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  1. TopTop #1
    Glia's Avatar
    Glia
     

    Environmental Working Group Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change+Health

    This is a good organization that also puts out guides to sunblocks, cosmetics, and pesticides.
    ===============
    What's for dinner?

    It's a question I hear a lot from my kids. When we sit down to dinner, I want to know that -- no matter what we're eating -- the food on our table is healthy for them and for the environment.

    I want you and your family to feel just as good about the food on your dinner tables. That's why we created the Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change + Health -- so you'll have key information to help you make smart choices about food.

    Click here to check out EWG's easy-to-use shopper's guide.

    As I read the final report, I was reminded that our daily decisions about the food we eat have a significant impact on the environment. Most American children consume three to four times more protein, primarily from meat, than is recommended. I hope you'll join my family in pledging to use EWG's guide to make less of an impact on the environment by making healthier choices.

    At EWG, we're dedicated to empowering you with the information you need to help your family eat healthier and greener -- and we want to make it as easy as possible. So we have pulled together great resources such as quick tips to pick greener proteins, a meat and dairy product label decoder and some great books and recipes.

    Check out EWG's Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change + Health!

    With the right information at your fingertips, it's a lot easier to do something great for the health of your family and the planet. I hope you find these tips and the guide as useful as I do!

    Sincerely,
    Jane Houlihan
    Senior Vice President for Research, EWG
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  3. TopTop #2
    DynamicBalance's Avatar
    DynamicBalance
     

    Re: Environmental Working Group Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change+Health

    I’m disappointed to see the EWG pushing low-fat dogma. Even the mainstream media is (slowly) beginning to pick up on the fact that low-fat is not a healthy way to eat for the majority of people. I’d like to see organizations like the EWG promoting whole foods, not meat and dairy from which the fat has been removed. The fat is there for a reason, and taking it away compromises the nutrition of the food (in addition to being totally wasteful). A Swedish study found that children on low-fat diets had higher BMIs than those who ate more fat. High-fat diets have been shown to be more beneficial for weight loss than low-fat diets.

    Women who eat low-fat dairy products are significantly more likely to be infertile than those who eat full-fat dairy. In addition, the Swedish Mammography Cohort found that the higher the intake of full-fat dairy, the lower the risk of colorectal cancer in women. High-fat dairy products have sustained human health for thousands of years. Low-fat dairy, on the other hand, is a relatively new concept. I believe that the incredible popularity of low-fat dairy is in part responsible for the unbelievable increase in obesity we’ve seen in recent years. Homesteaders who have raised hogs know that skim milk is one of the best foods for fattening a hog. Ever since we began removing the natural fat from our meat and dairy, our health as a nation has suffered. We didn’t evolve eating skim milk!

    There’s a lot of good advice in the EWG report. I appreciated their emphasis on choosing grass-fed and organic animal products, reducing food waste (although apparently chicken skin doesn't count), using dry beans instead of canned to avoid BPA, and avoiding GMO’s. However, there are other things that I find highly questionable, like the promotion of tofu as an “excellent source of plant protein”. Unfermented soy is extremely high in phytic acid, which significantly blocks mineral absorption and also acts as a trypsin inhibitor. Trypsin is an enzyme that digests protein, so trypsin inhibitors = impaired protein digestion. I would never consider tofu to be an excellent source of protein. Naturally-fermented tempeh is a much better choice.

    In fact, all beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain various levels of enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients that need to be neutralized for the foods to be truly nutritious. These are natural defense mechanisms for the seed (they defend against being eaten and premature sprouting). Animal proteins do not contain these elements, so the protein is far more digestible. This is because animals can run away and defend themselves against predators, while seeds cannot. Their only defense is in their naturally-occurring anti-nutrients that harm the predators that eat them. Animal proteins also contain a more complete amino acid profile than plant proteins, making them a superior choice for many reasons. According to the USDA, 73.4% of all individuals in the U.S. get less than the RDA for zinc, and almost half of us get less than 75% of the RDA! Red meat happens to be one of the best sources of zinc there is. Plant proteins, on the other hand, contain much lower amounts of zinc, and the phytic acid they contain prevents it from being absorbed.

    I disagree with the assertion that we need to eat less meat to be healthy or to save the environment. There is nothing inherently unhealthy or environmentally-unfriendly about meat (yes, even red meat!). The problems with meat come with the way we raise the meat, as well as the ways in which we approach eating in general.

    First of all, the EWG cites a number of studies that show a correlation between red meat consumption and increased incidence of various health problems. It’s imperative to remember that correlation does not equal causation. Just because a certain dietary trait is correlated with a health problem does not mean that it caused the health problem. To illustrate this point, consider the fact that the vast majority of people believe that red meat is unhealthy. It is very reasonable to assume that in general, people who eat the least red meat tend to be those who are the most health-conscious. These are the people who are the most likely to exercise, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, choose organic foods when possible, and avoid smoking, just to name a few factors that can profoundly influence overall health. My personal experience with clients has supported this assumption. On the other hand, people who eat the most red meat (in general) tend to care less about their health and be more likely to smoke, be sedentary, etc. Another factor is that most people who eat a burger eat it with a bun, generally made from refined flour, as well as condiments which likely contain high-fructose corn syrup. If the burger was cooked on a flat-top grill, was it cooked in a natural fat like butter or in the cheap rancid vegetable oils that most restaurants use? These are major confounding factors that have to be considered before we can jump to the conclusion that it is red meat that is causing health problems.

