Odds and Ends From the News

      41 Comments on Odds and Ends From the News

My inbox of news articles and other interesting items sent by readers is filling up again, so it’s time for another odds and ends post.

Illinois School Fights Obesity!

I put the exclamation point in the headline above because the news media was so very excited about this story:

In the middle of America’s heartland, a small public school, Northeast Elementary Magnet School, has taken on a hefty task — reversing obesity.

And it’s won a gold medal for it, becoming the first elementary school in the country to receive that award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Alliance was founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to reduce childhood obesity.

Well, if Bill Clinton is involved, the program must be fabulous.  We are, after all, talking about a guy who developed heart disease while following the Ornish diet.

The cafeteria here serves fresh fruit and veggies, low-fat or no-fat milk, no sodas or fried foods and no gooey desserts. There are no sweets on kids’ birthdays and food is never used as a reward. Teachers wear pedometers and parents have to sign a contract committing to the school’s healthy approach.

No desserts and no sodas is a good idea.  But low-fat milk?  All that means is that the kids will be going hungry and starving their brains of the saturated fat a growing brain needs.

During a recent nutrition lesson, first-graders sat raptly on the hallway floor as a teacher read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” a classic kids’ story about a caterpillar that can’t seem to stop eating — all kinds of fruit at first. But when the bug moved on to chocolate cake and ice cream, the youngsters gasped and said in hushed tones, “junk food,” as if it were poison.

I think the moral of the story is that it’s not a good idea to base your diet on all kinds of fruit.  First thing you know, you’re craving chocolate cake.

Physical education teacher Becky Burgoyne said it’s sometimes tough to get kids of “all different shapes and sizes” to be physically active.

Maybe that’s because they’re hungry and lethargic.  Try putting some real fat in their diets and cut back on the stupid grains.  Then see what happens.

The percentage of overweight kids at Northeast increased in 2009, the program’s third year, but dropped slightly last year, to 32 percent; 17 percent are obese.

Hmmm … three years into the program, the kids got fatter.  Sounds like a smashing success.  So the medal is for following guidelines, not for results.

Those are similar to national figures, Principal Cheryl McIntire said. With only three years of data, it’s too soon to call the slight dip in the percentage of overweight children a trend. But she considers it a promising sign, and there’s no question that the children are learning healthy habits.

I’d say it’s still a very big question as to whether or not the kids are learning healthy habits.

A recent lunch menu featured whole-grain, reduced-fat cheese pizza, broccoli and cauliflower buds, sweet corn, chilled pears, low-fat pudding, and 1 percent low-fat milk.

Head. Bang. On.  Desk.

The Guy From CSPI is at it again

The Guy From CSPI is suing General Mills for selling fruit rollups that don’t contain any real fruit:

General Mills “Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups,” for instance, do not actually contain strawberries. They are, however, loaded with questionable additives like corn syrup, dried corn syrup, refined sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and various other chemicals and petroleum-based dyes. The only fruit-related ingredient in “Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups” is a form of pear concentrate that represents only a small fraction of the overall product’s content.

Similarly, General Mills “Fruit by the Foot Strawberry” snacks, which bear a label claiming they are “fruit flavored,” are packed with the same refined sugar, corn syrup, artificial food coloring, and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil as Fruit Roll-Ups — and they also contain no strawberries.

You mean there’s no fruit in fruit-flavored candy?  Holy crap, I’d better run to fridge to see if my strawberry-flavored soda has any strawberries in it.  I’ll be right back …

… Nope, no strawberries.  And here I thought by downing a sixpack of the stuff, I was getting my five daily servings of fruit, plus one bonus serving.

“General Mills is basically dressing up a very cheap candy as if it were fruit and charging a premium for it,” says Steve Gardner, litigation director at CSPI. “General Mills is giving consumers the false impression that these products are somehow more wholesome, and charging more. It’s an elaborate hoax on parents who are trying to do right by their kids.”

Only a terminally stupid parent would think a rolled-up piece of fruit-flavored candy is good for a kid’s health.  If you want to sue on behalf of parents who are trying to do right but are being misled into serving kids a food that isn’t actually good for them, start suing the makers of healthywholegrain cereals.  No wait … CSPI recommends those.

