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Hartmann
post Jun 2 2009, 07:17 AM
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I just finished "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. He basically rips apart the idea of "nutrionism" pointing out that things like omega-3 pills are nowhere close to as good for you as just eating fish. How beta-carotene pills that were touted to prevent cancer actually cause it.

His whole point is that if we eat food we should eat mostly plants and not too much. He cites the French, the Italians, the Japanese and how their diets are completely different from each other but they're still healthier than us.


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Spectatrix
post Jun 2 2009, 09:59 AM
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QUOTE (Hartmann @ Jun 2 2009, 08:17 AM) *
I just finished "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. He basically rips apart the idea of "nutrionism" pointing out that things like omega-3 pills are nowhere close to as good for you as just eating fish. How beta-carotene pills that were touted to prevent cancer actually cause it.

His whole point is that if we eat food we should eat mostly plants and not too much. He cites the French, the Italians, the Japanese and how their diets are completely different from each other but they're still healthier than us.

I read that last year. I actually felt compelled to write a review of it on Amazon:

QUOTE
I have some mixed feelings about this book. The first section, "The Age of Nutritionism", is very strong and contains a fairly detailed history and critique of nutritional advice, in particular how it has developed since World War II. Even in my short lifetime, I have noticed the demonization of fat give way to the current demonization of carbs, not to mention near-daily nutritional analysis updates on omega-3s, antioxidants, trans fats, etc. -- all of which I found a bit suspect. So I found this section of the book quite interesting, learning some of the history behind these nutritional fads I'd already observed.

The second and third sections of the book were also fairly good, though I have reservations about some of his advice. After lambasting nutritional scientists for "reductionist science", i.e. concentrating on the positive and deleterious effects of individual nutrients on health rather than the effects of whole foods, he goes off on a tangent lamenting the lack of omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet. He is acutely aware of this gaffe, as he briefly addresses it and others in the intro to the last third of the book, but gives little explanation as to why he concentrates on a single class of nutrients like this, after complaining about the same kind of thinking! Granted, the prevalence of fish in all (or nearly all) primitive diets lends credence to the assumption that various nutrients in fish are beneficial to the human diet, but it seems a bit absurd to concentrate just on omega-3s rather than the whole fish.

That would be my only major complaint about the book, though I do have a few minor nit-picks here and there as well. Overall, though, I think the dietary advice herein is both sound and simple. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat. Get involved with a shorter food chain (e.g. farmer's markets or CSA) when you can, and be cautious about your consumption of overly processed foods, though I would add that the occasional indulgence is probably not all that detrimental to your health.


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QUOTE (pebkac @ Oct 14 2006, 03:15 PM) *
You and your logic.

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http://xkcd.com/386/
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Spectatrix
post Jun 2 2009, 10:07 AM
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Currently reading "The Atheist's Way". It's decent, though not quite what I expected when I picked it up. It's fairly generic motivational writing, trussed up in godlessness. While I'm not getting a whole heck of a lot out of it, I'm probably going to lend it to a friend of mine who is frequently in the thrall of some new life/faith crisis. I don't expect her to convert to atheism or anything, but she might get some grounding out of it.


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QUOTE (pebkac @ Oct 14 2006, 03:15 PM) *
You and your logic.

QUOTE (Foamy)

http://xkcd.com/386/
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impala454
post Jun 2 2009, 10:27 AM
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Nice review Christine... Good to see people writing meaningful reviews rather than the regular one liners... "Good book" "Highly recommend", etc. I need to start reading again... got tons of books collecting dust I always meant to read.
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Hartmann
post Jun 2 2009, 01:54 PM
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QUOTE (Spectatrix @ Jun 2 2009, 10:59 AM) *
I read that last year. I actually felt compelled to write a review of it on Amazon:


Great review!

I think his ideas are great in theory but not completely practical across all fronts.

The idea that balancing a diet and eating smaller portions does wonders for the body sits well with me. His bringing up of the omega-3s did strike me as odd at first, but his logic for us needing them makes sense.

The advice the book gives is easy to implement, but we already eat that way, so I think we'll focus more on the buying local part. My wife finished it last night and liked it. We both agree that this whole idea that some "miracle" cure for life's ills are hilarious, this book really pointed them out.


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Spectatrix
post Jun 2 2009, 02:00 PM
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I think most nutritional fads are unintentionally hilarious, so I enjoyed it for that. I already tend to eat fresh fruit/veggies/meat over hyper-processed stuff, so this book didn't really change my eating habits. Have you read The Omnivore's Dilemma? It's his other major book, but I haven't grabbed it.


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QUOTE (pebkac @ Oct 14 2006, 03:15 PM) *
You and your logic.

