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The End of Food: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Food Supply--And What You Can Do about It by Thomas F. This book is based on hard scientific research, most of which has been conducted outside of the United States, where food production lobbies have fought hard against this kind of research. I would say the first 120 pages are a must-read for anyone interested in what's really going on with our food supply. The first sight to greet you is nicely familiar… the entryway sign remains the same, so as to make the transition from the hallway seamless. But in no time you start to notice that things have indeed changed, thanks in part to this sleek “Now Serving” marquee immediately to your left at the entrance. Even though they match the characters as they appear in more recent Disney shorts, I couldn’t help but think of the early days of Goofy in the “How to…” series. Well, it IS a whole Food Court with much to share, so we’ll be taking some more time to show you some more details and a review soon :). Of course, Food Court faves have made it back to the menu: pizza and pasta, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets. Clearly, there is an entirely new vibe for guests to enjoy at the End Zone, and it’s exceeded expectations. James — That’s the first thing my husband looks for in person, but for you to spy it on a picture is awesome! Does the End Zone Food Court still offer pastries, cupcakes and breads on one of its stalls? I think the new look is awsome all but the floor part no carpeting will make it slick and easy to fall when drinks and food are spilled.
Does anyone know if there are still toasters available for usage now that the remodel has happened?
Located in Disney’s All-Star Sports, End Zone offers a selection of various foods to suit everyone dining needs.
Tags2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Animal Kingdom Lodge cupcakes dessert Disney dining discounts Disney food recipe Disney recipe Downtown Disney drink menu Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Epcot Food and Wine Festival Free Disney Dining Plan healthy dining Jiko - The Cooking Place kids menus Le Cellier new menu quick service Swan and Dolphin Resort World ShowcaseSupport Us! There’s great debate in the meditation arena about how much time you should spend doing it. The state you’re looking for certainly is an immediate calm, but also a very regulated, stress proof brain throughout the day. When I sit down and take it past 15 minutes, moving into 20, and even 25 +, I achieve a much deeper, much more integrative, much more protective for the rest of the day kind of state. The Dalai Lama has been rumored to offer a lot of money to anyone in science that can help him replicate the gamma state, which is a state of high brain integration where cognitive performance is significantly powerful, in less than 4 hours (the time it takes him to get there). The longer I go in, the crazier and more powerful the state is, and the subsequent effects.
The mechanism at work here is simply the more complex integration, calming, cognitive control, and deep state regeneration as a result of more time in. About the author Ryan Ballow is a combat vet turned entrepreneur, Founder of iMobileRescue Inc, Surrogate Labs, and Cortex the Nootropic. Late last year, in a small health-food eatery called Cafe Sprouts in Oberlin, Ohio, I had what may well have been the most wholesome beverage of my life. I finally hit the sweet spot just a few weeks later, in Chicago, with a delicious blueberry-pomegranate smoothie that rang in at a relatively modest 220 calories. An enormous amount of media space has been dedicated to promoting the notion that all processed food, and only processed food, is making us sickly and overweight. A new generation of business, social, and policy entrepreneurs is rising to further cater to these tastes, and to challenge Big Food.
In virtually every realm of human existence, we turn to technology to help us solve our problems. If the most-influential voices in our food culture today get their way, we will achieve a genuine food revolution.
Through its growing sway over health-conscious consumers and policy makers, the wholesome-food movement is impeding the progress of the one segment of the food world that is actually positioned to take effective, near-term steps to reverse the obesity trend: the processed-food industry.
Much of the food isn’t all that different from what I can get in any other supermarket, but sprinkled throughout are items that scream “wholesome.” One that catches my eye today, sitting prominently on an impulse-buy rack near the checkout counter, is Vegan Cheesy Salad Booster, from Living Intentions, whose package emphasizes the fact that the food is enhanced with spirulina, chlorella, and sea vegetables. After my excursion to Whole Foods, I drive a few minutes to a Trader Joe’s, also known for an emphasis on wholesome foods. One occasional source of obesogenic travesties is The New York Times Magazine’s lead food writer, Mark Bittman, who now rivals Pollan as a shepherd to the anti-processed-food flock.
Because they are energy-intense foods, fat and sugar and other problem carbs trip the pleasure and reward meters placed in our brains by evolution over the millions of years during which starvation was an ever-present threat. To be sure, many of Big Food’s most popular products are loaded with appalling amounts of fat and sugar and other problem carbs (as well as salt), and the plentitude of these ingredients, exacerbated by large portion sizes, has clearly helped foment the obesity crisis. Some wholesome foodies openly celebrate fat and problem carbs, insisting that the lack of processing magically renders them healthy. Television food shows routinely feature revered chefs tossing around references to healthy eating, “wellness,” and farm-fresh ingredients, all the while spooning lard, cream, and sugar over everything in sight.
