New York Times health columnist Jane Brody is upset. Like most advocates for public health, she can’t understand why Americans don’t eat their vegetables. The advantages are so great and so obvious, why won’t the population bend to the media barrage and do the right thing?
Simple – because they are strongly conditioned not to.
The Sugar Society
Americans are now consuming around 135 pounds of sugar each year. About 16% of our food calories now come from ADDED sugar, like what comes from high fructose corn syrup, the government subsidized stuff that in nearly every processed food.
People are now conditioned to sugar in virtually all their foods.
I see it all the time in restaurants. Sixty percent of the human brain is fat. Eating fish fat changes the character of your brain plus a lot else. Eating fish when pregnant can increase IQ in children, while frequent consumption can improve brain function in adults along with decreased vascular disease, itself a large component in our national dementia epidemic.
What do I taste when I eat fish in a restaurant? Sugar. It can be an Italian, a Japanese, a Vietnamese restaurant, but the taste of sugar is there – in the fish.
As it is everywhere else. Looking at jars of traditional herring in wine sauce, high fructose corn syrup is a major ingredient. Sugar is cheap, government subsidized, and behaviorally conditioned. Our fast food culture has made much of our youth expect a sugary taste as part of almost everything they eat. Kids have even been conditioned to artificial tastes as the “real” taste – as in artificial lemon, for example. Fat and salt certainly also matter when defining what “tastes good.” Yet sugar is now part of virtually every restaurant or processed food you can name.
We’re hooked. No wonder people don’t want their vegetables. They’re not sweet enough.
What To Do
Brody asks in a mini-call to arms what others can suggest to get people to eat vegetables. Not only can eating vegetables help save the public health, but also preserve the environment. The monoculture of American and Brazilian agriculture, with huge farms growing the same plant, treats topsoil the way we regard coal deposits – something to strip mine. Replacing that resource is everybody’s problem.
How to Get People to Eat Vegetables
Here are a few potential answers:
1. Get Bill Clinton to talk about his diet. Clinton has lost 24 pounds by not eating meat or dairy. Major heart disease has changed the formerly doughnut loving president, and we can witness how energized he is by that change.
2. Get kids to eat real food, and start real food challenges in the media and schools. Michael Pollan has made it very clear Americans are eating industrial products more often than they eat food. Kids need to be taught the difference between food and industrial productsbefore television advertising hopelessly habituates them to sugar.
3. Get people to recognize eating vegetables as one of the quickest ways to weight loss. Weight has a lot to do with activity and rest, plus body clocks and social factors, but eating more vegetables is a great place to start for our overweight, obese nation.
4. Stop subsidizing sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Placating industrial farmers while breaking the bank on already impossible future health care costs is a crazy way to go – we don’t need to subsidize American obesity and diabetes and the millions of miserable lives and deaths they cause.
5. Let people realize that food is information. That’s what the body does – process information. Sugar gives your body very specific information about how our body rebuilds, beyond habituating us to desire it. We need glucose, we just don’t need a constant barrage of it in virtually everything we like to eat.
My grandmother was right. I should have eaten my vegetables. That’s what all of us should be doing, each day.
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