Food… an Equation or a Celebration?

There is what some may refer to as a scarcity of food tradition in this country.  It initially sounds like somewhat of a paradox, especially with the metaphor of the melting pot and the United States, because this comparison implies that a variety of foods and subsequent culinary customs were brought to America.  However, as time went on, it seems as though these food traditions were weakened and watered-down.  As a result of this, government subsidies, major food corporations, federal nutritional guidelines, the processed food industry, and many other associations and organizations have become the masterminds that instruct us, both consciously and unconsciously to eat the food that we eat.  In this sense, food has become an equation, rather than a celebration.  But what happens when this equation doesn’t quite add up?  What happens if… it’s wrong?

Take whole milk for instance.  It has been admonished for decades by the public and private sectors alike for its saturated fat content.  Due to the purported fact that these saturated fats raise bad cholesterol levels inside of the body, the general public was advised to avoid whole milk.  Unfortunately, this recommendation lost sight of the fact that saturated fats have the capacity to raise good cholesterol levels inside of the body, which in turn shields the body from the acquisition of heart disease.  Moreover, it has been proven time and time again that when an individual eliminates saturated fats from their diets, they start increasing their consumption of carbohydrates in order to account for the absence of these fats.  And really when the word carbohydrates is tossed around it actually means processed foods.  Therefore, studies have demonstrated that those who consume skim milk and low-fat milk have a greater chance of acquiring heart disease than their whole milk consuming counterparts (Achenbach).

Below is an excerpt from The Washington Post which asks Michael Pollan to weigh in on the evidence linking the consumption of whole milk to a decreased risk of heart disease.  Here is what Michael Pollan had to say on the matter (Achenbach):

“I’ve long felt that skim milk was silly. Think about what it means to remove fat from milk: you end up with a more sugary beverage, since the amount of lactose per ounce rises. And we’re learning that sugar is probably a more serious nutritional problem than fat. Then think about what happens to the fat that was removed from all that skim milk.  It is turned into cheese and sold back to us as pizza. As we consumed less butterfat in milk, we consume more of it as cheese, so in addition to fooling ourselves in thinking we were cutting down on fat, in the end we paid twice for the same fat! It’s a bit like refined white flour. So I’ve been drinking whole milk for a long time and, if you haven’t tasted it in a few decades, it is delicious. You also drink less of it since it is more filling. Last point to consider: some kinds of skim milk add powdered milk to improve the body of that watery, tasteless swill, and whatever you think of milk powder — some people think it’s not good for you — you’re ending up with a processed food, rather than the sort of simple food your grandmother would recognize.”

Circling back to the beginning of this post, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on whether food has become an equation or has remained a celebration?  On a less subjective note, is anybody surprised by the findings concerning whole milk and heart disease?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Achenbach, Joel. “Whole milk is okay.  Butter and eggs too.  What’s next – bacon?” The Washington Post. Oct. 2015: The Washington Post. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/rweb/politics/whole-milk-is-okay-butter-and-eggs-too-whats-next–bacon/2015/10/07/ee418a19cc827ce5e6775e6bdb1b2514_story.html>

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