Archive for December, 2012

Greetings, fellow Fat Heads!

Tom’s been working out the logistics of the updated version of Fat Head and traveling, so I thought I’d pop in to say “hi” before the end of the year, and wish you all the best as we move into 2013 and whatever cliffs we end up falling off of or into.

Tom and Chareva got into Springfield the weekend before Christmas, which happened to work out for a trip to Linda Logan’s farm. Linda is who I’ve been getting my raw milk from, and three of her cows just had calves about a month ago. I’d arranged to bring the grandkids out to see them, so the timing was perfect for Tom and Chareva and the girls to come, too.

Here’s what milk looks like in the original container…

We picked one of the only really cold, windy days so far this year, so we’re all pretty bundled up. That’s Linda on the back of the truck pitching hay to her “girls.”

There’s one less cow than there had been the week before. Linda had a Hereford steer that had finally gotten too big to not send off to the processors. She didn’t want a whole cow, and we had some friends who’d been wanting to split half a cow. So I’ll be putting real grassfed beef in our freezer in a couple of days. I think I’ve also found a source to buy a calf this spring that Linda will pasture for us. It doesn’t get any more local than that. I’m trying to come up with a good name if we get one. Maybe “Roulade.”

Linda’s been reading up on my hero Joel Salatin and Management Intensive Grazing and is planning on getting more into the rotational grazing model. She’s also talking about maybe pasturing some pigs, so I’ve been trying to figure out where to source some Mangalitsa pigs (which I unfortunately heard of due to new Michigan DNR regulations on feral pigs that they’re using to put a family farm operation out of business).

After seeing the cows, the two grandkids and Tom’s girls spent some time and energy chasing Linda’s free ranging chickens around the grounds, and administering copious belly-rubs to the dogs, who would’ve preferred we left all the girls there.

When we went into the house to get our milk and eggs, Linda had something else to show the kids. One of her Coca Maran chickens had hatched three chicks the week before. It was pretty cold weather for chicks, and one of them hadn’t made it, but they’d brought the other two into the garage and they came around pretty well. We spent the next fifteen minutes satisfying all four girls that they’d all got to hold the chicks the same amount of time.

It was a great way to get the kids out of the house for the whole morning, get some fresh air, spend some family time together, and pick up some of the groceries at the same time! Here’s our haul — milk (“creamy milk” according to the grankids), yoghurt, and eggs.

That’s my idea of shopping.

Again, very best wishes for the new year. Let’s keep getting healthier, pester our friends in moderation, and celebrate progress (I’m seeing more celebs talking about carbs being the problem). If this is a cheat day for you, have one for me.

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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I’m posting this again this year due to popular demand … meaning at least one reader requested it. Happy Holidays — Tom

‘Twas the night before statins, and all through the land
Our lipids were lethal, as we’d soon understand.
Our eggs were all stacked in the fridge with great care
In hopes they’d be scrambled, or fried if we dare.

The children were calm and well-fed in their beds,
While visions of sausages danced in their heads.
The dads, mostly lean, and wives often thinner
Had just settled down for a porterhouse dinner.

When out in the world there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from their plates to see what was the matter,
And what on the cover of TIME should appear,
But an arrogant scientist, peddling fear.

Cheers and belief from an ignorant press
Gave a luster of truth to the new, biased mess.
So away to the doctor we flew in a pack,
In hopes of a plan to end heart attacks.

He was dressed in all white from his neck to his butt
(which conveniently hid the size of his gut).
He sat us all down for a well-meaning chat:
“More carbohydrates — avoid all that fat!”

So sugars and starches we passed through our lips,
Only to wear them on bellies and hips.
Our hearts with their plaques continued to swell,
We grew diabetic and weren’t feeling well.

The doctor announced it was likely our fault –
We were, after all, still eating salt.
“But there’s no other option,” he said with shrug,
And pulled out his pad to prescribe some new drugs.

“Now Crestor! Now Zocor! Then Lipitor next!
Now Lipex! Now Lescol, and best take Plavix!
To the depths of the liver! To the artery wall!
Force it down, force it down, foul cholesterol!”

Our appetites crazed, we soon looked like blimps.
Our children lost focus, our manhood went limp.
The doctor examined joints now wracked with pain
And concluded the patients were old or insane.

