Thursday, August 7, 2008


Supposing I come to you with the following proposition: "I know you hate to eat vegtables. I hate it too, but here is what I will do for you. For a price, of course, I will eat your vegtables. You can eat pies, cakes, cookies, hot dogs, fries, chips, anything you want and not worry about it, because you know that I will be eating spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, broccoli and all that sort of thing, for you." I suspect that most people would say that closing with such a bargain would be stupid. But the important question is, "since almost all Americans would say that closing such a bargain would be insane, why do they actually eat as though they had closed it? I think there are at least two answers. First, most Americans do not really believe that what they eat is all that important. And second, Americans have been fed so much information and misinformation about what is best to eat, that they are hopelessly confused, and simply give up and eat whatever they want.

Let's deal with the second problem first. In his excellent book, "The China Study", T. Colin Campbell lists a typical days menu that falls within the current government recommendations for a healthy diet. For breakfast he suggests a bowl of Fruit Loops with low fat milk, with M&M candies for dessert. For lunch and double cheeseburger is recommended. Since that isn't much, a big meal is called for dinner consisting of 3 large slices of pizza, a large glass of soda pop, and a hearty helping of sugar cookies for dessert. He breaks this down and shows exactly how this menu fits into the current government guidelines for a healthy diet. The key, of course, is that if you do eat that way you have to take a multi-vitamin pill. So essentially, the government bureaucrats paid to recommend our lifestyle and diet, are saying that we can eat whatever we want as long as we take a multivitamin.

Now to the first problem. Essentially, that problem is why do Americans believe this. Do they really think that they can be healthy on a diet of Fruit Loops, M&Ms, cheeseburgers, pizza and sugar cookies as long as they take a multivitamin pill? The answer is that they probably don't think about it. They are convinced, because our political leaders have essentially told them so, that because they are Americans, they can live as irresponsibly as the rich have traditionally lived. And just as the rich have assumed they could in some way buy themselves out of the consequences of that irresponsibility, so Americans are told that if they vote for the right people, those people will see that their irresponsibility is paid for.

The consequences of both of these problems is, of course, tragic. At enormous cost, our people are indeed surviving many years with cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, and numerous other chronic diseases. But how long will we be able to pay the cost?

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