The Guy From CSPI is at it again … again

CSPI also recently came out with a 10 Worst and 10 Best list for aspects of the American diet:

Terrible 10:
McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a Coke, and fries
Feedlot beef
Kellogg’s Froot Loops
Jack DeCoster’s egg farms
Powerful lobbying groups
Subsidies to companies that blend corn ethanol into gasoline
White flour
Vending machines dispensing soft drinks and candy

Terrific 10:
Traditional Mediterranean and Asian diets
New York City Health Department
Sustainably and organically grown foods
Farmers’ markets
Federal food programs
First Lady Michelle Obama
Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Dietary Guidelines for Americans

I guess The Guy From CSPI isn’t a stickler for consistency.  White flour is on his Terrible 10 list, but the USDA Guidelines are on his Terrific 10.  That would be the same USDA that tells us we should base on diets on grains, and half of those grains should be whole grains.  That means the other half would be white flour.

Packed with calories, salt, saturated fat, added sugars, and white flour, a typical McDonald’s meal of a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Coke, and fries was another no-brainer for this rundown of nefarious noshes. A diet packed with high-calorie, high-fat meals like these can increase the risks of obesity, hypertension, and other diet-related disease.

Coca-Cola, french fries, a burger with a white-flour bun … yes, it’s got to be the fat in that meal that causes all the problems.  That explains why I lost 12 pounds in 28 days by loading up on fatty cheeseburgers while skipping the sodas, fries, and half the buns.

The pasta people dish on other carbohydrates

This is a label from a package of pasta.  Nice to see them acknowledging that spiking your glucose isn’t a good idea.  Unfortunately, pasta spikes my glucose as high or higher than most other starchy foods.  I once experimented with about a half-cup of cooked pasta.  An hour later, my glucose level was over 170 mg/dl.  I don’t care what the glycemic index says about the stuff, pasta is a sugar spike waiting to happen for many of us.

You may recall that Dreamfield’s made a bit of a splash by offering a pasta that supposedly didn’t spike blood sugar like ordinary pasta. Then some lab went and spoiled the party by running tests that showed the Dreamfield’s pasta had pretty much the same effect as other pastas … that is, it raised blood sugar pretty high.  Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt and Jimmy Moore both ran their own tests and got the same result:  high blood sugar, just as high was with regular pasta.

Tonight for dinner I had pork with a fairly low-carb barbeque sauce, broccoli with butter, and a medium-sized serving of squash Chareva spiced up rather nicely.  An hour later, my glucose peaked at 116.  I’ll take that meal over a half-cup of pasta any ol’ day.

The nutrition experts in Congress debate the health virtues of french fries

If you have any doubts that our government determines what kids should eat based on politics instead of science, this article should put them to rest:

The Senate threw its support behind the potato Tuesday, voting to block an Obama administration proposal to limit the vegetable on school lunch lines.

Agriculture Department rules proposed earlier this year aimed to reduce the amount of french fries in schools, limiting lunchrooms to two servings a week of potatoes and other starchy vegetables. That angered the potato industry, some school districts and members of Congress from potato-growing states, who say USDA should focus on the preparation instead and that potatoes can be a good source of fiber and potassium.

Following a bipartisan agreement on the issue, the Senate by voice vote accepted an amendment by Republican Sen. Susan Collins that would block the USDA from putting any limits on serving potatoes or other vegetables in school lunches.

We could debate endlessly about whether or not potatoes are good for kids, but that avoids the real question:  why the @#$% are a bunch of politicians in Washington taking it upon themselves to determine what foods will show up on the menu at my girls’ grade school in Tennessee?

An answer to the question above …

Maybe the desire of politicians has something to do with this.  Take a look at some of the figures for how much was spent lobbying Congress by various food-related industries:

Monsanto Co    $3,150,000
American Farm Bureau    $2,804,087
CropLife America    $1,055,162
Archer Daniels Midland    $930,00
Kraft Foods    $1,450,000
Nestle SA    $1,423,400
Tyson Foods    $1,398,094
US Beet Sugar Assn    $900,000
American Crystal Sugar    $808,491
American Sugar Alliance    $790,000
Cargill Inc    $720,000
Flo-Sun Inc    $345,000
Western Growers Assn    $320,000
Bunge Limited    $315,000
Florida Sugar Cane League    $305,900
Florida Citrus Mutual    $276,666
American Sugarbeet Growers Assn    $260,000

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not against corporations lobbying Congress.  I’m against Congress having so much power that it attracts lobbyists like American Crystal Sugar attracts flies.