He chose Celebrex for muscles that ache,
And added Cialis to the drugs we should take.
“Now stick to your diet, and be of good cheer,
If this doesn’t work, I’ll do lap-band next year!”

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We’re preparing to leave for our holiday trip to Illinois, where it’s currently raining ice, according to my mom.  I hope that stops before we hit the road tomorrow.

I’m giving myself a week away from the programming job when we return to Tennessee so I can get organized for the new year.  I’ve got a ton of audio and video files (raw footage from Fat Head, my songs, speeches, cruise roast, etc.) scattered haphazardly across multiple external hard drives, so getting those arranged in some kind of logical order is tops on the list.

I’ve also got research papers and links to research papers scattered across three computers and in different folders on each computer.  Since one of my goals for the year is to finish the book and companion DVD Chareva and I have outlined, I need to get all those papers together, review them, and organize them by topic.  I also need to at least start thinking about the roast I’ll be delivering for this year’s low-carb cruise.

One project I already completed is an updated version of Fat Head, which will be available soon.  I cut about 8 minutes from the film and added a section at the end explaining how my diet, health and life have changed in the past three years.  I’ll provide more details when the new version is actually available.

I’ll resume regular posting in January.  In the meantime, I’m re-posting the dietary version of “A Christmas Carol” that I wrote last year.  Happy Holidays, everyone.

How Tiny Tim Got McScrooged

ZZZZZZ. ZZZZZZZZ.

Woooooooh! Woooooooooh!

ZZZZZ – !!

“What? What’s that noise? Is somebody there?”

“Yes, Senator McGovern, somebody is there. And I’ve come for you. Woooooooh!

“Hey! Enough with the Wooooooh stuff, okay? I was a bomber pilot in the war. I’m not afraid of ghosts.”

“You will be. Woooooooh!

“Oh yeah? Well, if you’re a ghost, whose ghost are you?”

“Richard Milhous Nix—“

AAAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHH!!!!

“Geez, calm down, George. I’m not here to hurt you.“

“Well then, what the heck do you want?”

“To deliver a message. Let me make this perfectly clear: Three more ghosts will enter your room tonight.”

“Ahh, your White House plumbers are back in action again, huh?”

“Not spooks, George. Ghosts. And you’d better pay attention to what they show you.”

“Fine, I’ll pay attention. Now go away. I have nightmares about you as it is. Didn’t even win my own state, for the love of–”

“Okay, I’m going. You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore. Woooooooh!

“Three more ghosts … bah, humbug! Just a bad dream, that’s all it was.”

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Geooooooorge! Geoooooorge!

ZZZZZ—

“Now what? Who is that?”

“It’s me, George. Teddy Kennedy.”

“Teddy! Great to see you! What are you doing here?”

“I’m the Ghost of Government Past.”

“A ghost? But you’re all wet.”

“I drove here.”

“I see.”

“Come with me, George. We need to visit your past. There, look down. See?”

“Hey! That’s me, conducting my hearings on the Dietary Goals For America! Aw, boy, Teddy, weren’t we a bunch of optimists back then? So sure of ourselves, telling everyone else how to live right.”

“Indeed, Senator. You really put the ‘govern’ in McGovern, George.”

“Yup. We were so full of promise, always trying to do some good.”

“Yes, George, your intentions were good. No matter what else you see tonight, remember that: your intentions were good.”

“Yeah, yeah, of course. Huh … ”

“Something wrong, George?”

“I kind of forgot about this part. ‘A senator, unlike a research scientist, doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for every last shred of evidence to come in.’ Did I really say that?”

“Yes, George. But like I said, your intentions were good.”

“Of course.”

“I have to go now. Some of us are getting a game of touch football going. Have you ever tried that with ghosts you can’t actually touch? It’s weird. Goodbye, George.”

“Ted? Ted? Ahhh, I knew it. Back in bed. Just another weird dream. I really should get some sleep…”

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

“Hiya, George!”

“WHAT THE—Jerry? Jerry Ford?”

“The Ghost of Government Present, at your service!”

“Jerry, why are you here?”

“Well, the previous Ghost of Government Present had to resign, so—”

“No, no. Why are you here, in my bedroom?”

“Oh, right. I need to show you something. Come on, follow me. Down there. Take a look. ”

“Who are these people, Jerry? Why are you showing them to me?”