The health concerns raised about processing itself—rather than the amount of fat and problem carbs in any given dish—are not, by and large, related to weight gain or obesity. Some studies have shown that people who eat wholesomely tend to be healthier than people who live on fast food and other processed food (particularly meat), but the problem with such studies is obvious: substantial nondietary differences exist between these groups, such as propensity to exercise, smoking rates, air quality, access to health care, and much more. The fact is, there is simply no clear, credible evidence that any aspect of food processing or storage makes a food uniquely unhealthy. The results of all the scrutiny of processed food are hardly scary, although some groups and writers try to make them appear that way.
In Pandora’s Lunchbox, Melanie Warner assiduously catalogs every concern that could possibly be raised about the health threats of food processing, leveling accusations so vague, weakly supported, tired, or insignificant that only someone already convinced of the guilt of processed food could find them troubling. The impact of obesity on the chances of our living long, productive, and enjoyable lives has been so well documented at this point that I hate to drag anyone through the grim statistics again.
Where the Pollanites get into real trouble—where their philosophy becomes so glib and wrongheaded that it is actually immoral—is in the claim that their style of food shopping and eating is the answer to the country’s weight problem. I am, in short, not much like the average obese person in America, and neither are the Pollanites. The wholesome foodies don’t argue that obesity and class are unrelated, but they frequently argue that the obesity gap between the classes has been created by the processed-food industry, which, in the past few decades, has preyed mostly on the less affluent masses.
The most obvious problem with the “let them eat kale” philosophy of affluent wholesome-food advocates involves the price and availability of wholesome food. A slew of start-ups are trying to find ways of producing fresh, local, unprocessed meals quickly and at lower cost. Let’s assume for a moment that somehow America, food deserts and all, becomes absolutely lousy with highly affordable outlets for wholesome, locally sourced dishes that are high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, poultry, fish, and whole grains, and low in fat and problem carbs.
The area I found that’s most chockablock with commercial food options brackets the busy intersection of two main streets. It’s not exactly a scientific study, but we really shouldn’t need one to recognize that people aren’t going to change their ingrained, neurobiologically supercharged junk-eating habits just because someone dangles vegetables in front of them, farm-fresh or otherwise. Trim, affluent Americans of course have a right to view dietary questions from their own perspective—that is, in terms of what they need to eat in order to add perhaps a few months onto the already healthy courses of their lives. We know perfectly well who within our society has developed an extraordinary facility for nudging the masses to eat certain foods, and for making those foods widely available in cheap and convenient forms. According to Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, the food industry has mastered the art of using in-store and near-store promotions to shape what people eat. We went into a KFC and found ourselves traversing a maze of signage that put us face-to-face with garish images of various fried foods that presumably had some chicken somewhere deep inside them. Trying to get burger lovers to jump to grilled fish may already be a bit of a stretch—I didn’t see any of a dozen other customers buy the cod sandwich when I was at Carl’s Jr., though the cashier said it was selling reasonably well. That brings us to the crucial question: Just how much healthier could fast-food joints and processed-food companies make their best-selling products without turning off customers?
In fact, McDonald’s has quietly been making healthy changes for years, shrinking portion sizes, reducing some fats, trimming average salt content by more than 10 percent in the past couple of years alone, and adding fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and oatmeal to its menu. Such steps are enormously promising, says Jamy Ard, an epidemiology and preventive-medicine researcher at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a co-director of the Weight Management Center there. According to a recent study, Americans get 11 percent of their calories, on average, from fast food—a number that’s almost certainly much higher among the less affluent overweight. Which raises a question: If McDonald’s is taking these sorts of steps, albeit in a slow and limited way, why isn’t it more loudly saying so to deflect criticism? The explanation can be summed up in two words that surely strike fear into the hearts of all fast-food executives who hope to make their companies’ fare healthier: McLean Deluxe. Introduced in 1991, the McLean Deluxe was perhaps the boldest single effort the food industry has ever undertaken to shift the masses to healthier eating.
The McLean Deluxe was a sharp lesson to the industry, even if in some ways it merely confirmed what generations of parents have well known: if you want to turn off otherwise eager eaters to a dish, tell them it’s good for them. If the food industry is to quietly sell healthier products to its mainstream, mostly non-health-conscious customers, it must find ways to deliver the eating experience that fat and problem carbs provide in foods that have fewer of those ingredients. I visited Fona International, a flavor-engineering company also outside Chicago, and learned that there are a battery of tricks for fooling and appeasing taste buds, which are prone to notice a lack of fat or sugar, or the presence of any of the various bitter, metallic, or otherwise unpleasant flavors that vegetables, fiber, complex carbs, and fat or sugar substitutes can impart to a food intended to appeal to junk-food eaters. For example, fat “cushions” the release of various flavors on the tongue, unveiling them gradually and allowing them to linger. I also visited Tic Gums in White Marsh, Maryland, a company that engineers textures into food products. Fona and Tic, like most companies in their industry, won’t identify customers or product names on the record. Other companies and research labs are trying to turn out healthier, more appealing foods by enlisting ultra-high pressure, nanotechnology, vacuums, and edible coatings. The Pollanites didn’t invent resistance to healthier popular foods, as the fates of the McLean Deluxe and Olestra demonstrate, but they’ve greatly intensified it.
