An extract from Food, Inc: The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than the last ten thousand. But the image we are sold is still the old rural America, a view of farmers, 30’s farmhouses, fields and picket fences. Food in our supermarkets (average 47,000 products) has become seasonless, tomatoes are available all year rounds. There are no longer bones in the meat aisle. If you follow the food chain back from the shrink-wrapped meat you have a very different reality. In the 70’s the top 5 beef packers controlled 25% of the market, now the top 45 control over 80% of the market. A handful of companies have changed what we eat and how we make our food. Modern agriculture is about making things faster and bigger and fatter and cheaper, nobody is thinking about the ecological health of the whole system.
Oprah says that some food industry organizations are saying that the film Food, Inc is biased and misleading but that we can make up our own minds, because we live in America. Isn’t that wonderful? For Oprah it boils down to making more conscious food decisions. Oprah recommends we watch it for ourselves and make our own decisions.
An extract from Food, Inc: Birds are raised and slaughtered in half the time they were 50 years ago and they’re now twice as big. People like white meat so chicken’s have been re-engineered to have bigger breasts. A farmer asks why you would raise a chicken in 3 months when you could do it in 49 days? More money in your pocket, The chickens never see sunlight. In the chicken house there is dust and feces everywhere, it is an assembly line with mass production. With the rapid growth of a chicken from a chick to fully grown in 7 weeks, alot of the internal organs and bones can’t keep up with the rate of growth, so many of the chickens can only take a few steps and then they fall down. Th intensive production systems produce alot of food on a small amount of land at an affordable price.
Oprah says after seeing the film she had to spread the message. Michael Pollan award-winning journalist and 4-times bestseller author is one of the foremost authorities on food in the world. Pollan says we re-engineered the bird- it is a great achievement in one way, it is now the cheap meat- the reason is breeding, diet, antibiotics and our willingness to tolerate this feedlot system. There is a price to be paid for the shortened lifespan of a chicken, and the price is antibiotics. If we give so many to the animals, they will no longer work for the people and we see alot of antibiotic resistant germs coming out of feed lots. Cheap food is great, and we have to acknowledge the achievement, but also the cost. Oprah asks how we feed America without mass-producing food- it’s the American way. Americans have done a good job of driving down food prices; we spend 9.5% of our income on food, the smallest percentage in the world. It’s hard to imagine we can make food production fair, humane and sustainable without increasing prices. Can we figure out how to mass-produce sustainable food? We don’t know exactly how yet but we can figure out how to do it if we can re-engineer a chicken.
Oprah asks how the Western diet relates to the rest of the world. It’s a confused treacherous landscape where cereal promises better focus in the classroom and a healthy heart. Most of what is in the supermarket is not “food”, it is an edible food-like substance. The western diet was invented about 100 years ago- lots of everything- processed meat, sugar, additives, added fat- except fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In other parts of the world people are healthy eating seal blubber or cow’s blood. Before the Western diet, people did not suffer from Type 2 diabetes, heart disease obesity etc. It’s not about fat or carbs but whole foods. The Inuit diet is very high in fat-75%- seal blubber- but they do not suffer from Type 2 diabetes, heart disease . How is that asks Oprah, we don’t know says Pollan, maybe it is all the Omega 3’s. What we know is that traditional diet eaters are not suffering high rates of chronic diseases. It is about eating minimally processed plants, meats and fungi.
#2: Dont eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
#7 avoid food containing ingredients that a third grader couldn’t pronounce
#13 Eat only foods that will eventually rot
One of theories is do you pay for real food or pay for the doctor? In 1960 they paid 18% of national income on food and 5% on healthcare. Today we pay 9% on food and 17% on healthcare. The less we spend on food the more we spend on healthcare. This is not about nutrients- as soon as you demonize one nutrient, another gets a free pass. Look at the low-fat kick we were all on for the last 40 years; everyone got fatter. Fat was taken out of the product and replaced with sugar, so now you can get a fat-free yogurt with more calories than a full-fat yogurt.
# 39 Eat all the junk food you like as long as you cook it yourself.
We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of pleasure, but we should earn it by cooking. Cooking is key to take back control from the corporations, who cannot cook well and use too much salt and so on. Oprah calls for a food revolution because it all boils down to convenience- cheap fast easy. It’s not that hard to eat well if you are willing to put a little more thought, a little more effort and a little more money into it.
Food Inc: With a dollar to spend and two hungry kids, it is easier to get a small burger at the drive-through which will fill the kids up more than a single vegetable. Candy and soda are really cheap. Diabetes is a national crisis.
One comment Pollan hears all the time is that people can’t afford to eat well. He says it is amazing that fast food is cheaper than fresh produce. This is because the fast food has been subsidized through federal agricultural policy, to the tune of $56 billion in ten years and we do nothing to subsidise the fresh produce industry. Corn, soy wheat have been subsidized. With a dollar to buy as many calories as you can, the snack aisle will get you 1250 calories, versus 250 calories in the produce aisle. The bottom line as seen in the documentary is that we see that the consumer has the biggest voice. We get three votes a day to vote with our forks. If you vote with consciousness, we can change. It is empowering.
