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Has anyone here seen Food Inc? I saw it a few months ago and can't stop thinking about it. I don't mean from an obsession stand point, I mean from an awareness standpoint. For instance, when I stop in at my favourite lunch eatery I can't help but wonder where those beautiful white strips of chicken breast meat came from. Same thing for buying chili in a hurry. Tastes great, but did the beef come from a feed lot? I'm suspecting it did, given what I heard in the documentary. I actually found the whole thing to be very sad and disturbing. Force-feeding chickens so their breasts grow disproportionately fat? Feeding cattle with CORN? Unsanitary feed lots? E-coli and mad cow disease, anyone?

I've definitely tried to shift my food buying habits. Recently for instance I obtained some fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, corn on cob, raspberries and freshly-made home made strawberry and rhubarb jam. DIRECT from the grower. I was able to enjoy some delicious meals with this fresh food. Same thing with honey. Last year (I think I've already mentioned this earlier) I bought a 4L pail of fresh honey from a rural apiary I've known for years. For some reason I just can't do the storebought thing for honey anymore, now that I've had the real deal. There are other examples.

So, those of you who have seen Food Inc, has it affected your decisions?
 

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I saw Food Inc a few months ago. An interesting and well made documentary for sure. I would recommend it to everyone! (But please remember to take it with a grain of salt, like virtually all documentaries, it shows only one extremely-biased side of the story!).

Has it changed my eating? Not a single bit. The fact is, our food is produced the way it is, because we as consumers want an endless supply of high protein food, and we want it cheap. It simply would not be possible to stock our supermarkets the way they are today without high efficiency modern farming practices.

The only documentary I can think of that may affect my eating habits over the long term is "End of the Line". But then, I live in Manitoba so salt-water fish doesn't exactly make up a huge part of my diet.
 

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The fact is, our food is produced the way it is, because we as consumers want an endless supply of high protein food, and we want it cheap.
This is part of what needs to change. We only actually need about 8 grams of protein each day per 20 pounds of body weight, or roughly 50 grams per day for an average woman and 65 grams per day for an average man. A six-ounce serving of roast chicken has 42.5 grams of protein; add a cup of yogurt some other time of the day and you've got 55 grams total. It's actually pretty easy to get enough protein from non-meat sources. A half-cup of split peas actually gives you more protein than you get from an egg (8 grams versus 6).

As a guide to changing your eating habits, you might want to read Mark Bittman's book "Food Matters." He switched from being a heavy (literally!) carnivore to someone who only eats meat (including fish or chicken) after 6pm. He lost weight, brought his cholesterol under control, and feels a lot better in general.

But there are no easy answers -- to feed a huge population you need some degree of industrial agriculture, and many people argue that you also need genetically modified crops in order to continue increasing the amount of yield per acre. Small-scale farm-to-customer works well now for the limited population that uses it (I count myself in that group), but I don't know if it can scale up to cover the entire population.
 

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Part of the problem lies in the fact that industrial agriculture generates a great deal of negative externalities, such as nutrient runoff, groundwater contamination, overconsumption of water, soil degradation, methane production, etc. If these costs to the environment were built into the cost structure of industrial agriculture, I think we'd see a vast improvement in how it is managed and a drastic reduction in ecological impact. Industrial farming isn't evil--but like any tool needs to be used responsibly. If anything organic farming has other problems of similar magnitude such as low yields (requiring larger tracts of land to grow the same food), use of toxic 'natural' pesticides and the same nutrient runoff problems as well as potential for food contamination with improperly sterilized manure.

Food Inc was certainly entertaining, but a balanced, pragmatic vision of the agriculture industry it is not. It makes many great points about the insanity of subsidizing agriculture though. It leads to extremely perverse incentives.
 

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CBC's The Passionate Eye featured this documentary a few months back. I looked for it online but the video can only be viewed for 30 days after the show. Hopefully, they'll feature it again sometime.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the interesting comments and feedback thus far!

For anyone interested in viewing this again...Oprah had an episode that mentioned this DVD as a must-see (which I agree with) and said (at the time) that amazon users could get it for a limited-time bargain (I believe $10)...but the DVD is out and I saw some for sale yesterday (amazon I believe)...easiest and cheapest in many cases to just buy the DVD and watch whenever you want without commercial interruptions, waiting for it come back on TV etc. But yes I too saw it for the first time on TV...must have been Passionate Eye, Doc Zone or some such thing. They feature some rather interesting shows, Fifth Estate also.
 

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Food Inc. is available in most city/town libraries.
Please check your local library catalog.