“That’s the Cratchit family, George. They’re having dinner.”

“Yes, I can see that. But why is the mother crying?”

“Because some government officials are threatening to take away Tiny Tim and send him to a foster home.”

“Which one is Tiny Tim?”

“That one.”

“Wow. Look, Jerry, I feel sorry for parents and all, but maybe they shouldn’t have nicknamed that kid ‘Tiny.’ He’s a blimp.”

“That’s why the government is threatening to take him away, George.”

“They’re taking him away for being fat? What is this, the old Soviet Union?”

“There’s no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never be will be under a Ford Administration!”

“Uh, Jerry–”

“Sorry. But I still don’t see why that line got everyone so upset.”

“Jerry, why don’t the parents just encourage Tiny Tim to lose some weight?”

“They’ve tried, George. They’ve tried over and over. As soon as they realized he had a weight problem, they put him on a strict low-fat diet with plenty of grains. Cereals with skim milk. Sandwiches with lean meats. Pasta, potatoes, rice. Crackers and fruit juice for snacks. No eggs, no cream, no butter. Just like you recommended, remember?”

“Well, if that didn’t work, they should have tried just feeding him less. I mean, come on, Jerry—”

“They tried that too, George. They’ve gone from doctor to doctor, and they always get the same advice: put him on a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet. Poor Tiny Tim has spent half his life feeling hungry, but getting fatter anyway.”

“Bah, humbug. If they were truly following my advice—”

“They did follow your advice, George. But since Tiny Tim is still fat, the government health experts assume the parents are lying. That’s why they want to take Tiny Tim away.”

“But this can’t be! My intentions were good! Please, Jerry, tell me there’s still some way we can … Jerry? Jerry, where did you go?!”

“I’ve got to go, George. The previous Ghost of Government Present called and told me he needs a big favor of some kind.”

“Jerry, wait, I can’t see the family anymore! What happened to Tiny Tim? Jerry, come back! I promise I’ll do better if you just give me another chance!”

“There you go again.”

“Wha … Ronald Reagan?”

“Yes. Although I’m currently starring as the Ghost of Government Yet To Come.”

“This is a complete nightmare!”

“Well, now, that’s what they said about Bedtime for Bonzo, but I think over the years the critics have come to appreciate—“

“Ronnie, please, I need to know what happened to Tiny Tim. Take me back to the family.”

“Too late, George. You’re in the future now.”

“Then take me to the family now … I mean, here in the future.”

“You sure you want to see that, George?”

“Yes, Ronnie. I must.”

“Okay, come along with me. See? There’s the family, sitting down for dinner.”

“But Tiny Tim’s chair is empty! Did he … did he …”

“Die? No, George. He lost weight, his blood pressure went down, his glucose stabilized, his kidney function returned to normal, and he started concentrating better in school.”

“Then where is he?”

“The government took him away, George.”

“But why?”

“Well, take a good look at the family dinner table, George.”

“Steak, broccoli, butter, some kind of cream-based dessert … wait, where’s the bread, Ronnie? The pasta? The potatoes? They’re eating way too much fat.”

“That’s why the government took Tiny Tim away, George. The Cratchits stopped following your advice and Tiny Tim got better. But the government doesn’t like it when people stop following your advice, so they took Tiny Tim away.”

“But I never wanted any of this to happen, Ronnie! My intentions were—“

“—were good. Yes, I know, George. There you go again, assuming good intentions mean good results. Like I always said, sometimes government is the problem.”

“I refuse to believe this is my fault, Ronnie. It can’t be.”

“Then you need to ask yourself a question: People have been following your advice for 40 years. Are they happier now than they were 40 years ago? Are they leaner than they were 40 years ago? Are they healthier than they were 40 years ago? Are kids concentrating better than they were 40 years ago?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Then George, maybe it’s time you just admit your advice was wrong. I’ve got to go now. I’m expecting Nancy to join me any minute.”

“Ronnie, wait! Don’t go! Ronnie, please, I want to go back! I want to go back!”

BUZZ-BUZZ-BUZZ-BUZZ-BUZZ-BUZZ-BUZZ!!

“Wha? My own bed … 7:00 a.m. alarm … so it was all just a dream! There’s still time.“

CREEAAAAK.

“Excuse me, young man! Up here!”

“Yes, sir?”

“Do you know a family with a boy named Tiny Tim?”