If only this were true

Recently a study concluded that vitamins may not be good for older people.  A doctor wrote an article in the Huffington Post explaining why we shouldn’t make much of the study.  He made several good points, but he was wrong about one thing:

This type of study is called an observational study or epidemiological study. It is designed to look for or “observe” correlations. Studies like these look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations. All doctors and scientists know that this type of study does not prove cause and effect.

All doctors and scientists know that, eh?  I hardly think so.  The same publication ran an opinion piece some months back in which Dean Ornish declared we had proof that a meaty diet will kill you – based on a lousy observational study.  Ancel Keys ignited the anti-fat hysteria that’s still with us today based on an even lousier observational study.  And I’ve had doctors and scientists leave comments on the blog in which they try to prove cause and effect by linking to observational studies.

Yes, all doctors and scientists should know observational studies don’t prove cause and effect.  But it’s disturbing how many don’t.

A rose by any other name …

I thought it was laughable when the Corn Refiners decided to get around high-fructose corn syrup’s increasingly bad reputation by renaming their product corn sugar. But apparently the move really angered one group in particular:  the sugar industry.

A federal judge ruled Friday that a lawsuit can go forward as the sugar industry seeks to stop the use of the term “corn sugar” for high fructose corn syrup.

Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, accused sugar makers of “attempting to shut down free speech.” Erickson praised the judge for granting a defense motion to drop individual corn companies as defendants, leaving only the trade association, and dismissing a part of the lawsuit claiming that the corn industry violated California law in addition to federal regulations.

So they’re fighting over whether or not the corn people can call their product sugar, or if that term is reserved for the sugar people.  Sounds like a great use of the nation’s courts.

Corn refiners have been using “corn sugar” in an attempt to rebrand high fructose corn syrup, the sweetening agent found in most sodas and many processed foods.

The sugar industry says the campaign amounts to false advertising, and there are numerous differences between the white, granular product and the sticky liquid that is high fructose corn syrup.

Kind of like the numerous differences between rat poison and cockroach poison.

Adam Fox, a sugar industry lawyer who brought the suit, said the judge’s decision was “very encouraging to us.”

I suggest you celebrate by going out and eating a bag of sugar.

How to be the big man in your social group

Turns out Morgan Spurlock got it all wrong:  those super-size meals were really just a status symbol, according to a new (and truly goofy) study:

According to recent research, those who order grande lattes or super-size their food portions don’t necessarily have bigger appetites, but could be trying to improve their social status.

Researchers from the HEC Paris business school carried out tests to establish whether bigger portion sizes are associated with high social status.
The majority of participants assumed that people who ordered an extra large food portion were of a higher social status than someone who ordered a small or medium.

The study found that ordering large was common among the less wealthy and could partly explain the obesity rates being higher in lower-earning communities.

Well, I’ll be dipped.  And here I thought people were ordering large meals because their carb-laden diets were increasing their appetites.

“An ongoing trend in food consumption is consumers’ tendency to eat more and more,” says researcher David Dubois.

“Understanding and monitoring the size-to-status relationship of food options within an assortment is an important tool at the disposal of policy makers to effectively fight against over-consumption,” professor Dubois added.

All right, you policy-makers in Washington!  Grab those monitors that help you determine the size-to-status relationship of food options within an assortment, then put that tool to work!  (Then vote for unlimited potatoes in school lunches because you represent a potato-growing state.)

Sugar may soon give you a special glow

Let’s face it, pricking your finger to see if your blood sugar is elevated isn’t any fun.  But this possible alternative could be:

Hoping to ease the lifestyle of diabetics, scientists at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo are currently researching a new way to monitor blood glucose levels that may help diabetics get back to their normal lives. The researchers have begun testing on glowing glucose monitors that are implanted under a thin layer of skin.

When implanted into the skin, the monitors will become sensitive to changes in glucose levels and immediately glow when blood sugar spikes to dangerous levels.

Awesome.  I wish everyone at P.F. Chang’s had one of those implants installed when we ate there on Sunday.  One of my girls probably would have exclaimed, “Look, Mommy!  It’s Christmas!”

They didn’t say where the glow-sticks would be implanted, but I can hear the punchlines already:  “Honey, have you been eating cookies again, or are you just happy to see me?”

Barley-Aged Wine:

I must confess, I don’t know what barley-aged wine is.  But if I ever try it, I’ll probably choose this brand:


41 thoughts on “Odds and Ends From the News

  1. Mike DeCock

    A Barley Wine is a style of beer. It is typically darker and sweeter than other ales and has a higher percentage of alcohol (close to the range of wine, hence the name).