Pollan has popularized contempt for “nutritionism,” the idea behind packing healthier ingredients into processed foods. In this way, wholesome-food advocates have managed to pre-damn the very steps we need the food industry to take, placing the industry in a no-win situation: If it maintains the status quo, then we need to stay away because its food is loaded with fat and sugar. By placing wholesome eating directly at odds with healthier processed foods, the Pollanites threaten to derail the reformation of fast food just as it’s starting to gain traction. Many people insist that the steps the food industry has already taken to offer less-obesogenic fare are no more than cynical ploys to fool customers into eating the same old crap under a healthy guise.
Many wholesome foodies insist that the food industry won’t make serious progress toward healthier fare unless forced to by regulation.
Some of the nutritional information is out of date, but the rest of the book has held up well in the 8 years since it was published. The scenes featuring Goofy, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and, of course, Mickey are funny and whimsical. We stay at this resort every time due to the location being convenient and meets our basic needs. Various counter locations, a grab n’ go station (with wine and beer) and giant sports themed dining room make up this food court. Pick up a refillable mug for your stay and get a drink before and after returning from the parks. Tim Ferris, author of the 4 Hour series books, among other things, said recently in an interview that the effects of meditation are understood not necessarily immediately, but throughout the day in how your brain functions, which I agree with.
Sometimes, for me, a solid meditation session allows me to undergo extremely stressful, super demanding and sometimes non stop situations throughout my day (which is mainly in building and running my iOS device repair company), without breaking down from stress, while maintaining a pretty optimal brain functionality throughout.
First, the integration of the many systems of the brain, which is what happens during meditation, can be achieved faster in some than in others, which could explain a shorter induction period in meditation or shorter meditation times. I mean, the lights turn on, my calm prevails, verbal fluency kicks on full blast and cognitive speed and regulation throughout the day sticks around. I think a lot of the elements of whether or not you have a good meditation session are extremely important here, and should be considered in formulating expectations about any meditation session. The friendly server patiently guided me to an apple-blueberry-kale-carrot smoothie-juice combination, which she spent the next several minutes preparing, mostly by shepherding farm-fresh produce into machinery. I was initially wary of a low-calorie juice made almost entirely from green vegetables, but the server assured me it was a popular treat. Or at least that’s what the most-prominent voices in our food culture today would have you believe. In this narrative, the food-industrial complex—particularly the fast-food industry—has turned all the powers of food-processing science loose on engineering its offerings to addict us to fat, sugar, and salt, causing or at least heavily contributing to the obesity crisis. Earlier this year, The Times Magazine gave its cover to a long piece based on Michael Moss’s about-to-be-best-selling book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. You hear much the same from many scientists, physicians, food activists, nutritionists, celebrity chefs, and pundits.


Silicon Valley, where tomorrow’s entrepreneurial and social trends are forged, has spawned a small ecosystem of wholesome-friendly venture-capital firms (Physic Ventures, for example), business accelerators (Local Food Lab), and Web sites (Edible Startups) to fund, nurture, and keep tabs on young companies such as blissmo (a wholesome-food-of-the-month club), Mile High Organics (online wholesome-food shopping), and Wholeshare (group wholesome-food purchasing), all designed to help reacquaint Americans with the simpler eating habits of yesteryear. But even in Silicon Valley, when it comes to food and obesity, technology—or at least food-processing technology—is widely treated as if it is the problem. Too bad it would be one tailored to the dubious health fantasies of a small, elite minority. Popular food producers, fast-food chains among them, are already applying various tricks and technologies to create less caloric and more satiating versions of their junky fare that nonetheless retain much of the appeal of the originals, and could be induced to go much further. The label also proudly lets me know that the contents are raw—no processing!—and that they don’t contain any genetically modified ingredients. Here at the register I’m confronted with a large display of a snack food called “Inner Peas,” consisting of peas that are breaded in cornmeal and rice flour, fried in sunflower oil, and then sprinkled with salt.
Back in February, when I was at Real Food Daily in Los Angeles, I ordered the “Sea Cake” along with my green-vegetable smoothie. Fat carries more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates and proteins do per gram, which means just a little fat can turn a serving of food into a calorie bomb. We’re born enjoying the stimulating sensations these ingredients provide, and exposure strengthens the associations, ensuring that we come to crave them and, all too often, eat more of them than we should. In singing the praises of clotted cream and lard-loaded cookies, for instance, a recent Wall Street Journal article by Ron Rosenbaum explained that “eating basic, earthy, fatty foods isn’t just a supreme experience of the senses—it can actually be good for you,” and that it’s “too easy to conflate eating fatty food with eating industrial, oil-fried junk food.” That’s right, we wouldn’t want to make the same mistake that all the cells in our bodies make. All the railing about the fat, sugar, and salt engineered into industrial junk food might lead one to infer that wholesome food, having not been engineered, contains substantially less of them. Leaving fat, sugar, and salt aside, what about all the nasty things that wholesome foods do not, by definition, contain and processed foods do? That’s important to keep in mind, because obesity is, by an enormous margin, the largest health problem created by what we eat.
