The number one concern of U.S. citizens today is health and health care costs.  Sixty years ago, doctors made house calls.  Today, sick people by the score line up in their doctors’ offices and wait and wait and wait for their opportunity for a diagnosis and drug prescription.  In all too many cases the drugs prescribed do not cure the ailments, but simply allow patients to function in spite of their ailments.

Most people believe they are what they eat.  But by and large, they don't care a wit about nutrition.  They believe the government protects them from “bad” food products.  In addition, they're jaded.  They've heard so many different variations of the right foods to eat that they've concluded that all “diets” are fads.  They'll tell you that as long as they eat a variety of foods, as the USDA's food pyramid suggests, they can't go wrong.

Relying on Drugs for the Cure

With doctors prescribing drugs rather than proper foods to help cure ailments, with the government protecting consumers from bad food products, with cheap and convenient food in abundance, with major advertising campaigns by America's huge food industry touting the benefits of their food products, and with nearly everyone eating the food produced by America's huge food industry, few folks can fathom the fact that the government, the health care system, the food industry, and most consumers are wrong.

The lemming is a rodent, famous for its mass migrations.  Periodically, lemmings get the urge to gather together and follow the “leader” to wherever their mass migration leads them.  Sometimes they “migrate” right off a cliff or into a body of water.  When that happens, all the lemmings, from the first to the last, rush to their deaths as they follow the “leader.”  Unfortunately, there are times when people act like lemmings.  A recent example is the stock market peak in 2000.  That year millions of people were convinced the stock market was a great buy.  They poured billions of dollars into mutual funds and individual stocks believing they were going to make 20% compound rates of gain into the hereafter.  What the masses and their advisors didn't realize was the stock market was making a massive top, which was the beginning of a secular bear market that in constant dollars will last 15 years, maybe longer.  (To this day, in constant dollars, the 2000 peak remains a high water mark.)

Like the lemmings marching into the sea, the stock market peak was a classic case in which the actions of the masses flew in the face of common sense and/or science, and that is precisely what is happening in America's food production industry, which is focused on cheap and convenience.  In the first case, millions of Americans will lose their savings, and in the second case, many millions more will become ill or die.

History is checkered with examples in which societies have gone off the deep end and destroyed themselves through improper beliefs.  Of course, we are a modern and sophisticated society, so it couldn't happen to us.  Right?  Well, you be the judge.

Making Americans Sick

I am going to briefly touch on a couple of reasons why I can say America's food machine (production agriculture, mammoth food processors, fast food behemoths, and international grocers) is creating and selling nutritionally deficient food products that make Americans sick.

It started out innocently enough.  Our food system evolved to where it is now because Americans wanted cheap, plentiful, and convenient food.  The production methods originated many years ago, long before nutritional scientists understood that the procedures could even cause nutritional problems.  Consequently, many food preparation processes in use today by the huge food processors were “grandfathered” in by the billions of dollars invested in their infrastructure.  The immense size and complexity of the food industry and the need to keep products flowing to the consumer rule out change.  Since industry has the cash flow, it spends billions of dollars promoting their products, and we hear them.  On the other hand, nutritional scientists have little to promote for gain other than to publish boring reports in technical publications.  So the real story remains buried.

Hydrogenated Oils

In 1984, Heather Smith Thomas wrote “Red Meat, The Original Health Food, Facts the Food Faddists Ignore.”  Here's a quote from her book regarding a statement by Randall Wood, a Texas A&M professor in biochemistry:  “Wood explains that trans-fatty acids (hydrogenated oils) are not required for nutrition and are thought by some scientists to be a health hazard.”  That was 18 years ago.

In 1998, Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D., a world-renowned nutritionist and authority on essential fatty acids, wrote a book titled “The Omega Diet.”  In it she stated that “Trans-fatty acids behave in many ways like saturated fat, including raising your LDL (bad) cholesterol.  But they are even more destructive than saturated fat because they also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol, pushing both of these blood fats in the wrong direction.  To make matters worse, they take the place of EFAs (essential fatty acids) in cell membranes, interfere with their metabolism, and usurp some of the enzymes needed to create hormonelike substances called eicosanoids that are involved in many aspects of human physiology.”  By eating a high amount of trans-fatty acids, which is what most Americans do, people become more vulnerable to insulin resistance.  In other words, trans-fatty acids promote diabetes and obesity.  They also lead to heart disease.