  2. C

    Did you hear the dude who founded Apple recently died? He was on an all-fruit diet for a long time. Meaning his only fat came from the minuscule amounts in apples and pears and such, and possible avocados. The USDA would be proud. Yet he died anyways.

    On another note, I just can’t wait until those schools try and teach my little sister nutrition. I’ve had several talks with her about how no matter what anyone says, saturated fat is healthy and carbs are bad. If she shares any of my genes, she’ll tell the teachers all about Fathead and everything I told her. We were just eating chicken, and she began devouring all the skin and fat saying “yummy, fatness!”. I’m so proud 🙂 Even I don’t go to that level; I eat all the chicken hearts and kidneys and bone marrow (the chicken carcass after my my little sister and I attack it is a sight that would make my vegetarian friend gag), but the skin is just pretty gross to me.

    On another note, calling it corn sugar isn’t going to help anything. If I see the word “sugar”, “sucrose”, or “syrup” on a label, I don’t eat it. End of story. And even those low-fat pro-sugar idiots can tell that corn sugar is not natural.

    I would love one of those glow-stick things. Then all I’d need to do is eat a piece of bread and supply them with sunglasses to prove that bread is NOT healthy at all, despite the 2 grams of fiber per serving. *scoffs at net-carb-to-fiber ratio*

    I’m not sure having that name on barley wine is a good thing. People who’ve seen your movie might mistake it as a health food. Although…never mind, pro-fat people have much better functioning common sense due to lack of fatigue you get from lack of fat and too many carbs. Honestly, I think their fat-starved brains are what causes them to make such stupid arguements. Although even I, the best debater in my core class, have yet to find a good (and true) pro-grain argument.

    Dean Ornish would no doubt explain that Steve Jobs died because his diet wasn’t strict enough. That was his excuse for Clinton’s heart disease.

  3. James

    It’s interesting that your blood sugar didn’t get that high after a meal with squash, which has a pretty high glycemic index (not that you take much stock in it, but still). You should try eating the same portion of squash without any other food and see if you get a similar result. Fat and fiber content of meals bring down the glucose spike significantly.

    That’s why I test my glucose now and then to see how I react to various meals.

  4. greensleeves

    ” I don’t know what barley-aged wine is”

    Barley wine is a type of ale, originally from England. It’s delicious, and often barrel-aged. Unfortunately, beer is liquid bread. So I avoid it.

  5. The Older Brother

    “Understanding and monitoring the size-to-status relationship of food options within an assortment is an important tool”

    So now I’ve got Big Mac envy? I’d say the perfesser is the only real tool in that study.


  6. Live Free or Diet

    Barley wine is an extremely strong beer. It has the highest alcohol content, the most malt, and the strongest hops of any ale style beer I know.

  7. BW

    Barley Wine is pretty much what is says, wine made out of barley.. kinda a cross between beer and wine. I believe they tend to be on the sweeter end of things, and presumably by aged they mean aged in barrels like wine….

    Certainly loaded with carbs though 😉

    Probably not something I’ll run and try anytime soon.

  8. Beowulf

    I work at an elementary school, and I’ve been quite dismayed by the fact that they only serve 1% milk. And they are allowed to offer strawberry and chocolate so the kids will drink more. Oy.

    On the other hand, I can personally attest that many of the cook staff are disappointed in the stuff they have to give the kids. They don’t like serving up a starchy, sugary breakfast foods, but they have to follow the government guidelines.

    One thing I am happy about is my school’s “No Junk Food” policy (though it is somewhat ironic given what’s served from the cafeteria). Kids can’t bring in cake and treats for birthdays, and teachers aren’t allowed to give out candy as rewards. I didn’t think much of this policy until I spent a couple months at another elementary school in the district and was greeted each day by kids selling candy, saw teachers rewarding students with king-sized candy bars for good test scores, ice cream day for learning some basic math, and what felt like a constant stream of cupcakes for birthdays. Even the principal put a big container of candy in the staff room to “keep us happy.” Of course, the staff were usually grouchy and reaching for the candy because they “needed” it. Needless to say, I avoided the stuff like the plague, and was quickly dubbed as a “health nut” and a “picky eater.”

    That’s what annoys me about these top-down mandates from Washington. Even people who know better have to follow the guidelines.

  9. Ellen

    Look Mommy, it’s Christmas! – funny stuff. The idiocy is never ending. I live for the day when the CSPI guy is laughed out of court, and the USDA (and Monsanto) have to file bankruptcy ’cause nobody will eat grain based foods.