The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Food Additives Project, for example, has bemoaned the fact that the FDA directly reviews only about 70 percent of the ingredients found in food, permitting the rest to pass as “generally recognized as safe” by panels of experts convened by manufacturers. While ripping the covers off the breakfast-cereal conspiracy, for example, Warner reveals that much of the nutritional value claimed by these products comes not from natural ingredients but from added vitamins that are chemically synthesized, which must be bad for us because, well, they’re chemically synthesized. To repeat: there is no hard evidence to back any health-risk claims about processed food—evidence, say, of the caliber of several studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have traced food poisoning to raw milk, a product championed by some circles of the wholesome-food movement. Often stirred into the vague stew of benefits attributed to wholesome food is the “sustainability” of its production—that is, its long-term impact on the planet. But let’s not rule out the possibility of technologically enabled improvements to our diet—indeed, let’s not rule out any food—merely because we are pleased by images of pastoral family farms. Helping me to indulge my taste for genuinely healthy wholesome foods are the facts that I’m relatively affluent and well educated, and that I’m surrounded by people who tend to take care with what they eat. That person is relatively poor, does not read The Times or cookbook manifestos, is surrounded by people who eat junk food and are themselves obese, and stands a good chance of living in a food desert—an area where produce tends to be hard to find, of poor quality, or expensive. Yet Lenard Lesser, a physician and an obesity researcher at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, says that can’t be so, because the obesity gap predates the fast-food industry and the dietary dominance of processed food. But could this food eventually be sold as cheaply, conveniently, and ubiquitously as today’s junky fast food? Bittman argued two years ago in The Times that there’s no excuse for anyone, food-desert-bound or not, to eat fast food rather than wholesome food, because even if it’s not perfectly fresh and locally grown, lower-end wholesome food—when purchased judiciously at the supermarket and cooked at home—can be cheaper than fast food. What percentage of the junk-food-eating obese do we want to predict will be ready to drop their Big Macs, fries, and Cokes for grilled salmon on chard? However, like most areas I passed through nearby, this food scene was dominated not by fast-food restaurants but by bodegas (which, like most other types of convenience stores, are usually considered part of the low-income, food-desert landscape).
Mark Bittman sees signs of victory in “the stories parents tell me of their kids booing as they drive by McDonald’s,” but it’s not hard to imagine which parents, which kids, and which neighborhoods those stories might involve. The pernicious sleight of hand is in willfully confusing what might benefit them—small, elite minority that they are—with what would help most of society. The Pollanites have led us to conflate the industrial processing of food with the adding of fat and sugar in order to hook customers, even while pushing many faux-healthy foods of their own. As Lesser and I drove down storied Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and into far less affluent Oakland, leaving behind the Whole Foods Markets and sushi restaurants for gas-station markets and barbecued-rib stands, he pointed out the changes in the billboards. Still, given the food industry’s power to tinker with and market food, we should not dismiss its ability to get unhealthy eaters—slowly, incrementally—to buy better food. I put that question to a team of McDonald’s executives, scientists, and chefs who are involved in shaping the company’s future menus, during a February visit to McDonald’s surprisingly bucolic campus west of Chicago.
In May, the chain dropped its Angus third-pounders and announced a new line of quarter-pound burgers, to be served on buns containing whole grains. While the company has heavily plugged the debut of its new egg-white sandwich and chicken wraps, the ads have left out even a mention of health, the reduced calories and fat, or the inclusion of whole grains. When I brought up the McLean Deluxe to the innovation team at McDonald’s, I faced the first and only uncomfortable silence of the day.
It was supposed to be a healthier version of the Quarter Pounder, made with extra-lean beef infused with seaweed extract. Recent studies suggest that calorie counts placed on menus have a negligible effect on food choices, and that the less-health-conscious might even use the information to steer clear of low-calorie fare—perhaps assuming that it tastes worse and is less satisfying, and that it’s worse value for their money. There is no way to do that with farm-fresh produce and wholesome meat, other than reducing portion size. Some 5,000 FDA-approved chemical compounds—which represent the base components of all known flavors—line the shelves that run alongside Fona’s huge labs.
When fat is removed, flavors tend to immediately inundate the tongue and then quickly flee, which we register as a much less satisfying experience. Texture hasn’t received the attention that flavor has, noted Greg Andon, Tic’s boyish and ebullient president, whose family has run the company for three generations.
But both firms showed me an array of foods and beverages that were under construction, so to speak, in the name of reducing calories, fat, and sugar while maintaining mass appeal. Oxford’s Charles Spence notes that in addition to flavors and textures, companies are investigating ways to exploit a stream of insights that have been coming out of scholarly research about the neuroscience of eating. Cargill has developed a starch derived from tapioca that gives dishes a refined-carb taste and mouthfeel, but acts more like fiber in the body—a feature that could keep the appetite from spiking later.