Pollan eats everything but is very picky about what he eats. He’ll eat grass-fed beef, which is more expensive but becoming more common- they don’t need antibiotics because cows are meant to eat grass, rather than corn which is what most are bred to eat now. Corn-fed animals grow faster but they get sick. We should choose to eat meat which has been fed well. Oprah says she has nothing to say about the beef industry, she has gone radio-silent. The audience chuckles. Milk, he buys from pastured animals- it has more beta-carotene and omega 3s. He buys alot from farmer’s market. Getting out of the supermarket is a great way to get nearer to the source of our food. If we eat real food, we don’t need to worry about nutrients. It all boils down to one rule. Eat food, mostly plants, not too much. Oprah reminds us that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that we should watch the film and make up our own minds.
Alicia Silverstone is best known as the actress in the comedy classic Clueless. What you may not know is that she suffered from asthma,insomnia eczema, and acne, and she was constantly constipated. 12 years ago she revamped her diet and no longer suffers, she sleeps like a baby and has tons of energy. At 33 she feels great and she joins us from satellite by New York. Oprah says she loves Alicia’s book, The Simple Diet, and has got a lot of recipes from it. What did Alicia do? She stopped eating meat and dairy and processed foods and now eats a lot of deliciosus incredible easy food which makes her feel amazing. Her skin changed drastically, her body changed and her energy level changed. She used to have those white marks on her brittle nails and now they are so strong she can’t bend them. She used to feel puffy, then her eyes got really white and she feels amazing. She was on a steak and donut diet and then went cold turkey. She leaned in to it from age 8-21, because she was an animal lover. She would flirt with ideas of vegetarianism. At 21, after seeing some documentaries similar to Food, Inc showing how the animals were raised, she decied that if she couldn’t eat her dog then she couldn’t eat any other animal species. The kind diet refers to being truly kind to yourself, letting yourself have your best health, look your best, feel your best and feel your most vital. Being vegan is Alicia’s choice, Oprah tried it for 21 days on a cleanse and missed cheese so much she was dreaming of the cheese in an omelette. She asked if the chickens are treated well and there is music playing, and the cows are happy, is that ok? Alicia said she’d like to see the happy chicken and cows.
The book is about taking baby steps to become your best self, to flirt with the ideas wherever you are at. Alicia understands wanting and loving cheese- even she sometimes slips up on cheese, usually after wine, and she gets gassy and her skin breaks out. It’s about weighing up the benefits- and the costs. Yes cheese is delicious. but so are all the recipes in the book. Oprah just had something from the book today and last night. But being practical, Oprah doesn’t want to frighten people into trying to give everything up. Alicia says add things in, don’t give things up -things like kale, collard greens and bok choi.
Alicia takes the cameras around the grocery store. Grocery shopping is her most favorite thing in the world, she says that you can flirt with a healthy lifestyle. She picks up vegan fake chicken breasts from the freezer counter. She is eating better food than ever before. Wholegrain rice will change your life. Rice milk and help milk are great. Have greens twice a day. Have maple syrup instead of sugar. Ice cream alternatives- Rice Dream Mud Cakes will change your life.
Alicia heads to her Broadway costar’s house, to cook up some favorites; leek and mushroom and pesto crostinis and the cheesy oozy beany guacamole dip. Oprah has some cooked up meals from the book that she says are delicious. Treat yourself more kindly because you deserve to feel your best and find your truth. They talk about vegan poop and how fabulous it is- Alicia says she wants to show it to her friend, Oprah just wants to talk about it. It’s effortless, and quick and she’s in and out 2 or 3 times a day.
The average American eats fast food four times a week. Steve Ells, the man behind Chipotle, wants to change the way fast food is served in the US. Fast food with a conscience. Just because it’s fast doesn’t mean it has to be a fast food experience. Fast food to most means cheap and processed. At Chipotle everything is fast and never frozen, organic and local if possible. 100% of chicken and pork is naturally raised, and 60% of beef is naturally raised. This year they will serve 70 million pounds of meat. It’s really important both taste wise and enviromentally that the animals are allowed to roam outside. Sustainable food should not be a luxury, it should be an everyday experience.
Oprah welcomes Steve and he tells her to come to Chipotle. In 1993 when he just got out of cooking school, he set up Chipotle to provide seed money for his fancy restaurant but it got really busy. They had a great attention to detaill not usually found in fast food. They keep their standards high by doing a few thing s and teaching people how to cook, and fast. In the beginning it was just about freshness. But he was sourcing a new pork supplier and came across an Iowan pork that was humane and antibiotic free and it tasted great. Looking at pork in confinement, he decided not to base Chipotle on that model. We eat 200lb per person per year of meat- if all our animals were raised outside there would be a trade off- we’d have to eat less meat but it would be better quality.
Amazon.com friends are offering Food Inc for $9.99 with a free digital download. Michael Pollan’s final thoughts are that pioneers like Steve wil help us figure it out. You have to pay a little more and decide if it’s worth it to you. Think about how your decisions affect you and your children and their children. Thank you everybody.
WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:
Modern agriculture is about making things faster and bigger and fatter and cheaper, nobody is thinking about the ecological health of the whole system.
We can make up our own minds about these issues, because we live in America. Isn’t that wonderful?
Most of what is in the supermarket is not “food”, it is an edible food-like substance.
Consider being truly kind to yourself, letting yourself have your best health, look your best, feel your best and feel your most vital.
Vegan poop is effortless, quick and fabulous enough to consider sharing it with your friends.
A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:
Eat food, mostly plants, not too much