuming soft drinks as their only form of liquids” is not the same as “you could live solely by consuming soda” and “your body needs calories, period”.

          As matlun says above, the body also needs nutrients. If you consumed only soda, scurvy or pellagra (for example) would kill you, even if you get enough calories, unless the soft drinks were fortified with vitamin C and niacin, respectively.

        10. RichardVW
          RichardVW February 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

          Yes, my math was hideously wrong. I appreciate that a person can say something so stupid here and be met with helpful charts. I’m not being sarcastic; you’re a good person matlun. Thank you.

        11. Drahill
          Drahill February 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

          Past my expiration date: I think you’re talking about cola, which is basically sugar water. I do know that a lot of soft drinks now are at least somewhat fortified (basically, to play to the consumer). So I think the point is valid – even most soft drinks now will provide you at least some miniscule nutrient value. Hell, they sell fortified Coke now, which is weird. And weirdly enough, most people can survive temporary or short-term vitamin deficiencies (with a few exceptions). The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to test. The best estimates are that if a human can survive 3-5 weeks solely on water, we could probably do a bit longer if just consuming minimally fortified soft drinks, but who knows how long? But could you survive a week or more if you were scrouging for money or couldn’t afford food? Yep. You’d just be a miserable piece of work.

        12. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve February 25, 2013 at 11:43 pm |

          The best estimates are that if a human can survive 3-5 weeks solely on water, we could probably do a bit longer if just consuming minimally fortified soft drinks, but who knows how long?

          For god’s sake Drahill, don’t you realize when you’re being ridiculous? You said:

          Sure you could live solely by consuming soda. You’d be a miserable human, but you’d live.

          When someone says ‘you could live solely by consuming’ something, by ‘live’ they mean you could live a full life, not potentially hold on for 6 weeks.

          That’s like arguing that cyanide won’t kill you because for 10 minutes you’ll be alive but writhing in pain…

  5. A4
    A4 February 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

    In fact, we know – and they certainly know – that human beings are remarkably bad at judging how much we’re eating

    This is interesting. Which governmental policies are you proposing that would affect your own remarkably bad judgment in regard to your own eating? Or have you somehow transcended this self-destructive aspect of human behavior and need no governmental policies regulating and taxing your consumption choices?

    If it is the latter, I would wonder how you obtained this knowledge of eating healthily in the right amounts. Was it a previous governmental tax campaign that affected your eating habits? Or perhaps it was laws about size limitation that got you to cut down on the universal human lack of personal portion control?

    I guess what I’m asking is, which of the policies you are supporting above helped you learn healthy eating habits?

    1. mh
      mh February 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

      One example where government intervention can help: advertisers spend billions and billions of dollars expressly to have an effect on consumer behavior. This effect is frequently in direct conflict with public health.

      For instance, the NY “soda ban” should have been presented as a restriction on marketing multiple servings as a single serving size, as soda companies do in order to encourage the public to consume more soda. If you note, the legislation allows consumers to purchase as many sodas as they want, or to purchase 2-liter bottles.

      Advertisers and marketing companies know what behavioral science has shown: larger containers encourage people to consume more than they intend. Portion control, in the case of sodas, is not in the control of the consumer if they are grossly misinformed.

  6. WRG
    WRG February 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm |

    Thank you for the very interesting Guardian article, which I read in full.

    There are a few details that I don’t totally agree with in your article, however your overarching idea–that in order to attain better population health, we actually have to uncouple obesity from poor health–is sound and eminently sensible.

    Sadly (and this is clear from the many comments I read on the Guardian site), very few people have even a minimal grasp of what good health actually means, and they therefore cling to the myth (and more and more studies are confirming that it is indeed a myth) that weight and health are inextricably bound together.

    Thank you, Jill, for speaking out. There are still very few voices like yours in the public space.

  7. alawyer
    alawyer February 25, 2013 at 1:20 pm |

    This supposedly enormous population of people in the rich world who desperately need soda to survive because the water is unsafe to drink and they can’t afford rice and beans and somehow don’t suffer severe malnutrition from trying to subsist on corn syrup sounds highly suspect.

    1. Drahill
      Drahill February 25, 2013 at 2:38 pm |

      Who said it was an enourmous population? Why does it personally get your undies in a bunch to point out that a full 20% of the American water supply (mostly rural, but I’m sure you did your scholarly duty and figured that out) is considered unsafe or seriously flawed by the EPA? How does it so offend you that pointing out that in a country of over 300 million people, this is actually a pretty sizable chunk of the populace? Seriously, this is information that Google turns up on the first page when you search for it.

      And how does it work you into a lather to point out that there’s also a good chunk of Americans who are dependent on processed and prepared foods because they cannot afford gas, water or electric services in their homes? Or where you under the impression that all Americans have garanteed utilities?