At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Center for Foods for Health and Wellness, Fergus Clydesdale, the director of the school’s Food Science Policy Alliance—as well as a spry 70-something who’s happy to tick off all the processed food in his diet—showed me labs where researchers are looking into possibilities that would not only attack obesity but also improve health in other significant ways, for example by isolating ingredients that might lower the risk of cancer and concentrating them in foods.
Plenty, if you’ve bought into the notion that processing itself is the source of the unhealthfulness of our foods.
Fast food and junk food have their core customer base, and the wholesome-food gurus have theirs.
In his view, the quest to add healthier ingredients to food isn’t a potential solution, it’s part of the problem. At McDonald’s, “Chef Dan”—that is, Dan Coudreaut, the executive chef and director of culinary innovation—told me of the dilemma the movement has caused him as he has tried to make the menu healthier.
No sooner had McDonald’s and Burger King rolled out their egg-white sandwich and turkey burger, respectively, than a spate of articles popped up hooting that the new dishes weren’t healthier because they trimmed a mere 50 and 100 calories from their standard counterparts, the Egg McMuffin and the Whopper. I, for one, believe regulation aimed at speeding the replacement of obesogenic foods with appealing healthier foods would be a great idea. This is not an argument about unhealthy, processed foods, rather it exposes the problems with all foods, including fruits and vegetables that people commonly assume are healthy. The book begins with an amusing anecdote of the author's first encounter with a grocery store tomato and continues with a litany of problems with how our food is raised, processed, selected and sold. They perfectly incorporate the new color scheme and feel while integrating the fun-loving theme of the Resort. The new soda dispensers are a little confusing for kids because of the Chip readers in the cups, the cups need to be placed on the reader, but the atmosphere is really nice. I am coming down for the marathon and was wondering if I need to bring items like honey, butter, salt, etc. But he was also saying that short meditation sessions are his thing, and that time constraints make it hard to sit for a while and meditate. I’ve been able to, particularly with self directed internal programming (aka self hypnosis), get into really deep meditative and regenerative states within 5 minutes. I cannot achieve that state in less time, unless again, all the physiological elements are right and I do some self hypnosis, but generally, I need at least 15 + minutes to really integrate the brain. The result was tasty, but at 300 calories (by my rough calculation) in a 16-ounce cup, it was more than my diet could regularly absorb without consequences, nor was I about to make a habit of $9 shakes, healthy or not. I like to brag that I can eat anything, and I scarf down all sorts of raw vegetables like candy, but I could stomach only about a third of this oddly foamy, bitter concoction. The wares of these pimps and pushers, we are told, are to be universally shunned.David Freedman and Atlantic senior editor Corby Kummer discuss this month's cover story.
Hitting bookshelves at about the same time was the former Times reporter Melanie Warner’s Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, which addresses more or less the same theme. Foodlike substances, the derisive term Pollan uses to describe processed foods, is now a solid part of the elite vernacular.
And too bad it would largely exclude the obese masses, who would continue to sicken and die early. In fact, these roundly demonized companies could do far more for the public’s health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50. There are three Whole Foods stores within 15 minutes of my house—we’re big on real food in the suburbs west of Boston. What the stuff does contain, though, is more than three times the fat content per ounce as the beef patty in a Big Mac (more than two-thirds of the calories come from fat), and four times the sodium. By weight, the snack has six times as much fat as it does protein, along with loads of carbohydrates.
Anyone who thinks that such a thing is much healthier than a Whopper just hasn’t been paying attention to obesity science for the past few decades. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates, like white flour and rice, and high-starch foods, like corn and potatoes, aren’t as calorie-dense. Processed food is not an essential part of this story: recent examinations of ancient human remains in Egypt, Peru, and elsewhere have repeatedly revealed hardened arteries, suggesting that pre-industrial diets, at least of the affluent, may not have been the epitome of healthy eating that the Pollanites make them out to be. Last November, I attended a stress-management seminar for employees of a giant consulting company, and listened to a high-powered professional wellness coach tell the crowded room that it’s okay to eat anything as long as its plant or animal origins aren’t obscured by processing. But clearly you can take in obscene quantities of fat and problem carbs while eating wholesomely, and to judge by what’s sold at wholesome stores and restaurants, many people do. But even putting that aside, concerns about processed food have been magnified out of all proportion.
It’s comparing apples to Whoppers, instead of Whoppers to hand-ground, grass-fed-beef burgers with heirloom tomatoes, garlic aioli, and artisanal cheese. But the only actual risk the project calls out on its Web site or in its publications is a quote from a Times article noting that bromine, which has been in U.S. It’s the tautology at the heart of the movement: processed foods are unhealthy because they aren’t natural, full stop. Small farms that don’t rely much on chemicals and heavy industrial equipment may be better for the environment than giant industrial farms—although that argument quickly becomes complicated by a variety of factors. Let’s first pick the foods that can most plausibly make us healthier, all things considered, and then figure out how to make them environmentally friendly.