    We can dream.

  10. Charles-Andre Fortin

    Tom? If a McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese his a terrible meal… do you think if I ask to add bacon on it it would be alright:P Since now It would be McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and bacon! Not the same thing!

    The bacon turns it into health food.

  11. Charles-Andre Fortin

    Oh and by the way just like you I lost ~50lbs by going to McDonald’s between 5-10 time a week for more then 7 months… And what do you think was my most favorite meal? Yes the evil : McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese at first with the buns and then without them.

    I most say, that I’m slowly learning to cook my own meal now, but I still like to go to McDo when I don’t feel like making myself a lunch…

  12. Walter B

    Is it more appropriate to laugh or to cry about this kind of “stuff”.

    I’m glad I didn’t go into medicine, at some point doctors are going to be legally mandated to prescribe statins, and probably some already are if they take insurance.

  13. Fat Guy Weight Loss

    I normally avoid McDonalds but when the kids convince me I normally go for the Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, minus the bun, no fries (ok might steal a couple from the kids), and a Diet Coke. Works out to 540 calories, 10 carbs, 40 grams of good fat, and 43 grams of protein. Seems healthy enough to me… At least the guy from CSPI accidentally got a few items right on both his lists

    A broken clock displays the correct time twice per day.

  14. Greg

    Isn’t breast milk kind of high-fat? You’d think they’d want to put babies on a strict applesauce diet. Or maybe sweetened soymilk!

    I believe breast milk is more than 50% fat by calories. Apparently Mother Nature is out to kill the newborns.

  15. Fat Guy Weight Loss

    I can’t wait to get my own glowing glucose monitor so I can compare with the coworkers after their heathy meal compared to mine “which looks like I am trying to kill myself” with all that red meat and fat…

    Just wait them to glow, then turn out the lights. You’ll be the only one they can’t find.

  16. Robert

    @Fat Guy Weight Loss, you think they’ll understand that time spent with elevated blood sugar is unhealthy? That’s a level of sophistication I wouldn’t expect most people to grok. I have naturally thin coworkers that seem to be able to eat whatever they want and stay that way, so naturally they think I’m a little crazy. See, the general attitude is that it is obesity that causes all those pesky health problems like heart disease – not that obesity itself is a symptom of an underlying condition, and that one might be at risk for heart disease even if one is not obese or overweight. But, gradually, they’re figuring this stuff out.

  17. Becky

    Wow. It’s one thing to offer healthy choices in the cafeteria for lunch (which they aren’t) for those students who wish to choose them. It’s quite another to decide which foods are good for me and then force me to eat them (a. because they’re wrong and b. because it’s not up to my government to make my food choices for me). It kind of reminds me of the part in Supersize Me when Morgan Spurlock asks the lunch lady whether or not she thinks it’s the schools’ job to teach students to make healthy lunch choices. Um first of all, no it’s not the school’s job. The last time I checked the school’s job was to educate, not dictate lunches. Also, if you take the part where the kids actually make the choice away, you’re not really teaching them to make decisions, are you? When I was little my mom was very restrictive of “junk food” The first thing I had to learn when I was an adult was that a bag of Hershey’s Kisses was not a snack. I never got to choose my portions as a child so I went a little crazy when the decision was finally mine. I’d bet you a pound of bacon we’re going to see that same result with a lot of these kids. The ones who aren’t overweight from chocolate milk and canned peaches to begin with. And secondly, isn’t teaching kids to be hyperobsessive about foods at this age a little dangerous? I mean talking about what foods should be eaten regularly and what foods are occasional treats (id they could get that right, which they can’t) is one thing but making a huge deal out of anything that isn’t deemed healthy seems like a good way to give a lot of kids eating and body image disorders. I say let them eat what their parents say is appropriate and get back to the fundamentals of education. Because while a big percentage of America is overweight, an even bigger percent has no idea how to correctly use apostrophes and I think that should be a bigger concern of our education system.

    Bingo. Schools have a big enough job just trying to teach kids to read, write and do math. We don’t need to turn them into diet centers.

  18. stan

    Speaking of Spurlock,I recently watched a reality style tv show he did with ,”plain ordinary folk” called “I,Caveman”.A dozen or so including himself put out in the wilds of Colorado to live like our ancestors,finding and hunting their own food.All I can say is our ancestors are now turning in their graves.
    I spent two hours, along with my sister and her husband tearing it apart ,very entertaining in a silly sort of way.