“Yes, sir. They live just down the road.”

“Here, I’m tossing you down a hundred-dollar bill. I want you to go out and buy the biggest, fattest turkey you can find and take it to Tiny Tim’s house.”

“Will do, sir.”

“And some ham. And some bacon. And some eggs and butter. And a nice selection of green vegetables. Can you do that?”

“Of course, sir. Right away, sir. Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas to you, young man. And may God bless us, every one!”

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A couple of weeks ago I received this brief email from Brent Pottenger, one of the founders of the Ancestral Health Symposium:

Hey Tom,

I’m sitting in endocrinology now here at Hopkins Med, and our class is watching both Super Size Me and Fat Head as a required activity!

Cheers,
Brent

Seth Roberts also shared this message from Brent on his blog:

Today, as a required activity for our Hopkins Med endocrinology course, we watched excerpts from Supersize Me and Tom Naughton’s Fat Head. Our professor then engaged us in a discussion comparing the two films. Our professor told our class that the lipid hypothesis is incorrect, said that the USDA Food Pyramid is the product of corn and wheat subsidies (and lobbies), and definitely stirred up some uneasy responses from my classmates.

What the professor said contradicted what they believe. Every professor before this has demonized saturated fat, meats, etc., so this was the first time someone questioned that belief.

No surprise there.  Seth asked how the med students expressed their unease.  Brent replied:

They expressed unease by getting up and leaving the lecture hall, by whispering in disgust to their neighbors, etc. — you could see it on their faces. Then, some of the more curious classmates who are always inquisitive followed up with genuine questions, wanting to know more about the validity to the statements made in Tom’s movie about Ancel Keys, the McGovern Report, the USDA, the science of the lipid hypothesis, etc.

Med students leaving the lecture hall rather than have their beliefs challenged … and you wonder why I don’t trust most doctors.  But cheers to the professor for challenging what they’ve already been taught, and cheers to the students who were open-minded.

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I frequently receive inquiries from Fat Head viewers asking where they can buy the music from the film.  I have to tell them that Tom Monahan (the Fat Head composer) and I are working on an album that would include the Fat Head songs and several more.  And we were working on that album, but then we both got tied up with other projects.  I moved to the farm and took on full-time programming work, I’ve had speeches and roasts to write and perform, Tom went back to school to finish his degree, etc.

We are committing ourselves to getting that album finished in 2013.  Really and truly.  Cross my heart and hope to die.

But in the meantime, I decided to dust off some songs I recorded with my first band way back in  … should I even admit how long ago?  Okay, sure, why not.  We recorded four of the songs in a studio when I was in college, and another in my apartment when I was in my late 20s.  That was after four-track recorders reached the consumer market.

Anyway, I had Chareva design an album cover and then went through TuneCore to upload the album to iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc.  I hope you’ll check it out and, if you like the songs, give them a nice rating and help spread the word through social media.

As you know, I don’t take advertising on the blog (and believe me, I’ve had offers) because I don’t want to push products I don’t personally use.  I prefer to sell what I produce … DVDs, t-shirts, and now a five-song album of songs I wrote.

Here are the iTunes links for some countries where I know we have readers:

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – iTunes U.S.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – iTunes U.K.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – iTunes Canada

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – iTunes Australia

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – iTunes New Zealand

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – iTunes Germany

Here’s a link for Amazon’s MP3 store:

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – Amazon

The sample online clip iTunes chose for “Prelude / Somewhere Down the Line” is from “Prelude,” which is all music.  “Somewhere Down the Line,” the second half of the same track, is a song with lyrics.  They started off as separate songs, but as we were working on them we realized the key was the same and the feel was similar, so when we went into the studio we recorded them as a single track.

The two guys on the album cover with me (I’m on the left, in case you don’t recognize me with hair) aren’t just my old band-mates; they’re my best friends.  Bob (lead guitarist, on the right) and I have known each other since sixth grade.  He moved to Franklin after finishing law school, which is the only reason I even knew there was such a place as Franklin, Tennessee.  Mike (keyboards, center) and I were roommates my senior year in college.  Some of my fondest memories are of the nights I spent playing in a band with those guys.