QUOTE (Foamy)

http://xkcd.com/386/
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impala454
post Jun 2 2009, 02:36 PM
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I don't really understand the perceived benefits of a non-processed vs processed food food, other than maybe the taste. If you take two foods that are nutritionally identical, but one has been "processed" and maybe has a few extra preservatives or something, I don't see how you'd digest it any differently. I recall reading several years ago (and even now) about how nitrates/nitrites/etc in processed meat were seen as some terrible thing and causes of all these problems, but when you research it yourself it's hard to find anything that gives a definitive answer. Certainly no hard evidence to support the claim. Same with every other food fad out there... like how in the 90s eggs were the devil, heart killing, cholesterol monster. Now they're seen more as a health food. Pretty dumb if you ask me. Eating a well rounded diet is a no brainer. You don't need a book to tell you that.
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Spectatrix
post Jun 2 2009, 03:56 PM
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I think the main downside to processed foods is all the extra sugar & salt that's typically added. Plus there's usually nutrient loss from high heat cooking/canning and sitting on a shelf for weeks/months. It's certainly not as simple as processed = bad, unprocessed = good, but I think you have to pay a lot of attention to the nutritional labels on packaged food.


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QUOTE (pebkac @ Oct 14 2006, 03:15 PM) *
You and your logic.

QUOTE (Foamy)

http://xkcd.com/386/
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impala454
post Jun 2 2009, 04:42 PM
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Eh I don't see how sitting on a shelf in a can or freezer subtracts from nutrition. And you also can lose quite a bit of nutrition from fresh foods at home via cooking, depending on how you prepare it. Sugar & salt added may or may not be significant, as you said, just read the labels. I.e. if I go buy some chunked chicken canned with water, and compare it against an equal amount of chicken that I just sliced off of a bird that was alive 10 minutes ago, is there any real nutritional difference? Of course there is a taste difference, as well as a convenience difference.
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Spectatrix
post Jun 2 2009, 06:05 PM
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Like I said, the main "danger" of processed foods is added salt, sugar, and possibly inflated calories. Sometimes "processed" doesn't make a lick of difference, e.g. canned or frozen veggies vs. fresh (well, canned usually has a ton of salt). Sometimes it's downright scary, like bread that has dozens (hundreds?) of ingredients.


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QUOTE (pebkac @ Oct 14 2006, 03:15 PM) *
You and your logic.

QUOTE (Foamy)

http://xkcd.com/386/
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impala454
post Jun 2 2009, 11:11 PM
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Well like I said, you look at at the label. It just seems silly to say "oooh thats in a can or a box or freezer, I can't buy that because it might have more salt".

Do you ever look up those ingredients and find out what they are? Or just go "ewww I can't pronounce that word so this bread must be evil I'll go buy the 3x more expensive bread because it says "organic""? I've found that a lot of times if it has a few of those, if you look it up it's really harmless stuff that they just don't have a friendly name for.

Don't get me wrong, I love to cook and I love to use fresh foods to cook with, but I just don't buy into all this new hype about some pack of lunch meat or a can of beans being "dangerous". There's a difference between not liking the taste and thinking there's a major nutritional difference.
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Hartmann
post Jun 3 2009, 06:39 AM
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QUOTE (Spectatrix @ Jun 2 2009, 04:56 PM) *
I think the main downside to processed foods is all the extra sugar & salt that's typically added. Plus there's usually nutrient loss from high heat cooking/canning and sitting on a shelf for weeks/months. It's certainly not as simple as processed = bad, unprocessed = good, but I think you have to pay a lot of attention to the nutritional labels on packaged food.


That's pretty much my thought.

I saw a commercial last night for a white spaghetti pasta with "Added Vitamins and Nutrients" specifically marketed to moms who wanted their kids to be healthy. Sorry, that doesn't jive with me. White flour turns to sugar in the body, and rather than feeding the kid some vegetables, the mom buys noodles that claim to have vitamins. rolleyes.gif

I am not advocating going out and buying all organic, I don't buy a lot of it myself. The best advice in the book is to shop the outside of stores rather than the interior aisles. The good stuff is on the outside and most of the "bad" stuff is in the interior. I dunno, it just makes sense to me to eat more vegetables and fruits. A lot people don't like the taste of that stuff because they're used to the sugar we get from breads.

And no, Spectatrix, I have not read his other book, though I will probably pick it up.


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Hartmann
post Jun 3 2009, 06:50 AM
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QUOTE (impala454 @ Jun 3 2009, 12:11 AM) *
Well like I said, you look at at the label. It just seems silly to say "oooh thats in a can or a box or freezer, I can't buy that because it might have more salt".

Do you ever look up those ingredients and find out what they are? Or just go "ewww I can't pronounce that word so this bread must be evil I'll go buy the 3x more expensive bread because it says "organic""? I've found that a lot of times if it has a few of those, if you look it up it's really harmless stuff that they just don't have a friendly name for.