    Second, according to the USDA’s data, between 1970 and 2000, average consumption of beef dropped 20% and lamb dropped 60%, while consumption of poultry increased by 90%! In other words, over a 30 year period, people have been following the (misinformed) advice to eat less red meat. They have made substantial changes to their diets, largely replacing red meat with poultry. If red meat were truly so unhealthy, we would expect to see a noticeable improvement in overall health from these lifestyle changes. But that has not been the case. In fact, during this time period we have seen a huge increase in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

    Third, I personally believe that eating muscle meat at the expense of the rest of the animal is not conducive to optimal health. Healthy primitive cultures used all parts of the animal as food, including bones, organs, and connective tissue. It seems likely to me that eating muscle meat without these other parts could lead to nutritional imbalances in the long run. We did not evolve eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts! My advice to people seeking health is not necessarily to eat less meat, but instead to incorporate more skin, bone broth, and organ meats into their diets.

    From an environmental perspective, grazing cattle have simply replaced other wild ruminants like the massive herds of buffalo that once grazed the Great Plains. Did these herds of buffalo harm the environment? No, actually they produced some of the most fertile and abundant topsoil in the world, most of which has been sadly wasted due to our misguided agricultural practices. Properly managed grazing is one of the best ways to improve soil fertility. A common argument against eating meat is that livestock take up space that could be used to grow grains and legumes. But the fact is, much of the world’s land is unsuitable for agriculture and perfectly suited for grazing animals. Grazing lands have also recently been shown in a scientific study to be essential habitat for pollinating insects. If pollinators depend on grazing lands, how can it possibly follow that grazing animals are bad for the environment? The entire ecosystem depends on pollinators!

    Fermentation in the rumen is the process that brings us vitamin K2 and CLA. It’s the process that converts energy from the sun in the form of green grass into nutritious animal foods. Humans can’t eat grass, but we can eat meat, dairy, and eggs that are derived from that grass. Local grass-fed and pastured animal products are the ultimate in solar-powered food. Even better, it’s a simple matter to capture the methane from fermenting manure and use it as a cooking or heating fuel that otherwise would go to waste. If more people realized the potential for this, we could substantially reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

    Furthermore, the massive monocultures of corn, soy, and wheat that some so-called environmentalists would have us rely upon for our food are anything but environmentally-friendly! Diesel-fueled machines must be used for plowing, sowing, cultivating, spraying pesticides and herbicides, and harvesting. And how many people actually stop there and eat these foods in their whole form? The vast majority of these crops are trucked to a processing plant where they are split into various fractions and made into industrially-processed, denatured food-like products. This processing requires even more fossil fuels. In contrast, nearly the entire process of raising cattle or sheep on pasture is powered by the sun.

    The advice for people to eat less meat is based on reductionist thinking. If everyone were to stop eating meat and dairy, how could we grow enough plant proteins to feed everyone without resorting to chemical fertilizers? It would be literally impossible without the manure, blood meal, and bone meal that organic farmers everywhere rely upon to produce their crops. And as I’ve already mentioned, plant proteins are inferior to animal proteins when it comes to nutrition and digestibility. I absolutely do not believe that we have to sacrifice our own health for the health of the planet. There’s no need to be environmental martyrs. We are part of nature, and what’s good for us is good for nature.

    Thanks for reading!

    Laurel Blair, NTP
    www.dynamicbalancenutrition.com
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  5. TopTop #3
    Glia's Avatar
    Glia
     

    Re: Environmental Working Group Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change+Health

    There is a movie available on Netflix called "Fat Head" and it addresses the diet issues you refer to below in a witty and pleasantly informative way. It also explains how a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet does nothing for cardiovascular health -- that turns out to be as bogus as circumcision as an anti-cancer prophylactic -- and causes metabolic syndrome and diabetes. He also talks about the weird vegetable oils and trans fats and the metabolic havoc that they wreak. There are some good interviews included in the movie. It is worth the 104 minutes to view it.

    Here's the description of the flick:
    While most people saw the documentary Super Size Me as an exposé of the fast food industry, comedian and former health writer Tom Naughton saw it as a dare: He'd show that you could lose weight on a diet of burgers and fries. In addition to chronicling Naughton's weight drop, the film provides interviews with doctors, nutritionists and others to drive home his thesis that most of what we know about "healthy eating" is wrong.
    One of the issues the EWG eating guide is trying to address is the environmental impact of bringing meat and dairy products to market. Not only does it contribute to greenhouse gasses and such, but it uses large amounts of water. Of course making an effort to eat organic, grass-fed and locally-raised animal products is a great start, but that is not realistic for a lot of people.

