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Food and The Fall

Well, I’ve been meaning to write a post summarizing all that I’ve learned over the last year about food. After realizing I have a gluten and yeast sensitivity/intolerance, I dove into learning all that I could and my paradigm has subsequently changed quite a bit.

I’m just not going to find the time to write what I wanted, but I did want to share a bit with you. So here it is in brief:

For most of my life I dismissed health and nutrition claims as unimportant, a waste of time, or downright qooky. The real underlying reason was that I trusted free market principles: businesses would not be promoting and selling food that was unhealthy because people would stop eating their food and they would go out of business from competition. Likewise, competition and consumer watch groups would keep shady food industry practices in check. So the fact that I’m only hearing about food problems from hippies must mean it’s just part of their liberal anti-corporate agenda, not anything to do with real food problems.

The problem with this line of thinking was that I was not being consistent. In other areas of the economy, I was quick to point out that we don’t have a free market, such as the banking industry. When people pointed out problems they saw, I would be quick to demonstrate how government regulation and hinderance of the free market was to blame. But I was blind to the fact that this same state interference was at work in the food industry as well.

Once I realized that, the whole paradigm shifted. Suddenly all these claims have merit. The free market does not keep businesses in check because that’s the job of the FDA. The FDA gives the illusion of safety. This false sense of security makes us more trusting of the food we eat, but the regulations and checks are much, much worse than they would be in a free market where no FDA existed. The truth is, the FDA allows certain businesses and business practices to exist (and thrive) that simply would not be trusted in a free market. They would go out of business in a free market. As Jonathan Latham explains, without the FDA “Monsanto would have to rely on its good name to sell its products and right now I’m going to hazard a guess they couldnt do that, nor many other companies.”

In short, the food industry bypasses the checks of a free market by controlling the FDA, which gives them a stamp of approval that they would never get in a free market. Bad food practices succeed, not because they have been proven healthy and safe by the companies, their competitors, and consumers, but because people trust the FDA. If anyone is under the illusion the FDA actually protects anyone, just research how anything gets approved. All the FDA requires is that the company requesting approval submit their own study showing the safety of a product. And the FDA itself is a revolving door: formers heads of the FDA routinely become CEOs of the companies they regulated after leaving the FDA.

Furthermore, these companies use the FDA and the courts to very effectively suppress any whistleblowers or consumer advocates from demonstrating the harmful effects of a variety of foods. Watch the documentary Food, Inc. for some good examples of this.

Add to that the influence of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, which was established by politics, not science. For the last 50 years we have been indoctrinated from kindergarten through college that the government knows best and the food guide pyramid is the optimal, healthy diet. Don’t underestimate the power of this influence. Anything that disagrees automatically gets a skeptical reception just because it’s not the government sanctioned rules we were all taught. When I took Nutrition in college, I wrote a brief paper showing how the Food Guide Pyramid was influenced by politics. But even then, the idea that I should therefore consider eating another diet was never even a blip on my radar screen.

On top of that you have the power of the AMA, which stifles any real competition to allopathic medicine from any other field of practice. Allopathic medicine doesn’t recognize the dramatic effect food has on our health because that field looks at things atomistically, not holistically. A dermatologist is never going to suspect that gluten could be causing your psoriasis.

So anyways, all of this simply to say that my previous disregard towards health food claims has been replaced by a great interest in nutrition. My general perspective is The Imperfect Health Diet: How is the Fall Affecting My Food Today?

Here are some resources that have helped me try to answer that question. Many of them are “Paleo” sources, meaning they adopt an evolutionary model that says our “paleolithic ancestors” were the healthiest in the history of man, so we should eat like they ate. Of course, I reject this reasoning, but science like Paleo nutrition can be very useful even though it is false, for all science is false.

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Categories: health
  1. Joel P.
    September 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Very good post. Lots of useful information here. Like you, I didn’t start taking my diet seriously until I had health issues of my own.

    It’s a shame more Christians don’t take a more critical look at what they eat. Especially here in America, where we’re living in a time when so much of our “food” is either partially or wholly comprised of man-made chemicals. We’ve gotten so far away from the natural order of things that it’s really no wonder so many of us are suffering from serious health problems, even at a young age.

    Like

    • September 9, 2013 at 6:49 am

      I think a big part of our neglect comes from what I outlined in the post. For example, Monsanto has routinely dismissed concerns about GMO’s by emphasizing that these are French & European concerns (ie not real concerns for Americans). If I hear that, I’m not going to give it much of a second thought, given all the other things I have to think about.