Don't get me wrong, I love to cook and I love to use fresh foods to cook with, but I just don't buy into all this new hype about some pack of lunch meat or a can of beans being "dangerous". There's a difference between not liking the taste and thinking there's a major nutritional difference.


I don't think we can get away from canned goods and boxed meals, but there is a nutrional difference. To make a food have a shelf-life, things are pulled out, things that make the food spoil. Oddly enough, those things are usually good for you. To compensate for that, the manufacturers use a chemical equivalent. However, like the guy in the book said, we really don't understand how those chemicals react compared to the original compounds that were taken out.

The example given is beta-carotene. They pull it out of a lot of things and then sell beta-carotene tablets. We know that beta-carotene in carrots is good for us, but in the tablet form, it's been linked to cancer. Why? Well, this guy's theory is that the beta-carotene reacts with something in the carrot, making it beneficial to our bodies.

But again, we can't get away from canned things, especially living in hurricane alley.


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impala454
post Jun 3 2009, 08:00 AM
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So explain to me exactly how a can of carrots with no salt added is different nutritionally than some fresh carrots you brought home and boiled yourself. How exactly do they "remove a compound" from the carrot? Your example is that beta-carotene tablets are bad for you... that's completely irrelevant even if it is true. We're not talking about taking OTC vitamin tablets, we're talking about whether a canned food is "dangerous" or less nutritious than something you're cooking at home.

The only thing I'm getting from you guys is "there's added salt/sugar" or "they add stuff/take away stuff". Give me an example of what you're talking about. You can buy canned/frozen/processed foods which have no salt/sugar added. Not to mention most people tend to add some salt during the cooking process anyways.

It seems to me yall are blaming the process and/or weird chemical names for nutritional differences, even though the nutrition as stated on the label may be identical to the fresh food. Hard to compare, yes, given that fresh foods tend to not have nutrition labels. But if you're going to claim that they're dangerous or different nutriontally in some way, you need to make the direct comparison. To me, the difference is not as obvious as it seems to yall.

edit: and sorry for derailing the thread... prob should split this off
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Hartmann
post Jun 3 2009, 08:19 AM
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QUOTE (impala454 @ Jun 3 2009, 09:00 AM) *
So explain to me exactly how a can of carrots with no salt added is different nutritionally than some fresh carrots you brought home and boiled yourself. How exactly do they "remove a compound" from the carrot? Your example is that beta-carotene tablets are bad for you... that's completely irrelevant even if it is true. We're not talking about taking OTC vitamin tablets, we're talking about whether a canned food is "dangerous" or less nutritious than something you're cooking at home.

The only thing I'm getting from you guys is "there's added salt/sugar" or "they add stuff/take away stuff". Give me an example of what you're talking about. You can buy canned/frozen/processed foods which have no salt/sugar added. Not to mention most people tend to add some salt during the cooking process anyways.

It seems to me yall are blaming the process and/or weird chemical names for nutritional differences, even though the nutrition as stated on the label may be identical to the fresh food. Hard to compare, yes, given that fresh foods tend to not have nutrition labels. But if you're going to claim that they're dangerous or different nutriontally in some way, you need to make the direct comparison. To me, the difference is not as obvious as it seems to yall.

edit: and sorry for derailing the thread... prob should split this off


Home canning is great and we do it all the time, the thing is, I haven't been able to find many canned goods that do not have salt and or some sort of fructose. Fructose isn't always spelled out as "fructose" on the label, it can be in the oil they use to preserve the food, technically, the oil's contents do not have to be on the label, just that the oil is used.

I am not saying canned goods are "dangerous", I am saying they are not as good for you as fresh fruits and vegetables, I'm not sure there is any way to argue around that. Canned goods by definition have enzymes and molds (not all mold is bad) removed from them. By removing those things, some vitamin content is usually lost. Even if I do it at home, there is a loss of vitamin content, this is why they tell people that fresh is better than cooked, because cooking changes the chemical makeup of the food.

To compare the nutritional value of canned goods vs. fresh goods is molecular and is something the guy does in the book, you can borrow my copy if you'd like. I'm not a scientist or a nutritionist, I just know from our experience that eating fresh foods has had a positive effect on different aspects of our lives (energy, weight, etc.).

Also, salt isn't necessarily the bad guy, it's actually a necessity, but it's the idea that everything needs salt that is wrong. Adding salt to something adds or brings out flavors, but using it in canning is part of the process. If your diet is canned goods and meat, then you're eating a lot more salt than you should.

My point with the carrots was that we are now selling supplements to make up for our lack of eating healthy foods, yet the supplement has a different chemical composition than the food and may not have the same benefits. It's a dangerous thing to start telling people that OTC supplements are just as good as eating well. What's the point of eating well at all then?



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