One of my favorite champions of natural fats in our diet, Nina Teicholz, author of one of my favorite books “The Big Fat Surprise,” has offered us her opinion of the new dietary guidelines from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This committee convenes every five years to offer some ‘scientific’ advise on what the nation, as a whole, should be eating. This year’s guidance is notable for it’s dropping of guidance for dietary cholesterol and it’s prescription that we eat less meat because of global warming. I am paraphrasing that last bit, but the guidance makes a pass at how much land and farming is done to feed our food animals, which can only be a problem if you are worried about greenhouse gasses from farming and farm animals.
The government has backtracked on the advice to quit eating cholesterol and fats. Long ago, the crusade against these innocent ingredients was begun with the best of intentions. It seemed as if all of the middle aged white men in the country were keeling over right and left from heart attack. A quick look at other countries showed that some countries seemed to not have this problem. A hasty look at the differences showed that these peoples might not eat as much fat as we do here in the US. Once the authorities had a suspect they ignored and silenced any voice that implicated any other suspect. If it sounds like I am describing an over-zealous prosecutor who ‘just knows’ that his suspect committed the crime, it is because that is exactly how it came to pass. The media jumped on board and the railroading of fat and cholesterol was complete.
Finally, cholesterol has had it’s day in court. Clinical trials have long proven that ‘cholesterol’ is a term too big to use in a meaningful way in dietary advice. They have known since the beginning that eating cholesterol didn’t lead to cholesterol in your blood. However, this evidence was disregarded so as not to confuse the message about not eating natural dietary fats. Now cholesterol is no longer considered an accomplice, the poor, innocent saturated fats are now on the hook all alone.
Except they aren’t. Like I said, evidence has been pouring in that exonerates dietary fats from any relationship to weight gain or heart disease. Earlier this year Time magazine ran a lengthy story about the faulty science used to convict lard and butter. No, now dietary fats and meats are warned against because of their role in global warming. Amazing. Cattle that graze on the wide open prairies of the US do not contribute to global warming. Pigs that follow along behind the cattle and eat the bugs and leftover bits found in the pastures and woodlands of America do not lead to climate change. Confinement hogs and feed lot cattle do, though. They are fed corn and soy–because these foods are artificially cheap owing to USDA subsidies that make sure a farmer makes enough money to plant them even if the price drops to zero dollars and zero cents per bushel. Entire US states are covered in blankets of subsidized grains, whose only purpose is to feed to confinement cows, hogs, and chickens. This does lead to excess CO2 emissions. Our poor government is powerless to fight big food on his home turf, though, so they move the fight to our dinner table and the lunch table at the kids’ schools. Eat less meat and fat because of sustainability.
Now the real murderer stands alone, all of the real evidence pointing to guilty carbohydrate. Right now the Committee says cut back on sugar. America shrink your sugar consumption from your current thirty teaspoons of sugar a day to ten. Now they are just blaming sugar for poor health outcomes–it is an easy target. However, carbohydrate, of which sugar is just the red-headed step child of the larger family, stands in the shadows with frosting on its lips. Carbohydrate is the true criminal, and the evidence for this is insurmountable. It’s only defense for the next five years will be to produce lots of confusing ‘reports’ that will implicate other possible suspects. Eventually carbohydrates, like cigarettes before will be convicted by the preponderance of the evidence.
Eat no corporate meat. Eat no processed food. Eat no sweetened foods or drinks. Take the fight to the marketplace, if that is the only voice you are given.
Since the very first nutritional guidelines to restrict saturated fat and cholesterol were released by the American Heart Association in 1961, Americans have been the subjects of a vast, uncontrolled diet experiment with disastrous consequences. We have to start looking more skeptically at epidemiological studies and rethinking nutrition policy from the ground up.
Until then, we would be wise to return to what worked better for previous generations: a diet that included fewer grains, less sugar and more animal foods like meat, full-fat dairy and eggs. That would be a decent start.
My friends, the experiment continues. The prosecutor who started this case is long since passed away. We are living now in a world where the motives for keeping the prisoners locked up have become much more mercenary. Big money is riding on the poor pathetic beef and pigs in lockup. Quit eating them, take the money away, and they will all be freed. If we only eat real meat then there will be no sense in running feedlots. We won’t have to worry about antibiotics, or growth hormones, or humane conditions. It would all stop, and we can eat real food and not worry about damaging the planet or our selves.