Grain-Based Foods

Because Americans subsidize grain production, we have huge grain surpluses and cheap grain.  Not only is grain used in breads and cereals, but because it is so cheap, it is used as a filler in many food products, as a sweetener, and as a feed for livestock and pets.  The drawback is that grain is not the staff of life.  For millions of years man and the various livestock species he eventually domesticated never ate grain.  Only recently, about 10,000 years ago, did man invent grain farming.  And only in the past 200 years did the mechanization of farming permit man to produce enough surplus grain to feed his livestock.

Instead of being a blessing, nutritional scientists have determined that even though grain production played a major role in boosting the world's population, it dramatically changed the nutrient profile of man's daily diet.  The changes are subtle yet significant and very technical.  So I can't possibly do more than briefly touch on the topic in this essay.

A major factor in nutrition is the ratio between the Omega-6 and the Omega-3 fatty acids.  Both fatty acids are called “essential” nutrients.  That's because our bodies cannot manufacture them, and they come from only food.  How important are they?  Well, they are components of the cell membranes of every cell in our bodies!

Generally speaking, Omega-6 fatty acids come from grains and nuts.  Omega-3 fatty acids come from grenn leafy plants.  They have counterbalancing functions in the body, and scientists say the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids should lie somewhere between 1:1 and no more than 4:1.  Scientists have proven that a ratio of 20:1 leads to numerous health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart failure, cancer, attention deficit disorder and other mental disorders, arthritis, allergies, lupus, and the list of body failings goes on and on.

Grass-Fed Beef

Scientific work has proven the critical nature of the fatty acid ratio.  The analysis of tissue, bone, and food samples from anthropology digs indicates that before agriculture was invented the ratio was 1:1.  Laboratory studies with rats, and limited studies with humans, have indicated diseases can be created and cured by changing the ratio of the fatty acids in the diet.  The high ratio causes diseases, and the low ratio cures them.  Scientists also analyzed food products from livestock.  The fatty acid ratio of cattle fresh off of grass is 2 or 3 to 1.  After those cattle come out of the feedlot their ratio is 20:1.  The same ratios apply to all livestock products, including pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, and dairy.

Man is of this world.  His nutrient requirements are lined up perfectly with the nutrients that were available to him when he was a hunter-gatherer.  For some time scientists have known the human body cannot manufacture all of the nutrients it needs from just any kind or combination of “food” products.  They are still trying to determine the full list of essential nutrients.  But they have determined that “foreign” substances, for instance excessive levels of partially hydrogenated oils or too many Omega-6 fatty acids, cause the body to spin out of control.  And in their conclusions they endorse what is often referred to as the Paleo diet, the Hunter Gatherer diet, or the Cavemen diet.

Reading Labels

This is why I read food labels.  I refuse to buy products that list partially hydrogenated oils, grain, corn syrup, or grain/nut oil additives on the label.  I insist on grass-fed meats and livestock products, which we raise, and cook with animal fats or in some cases small amounts of macadamia nut oil.  After I drew those lines in the sand and my diet changed to just natural foods such as grass-fed livestock products, vegetables, some fruits, some wild fish, rarely if any nuts, no grain whatsoever, virtually no beans and potatoes, and no high glycemic foods my weight dropped from 193 pounds to 146 while I continued to eat like a pig.

Far and away, most of the food sold in our nation's grocery stores or restaurants will not pass my simple tests.  That's why nutritional scientists say we have major problems in our nation's food supply, and that's why the diet of most Americans is so skewed from normal that health and health care costs are their greatest concerns.  Check out what I've reported.  Check out the food labels on the food you eat.  Check out the peer-reviewed nutritional research.  Then see if you don't think this knowledge is an opportunity to improve your nutritional health and that of your family and your friends.

Ted Slanker
Slanker Grass-Fed Meat