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Food for Thought Series

Program #TAUG001-POLM002-SHIV017-NIBD001-ROBJ002-BEZS007.

Gary Taubes - Sugar: How Sweet It Isn't 

Sugar is the tobacco of the new millennium: backed by powerful lobbies, entrenched in our lives, and making some people very sick. There is growing evidence that sugar triggers chronic diseases such as diabetes that are likely to kill us, or at least hasten our deaths. In the U.S. and Canada about 30% of the population has diabetes; obesity is at epidemic proportions; heart disease is rising; nearly 10% of children are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And sugar is a leading cause of these problems. It has permeated our diet: such as its uses as a preservative, as an additive in cigarettes, and the pervasiveness of high-fructose corn syrup. Long held assumptions about sugar are being reexamined. Some communities from Oakland to Boulder are now taxing sugary drinks. In terms of health sugar can be very bitter.

Michael Pollan - In Defense of Food

The Time magazine cover story, The Real Cost of Cheap Food, says, "Horror stories about the food industry have long been with us ever since 1906 when Upton Sinclair's landmark novel The Jungle exposed how America produces its meat. In the century that followed, things got much better, and in some ways much worse. Big agricultural can now produce unlimited quantities of meats and grains at remarkably cheap prices. But it does so at a high cost to the environment, animals and humans. Those hidden prices are the creeping erosion of our farmland, cages for chickens so packed that the birds can't even raise their wings and the scary rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria among farm animals. Add to the price tag the acceleration of global warming. Our energy intensive food system uses 19% of U.S. fossil fuels, more than any other sector in the economy. Since Americans are heeding such warnings and working to transform the way the country eats."

Vandana Shiva - Food Security & GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, GMOs have become hot button issues in more and more communities. GMOs are plants with altered DNA. Its proponents, large corporations like Monsanto, hail the technology as a revolutionary solution to feeding the world’s growing population. However, concerns are mounting about the risks posed by GMOs, both to human health and the environment. For example, they may produce new allergens and toxins, and spread harmful traits to non-GMO crops. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment cannot be recalled. Industry response is, Don’t worry. Eat to your heart’s content. But can we? Do we have a right to know what is in the food we eat? Are we preparing meals of Frankenfood or nutritious, safe, and healthy ones? Are corporations playing with Nature as if she were a Lego set?

John Robbins - The Food Revolution

Two-thirds of the products on supermarket shelves now contain genetically engineered ingredients that are not labeled. Do corporations have a responsibility to inform consumers about what's in their food? With livestock shot full of hormones and antibiotics to combat the disease generated in filthy crowded factory farms, and with much of soybean and corn genetically altered, how can consumers be sure they are eating a safe and healthy diet?

David Nibert - Animal Industrial Complex

Many have heard of the military-industrial complex, maybe even the prison-industrial complex, but the animal industrial complex? Probably not. But you should. It’s huge. Meat consumption per capita in the U.S. exceeds all other countries except for Luxemburg. The U.S. with its ubiquitous fast food outlets might be called Burgerstan. But the love affair with meat may be waning. The Hindu-Buddhist roots of vegetarianism have gone way beyond their origins in South Asia. Today, adherents of vegetarianism can be found everywhere and in ever growing numbers. Concern about cruelty and violence to animals and the impact of meat eating on the environment are all contributing to heightened awareness as to how we treat other creatures. We share our homes and lives with dogs and cats. We lavish care and affection upon them. But other animals endure pain and suffering on their way to our dinner plates.

Stephen Bezruchka - Toward a Healthy Society

It's no secret. The poor get the short end of the stick in multiple ways. They live shorter lives and suffer from almost every social problem from lack of decent housing to lousy food to no healthcare to being isolated and reviled. Poverty results in toxic levels of stress. Among the countries in the world, the U.S. ranks in the "top" five in measurable stress, according to an ongoing Gallup survey. Consumerism and the so-called good life are elevated to an almost idyllic plain. But selfish me tooism lead a lot of people to an emotional dead end. It's time to move beyond vacuous slogans such as Looking Out for Number One. Cooperation and collaboration are salubrious. Why does it make good medical as well as moral sense to have a healthy society?

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