      Seriously, you seem to be under the impression that America is made up of you, the people you know and the place you live in. It seems to piss you off to suggest otherwise.

      1. alawyer
        alawyer February 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

        The point being much more narrowly directed at the claim that we shouldn’t use public policy (i.e. taxes) to discourage consumption of liquid corn syrup because there are people who are dependent on soda calories to survive. The facts you cite do not establish that this is correct.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm |

          Holy reading comprehension fail.

          That isn’t the point being made. The point that’s being made is that policies that seek to discourage the drinking of sugared beverages like soda in an attempt to lower national obesity rates is misguided and misinformed. What truly needs to happen is policies that are far wider in scope to insure that these policies don’t make it even harder for already poor populations to put food into their stomachs.

          It may make plenty of people feel high and mighty to tsktsk at the eating habits of poor and/or obese people, but it’s still turning a blind eye to the institutional challenges that run so deeply to keep poor people poor, undernourished and undereducated.

        2. Drahill
          Drahill February 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

          Uh, nope, try again. The point is that the government should not SIMULTANEOUSLY discourage the consumption through small policy means while using another policy (the massive subsidation of the corn industry) to ENCOURAGE that consumption of the same product. And they also shouldn’t do it when there are large institutional barriers to utilizing the incentives (like being too poor to afford the basic amenities of cooking or having access to safe means to cook).

          Ya know, for an attorney, you have a bad habit or reading things into comments that aren’t really there. I hope that doesn’t happen to you in court; it’d be awfully embarrassing. And for the record, I’m a lawyer too, so I do get to crack these jokes ;)

        3. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm |

          Ya know, for an attorney, you have a bad habit or reading things into comments that aren’t really there. I hope that doesn’t happen to you in court; it’d be awfully embarrassing. And for the record, I’m a lawyer too, so I do get to crack these jokes ;)

          QFT and Seconded

          For someone who (apparently) graduated from an accredited program, passed the bar and is admitted to practice law I have to wonder if you’re either trying to stir the pot or simply trolling for the lulz. Debating in good faith, it’s a real thing!

  8. Ashley
    Ashley February 25, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

    I agree that it’s far better to focus on habits rather than weight, which is what I try to support, but then anyone who does that would be called a “food shamer” or something along those lines.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan February 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm |

      It’s pretty hard not to be called a food shamer if you make, really, any judgement about any food here. Is it literally 100% corn syrup? That’s a nutrient! :p

      1. Emolee
        Emolee February 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

        I agree that focusing on behavior instead of body size is an important step in the right direction. But I still don’t think it’s ok to judge people for what they eat. What people choose to put into their bodies is their own business. (And, yes, lots of individual decisions cost society money… this does not give us the right to dictate people’s lives.)

        Now, systemic criticism about, for example, what foods are readily available, what foods are cheap/expensive, the additives put in food, and other critiques of the food industry/government practices, sure, fair game, and about creating change. Judging a woman who eats a cheeseburger or drinks a great big syrupy soda, especially when you have no idea what the rest of her life looks like, is not helpful at all. This could be what people are getting at.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

          Judging a woman who eats a cheeseburger or drinks a great big syrupy soda, especially when you have no idea what the rest of her life looks like, is not helpful at all.

          Yeah, I already touched on this elsewhere on this thread, but what the hell is even with policing women’s food choices? Because that crap is too often used as a way to force women into tightly drawn definitions of femininity anyway. No cheeseburger for you, Missie! those things are only for men. Now sit quietly and pick at your salad, and you better feel guilty for eating anything at all, so you better go work out for an hour (at least) afterwards to keep your ladylike figure!

      2. (BFing) Sarah
        (BFing) Sarah February 28, 2013 at 3:33 pm |

        Hahahahahaha! I’m eating a bowl of Lucky Charms and Cheery Coke right now and its doing lots of great things for my body, I can just tell! ;)

    2. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca February 28, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

      I think there’s a difference between focusing on what one believes are healthy eating habits for oneself and focusing on what EVERYONE should eat. You know: different strokes for different folks! What people decide to eat is a complex issue that involves a lot of different issues: the flavors and textures one prefers, one’s financial resources, one’s cooking abilities, one’s ethical standards, what one feels is physically healthy and nutritious, and on and on and on. Given how much these factors vary from individual to individual, it would seem to me that in most cases it’s the person herself who is in the best position to evaluate these factors and make the best choice. I don’t see how unsolicited advice here could ever be helpful, frankly.