And I eat like many wholesome foodies, except I try to stay away from those many wholesome ingredients and dishes that are high in fat and problem carbs.
Not only am I within a few minutes’ drive of three Whole Foods and two Trader Joe’s, I’m within walking distance of two other supermarkets and more than a dozen restaurants that offer bountiful healthy-eating options. Not even according to Bittman, who explored the question in a recent New York Times Magazine article.
Sure, there’s the matter of all the time, effort, schedule coordination, and ability it takes to shop, cook, serve, and clean up.
We can all agree that many obese people find the former foods extremely enjoyable, and seem unable to control their consumption of them. But experts who actually work with the obese see a more difficult transition, especially when busy schedules are thrown into the equation.
I went into several of these mom-and-pop shops and saw pretty much the same thing in every one: A prominent display of extremely fatty-looking beef and pork, most of it fresh, though gigantic strips of fried pork skin often got pride of place. It was cleaner and brighter than the others I’d seen, and a large produce case was near the entrance, brimming with an impressive selection of fresh-looking produce.
One study found that subsidizing the purchase of vegetables encouraged shoppers to buy more vegetables, but also more junk food with the money they saved; on balance, their diets did not improve. The conversations they have among themselves in The Times, in best-selling books, and at Real Food Daily may not register with the working-class obese. I went in and saw that the biggest and most prominent posters in the store were pushing a new grilled-cod sandwich. But why couldn’t Big Food’s processing and marketing genius be put to use on genuinely healthier foods, like grilled fish?


Whereas the last one we saw in Berkeley was for fruit juice, many in Oakland tout fast-food joints and their wares, including several featuring the Hot Mess Burger at Jack in the Box. Here, what loomed largest was the $19.98 fried-chicken-and-corn family meal, which included biscuits and cake. By way of a partial answer, the team served me up a preview tasting of two major new menu items that had been under development in their test kitchens and high-tech sensory-testing labs for the past year, and which were rolled out to the public in April. Research suggests that calorie counts in a meal can be trimmed by as much as 30 percent without eaters noticing—by, for example, reducing portion sizes and swapping in ingredients that contain more fiber and water. McDonald’s has practically kept secret the fact that it has also begun substituting whole-grain flour for some of the less healthy refined flour in its best-selling Egg McMuffin. Finally, Greg Watson, a senior vice president, cleared his throat and told me that neither he nor anyone else in the room was at the company at the time, and he didn’t know that much about it. It reportedly did reasonably well in early taste tests—for what it’s worth, my wife and I were big fans—and McDonald’s pumped the reduced-fat angle to the public for all it was worth. The result is a sense in the food industry that if it is going to sell healthier versions of its foods to the general public—and not just to that minority already sold on healthier eating—it is going to have to do it in a relatively sneaky way, emphasizing the taste appeal and not the health benefits. But processing technology gives the food industry a potent tool for trimming unwanted ingredients while preserving the sensations they deliver.Healthier ingredients could be slipped into the middle of candy bars.
Armed with these ingredients and an array of state-of-the-art chemical-analysis and testing tools, Fona’s scientists and engineers can precisely control flavor perception. The result, he said, is that even people in the food industry don’t have an adequate vocabulary for it. I’ve long hated the taste of low-fat dressing—I gave up on it a few years ago and just use vinegar—but Tic served me an in-development version of a low-fat salad dressing that was better than any I’ve ever had. He notes, for example, that candy companies may be able to slip healthier ingredients into candy bars without anyone noticing, simply by loading these ingredients into the middle of the bar and leaving most of the fat and sugar at the ends of the bar. The wholesome-food movement is not only talking up dietary strategies that are unlikely to help most obese Americans; it is, in various ways, getting in the way of strategies that could work better.
In between sit many millions of Americans—the more the idea that processed food should be shunned no matter what takes hold in this group, the less incentive fast-food joints will have to continue edging away from the fat- and problem-carb-laden fare beloved by their most loyal customers to try to broaden their appeal.
Food is healthy not when it contains healthy ingredients, he argues, but when it can be traced simply and directly to (preferably local) farms. Pollan explicitly counsels avoiding foods containing more than five ingredients, or any hard-to-pronounce or unfamiliar ingredients. Apparently these writers didn’t understand, or chose to ignore, the fact that a reduction of 50 or 100 calories in a single dish places an eater exactly on track to eliminate a few hundred calories a day from his or her diet—the critical threshold needed for long-term weight loss. But what a lot of foodies really want is to ban the food industry from selling junk food altogether. But I can’t always do that, and the elements of sleep, food, energy, etc all effect the situation.
Two years ago The Times Magazine featured the journalist Gary Taubes’s “Is Sugar Toxic?,” a cover story on the evils of refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Thousands of restaurants and grocery stores, most notably the Whole Foods chain, have thrived by answering the call to reject industrialized foods in favor of a return to natural, simple, nonindustrialized—let’s call them “wholesome”—foods. Despite the best efforts of a small army of wholesome-food heroes, there is no reasonable scenario under which these foods could become cheap and plentiful enough to serve as the core diet for most of the obese population—even in the unlikely case that your typical junk-food eater would be willing and able to break lifelong habits to embrace kale and yellow beets. Here at the largest of the three, I can choose from more than 21 types of tofu, 62 bins of organic grains and legumes, and 42 different salad greens. I can’t recall ever seeing anything at any fast-food restaurant that represents as big an obesogenic crime against the vegetable kingdom.