    I watched that. It was kind of fun. Glad to see Robb Wolf was the hunter who bagged the game.

  19. Quinn

    The story about school kids being indoctrinated into eating all the wrong things brings back painful memories from my childhood. I recall sitting in 3rd or 4th grade class in agony from about 9:30 until the clock struck noon. I know what the symptoms mean now, but I didn’t then: cold, clammy skin, wobbly knees, rumbling belly, feeling terribly weak all over, watching the clock move ever so slowly to 12:00 when I could gobble my PB+J sandwich and not be hungry anymore. Had I eaten a high fat breakfast rather than cereal with sugar on it every morning for so many years, I might have learned something instead of just enduring the mid-morning lessons.

    I’ll bet that wasn’t doing much for your concentration either.

  20. Eric L.

    It irritates me to my core that organizations (governments, schools, daycare) try to dictate what’s “nutritious” for my own kids.

    I had to embellish a mild case of psoriasis, stating the triggers were grains and sugar, to get them to finally stop feeding him Cheerios and Mac-n-cheese instead of what I brought for him.

    Whatever gets them off your back.

  21. Ari

    My kids are on a high-fat diet.

    My older two kids (5 and 6) don’t have PE in school, but they have PE three times a week with me. It’s becoming famous on my block.

    First, I have them play “World’s Strongest Man.” I take a bunch of medicine balls, scatter them in the yard and make them carry them back over a line. (It’s even timed, and if they put in a hard effort and beat their previous times, they get their hand raised). The balls are over half of the younger one’s weight. But they have plenty of energy to complete the task.

    Then it’s on to sprints. They do eight hand sprints up and down the block with ten seconds of rest in between. They also get their hands raised if they do well.

    Neither of my kids are athletic. But they always make sure I remember to do PE with them (they even nag be about it on non-PE days). I guess they have energy to burn. Must be from all of that cream and coconut oil.

    Excellent. My girls are on a high-fat diet as well, and if anything, there are times we wish they wouldn’t feel quite like bouncing around so much.

  22. TonyNZ

    I brew barley wine occasionally, it’s grand stuff… Not diet food though.

    I made one and went to a calculator that works out various properties of the beer based on other properties. Not 100% accurate, but a good estimate.

    It told me that with my Barley wine, there were 382 calories in a 330mL (bout 11 fl oz) bottle, mostly carbs and alcohol I expect.

    If beer is a drink and Guiness is a meal, then barley wine is eating for three.

    Someday when I’m feeling really indulgent, I’ll give it a try.

    If I’m not mistaken, Guinness has fewer calories and carbs than a Budweiser. (Not that a comparison to Budweiser necessarily speaks well of any beer.)

  23. sharon

    For a long time, I feared having kids, knowing the health problems in my family (diabetes, poor teeth, CFS, etc.). Now, reading everything I could find on paleo-type diets, pregnancy, and children’s health, I feel I could do a good enough job raising healthy babies. Not that I plan on having them, just that I now have a game plan just in case. I’m like a scout, always prepared.

    I had a lot of illnesses as a kid. My kids don’t. Genetics loads the gun, but diet pulls the trigger.

  24. Peggy Holloway

    My local paper ran a feature article (front page, I believe) on Monday about pancreatic cancer, in light of several cases of high-profile individuals, including Steve Jobs, who had recently died of pancreatic cancer. The article included a list entitled”Cause/Risk Factors:” Alcohol use, smoking, diabetes, obesity, consumption of animal fat.” No surprise. Consumption of animal fat always makes the list of any disease causes/risk factors, in spite of any lack of evidence. What really frosted me about this was that there is absolute scientific evidence from real laboratory studies of pancreatic tumors feeding preferentially on sugar – fructose in particular. When I heard that Steve Jobs was a fruitarian for many years, I immediately thought of that. I am always threatening to write a letter to the editor of this paper (the Omaha World-Herald smack-dab in the middle of Monsanto/Cargill/Conagra land). This time I think I am motivated enough to do it. I gleaned a few good ideas from Tom’s posts, but would love some input from other blog readers. I want something clean, clear, and scientifically accurate to rebut the inclusion of animal fat and absence of sugar/fructose from the cause/risks list. Thanks.

    I guess that explains why the buffalo-hunting tribes were so riddled with pancreatic cancer.

  25. Ben Fury

    Hi Tom!