      1. Emolee
        Emolee March 1, 2013 at 10:44 am |

        YES! Thank you. It’s kinda like trusting people to make their own sexual and reproductive choices… I really don’t get how this is a debate here… our bodies, our choice.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm |

          Well sure, but that doesn’t mean that things like sex ed are shaming; people can choose to have unprotected sex (the sexual version of only drinking soda?) but they should know the health risks of that behavior. That’s not, like, unprotected-sex-shaming.

        2. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca March 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm |

          Well I support comprehensive sex education that includes information about birth control, as I’m sure everyone does here. I also support the wide dissemination of information about the nutritional content of food, as I’m sure everyone does here. So I don’t really think your analogy holds, Bagelsan.

  9. Barnacle Strumpet
    Barnacle Strumpet February 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm |

    @RichardVW: is your math wrong? (I’m seriously bad at it, so…) I just don’t see how $1.50 for 1000 cal is going to be 15c a calorie. .. I would think 1000 calories for $1.50 or less would be about 100 calories for every 10c. ($1.50 being one of the higher prices for name-brand soda; you can get 2 litres for 79c in Walmart’s brand…)

    I’m not going to argue too much about the practicality of it all. If you haven’t lived it, you don’t know it. I could talk about what it’s like to try to provide/prepare meals as a poor person, acessability problems, or the awfulness of trying to get enough calories on something like solely brown rice and baked potatos for years. It’s pointless; in every food thread, someone who’s been there will explain, but it won’t do any good.

    My point wasn’t that people live on soda; simply that for people who aren’t getting enough calories from food, it’s a good way to bump up your intake.

    1. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date February 25, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

      My point wasn’t that people live on soda; simply that for people who aren’t getting enough calories from food, it’s a good way to bump up your intake.

      Are there people who buy soda to bump up their caloric intake because they can’t afford enough calories from food? This is not a rhetorical question.

      1. alawyer
        alawyer February 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

        Sounds highly suspect to me.

      2. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet February 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

        Personally? Yes. I’m one of them. My food options were pretty much: ramen noodles. Given the sheer amount of sodium in them (and yes, soda has a lot, but calorie-for-calorie is has nothing on ramen) I figured it was a safer bet to try to bump my daily calories over 900 using soda, rather than a third pack of ramen.

    2. RichardVW
      RichardVW February 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

      Oh my…yes, my math was so embarrassingly wrong that I can feel my face turning red and I feel the sudden urge to remove myself from intelligent company forever.

      The cost relationship between the two products stands.

      I don’t know why anyone would feel content to assume that I’ve never had to choose between food and rent. How many financially secure people do you think bother to calculate “calories per cent”? Did you think that was an attempt at cleverness? It was a habit of mind.

      Honestly y’all, I’ve been kind of fucked up recently and I’ve known for a while that it’s affected my reasoning. I didn’t realize that I was at a point where I could somehow screw up basic math for which I used a freaking calculator (more than once) and do so in public no less. I should probably just bow out of this one.

      1. Christina
        Christina February 25, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

        Don’t beat yourself up Richard, your point still stands :)

        1. RichardVW
          RichardVW February 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

          Thank you.

      2. samanthab
        samanthab February 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm |

        Except that sweetener is an appetite stimulant; you will feel hungrier in a short period of time if you consume sodas to boost caloric intake. It’s an absolutely terrible solution.

        1. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah February 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm |

          Yeah, I agree. Especially for kids.

        2. wanttobeanon
          wanttobeanon February 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm |

          It may be a shitty solution from the standpoint of comfort, ie ameliorating hunger, but with the kind of poverty Barnacle is talking about, when you are so poor you are barely subsisting on ramen and looking for something super cheap to add some calories here and there… we are talking about surviving, as in getting enough calories to exist and do what you have to do from day to day. Not talking about the relative luxury of avoiding hunger.

  10. marissa123
    marissa123 February 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

    Holy crap don’t read the comments over there. Obviously, but I decided to torture myself apparently.

  11. mh
    mh February 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm |

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, Jill.

    I’ve been looking at this issue in some of my own writing, and I understand why this problem came about: over a large population of people, BMI can correlate with trending health patterns one way or the other. Problem is, those numbers are virtually meaningless when applied to an individual – you are exactly right in characterizing this use of body shape as an indicator of individual health as lazy. There are studies that show that behavior (admittedly, more difficult to track than BMI) is more important than body shape when it comes to general health (i.e. keeping active and getting proper nutrition.) Correlation does not mean causation.

    Want a truly horrifying public health campaign I am currently fighting in our school district? As part of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (you may remember it as the Physical Fitness Test) BMI is being measured and discussed in PE class at my child’s school. While kids are weighed, measured, and shown their score on a piece of paper they were told to keep private – scores are part of a class discussion, where they see an aggregate of the classroom scores immediately after they learn their own. (Other than this egregious failure, the program could be a good one – it teaches kids about staying active and appropriate nutrition – but the ramifications of this message about body shape…well, I’m floored.)