The information presented in Food Inc. is nothing new - this process has been underway for several decades now.
I have been a member of the Weston A. Price foundation for many years and almost all of this information is well known to us.
If anyone is interested, please check out:
http://www.westonaprice.org/
 

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Look, for the 2 million years plus of mankind's history, he ate critters.. He is a carnivore. Full stop. The worst thing that happened to man, aside from inventing gunpowder, was discovering agriculture. Our current medical predicament, obesity, diabetes, CVD.... can be laid at the feet of carbohydrate consumption. Fat, especially saturated fat is fine, carbs kill. Sad but true.

Lose the sugar and grain, folks.
 

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Look, for the 2 million years plus of mankind's history, he ate critters.. He is a carnivore. Full stop..
Hahah, that's a convenient fantasy, but having shared a house for a few years with two distinguished anthropologists at Harvard who studied prehistoric diets (based on analysis of bone collagen), I can say with confidence that it's not true: the evidence suggests that people have always been opportunistic omnivores who ate both meat and plants.

You could also ask why, if pre-agricultural diets were so healthy, prehistoric peoples' life expectancies were so much lower than life expectancies today. Advances in medicine account for most of it of course, but diet could also play a role. And you could look at the study of "Blue Zones," regions of the world where a larger than average share of the population live active lives past the age 100: it turns out these areas share the trait of having a largely plant-based diet and eating smaller portions than is common in North America (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Zone).

There's a lot of evidence that low-carbohydrate/high protein diets are a very effective short-term strategy for weight loss, but there's no clear consensus among scientists whether following such a diet all your life is healthy. Personally I think a balanced diet (including complex carbohydrates) with smaller portions is probably the safest bet over the long term.
 

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there are lots of other arguments to back up brad's point. Look at our simian ancestors. They're plant eaters.

speaking of simians, controversy rages over the origins & efficiency of large molar teeth in humans. These evolved, or rather humans with them survived in evolution, because chewing grains in the mouth is necessary (enzyme production) for digestion. One has to imagine that this was at a time prior to fire & prior to the grinding & baking of grains, a time when raw grains would have been as hard to chew as seeds.

meat, on the other hand, gets entirely digested by enzymes & acids in the stomach & small intestine. In other words, meat doesn't really need prolonged mastication in the mouth in order for the human to obtain nutritional benefits.

so one can argue that the presence of large molar teeth, together with small canine & incisor teeth, points to prehistoric grain-eating ancestors. These same small canine & incisor teeth - so unlike predator animals such as lions & wolves - also suggest a prehistory that was not dependent on meat.

" ooh grandmother what big teeth you have ...
" all the better to eat you with my dear."
 

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there are lots of other arguments to back up brad's point. Look at our simian ancestors. They're plant eaters.
I think our closest ape relatives do eat some meat, but way less than we do. There's an interesting scientific paper on this topic here:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0001504

And another one here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=Search&doptcmdl=Citation&defaultField=Title Word&term=Andrews[author] AND Hominoid dietary evolution.

And this one suggests that adding animal-source foods to our diet played a critical role in the evolution of humans:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=Search&doptcmdl=Citation&defaultField=Title Word&term=Milton[author] AND The critical role played by animal source foods in human (Homo) evolution.
 

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Bringing it closer to home, when we went on our 'lo-fat' dietary obsession in the 70s-80s, we had to substitute something for the fat we eliminated. You guessed it, we replaced those fat calories with carbs. Guess what has skyrocketed almost in lock step with the lo-fat craze?.... rates of obesity and diabetes. All because someone decided -wrongly- that fat was associated with heart disease.
 

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Bringing it closer to home, when we went on our 'lo-fat' dietary obsession in the 70s-80s, we had to substitute something for the fat we eliminated. You guessed it, we replaced those fat calories with carbs. Guess what has skyrocketed almost in lock step with the lo-fat craze?.... rates of obesity and diabetes. All because someone decided -wrongly- that fat was associated with heart disease.
There is some truth to that but it's not the whole story. "Reduce fat" was indeed the wrong message to send, because it caused people to reduce their intake of ALL fats, including healthy unsaturated fats, plus as you point out it also caused them to replace fats with carbohydrates. Not good.

We need healthy fats in our diet - they improve "good" cholesterol, strengthen the heart, and prevent athersclerosis. In contrast, saturated fats have been shown pretty conclusively to increase LDL cholesterol and contribute to atherosclerosis. You don't need to eliminate saturated fats, but it would certainly be a stretch to call them "healthy," as that flies in the face of sound science based on decades of findings from large, long-term population studies.

A classical Mediterranean diet gets 35 percent of its calories from fat. Controlled studies have shown that following a Mediterranean diet (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil, not a lot of meat) is more effective for long-term sustainable weight loss than a standard low-fat diet (low fat/high carb), plus it leads to many health improvements over a low-fat diet.