    Those lobbying figures were low since they’re for only part of 2011.

    Check out the complete yearly figures from 2010.


    Monsanto Co $8,030,000
    American Farm Bureau $5,584,814
    CropLife America $2,291,859
    Deere & Co $1,870,000
    Fertilizer Institute $1,485,254
    Archer Daniels Midland $1,330,000
    CF Industries $1,150,000
    Dow Chemical $850,000
    National Council of Farmer Co-Ops $820,000
    National Farmers Union $690,000
    Syngenta Corp $680,000
    CHS Inc $505,000
    American Veterinary Medical Assn $500,000
    Society of American Florists $491,333
    Agricultural Retailers Assn $450,000
    Fiat SPA $450,000
    AgriBank $440,000
    Rentech Inc $430,000
    Farm Credit Council $425,000
    American Assn of Crop Insurers $290,000
    Imperial Irrigation District $250,000
    Sterling International $240,000
    Cargill Inc $218,066

    Eight million for Monsanto makes sense. Taking over farming worldwide is an expensive undertaking.

    But only $218K/yr for Cargill?!? A four BILLION dollar profit per year company like Cargill? Cargill’s executive lunch meeting expenses are probably at least double that! LOL

    Meanwhile, their arch rival Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) gave Congress $1,330,000.

    So much for competing in the marketplace. Apparently ADM thinks it makes more sense to compete with Cargill by outspending them in Congress over the terms of the next Farm Bill!

    Be well,

    Yee-ikes, that’s a lot of influence.

  26. Nowhereman

    Greg and Tom wrote:

    “Isn’t breast milk kind of high-fat? You’d think they’d want to put babies on a strict applesauce diet. Or maybe sweetened soymilk!”

    “I believe breast milk is more than 50% fat by calories. Apparently Mother Nature is out to kill the newborns.”

    That sadly reminds me of that poor little baby boy who died of severe malnutrition at the hands of his vegan parents who tried to do just that and feed him nothing but apple juice and soymilk. I hope all their appeals fail and they rot in prison for a good long time to set an example to all the other crazies who might be thinking the same nonsense.

  27. Dan

    If the government would get out of the nutrition and education businesses, we’d all be better off. We are in a financial crisis and they fight over the amount of potatoes in school lunch.

    Pasta jacks up my blood sugar too as do many other “low GI” foods. The glycemic index is a joke. According to our cafeteria at work, yesterday was national pasta day (not sure how official that was). The offered spaghetti & meatballs for $2.50. I brought my own – spinach salad topped with eggs, bacon, bacon vinegrette derssing. Much better than pasta.

    The CSPI guy is really inconsistent. Let the sugar wars begin – but they should do it on their own rather than burning up my tax $$$$.

    The Guy From CSPI thinks he should be able to mess with your finances for your own good. That’s one of the reasons I can’t stand the guy. I’d feel pretty much the same about a busybody who tried to use taxes and regulations to force people to eat paleo.

  28. John

    Tom, I do believe you are right about Guinness. A bottle has about 10 grams of carbs, and 126 calories.

    Beer, wine and harder alcohols demonstrate the inconsistency with government mandated nutrition labels. Light beers are required to list calories, carbs, protein and fat, but regular beers are not (I have even heard that regular beers are FORBIDDEN from listing this information). All beers and wines have some level of carbs, and most beers a bit of protein too (think gluten). Fortified wines and cordials tend to have a much higher level of sugar, but it’s not listed anywhere on the bottle.

    Also, alcohol is listed as content by volume, but never in grams. Alcohol is a significant caloric source, at 7 calories per gram. If the nutrition labels are listing caloric sources, alcohol should certainly be there (and alcohol isn’t a fat, protien or carbohydrate). Most light beers reduce their calories by slashing carbs, but those super light beers (like MGD 64, or anything with a number like that in the name) reduce the alcohol content as well.

    On the rare occasions when I drink beer now, I don’t concern myself with calories or carbs. I drink Guinness because I think it has the best taste. Maybe it’s genetic programming from my Irish ancestors.

  29. Erica

    The other day when I went to a bbq place, I told the guys behind the counter I was allergic to wheat. He then pointed out what sides didn’t have wheat in them for me. It was great!

    Then, yesterday, when the server brought the bread basket at Logan’s Steak House, I took the butter out and handed it back to him. My friends, who I’m coaching in wheat elimination/low carb, looked a little frustrated, but they let me. I assured them that soon, they wouldn’t need to load up on stuff while waiting for their meal. They just wouldn’t be that hungry. I told that server, too, that I was allergic to wheat.