    To put it more clearly: a health and physical fitness program endorsed by the White House is encouraging middle school kids to compare their body shape with that of their classmates. It even marks out a “healthy zone” so kids are certain to know which types of bodies are acceptable and which are not.

  12. ethicalfruititarian
    ethicalfruititarian February 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm |

    It’s easy and cheap to live healthy.

    1) No refined sugar

    2) No refine grains. Grains period are bad for you, since you’re giving yourself a bolus of starch and encouraging insulin resistance. But if you’re very active, some wild unrefined grains are okay in moderation, eaten at the appropriate times. Otherwise the carbs get shuttled to fat tissue.

    3) can’t afford organic grass-fed/wild caught animal food? Then eat legumes for protein. Don’t resort to cheapest whose omega 6/omega 3 ratio is out of whack.

    4) get at least one hour of vigorous exercise each day. Walking up stairs doesn’t cut it. A 45 minute dog walk doesn’t cut it. Humans are not designed to be sedentary.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

      I AM NOW ENLIGHTENED. TELL US MORE TRUTHS.

    2. A4
      A4 February 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm |

      It’s easy to be poor! Just eat locally grown beans, corn, and quinoa from the farmer’s market and run around the block ten times. Boom! Nutritious!

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

        Damn it, A4, learn to read. They said cheap, not AFFORDABLE.

        1. gratuitous_violet
          gratuitous_violet February 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

          I remember being broke living in London and I figured I probably got 900-1000 calories/day from cheap plentiful beer. Somehow I don’t think that’s what these people have in mind.

        2. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom February 28, 2013 at 10:00 am |

          Well, was the beer made from grains or legumes? I think you’d be okay with a lager made from local, sustainable lentils.

        3. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date February 28, 2013 at 11:33 am |

          There isn’t really beer made from lentils, is there?

          *Googles*

          Oh my word, there is.

        4. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom February 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm |

          I did not know that lentil beer really existed, but, given that it does, I will be astounded if they do not make it in the Palouse.
          (My mother lives there. She has a cookbook that includes, among other things, lentil coffee cake. The color is rather similar to that clay one used to be given in grade-school art class to make ashtrays from.)

    3. H-nought
      H-nought February 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm |

      4) get at least one hour of vigorous exercise each day. Walking up stairs doesn’t cut it. A 45 minute dog walk doesn’t cut it. Humans are not designed to be sedentary.

      The Times had two different articles recently about exercise, one noting that working out a few times a week may be better for you than working out every day and that the ‘little things’ – taking the stairs, just moving more – add up.
      Not to mention that I think that if your goal is to get people to exercise more, telling them they have to do an hour a day to be healthy is more likely to make them quit before they start, because honestly who has that much time every day?

    4. Denise Winters
      Denise Winters February 25, 2013 at 6:40 pm |

      Tell me, what is your stance on eating anything that casts a shadow?

      1. gratuitous_violet
        gratuitous_violet February 25, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

        As long as the shadow doesn’t have a FACE, it’s a-ok!

    5. gratuitous_violet
      gratuitous_violet February 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm |

      …it’s like a parody of a sanctimonious food guru, yet I don’t think they’re trying to be. Grains, period, are bad for you? All of them, really? Barley, rice, millet, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth, bad for everyone all the time?

      Human history is skeptical, friend.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl February 25, 2013 at 7:10 pm |

        This appears to be the latest fad diet, and I have the skeptical as well. Ditto with the dairy will kill you! nonsense. I’m descended pretty much exclusively from Western European meat and dairy consumers, and I just don’t buy it.

        1. Safiya Outlines
          Safiya Outlines February 25, 2013 at 9:56 pm |

          Would this be the Paleo/caveman fad?

          Urrrgh.

          Can we look at eating fads, because they are the cause and catalyst of so many problems around eating.

        2. Storyphile
          Storyphile February 25, 2013 at 11:07 pm |

          This isn’t the paleo diet or ethicalfruititarian wouldn’t recommend eating legumes – beans are not on the paleo diet.
          I feel I have to defend the paleo diet a little because it works for my husband, and I think there is SOME logic to the idea that eating the type of diet that humans evolved eating (veg, fruit, meat & fish) is going to be healthier for some people. As a vegetarian and vegan my husband gained weight because he felt hungry all the time.
          Having said that, we are very aware that anecdote =\= data. there are just too many individual factors to say WHY this is the diet that is healthiest for him.
          His sister is still a happy and healthy vegan.

