Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quality control in your cupboards and fridge

I have touched on this subject before, pointing out that the US (as a percentage of income) has the lowest food costs and the highest medical costs in the world.  I do not think it is a coincidence.  In our quest for cheap food, we are willing to eat just about anything!  We want QUANTITY, not QUALITY!!!

We are the only nation in the world that has a single digit cost of food at  9.3%, next nearest being nearly 12%.  And yet I hear people complain about the cost of food all the time.  I watch people at the Farmers Market, where I have a booth, walk across the aisle to buy non-organic produce to save ten to fifteen percent in cost.  Do the math - at 15%, if they paid 15% more for every bite of food, it would increase their cost as a percent of income from 9.3% to 10.7%.  That means they are willing to eat chemicals to save 1.4% of their income for what?  Sometimes it is truly a necessity, but for many, most I would guess, it is for cable TV, or gas for the SUV, or for that second or third car for convenience.  And with some of them, I can see what they are spending it on by taking a good look at them - expensive jewelry and clothing, a pack of cigarettes in purse or pocket.  No problem.  They find the money for all of those unnecessary things, and for something as necessary, as critical to their health, as good food, they complain about cost.

I have a long history of working in heavy manufacturing.  Tough gig for a woman, but I loved it.  And one of the things I watched was the quality movement.  We got our butts whupped by the Japanese in the '80s, as well we should have.  I worked in a GM stamping plant just outside of Chicago. We were getting rid of presses because we thought they were incapable of making good parts.  Japanese auto companies bought our junk, fixed them, and made great parts.  How'd they do that?

"A prophet is without honor in his own land."  Edward Deming's main thesis regarding quality was that it could not be inspected in at the end of the line, but must be designed in at the beginning. No amount of inspection can make good parts  Inspection just finds the bad ones after the fact.  After the US's initial rejection of Deming's theories, he went to Japan with his message.  We know what happened, and we finally got on board.  

You may well be asking what all of this has to do with diet.  Let's apply Deming's principles to our diet.  Medical care is the inspection at the end of the line.  We turn to medicine because we are not healthy.  Medicine may return us to our previous good health, and while it has its place, it is there to fix us because we are in some way broken.  And all too often, the medicines we take have side effects that lead us to other health problems.  Isn't it better to stay healthy in the first place?  Isn't it better to design health into our diets?  What are we doing to make sure we do not get sick?  Very little, in my opinion.

I see much misguided advice on what we need to do to prevent illness.  Most of the bad information started with Ancel Keys's Seven Country Study.  He is the reason that my mother's very good Food Wheel, which resided on the inside of a cupboard door, got thrown out for the pernicious and HORRIBLE Food Pyramid.  He is the reason that fat, especially saturated fat, became maligned.  Just as an aside, he lived to be 100, but I am thoroughly convinced that he was sneaking butter!  He had a hypothesis - the lipid hypothesis, a.k.a. fat is bad for us - and he would prove it, facts be damned!  He started out with 22 countries, and if their data didn't fit the trend line, out they went, until he was left with data from only seven of the original 22 countries, thus "proving" his hypothesis. Not one study has ever supported this hypothesis, but we took it and ran with it, and our increase in heart trouble, obesity, diabetes and cancer dovetails nicely with our increase in carbohydrate consumption. Yes, we replaced fat with carbohydrates.

A friend has cancer.  She told me that she had decided to eat better, which she believed meant cutting out fat.  I asked her what she was replacing it with.  She looked at me blankly.  Something most people forget is that if you eat less fat, you must replace those calories with something else, unless you are obese, which my friend is not, and that something is almost always carbohydrates, protein being your only other choice.  Cancer loves carbohydrates.  Even unrefined wheat flour.  It's a carb.  And the only thing that makes whole grain wheat flour better than white flour is the oil (yes, the FAT!) that's left in the wheat when it is not refined.  My friend probably needs to eat better fat, not less fat.  She needs to eat butter from organic grass fed cows.  She needs to eat organic coconut oil and lard.  She needs to cut out as many carbs as she can, and the ones that remain should be - you guessed it - leafy greens, like collards, cabbage and kale.  And they should be topped with some cream (raw, organic) and butter (raw, organic).  And some sea salt, or even better, Himalayan pink salt because it has the perfect balance of minerals that our body needs.

Hopefully you will imprint the following sentences on your mind so that they are with you every time you shop.  
  1. If we do not get protein in our diets, we will die.  
  2. If we do not get fat in our diets, we will die.  
  3. #1 and #2 are unequivocal facts, cannot be denied.  Ask your doctor.
  4. If you never ate another carbohydrate - I mean not even one gram of carbohydrates a day - you would live.  We do not need carbohydrates to live.  Ask your doctor.
  5. Read Gary Taubes's well documented book Good Calories Bad Calories just in case your doctor is misinformed.  Even Dr. Andrew Weil is coming around, and supports this book.  Watch Dr. Weil here   Dr. Weil supports Gary Taubes's book.
But you are saying, "We wouldn't be healthy!"  Yes, we would.  This is getting way too big for a daily blog.  I'm going to quit now, but will parse this up into bits.  If you are interested in food and health, if you want to read more about how to apply Deming's quality principles into your diet, then stay tuned.  Otherwise, I'll see you later, when the subject matter changes to "Tilapia - my next project."

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