    Whatever it takes to get people to take your diet seriously. If I’d said I was a low carber, or just gluten-free, they’d have thought I was just nuts.

    I confess to claiming a wheat allergy now and then to get people to stop pushing wheat products on me.

  30. Lynnanne

    More health news:

    Ozzy Osborne is going Vegan. “The singer allegedly made the switch to an animal product-free diet after watching ‘Forks Over Knives,’ a documentary that details the pluses associated with veganism.”


    Well, I’m sure THAT will clear up his mental lapses. We can expect Ozzy to be solving partial differential equations by the end of the week. 🙂

    I’m starting to think Ozzy may not be versed in good science vs. bad science.

  31. Lynnanne

    By the way, I just received a gift of a large Hershey chocolate bar, courtesy of one of my project managers (a very nice lady) via the United Way. Apparently, part of their “fun” fundraising is that managers can “buy” the candy bars from the United Way and have them delivered to the desks of their employees. It’s to “improve company morale for a good cause.” At least I can get some work done this afternoon while everyone else is nodding off.

    Run around the office and change the passwords on all the sleeping employees’ computers.

  32. timmah

    My lone “grain vice” is beer. I do my best to live without grains, but I always willingly return to beer. I feel like I’m wired to have a couple beers each week.

    In the days before modern plumbing, beer was the only way to ensure the water was potable. A barley wine would be made from the “first runnings” of the mash and saved for special occasions as it would be alcoholic and sweet. The “small beer” was made from the spent grains from barley wine production and consumed at all meals.

    For every unit of barley wine, you could get two to three units of small beer. The barley wine would be upwards of 15% alcohol, while the small beer would be 2-3%.

    Back in those days, more than half the grain in a community would have been used to make beer, as they knew beer would do more to keep people alive than bread. No water-borne illness and no excessive dehydration? Win-win.

    And beer tastes better than bread.

  33. JuneBug

    So, CSPI thinks big lobbying groups are one of the Terrible 10 Things in America…

    And CSPI is a big lobbying group….so……

    CPSI thinks THEY are one of the most terrible things in America!

    Glad to see they’ve come around.

    I hadn’t thought of that.

  34. Bullinachinashop

    There are no strawberries in fruit rollups? This is shocking!!!!

    After careful research, I noticed there’s also no such thing as a Boo-Berry. What kind of sick world do we live in?

    I could’ve sworn I picked boo-berries as a kid.

  35. Karen J

    My statinated sister is part of a company that pushes fruit snacks and she used to give me cases of that crap. Luckily I had my brain transplant and told her I’d only take them if they had no fructose or hydrogenated oils…. never heard a word from her about fruit snacks after that. I think she still thinks I’m one of those crazy health nuts.

    And you’ll probably enjoy your crazy health for a long time.

  36. Nowhereman

    This maybe slightly off-topic, but I had to share:


    Oh gosh, look a 30-year study that finds no real correlation between easy access to fast food restaurants and weight gain. What a suprise. Not!

    Maybe it’s the food we’re being mandated to eat by the government and nanny groups like CSPI that are the problem, regardless of where we eat.

    The researchers actually got it right: maybe it has more to do with our food choices than with proximity to fast food.

  37. Julia

    First I hear that PETA is suing SeaWorld for enslaving Orcas. Now General Mills is getting sued for…that? Is this the year of the stupid/pointless lawsuits?

    On another note, I purchased an “Irish Heritage” beer case a while back. It contained Guinness, Smithwick’s, and Harp’s. I drank a bottle a day and still lost a serious amount of weight. I was eating about 50 carbs a day, but man that beer kept me full..and sane 🙂

    A beer a day isn’t a big carb load.

  38. Nowhereman

    “The researchers actually got it right: maybe it has more to do with our food choices than with proximity to fast food.”

    Yes Tom, but do you think they have the wisdom to figure out the rest of the puzzle?

    We can dream.

  39. Heidi P.

    The bit on the Illinois school fighting obesity really hit a nerve for me. I have a 10 year old with naturally “greedy fat cells” and who was very lethargic and even depressed on the SAD. Now, on no grains or sugars and lots of sat fat he is losing weight and has so much energy – he is a very different boy.

    It kills me, what they are doing over there.

    That’s partly what makes these school lunch guidelines so infuriating.


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