        3. Li
          Li February 25, 2013 at 11:19 pm |

          So, different things work for different people, but:

          I think there is SOME logic to the idea that eating the type of diet that humans evolved eating (veg, fruit, meat & fish) is going to be healthier for some people.

          kind of supposes that humans stopped evolving once we started engaging in agriculture. Which isn’t really how evolution works.

        4. Storyphile
          Storyphile February 25, 2013 at 11:21 pm |

          I should perhaps specify that when I say my husband gained weight as a vegetarian / vegan, I mean in a way that was not his personal best health. Of course for some people that’s not a bug it’s a feature.
          Whatever diet that you can access for your own personal best health is what you should eat. If you’re privileged enough to be able to try different types to find the best one for you nutritionally, then great for you. If not, then do the best you can and anyone who judges you for not doing better can fuck off.

        5. Storyphile
          Storyphile February 25, 2013 at 11:26 pm |

          @Li, I realize that is not how evolution works, but 10,000 years is a very short time evolutionarily. Therefore it makes sense to me that some humans will have adapted better to agriculture than others, just as some humans have adapted better to dairy products than others.
          This is why I said it works for some people.

        6. Li
          Li February 26, 2013 at 1:51 am |

          Eh, it’s about four times longer than we’ve been eating tomatoes. I’m willing to risk it.

        7. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 26, 2013 at 11:20 am |

          Would this be the Paleo/caveman fad?

          I’m not sure if it’s the paleo thing or not. What I do know is that I’ve recently been seeing a whole lot of fapping by internet and Facebook that grains/gluten/dairy are the devil that is killing us.

          It’s one thing if you have a verified, medical diagnosis of gluten or dairy intolerance. Because, hey, science ftw. But the general claim that the human body is not designed to digest gluten/grains/dairy ever is absolute bunk. I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that overly processed foods are unhealthy, especially when consumed regularly and in largish volumes. Although that discussion with the anti-grains/gluten/dairy crowd also tends to get bogged down into silliness as they see any attempts at milling grains as over-processing them.

          Bottom line, you’ll have to pry the bread, pasta, milk and cheese from my cold and dead hands before I’ll ever give them up completely. And I am never, ever going veg, that’s just not happening.

        8. Bunny
          Bunny February 26, 2013 at 2:20 pm |

          Heh. As a relatively poor person currently in the process of begging my local council for more money so I can stop diverting half of my supposed grocery allowance on rent, you can pry the rice, porridge oats, barley and pasta from my cold, dead hands, too. Chickpeas, kidney beans and white beans too, actually.

          Those ingredients, are the reason I’m able to meet my caloric needs. Because as cheap as meat is over here, it’s still not cheap enough that I can afford to treat it as more than a flavour accent in food.

      2. shfree
        shfree February 25, 2013 at 7:46 pm |

        No, not all the time, they are okay at certain times. Like maybe the solstices or the equinoxes.

        But yeah, this thing sounds great. A diet of very specific beans and LOTS of serious exercise. Sign me up!

        1. littlem
          littlem February 25, 2013 at 11:11 pm |

          A diet of very specific beans and LOTS of serious exercise.

          I can “see ” the problem with that right away — the color of the air surrounding the posterior in front of one in a crowded yoga class.

      3. Donna L
        Donna L February 25, 2013 at 10:56 pm |

        There’s always somebody taking the Road to Wellville on threads like this.

    6. Mr Rabbit
      Mr Rabbit February 26, 2013 at 11:16 am |

      That’s not “easy” at all. Not everyone has time to cook. Not everyone can cook. Not everyone can exercise. Not everyone can exercise the amount of time you suggest, every day. There’s a whole lot of privilege wrapped up in that easy lifestyle you’re assuming is the best thing ever, for everyone.

      And even insulin resistant people can have grains, they just need to be careful of the amount they have.

      Everyone is different. What may suit you to eat may not suit another. For example, my body doesn’t like dairy. I would not go around telling everyone that dairy is bad because of my digestive issues. It’s ridiculous.

    7. umami
      umami March 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm |

      It’s one thing if you have a verified, medical diagnosis of gluten or dairy intolerance.

      This is a really annoying thing to say, although to do the comment justice it’s not too judgemental in its tone overall.

      LOTS of people know they don’t respond well to certain foods without necessarily having a “diagnosis” for that. Doctors simply don’t know everything there is to be known about how every human body responds to every conceivable kind of food. Diet and nutrition is a massively complex subject, and science is learning more about it all the time. But in the absence of adequate information many people have to manage their health the best way they can based on personal experience, intuition and anecdotal evidence. The approach of “did a doctor validate your need to avoid that food?” is very unhelpful and judgemental.