You'll lose weight a lot faster with a high-protein/low carb diet, but once you lose the weight you have to maintain your weight loss going forward, and the jury's still out on whether a high-protein/low carb diet can be healthy and nutritious over the course of an entire lifetime.
 

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For those of you who miss the joy of chowing down on a juicy rib-eye.....
"Data from almost 350,000 subjects obtained from 21 studies indicated that dietary intakes of saturated fat are not associated with increases in the risk of either coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD), US researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "

“Our meta-analysis showed that there is insufficient evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies to conclude that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr Ronald Krauss from the Childrens Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California."
That is a particularly large meta-analysis from what little I know about these things.
 

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For those of you who miss the joy of chowing down on a juicy rib-eye.....
I've never missed that joy as I typically chow down on a juicy rib-eye four or five times a year, topped with a blue-cheese sauce, no less! ;)

The same authors came out with another study this year, available here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20089734

They confirm that replacing saturated fats with refined carbohydrates increases health risk (heart disease and diabetes), although they also confirm that "substitution of dietary polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat has been shown to lower [cardiovascular disease] risk."

If you look at their meta-analysis, they suggest that benefits of reducing saturated fat intake might have been masked or counterbalanced by the health risk of increasing intake of refined carbohydrates in their place. They conclude that "More data are needed to elucidate whether [cardiovascular disease] risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat."

Here's a summary of the findings in a non-technical form by CNN; they interviewed the researchers:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/24/moh.heartmag.saturated.fat/index.html
 

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That pub says...
Replacement of saturated fat by polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat lowers both LDL and HDL cholesterol.
I thought HDL was good and LDL was bad. I don't understand why lowering HDL and LDL would be a good thing.
 

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i'm wondering whether this discussion, which has sloped off into what are essentially takes on both sides of the old atkins diet, is appropriate for a financial forum.

atkins is dead as a doornail. I mean, the guy himself dropped dead of disease, and today you won't find a university-trained nutritionist anywhere in canada who espouses the hi-protein atkins-type diet, which in the end is hard on kidneys & can cause calcium depletion.

there are whole libraries, journals & medical researchers stuffed full of knowledge about the latest in nutrition. There's an incredible amount to learn here, especially now that increasing numbers of citizens understand that the chemical play doh that passes for food inside plasticized containers for sale in supermarkets is bad for their health.

i think it's wonderful to see farmers' markets all over canada becoming lively social centers on weekends, sometimes even with folk music. It's wonderful to read posters here like the royal mail describing how he buys honey directly from a beekeeper. It's wonderful to see newspapers bursting with up-to-date articles by expert dieticians. It's wonderful to see that the good old food we find in the country, that we remember from childhood or from children's illustrated books - bright-coloured & dark green vegetables, bright fruits & wild berries - it's wonderful to see that all this is turning out to be what's good for us. And it's wonderful to see brad serving up ultra-healthy from-scratch gourmet recipes early every monday morning.
 

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Read Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories" HP, and report back. Atkins died as a result of a fall... irrespective of what the PCRM, PETA, Vegan etc... lobbies would have you believe. Low carb dieting is definitely not dead.
 

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For those of you who miss the joy of chowing down on a juicy rib-eye.....


That is a particularly large meta-analysis from what little I know about these things.
There are an awful lot of potential biases in meta-analyses. It's hard to draw firm conclusions from just one, especially when it contradicts the bulk of research, as Brad pointed out. The authors of that study did not call for a change in dietary recommendations.

Well-done, prospective studies show the value of reducing LDL for both primary and secondary prevention.
 

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atkins' death is cloaked in mystery. There are vested interests battling. Not going to go there.

death certificate is signed off that patient had history of myocardial infarction (heart attack), congestive heart failure, and hypertension (written "h/o MI, CHF, HTN").

healthy normals don't drop dead from a fall on pavement, not even when they're 72. At the time of his accident atkins was admitted to hospital weighing 195 lbs. Following death a few days later he weighed 258 lbs. Falls don't cause water retention like that. Obviously certain systemic failures involving kidneys, blood pressure, and heart condition & stabilization, occurred during his brief hospital stay. The signing MD cited epidural hematoma as cause of death but signalled chronic history of cardiovascular disease as above.

http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=lowcarbdiets&cdn=health&tm=117&gps=42_1305_1259_631&f=00&su=p284.9.336.ip_p674.8.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/atkinsmed4.html

it's one of those classic situations that are rorschach tests. Anybody can make of them what they will. Consequently people can and do embroider onto the test blot any fantasy they choose.

quite apart from the late doctor's lamentable demise, there's plenty of contemporary literature showing how an ultra-hi-protein diet, although it stimulates weight loss in the short term, can harm kidney function & trigger calcium depletion over time.
 
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