      It’s hard to believe that something as complicated and devastating as our various health problems could be the result of something as simple as food. But we’d rather think it’s the result of a mysterious “illness” that comes and goes with the wind with no explanation, and certainly not related to what we put in our bodies.

      I’ll be posting more posts in the future. Would love to hear your thoughts Joel. Thanks

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  2. Daniel
    October 6, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for the great post. Common sense of which there is little in today’s world would tell us that health is not the result of a lack of drugs, antibiotics or pesticides, but of a broad range of factors one of which is a properly nurtured body or plant that is able to fight off diseases. Personally what helped me the most in nutrition so far is a simple cheap tool called a refractometer by which to measure a crops brix value (which seems to correlate with its mineral level, the higher the brix the better) and juicing but not as replacement for normal food.

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    • Daniel
      October 7, 2013 at 4:02 am

      correction for the above “would tell us that illness is not the result…”

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    • October 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

      Thanks Daniel. I’ll look into the brix value concept. I’ve been doing a little bit of juicing over the last month. Mostly just cabbage for the glutamine content though

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      • Daniel
        October 7, 2013 at 9:19 am

        Good on you, Brandon.

        Currently I am trying to figure out the role the “scientific method” play in nutrition science as described in this article:

        http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/whats-incredible-learning-to-read-science-articles-with-a-critical-eye/

        There is obviously flaws in any human method so I dont think that is necessary the best way to approach nutritional science.

        One book I read on the subject of nutrition (Real Health Real Medicine Arden Anderson) seem to point in the right direction when it says:

        “The problem with the contention that everything must be studied with double-blind, placebo controlled studies is that since living system, humans for example, have so many variables, never could one ever control more than just a few variables. Nature is non-linear. Current models are linear. A variety of diseases can be concealed behind the same symptoms, the randomised double blind clinical trail can only be one way of obtaining knowledge. Its wrong to say its the only way, since causal and experience reports can do precisely that which the objective controlled clinical trail cannot do: place the living plant/person in the foreground of attention before the disease.”

        Replying to this someone told me: “scientific studies can come closer or fall farther from truth, and the quality of the studies is a major determinant of how close they come. True, phase III clinical trials can’t be done on everything, but their results are far more reliable than those of any other trial methodology we’ve devised so far. And some “trials” and “studies” are so deeply flawed that their results are worthless.”

        What role does logic and common sense play in this as we can’t allow everything to be blessed with the “scientific method”.

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        • October 7, 2013 at 9:32 am

          The main problem is that you’re just not going to get the funding necessary to do Phase III trials for most nutritional studies because there’s no profit incentive. But also just the incredible complexity of trying to isolate variables, as you mention in your quote.

          One of the interesting things you’ll find over at bulletproofexec.com is a push for getting people involved in the Quantified Self movement and then crunching the big data numbers that result to find useful information. For example, various apps for smart phones can log heart rate and lots of other info. Dave Asprey is computer engineer, so he sees how Big Data has been used in the industry to do lots of interesting statistical analysis. He really wants to see more people recording their daily habits and markers and doing n=1 (individual) experiments on themselves. That’s what he did, and I think his resulting recommendations are pretty great. He talks about it in some of his podcasts

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        • October 7, 2013 at 9:36 am

          Also, here is an interesting article. I think his elevation of stomach nerves to the level of a source of truth is absurd, but he’s on the right track I think. I’ve been wanting to post an analysis of the essay, but haven’t had time yet.

          http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga_ted/the_scoffer_and_the_believer_toward_a_christian_philosophy_of_food_selection.pdf

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  3. Daniel
    October 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks that was an interesting article form calvin.edu and the bulletproof site.

    To me one major issue is the nutritional quality and taste of crops. We don’t all have labs in our homes to test what method of agriculture produces the best nutritional quality food but we do have the sense of taste. The problems seems to be the all our food is so low quality that we don’t know what is good quality anymore. Some older folk said crops used to taste much better in their younger years. Some might say taste is just subjective. So does that mean the tomato which have no taste you buy in winter in the supermarket is the same nutritionally as the flavourful one you buy at the farmers market in summer? It does not make logically sense that all crops of the same type have the same nutritional value. There is much needed research needed to be done in this field.
    This seem like a good start.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=organic-conventional-which-scanner-healthier

    This blog write regularly about brix related stuff. http://highnutritionfood.com/blog-2/

    This is a fascinating tread about agriculture and science. Many farmers knowledgeable in brix commented on it. https://sharepoint.cahnrs.wsu.edu/blogs/urbanhort/archive/2010/02/17/international-ag-labs-who-are-they-and-what-do-they-do.aspx

    Like

  4. Daniel
    November 7, 2013 at 8:20 am
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