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Advertise on the Tentacle

February 14, 2007

Our Government, Our Health, Ourselves

Patricia A. Kelly

There's a movement underway to ban the use of trans fats, but New Orleans isn't going along. Their chefs don't use them much anyway. They choose real foods, like butter, for their renowned cuisine.

Eating margarine began during World War II with bags of lard and coloring packets that you mixed in. There was a shortage of butter because of the war. Margarine use continued in my Washington suburban family because of price, I think, and, of course, the government said it was okay.

I started eating butter when in my 20s. I read something in health food literature that said butter was actually better for you than margarine. Hydrogenated (trans, polyunsaturated, hardened) fats have extra molecules attached to their chains by clever scientists. They are harder for the body to break down than natural, softer, animal fat molecules, or minimally-processed vegetable oils. They are thus more harmful to, and persistent in, the body.

Of course, the recommendations included other things, but actually allowed in the diet the star of the government nutrition wars - the infamous, then out, now in, but only a little in, egg. Drum roll, please....

We've been paying taxes for this: for government nutrition experts to tell us that we should be eating margarine; that we should, or should not, eat eggs; that we should only eat special margarines; that we should not eat the margarine they were saying we should eat last week - for the past 35 years, at least. The truth was available to me, a reasonably intelligent person and an ordinary mom of limited means, surfing around in the health food literature, looking for the best way to feed my family. I read it. It seemed logical. I believed it.

If you eat artificially altered foods, you are taking a risk, because we don't yet know the long term effects, or whether there is alteration in the nutrition available from these foods, or contamination. We do all know how convenient it is for large food producers to grow cornstalks that are the same height, tomatoes that don't spoil, and apples that last, unchanged, for a year in storage. We also know how these wonder foods taste. If you can't remember the difference, go to another country and taste the fresh produce.

You can fool your vegetarian cow into eating the ground-up bones of dead animals in her feed. That doesn't make them good for her. She's not a vulture. She would never eat them on her own. If you eat her meat, it might not be too good for you either. You might not know this for 20 years, of course, until you get Jacob-Crutchfeld disease, and die horribly. Ground-up bones are really cheap, though, and our government said they were safe.

Animals raised in close quarters with processed feed do better if they're given antibiotics. You might do better with them, too, if you were standing in your next-door neighbor's poop. Our government says there aren't any antibiotics left in the meat that might increase antibiotic resistance and endanger our population.

Our government also thinks it is safe to use bovine growth hormone on cows; and I'm sure the cows don't mind tripping on their own udders. We are wondering why so many nine-year-old-girls are reaching puberty now, though. I'm sure it can't be due to anything they're exposed to. If you're wondering, just ask our government.

Logic dictates that, if you eat a balanced diet, you have a better chance of getting the nutrients you need. If you live on sugar and caffeine and fast, high-fat, overly refined foods, your spirit might be happier for the moment, but your body will suffer in the long run. These foods are being advertised to make money, not to help you. Eating less meat and a greater variety of whole plant foods reduces the impact of people on the environment because it takes so much more grain to feed a cow than to feed a person.

Eating a variety of seeds, grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables increases your chances of getting all the micronutrients you need. Cow's milk is really good for cows. If you eat more calories than you need, you will gain weight. Reading the labels will tell you what's in your food. Nobody reading this column would have any trouble figuring any of this out. We don't need to, though. We have the government.

Don't get me started on HPV vaccine, and how girls mostly get the virus from boys, and boys from girls; but it's only recommended for girls.

Whatever you do, don't ask my opinion on the recent, widely publicized estrogen replacement study. It reported the outcome of giving a specific combination of mare's urine estrogen/progesterone pill to 64-year-old women who were way past menopause with no prior hormone replacement. Huge numbers of litigation conscious doctors withdrew every form of hormone replacement from virtually all of their female patients because of this one. Our government thought it was safe to take Prempro, and then, suddenly, not safe at all.

I think it would be a good idea for our government to narrow its focus back to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To me that means keeping us safe and free and unbothered with expensive nonsense, paid for with our tax dollars.

Maybe our nutrition scientists could spend their time making sure there's no poop in the ground beef, and that the cows are dead before they're skinned. I know I'd sleep better.

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