April 8, 2005

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Fresh Air Photos

Quiet Pandemic II    -  Obesity and Food Ethics

In this issue

  • Why pick (on) corn?
  • Toyota Prius - see it now
  • Grassland photos - view them now
  • Inside the FDA - read it now
  • Prior KF Newsletters - view list now
  • Read KF News at web site - click here or click the KF button at upper left
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  • Why pick (on) corn?

    "In the Popul Vuh, the creation stories of the Maya, corn is a central symbol of life. After several attempts to create people, the eight primordial gods of the sea and sky finally get it right through a mixture of blood, bones, and corn. In the same stories, the mythic "hero twins" plant corn outside the house of their grandmother. If the corn withers and dies, they tell her, she will know that they have been killed.

    "From the Maya to the White Mountain Apache to the six tribes that now make up the Iroquois nation, many of the indigenous cultures of the Americas have an oral tradition in which corn plays a role. Today, the Iroquois are still adding to theirs."

    Co-op America Quarterly, No. 60, Summer 2003, pg. 23
    Good Food: The Joy, Health & Security of It
    Web link -- www.coopamerica.org

    Corn has been the primary sustaining food for many cultures of the Americas. So (it would seem) it isn't inherently a bad thing. The problem today is that it has become an agribusiness monocrop laden with chemicals and used primarily to make unhealthy processed drinks and foods (for humans and cows).

    What is going on?
    How can this happen?
    How should we think about this?

    It's a fact that food calories originating in farm products find their way to our tables and they are the fuel of obesity, so...

  • Shall we fault the farmers for doing what they do best ?
  • How about blaming the food industries that make the high calorie products?
  • Then, of course, there are the advertisers driving sales, what about them?
  • And don't forget the agencies who monitor food quality, what are they up to?
  • Finally there are consumers repeatedly purchasing the goods, aren't we at fault?
  • This is a pretty good outline of the present day food chain, excluding politics and world markets. The real answer about how we at the problems we have today lies in the history of this food chain. Call it the industrialization of food. Call it the corporatization of farming. Call it the homogenization of taste. These are all part of the story. Complete answers could fill volumes.

    For the sake of acting when and where we can, it may be best to concern ourselves with "therapy" rather than with "diagnosis". It is accepted that this patient, our public health, is sick.

    Similar to "going off the grid", the approach used by alternative energy advocates, the best answer to unhealthy food products is to step outside of the system - top to bottom.

    Here are actions that make a difference:

  • Understand and support LLE's (Local Living Economies) ------ BALLE web site
  • Buy foods that are chemical and processing free
  • Shop in markets that buy from local farms - find the best food in your community
  • Shop at farmer's markets
  • Join the Slow Food movement ------------------------ Slow Food Movement web site
  • Above all, educate yourself and others
  • Web link - BALLE web site
    Web link -- Slow Food Movement web site

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    Toyota Prius

    We drove about 300 miles this past week to take pictures at dawn in the Pawnee National Grassland (NE Colorado). The trip was about equal parts of Interstate, State highways and gravel roads. We averaged 57 MPG! Comparing this to the trip to Oklahoma described 4/1, there was no wind and the temperature was in the 50's and 60's. A 10 MPG difference seems a lot but its a fact.

    Web Link - Toyota Prius web page
    Web Site - Prius Home Page - book a test drive
    Web Site - Yahoo Prius E-Mail Group

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    Pawnee National Grassland photographs   -   Sunrise photos April 2, 2005

    Web Site - Pawnee National Grassland

    5:10 AM - real colors, no kidding!

    5:35 AM - looking east across prairie

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    Fran Hawthorne

    Inside the FDA
    The Business and Politics Behind the Drugs We Take and the Foods We Eat

    "The swarm of misleading and missing nutritional information meant that people were undoubtedly chowing down on far more calories than they realized. This of course meant they were probably buying more Coke and muffins than they would have had they known just how many calories the food truly contained - which contributed to the food makersą profits as well as the national epidemic of obesity.

    "Starting in the summer of 2003, the FDA issued a contradictory flurry of new labeling proposals that both toughened and loosened the rules. It also created a special Obesity Working Group to study what the agency might do to reverse the national trend.

    "After the Obesity Working Group issued its recommendations in 2004, the FDA moved slowly to update the rules on serving sizes, but it still was not clear whether those would be voluntary or mandatory. The regulators also promised to consider making the calorie count more prominent on food labels and to come up with some definition of low carbohydrates before the end of the year. So give the agency the benefit of the doubt, and give consumers another point for those efforts combined.

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    PDF Links

    This is a list of prior issues of KF newsletters.
    All are available for reading online at the web site and as PDF files   GO TO WEB SITE

    April 8, 2005 - Quiet Pandemic II, Why pick (on) corn?
    April 1, 2005 - A Quiet Pandemic, Obesity and Food Ethics
    March 25, 2005 - Special, Downsized Dreams
    March 18, 2005 - Mission, Modeling Diversity - Part V
    March 11, 2005 - Limits, Modeling Diversity - Part IV
    March 4, 2005 - Grasslands History, Modeling Diversity - Part III
    February 25, 2005 -Native Grasslands, Modeling Diversity - Part II
    February 18, 2005 - Polyculture Grains, Modeling Diversity
    February 7, 2005 - Photojournalism, A Model of Diversity

    George Beggs 4/2005 - Feedback is welcome

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