My daughters insist I tell them stories about my life before bed.  Here’s one about my old band they like:

We had a weekend gig lined up to play in a restaurant/nightclub in our hometown of Springfield, Illinois during Christmas vacation.  So when we all got home from college, we immediately began rehearsing.  (We always rehearsed in my parents’ basement – bless them for putting up with the noise.)  The first day of the gig, it began snowing – hard.  The club manager called and told me he was canceling because he didn’t want to pay us to perform for an empty house.

I told him we had a large and loyal following in town, most of them were home for Christmas and would want to go out on the weekend, and they weren’t afraid to drive in the snow.  They wouldn’t be happy if they showed up and we weren’t playing.  He refused to be convinced, so I finally said, “Look, we’re going to show up and play.  If you don’t think the crowd is big enough to justify paying us, fine, don’t pay us.  But we’re going to play either way.”  He took that deal.

By the time we were 15 minutes into our first set, the nightclub had run out of seats.  From the stage, we saw the manager who’d wanted to cancel dragging in extra chairs from the restaurant, which was indeed mostly empty.  The second night was just as packed.  The manager paid us.

Good times.

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Here’s some good news … sort of.  The USDA has backed off its strict limits on school lunches:

The Agriculture Department is responding to criticism over new school lunch rules by allowing more grains and meat in kids’ meals.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of Congress in a letter Friday that the department will do away with daily and weekly limits of meats and grains. Several lawmakers wrote the department after the new rules went into effect in September saying kids aren’t getting enough to eat.

School administrators also complained, saying set maximums on grains and meats are too limiting as they try to plan daily meals.

Why is this only “sort of” good news?  Because when our overlords listen to our complaints, it’s an improvement … but they’re still our overlords and shouldn’t be.  Keep reading:

“This flexibility is being provided to allow more time for the development of products that fit within the new standards while granting schools additional weekly menu planning options to help ensure that children receive a wholesome, nutritious meal every day of the week,” Vilsack said in a letter to Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Well, gee, that’s just awesomely wonderful of USDA officials sitting in Washington to provide some flexibility while telling school officials in my little town in Tennessee what they may and may not serve to kids in our local schools.  All hail Big Brother!  He listened to his subjects!

The new guidelines were intended to address increasing childhood obesity levels.

Yeah, and the taxpayer loan to Solyndra was intended to produce a successful solar company.  I don’t give a rat’s @$$ how good our overlords’ intentions are.

They set limits on calories and salt, and phase in more whole grains. Schools must offer at least one vegetable or fruit per meal. The department also dictated how much of certain food groups could be served.

What do we call people who dictate what their subjects can and can’t do?  I know there’s a noun …

While nutritionists and some parents have praised the new school lunch standards, others, including many conservative lawmakers, refer to them as government overreach. Yet many of those same lawmakers also have complained about hearing from constituents who say their kids are hungry at school.

I’ve read that paragraph several times and still can’t figure out what the writer intended to convey with the word “yet,” which suggests a “on the hand, but on the other hand” type of inconsistency.  You know, something like “He doesn’t trust doctors, yet he takes his Lipitor religiously.”  So we have legislators getting upset about government overreach and yet they complain about hearing from angry constituents?  Are those two behaviors somehow inconsistent?

The new tweak doesn’t upset nutritionists who fought for the school lunch overhaul.

Margo Wootan, a nutrition lobbyist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says the change is minor and the new guidance shows that USDA will work with school nutrition officials and others who have concerns.

“It takes time to work out the kinks,” Wootan said. “This should show Congress that they don’t need to interfere legislatively.”

Translation:  we don’t want representatives of the people getting involved in our plans to tell the people what they can and cannot serve to children in school.

How’s how we could work out the kinks without it taking a lot of time, Margo:  We announce that bureaucrats in Washington are no more qualified than local officials or — egads! — parents to decide what kids should eat.  (I know trying to wrap your brain around the idea that sitting at a desk in the nation’s capital doesn’t confer special wisdom on a person could cause your head to explode, but go with me on this.)  Then we tell the USDA to stick to what it’s actually competent to do:  suck up billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize large agribusiness corporations like ADM and “farmers” like Scottie Pippen and Ted Turner.

Sen. Hoeven, who had written Vilsack to express concern about the rules, said he will be supportive of the meals overhaul if the USDA continues to be flexible when problems arise.

And there’s the problem, Senator:  you don’t mind the USDA dictating to local schools as long as the dictators are flexible.

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