      For example, I figured out that wheat aggravated my IBD long before the low FODMOP diet (which is actualfax science, and involves avoiding certain carbohydrates that are found in wheat and dairy among many other foods) had been researched and found to be beneficial for people with IBD and IBS. It’s hardly the first time that scientific discoveries have affirmed personal experience, it’s hardly going to be the last. Not assuming you know best about other people’s dietary choices is probably a good idea on both sides of this kind of discussion. (That said, I quite often wonder how many other people who know they feel better when they don’t eat wheat would benefit from avoiding FODMOPS more generally! IBD is sadly not rare and IBS is ridiculously common.)

      Also, I’m conscious I might be bringing some irritation from previous threads here (and, you know, from life) to bear on this one. Apologies if so.

      (And I’m not agreeing with ethicalfruitarian of course; I’m assuming it’s a parody.)

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm |

        Well, it’s a good thing that wasn’t what I was saying in my comment.

        Look, I get why you got your back up with my comment. My point, however, was that there are entire fad diets built around the specious argument that gluten and dairy are a poison for all people, and that eliminating them from one’s diet is the magic bullet to lose weight and stay slim. That whole premise is bs, plain and simple. You yourself have acknowledged that you have IBD, which is a real medical condition. That IBD and IBS often include a gluten intolerance is science ftw, not the bunk junk science stuff of fad diets.

        Sorry if you felt picked on, that certainly wasn’t my intention. I’m just really tired of seeing people getting sold fad diets based on non-existant science.

        1. umami
          umami March 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

          “Gluten intolerance” is nothing whatsoever to do with the science I was referring to, for the record.

          And the point I am making is that there was a time when my intution about what I could eat was not validated by ANY science. Fodmops are a newish area of research.

          A lot of people who say they are thriving on low carb diets may not be thriving for the exact reasons the paeudoscience claims. But if they say it’s doing them good there is zero reason to disbelieve that. If they’re pushing it on everyone that’s different.
          And it might be good to tone down the crap about “diagnosed intolerance.” That is the kind of shit that makes life harder for people who are just trying to manage their health.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm |

          The vast majority of people who lose weight on wheat/gluten/dairy free diets do so because they have so thoroughly whittled down the types and amount of foods they can consume within the rubric of the diets themselves that of course they drop pounds as a result.

          I’m not trying to fight with you, and I don’t even think I’m disagreeing with you. You have an actual medical condition, and you have a real sensitivity to a certain food (I used the term gluten because it’s often used as the fad catchall term for an entire grouping of foods that contain wheat as well as other grains.) You don’t appear to be preaching to everyone and anyone who will listen that they must do like you to be healthy and lose weight, so I don’t have a disagreement with you.

          What I’m taking issue with is the fad diet industry that makes boatloads of money off telling everyone and everyone that they must eschew all grains/gluten/dairy in order to stop poisoning their bodies, lose weight, and live a long and healthy life. True for a few people, sure, but not across the board for every single human or even the majority of humans.

        3. umami
          umami March 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm |

          I obviously didn’t succeed in saying what I meant. I’ll try one last time, not because I want to fight with you but I feel it’s an important point.

          You don’t know unless someone tells you what medical conditions (even undiagnosed conditions) people might be managing through whatever “fad diet” they’re on. You don’t ever know if the fad diet has hit on some underlying truth that official science hasn’t caught up with yet.
          I gave myself and low-fodmop diet as a concrete example of this because I felt sure that if I didn’t give an actual example I’d be dismissed. But I’m not making it about me. My point was a more general one. A lot of people have chronic health problems, and use diet to manage that. Often it seems to work, to some extent, often for reasons that aren’t clear. Sometimes science doesn’t know at the time but the reasons become clear later.

          (by the way there is no reason whatsoever to think that the situation re dairy/wheat is as simple as you’re making it out to be, given that I’ve already pointed you towards a little known but scientifically valid effect those foods have on gut bacteria. Even if that effect was only relevant to IBD and IBS sufferers, IBS affects 20% of the population. This isn’t me evangelising against certain foods, I’m just elaborating on the example I gave you already of how complex this is and how science simply can’t anticipate all the possible causal pathways for food to affect people. I thought your statement was unjustifiably sweeping. )

          Of course there is nothing wrong with railing against the diet industry or the sort of evangelism that the fruitarian was parodying, but often the way you have been talking is used as a form of social shaming that is frequently directed at people who aren’t in good health and can’t get medical treatment that works for them and really don’t need that.That’s all I was trying to tell you.

  13. Lu
    Lu February 26, 2013 at 6:49 am |

    Does anyone here know of countries in which nutritious food is readily available to people on a low income, and if so what factors help to make that possible?

    I haven’t noticed this problem so much in Australia, but it’s quite likely I just haven’t been exposed to it.