RFD wouldn’t provide precise information about the ingredients, but I found a recipe online for “Tofu ‘Fish’ Cakes,” which seem very close to what I ate. But all of these “problem carbs” charge into the bloodstream as glucose in minutes, providing an energy rush, commonly followed by an energy crash that can lead to a surge in appetite.The more converts and customers the wholesome-food movement’s purveyors seek, the stronger their incentive to emphasize foods that light up precisely the same pleasure centers as a 3 Musketeers bar. People who want to lose weight and keep it off are almost always advised by those who run successful long-term weight-loss programs to transition to a diet high in lean protein, complex carbs such as whole grains and legumes, and the sort of fiber vegetables are loaded with. Thus, she explained, potato chips are perfectly healthy, because they plainly come from potatoes, but Cheetos will make you sick and fat, because what plant or animal is a Cheeto? Indeed, the more converts and customers the wholesome-food movement’s purveyors seek, the stronger their incentive to emphasize foods that light up precisely the same pleasure centers as a 3 Musketeers bar.
For all these reasons, such findings linking food type and health are considered highly unreliable, and constantly contradict one another, as is true of most epidemiological studies that try to tackle broad nutritional questions.
For the purposes of this article, let’s simply stipulate that wholesome foods are environmentally superior. Given our obesity rates, that means Americans who are alive today can collectively expect to sacrifice 1 billion years to obesity. What’s left are vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, poultry, and fish (none of them fried, thank you), which are often emphasized by many wholesome-food fans.
One reason, some researchers have argued, is that after having had to worry, over countless generations, about getting enough food, poorer segments of society had little cultural bias against overindulging in food, or putting on excess pounds, as industrialization raised incomes and made rich food cheaply available.
Even if wholesome food caught on with the public at large, including the obese population, and even if poor and working-class people were willing to pay a premium for it, how long would it take to scale up from a handful of shops to the tens of thousands required to begin making a dent in the obesity crisis? But anyone who whines about that extra work, Bittman chided, just doesn’t want to give up their excessive TV watching. Is greater availability of healthier food that pushes none of the same thrill buttons going to solve the problem? Perhaps a quarter of them were significantly overweight; several walked with a slow, waddling gait. The candy and other junky snack foods were relegated to a small set of shelves closer to the more dimly lit rear of the store.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that the aughts saw a significant drop in fruit intake, and no increase in vegetable consumption; Americans continue to fall far short of eating the recommended amounts of either. But these conversations unquestionably distort the views of those who are in a position to influence what society does about the obesity problem.
It actually looked pretty good, but it wasn’t quite lunchtime, and I just wanted a cup of coffee.
Putting aside the standard objection that the industry has no interest in doing so—we’ll see later that in fact the industry has plenty of motivation for taking on this challenge—wouldn’t that present a more plausible answer to America’s junk-food problem than ordering up 50,000 new farmers’ markets featuring locally grown organic squash blossoms? Though Lesser noted that this forest of advertising may simply reflect Oakland residents’ preexisting preference for this type of food, he told me lab studies have indicated that the more signs you show people for a particular food product or dish, the more likely they are to choose it over others, all else being equal. A few days later, I noticed that McDonald’s places large placards showcasing desserts on the trash bins, apparently calculating that the best time to entice diners with sweets is when they think they’ve finished their meals. The first was the Egg White Delight McMuffin ($2.65), a lower-calorie, less fatty version of the Egg McMuffin, with some of the refined flour in the original recipe replaced by whole-grain flour.
Public backlash against fast food could lead to regulatory efforts, and in any case, the fast-food industry has every incentive to maintain broad appeal. Over time, that could be much more than enough to literally tip the scales for many obese people.
Maybe once the product is well seated with customers, we’ll change that message.” If customers learn that they can eat healthier foods at McDonald’s without even realizing it, he added, they’ll be more likely to try healthier foods there than at other restaurants.
Dozens of companies are doing similar work, as are the big food-ingredient manufacturers, such as ConAgra, whose products are in 97 percent of American homes, and whose whole-wheat flour is what McDonald’s is relying on for its breakfast sandwiches.
The company has also developed ways to reduce fat in beef patties, and to make baked goods using half the usual sugar and oil, all without heavily compromising taste and texture. As he resonantly put it in The Times in 2007: “If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims.