    1. Mr Rabbit
      Mr Rabbit February 26, 2013 at 11:20 am |

      I think it might be easier in Australia to buy affordable vegetables and fruit than in the US. But there are still people who can’t afford to feed themselves well. And it’s not just the price of food, it’s the time it takes to prepare food, it’s access to a kitchen, it’s energy and ability to cook.

    2. Li
      Li February 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm |

      Australia is definitely a different context to the US (we don’t have high fructose corn syrup in everything), but I do know people who have lived at extreme enough levels of poverty that they struggled pretty heavily to feed themselves. Living off a lot of Mi Goreng (a few years ago when it was *much* cheaper), having most meals at their fast food workplace etc. I know when I was living in Melbourne and staying on friends’ couches I was pretty lucky to be near cheap a Vietnamese grocer. I wouldn’t have been able to afford fruit and vegetables if I’d been shopping at Coles or Woolworths.

      There’s also a lot to be said about the role of welfare quarantining and the Intervention at damaging Indigenous people’s food security by forcing people to travel long distances to approved stores and/or making them shop at major retailers. I don’t *really* want to get into that discussion too much here, but I think it’s important to flag it.

    3. number9
      number9 February 26, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

      I’m not sure about countries, but here is an article about Belo, a city in Brazil that is implementing many innovative interventions to end hunger, for example incentivizing local farmers to sell produce at low prices at stands and city markets, deliver produce to low-income neighborhoods outside of city center, etc. The article is from 2009, so I wonder if this work is still happening, and if other cities have tried to implement this model.

  14. TomSims
    TomSims February 26, 2013 at 8:26 am |

    We are what we eat!

  15. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll February 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm |

    Yeah, that’s great. Who’s going to pay for the fucking gas in my car to take me to the market several times a month because I’m buying fresh food that goes bad quickly instead of processed food that lasts longer? I’m going to have even LESS for food or gas because my food tax is higher because the asshole police think I must be punished for picking food they don’t like. Fucking theft is fucking theft no matter how well meaning you are when you steal my fucking money. Maybe if you had to search through couch cushions and under furniture for extra change at the end of the month you wouldn’t be so fucking gung ho about extra taxes.

    1. gratuitous_violet
      gratuitous_violet February 26, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

      Yuuuuuuup. I already need to carpool to the grocery store once a month out in the ‘burbs, and I try to be mostly vegetarian, but the “just eat more veggies!” people have clearly never been poor, carless, in a non-urban area, or stared down a plate of frozen spinach with horror.

      Supporting taxes on shelf-stable food is no different from saying “fuck the poor!” to some of us down here, people.

  16. LuckyLady
    LuckyLady February 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

    I wholeheartedly agree that the issue of obesity needs to be separated from the dialogue about what is a healthy diet, but I cringe when I consider how the government might intervene.

    I own a small farm. (It’s a hobby, not my day job.) Without our friends from the federal government, I can produce chicken that could potentially be labeled “organic” for around $2 a pound. They’re humanely raised in an environmentally responsible manner and they’re MUCH cleaner than anything you can buy at the store. I feed them to my kids, but I can’t sell them because I’m not a “federally inspected facility.” To become a licensed facility, I would have to make a huge investment in my buildings that will accomplish nothing in terms of food safety. The “food safety” regs are deliberately written to drive the little guy out of business. I can’t help but think that allowing the government to incentivize us to eat one thing and not another would somehow result in even further divergence from common sense.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl February 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm |

      Whenever I can find it in stores I buy milk from a farm I know follows organic practices but can’t afford to pay for and jump through all the hoops involved in becoming certified organic. I agree that what may have started out as a well-intentioned thing to sort out organic from non-organic has turned into a boondoggle.

      Btw, I would totally buy your chickens, are you in the Chicago metro area?

      1. LuckyLady
        LuckyLady February 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

        Thanks. We’re in Kentucky.

        You’re absolutely right. The organic labeling is a bureaucratic nightmare. Again, farmers have to get big or go under.

  17. Ann R
    Ann R February 28, 2013 at 12:02 am |

    Ugh, ugh, and some more ugh. A tax on things like soda and potato chips does absolutely nothing to help those who cannot afford fresh food. It only hurts the poor. The idea that if only we taxed certain foods that those silly people would just wake up and trade Doritos for spinach just does not work in reality. Farmers markers certainly sell fresh food that is normally very pricey. At least in my area, Farmers Markets are only held on Saturday mornings. Many poor and working class people have to work on weekends. Not everyone has a M-F 9-5. When should these people go to the market to bring home some $4 a pound fresh organic peaches? Well, they can just grow their own veggies and fruit! Sure, you can definitely plant a garden in your 600sf apartment where you and your 3 children live and faithfully tend to it between your two jobs and childcare responsibilities. Then after your plant your perfect little patio garden you can then take the bus to the grocery store and buy the other items you need with whatever money is left over from buying your fresh farmers market food. Or, if you live in a rural area, you can use your precious gas money to drive to both the farmers market and the grocery store which may be 30 miles apart. Then with all that time you have left over you can go back to your kitchen with your 3 pots and pans and whip up a gourmet meal that your whole family will eat with all the time you have to spare. Don’t forget to only wash the dishes with your eco earth friendly dish soap.