This rule eliminates almost anything the industry could do to produce healthier foods that retain mass appeal—most of us wouldn’t get past xanthan gum—and that’s perfectly in keeping with his intention. And most significant of all has been the considerable space the magazine has devoted over the years to Michael Pollan, a journalism professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and his broad indictment of food processing as a source of society’s health problems. The two newest restaurants in my smallish Massachusetts town both prominently tout wholesome ingredients; one of them is called the Farmhouse, and it’s usually packed. And many of the dishes glorified by the wholesome-food movement are, in any case, as caloric and obesogenic as anything served in a Burger King.
Essentially, they consist of some tofu mixed with a lot of refined carbs (the RFD version contains at least some unrefined carbs) along with oil and soy milk, all fried in oil and served with a soy-and-oil-based tartar sauce. Because these ingredients provide us with the calories we need without the big, fast bursts of energy, they can be satiating without pushing the primitive reward buttons that nudge us to eat too much.
Food and Drug Administration (with some exceptions, which are regulated by other agencies), and their effects on health are further raked over by countless scientists who would get a nice career boost from turning up the hidden dangers in some common food-industry ingredient or technique, in part because any number of advocacy groups and journalists are ready to pounce on the slightest hint of risk.
But let’s also agree that when it comes to prioritizing among food-related public-policy goals, we are likely to save and improve many more lives by focusing on cutting obesity—through any available means—than by trying to convert all of industrial agriculture into a vast constellation of small organic farms. The study adds to a river of evidence suggesting that for the first time in modern history—and in spite of many health-related improvements in our environment, our health care, and our nondietary habits—our health prospects are worsening, mostly because of excess weight.
In general, I find that the more-natural versions of these ingredients taste at least a bit better, and occasionally much better, than the industrialized versions. How long would it take to create the thousands of local farms we’d need in order to provide these shops with fresh, unprocessed ingredients, even in cities?
But I couldn’t help noticing that unlike most of the other bodegas I’d been to, this one was empty, except for me and a lone employee. I went to the counter to order it, but before I could say anything, the cashier greeted me and asked, “Would you like to try our new Charbroiled Atlantic Cod Fish Sandwich today?” Oh, well, sure, why not?
The other was one of three new Premium McWraps ($3.99), crammed with grilled chicken and spring mix, and given a light coating of ranch dressing amped up with rice vinegar. The company gamely flogged the sandwich for five years before quietly removing it from the menu. Domino Foods, the sugar manufacturer, now sells a low-calorie combination of sugar and the nonsugar sweetener stevia that has been engineered by a flavor company to mask the sort of nonsugary tastes driving many consumers away from diet beverages and the like. It’s just the sort of small step in the right direction we should be aiming for, because the obese are much more likely to take it than they are to make a big leap to wholesome or very-low-calorie foods. The government never managed to keep the tobacco companies from selling cigarettes, and banning booze (the third-most-deadly consumable killer after cigarettes and food) didn’t turn out so well. Even putting aside for a moment the serious questions about whether wholesome foods could be made accessible to the obese public, and whether the obese would be willing to eat them, we have a more immediate stumbling block: many of the foods served up and even glorified by the wholesome-food movement are themselves chock full of fat and problem carbs. And despite the wholesome-food movement’s frequent and inexcusable obliviousness to the obesogenicity of many of its own foods, it deserves credit for paying more attention to those healthier ingredients than does Big Food.
Both items tasted pretty good (as do the versions in stores, I’ve since confirmed, though some outlets go too heavy on the dressing).
Spence found, for example, that wine is perceived as 50 percent sweeter when consumed under a red light.
The two most health-enlightened, regulation-friendly major cities in America, New York and San Francisco, tried to halt sales of two of the most horrific fast-food assaults on health—giant servings of sugared beverages and kids’ fast-food meals accompanied by toys, respectively—and neither had much luck. And a small refrigerator case somewhere in the back sparsely populated with not-especially-fresh-looking fruits and vegetables.
Finally, a young woman came in, made a beeline for the junk-food shelves, grabbed a pack of cupcakes, paid, and left. And they were both lower in fat, sugar, and calories than not only many McDonald’s staples, but also much of the food served in wholesome restaurants or touted in wholesome cookbooks.
Michelle Obama is excoriated by conservatives for asking schools to throw more fruits and vegetables into the lunches they serve. I don't plan on being an alarmist, but I like to feel like I am at least making informed choices.The later chapters get rather tedious with discussions of damages caused by farming practices, urbanization, and so on. At Cafe Gratitude I enjoyed the kale chips and herb-cornmeal-crusted eggplant parmesan, and at Akasha I indulged in a spiced-lamb-sausage flatbread pizza. The bodega industry, too, seems to have plotted to addict communities to fat, sugar, and salt—unless, that is, they’re simply providing the foods that people like. This stuff is important, to be sure, but I've read most of it elsewhere and just scanned these chapters. The research of Lisa Powell, the University of Illinois professor, suggests that a 20 percent tax on sugary beverages would reduce consumption by about 25 percent.
My interest in the book was mostly the food itself.The end of the book has lots of good info for people who want to "fight back" by growing their own food, saving seeds, etc. I'm not in a position to do this, so I scanned this stuff also, but there are some good resources here for those who have a patch of land to work with.



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