    Yeah, I don’t think so. The issue isn’t that people don’t ever have a desire to eat healthy. Many working class people simply don’t have time to prepare and eat a super healthy meal. It is so much more simple to pop a frozen lasagna in the oven than to make a meal from scratch. You can’t just throw a few bags full of veggies to someone and expect other factors in their life to suddenly align and make them magically healthy. Time is a huge factor in health.

    1. Emolee
      Emolee February 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm |

      I don’t think a soda tax is the answer. For one thing, it would be a regressive tax, which I oppose in principle. In that same line, it would keep only people below a certain income level from limiting their soda consumption. As someone who has never had to seriously consider the price of anything in a grocery store (yes, I recognize my extreme privilege), it makes me very uncomfortable to place the burden of public health on people with low(er) incomes. If we could come up with a way to subsidize nutritious food and make it more widely available with a progressive tax structure, I could get behind that.

      It also seems ridiculous to make something cheap via our agricultural subsidies (paid for via our taxes…), then tax people who consume that thing. I mean, we are targeting the wrong people here.

  18. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan February 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

    I doubt that taxing things like soda and chips would be very preventative when it come to people eating them, but would it at least go towards alleviating the financial burden of the illnesses that those kinds of foods cause? That would be nice.

    1. EG
      EG February 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

      Only if we tax other risky behaviors as well, like skiing.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm |

        What do you mean swimming with sharks is a risky behaviour? Why, I could be EATING A POTATO CHIP instead!

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm |

          Sharks? Not as risky as decades of smoking or poor diet. :p

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 1, 2013 at 10:25 pm |

          Sharks? Not as risky as decades of smoking or poor diet. :p

          I don’t know. When was the last time someone got mauled by a cigarette?

          Also, I take it you didn’t get the Death Note reference, Bagelsan :P

        3. EG
          EG March 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm |

          Well, that depends on whether or not you’re in the ocean right next to one, doesn’t it?

        4. Li
          Li March 3, 2013 at 1:21 am |

          So, off topic, but in Australia the thing that is most likely to kill you if you are swimming in the ocean is the water itself. By a significant margin.

      2. Librarygoose
        Librarygoose February 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm |

        Great idea! Extra taxes for risky behaviors like driving a car or riding a bike. Extra taxes for risky occupations like construction worker (you never know when a accident can happen) or sitting at a desk (people aren’t meant to be sedentary). Extra taxes for having kids ( studies prove they make you less happy) extra taxes for not having kids (Studies also prove being childless makes you less happy). So many taxes!

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

          Yay! Tax ALL the things! Just like the Founding Fathers wanted it!

    2. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll February 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm |

      I’d be down for a colonizer tax, it would at least help alleviate the financial burden of the illnesses colonizers cause the Indigenous.

      I expect everyone supporting a food tax to be the first in fucking line to pony up. I have paypal.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan March 1, 2013 at 10:27 pm |

        …A food tax would go towards helping people who are screwed up by the introduction of processed foods into their native diet, too. But don’t let me interrupt you.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll March 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

          Taxing colonizers, full stop would do that. We might be able to buy back some of our land that did actually support us and our diet so we’re no longer reliant on “non native diets” …we only ate grass and nuts after all, having shitty foods forced on us isn’t the problem obviously, it’s having NON NATIVE foods…jesus christ I can’t even fucking finish that it’s so stupid.

        2. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll March 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm |

          And by shitty food I mean moldy grain, meat with maggots in it, expired dairy products and canned meats (if you didn’t want worms in your beef)

          Our “native diet” wasn’t much different from white folks diets, except white folks got the fresh food and we got whatever made it to the store. Unless you think the first colonizers brought 64 oz big gulps with them across the ocean.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm |

          people who are screwed up by the introduction of processed foods into their native diet

          Wat

          No seriously

          Wat

      2. A4
        A4 March 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm |

        I am not big on taxing unhealthy food, but I’d be totally down for a colonizer tax on my income. That sounds like a fine idea.

  19. Librarygoose
    Librarygoose February 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

    A soda tax is the stupidest shit I have ever heard. I like soda, but don’t worry I don’t engage in other “risky” behaviors. I’ll die with out making it beyond the working-poor class I was born into just like my parents will. I’m properly fucking chastised for existing, let me drink soda.

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