    You're right that the low-fat dogma has got to go. Maybe the EWG needs to watch Fat Head too!

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by DynamicBalance: View Post
    I’m disappointed to see the EWG pushing low-fat dogma. Even the mainstream media is (slowly) beginning to pick up on the fact that low-fat is not a healthy way to eat for the majority of people. I’d like to see organizations like the EWG promoting whole foods, not meat and dairy from which the fat has been removed. The fat is there for a reason, and taking it away compromises the nutrition of the food (in addition to being totally wasteful). A Swedish study found that children on low-fat diets had higher BMIs than those who ate more fat. High-fat diets have been shown to be more beneficial for weight loss than low-fat diets. ...
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  6. TopTop #4
    DynamicBalance's Avatar
    DynamicBalance
     

    Re: Environmental Working Group Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change+Health

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Glia: View Post
    There is a movie available on Netflix called "Fat Head" and it addresses the diet issues you refer to below in a witty and pleasantly informative way. It also explains how a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet does nothing for cardiovascular health -- that turns out to be as bogus as circumcision as an anti-cancer prophylactic -- and causes metabolic syndrome and diabetes. He also talks about the weird vegetable oils and trans fats and the metabolic havoc that they wreak. There are some good interviews included in the movie. It is worth the 104 minutes to view it.

    Here's the description of the flick:
    While most people saw the documentary Super Size Me as an exposé of the fast food industry, comedian and former health writer Tom Naughton saw it as a dare: He'd show that you could lose weight on a diet of burgers and fries. In addition to chronicling Naughton's weight drop, the film provides interviews with doctors, nutritionists and others to drive home his thesis that most of what we know about "healthy eating" is wrong.
    One of the issues the EWG eating guide is trying to address is the environmental impact of bringing meat and dairy products to market. Not only does it contribute to greenhouse gasses and such, but it uses large amounts of water. Of course making an effort to eat organic, grass-fed and locally-raised animal products is a great start, but that is not realistic for a lot of people.

    You're right that the low-fat dogma has got to go. Maybe the EWG needs to watch Fat Head too!
    I haven't seen the movie Fat Head, just the trailer. I'm a little confused as to why Tom Naughton would want to eat so much fast food when his movie is exposing the dangers of vegetable oils and trans fats, abundantly present in fast foods. I totally support his efforts to prove that meat and saturated fat are not unhealthy, but what is the message of his movie? That you can eat as much fast food as you want and be healthy? The meat in fast food isn't even real meat! It is clearly possible to eat junk food and lose weight, but that doesn't mean that it will support health. Maybe watching the movie would clear things up for me?

    As far as locally and sustainably-raised animal products go, it's true that a lot of people don't have access to them. That is the real problem. I'd like to see government supporting local farmers who are raising animals responsibly, but sadly the opposite is true. Local farmers are burdened with excessive regulations and fees that are designed with agribusiness in mind. In most cases, they are written directly by the industry in order to drive out the competition. These regulations are totally inappropriate for small, diversified farms, and they drive up the cost significantly, making these health-promoting products unaffordable for many people. At lot of farmers cannot afford to be certified organic even though in practice they run organic farms. It costs around $2000 a year for certification! Why are we punishing the people who want to do the right thing, while conventional farmers who pollute the environment, abuse animals, and produce inferior products don't have to pay an extra dime???

    Even worse, local governments in California are issuing cease-and-desist orders to folks who are providing a valuable service to their communities by boarding cows and goats for herdshare owners. Not everyone has the resources, skills, or time to care for a cow, but they can purchase a share in a cow and receive milk every week. It saddens me to see government officials harassing the farmers who are just trying to make healthy local foods available to everyone.

    This issue is important to me because my dream is to have a sustainable mixed farm that provides healthy food for my family and my neighbors. Sadly, it is next to impossible for me to do that here. The only people who can afford it are those whose families already own land or who are independently wealthy. Even then, the start-up costs are unbelievable, the regulations are burdensome and excessive, and the profits to be made are minimal. Remember, these farmers are competing with the industrial agricultural model that pumps out unbelievable amounts of (unbelievably low-quality) food at extremely low prices. They also run the risk of being raided by authorities at gunpoint and having their products and equipment seized. Not many people are willing to risk that. I know that many young people like myself desperately want to be farmers, but it just doesn't seem like a viable option for them. If we want to see things change in our country, we need to support the farmers who are doing things the right way, and be vocal about the need to protect them from corrupt government officials.

    Fortunately for us, in Sonoma County we do have access to quality animal products, and it's more affordable than people might think, as long as you're willing to be creative. I often find grass-fed beef on sale at Oliver's Market for $2-3/pound, which I then buy a lot of and freeze. Even at full price, grass-fed beef can be purchased for $4/pound from John Ford at the SR Farmer's Market every other Saturday, which is the same price you would pay at Oliver's Market for conventional beef! The bottom line is that if you can afford to buy regular beef in Sonoma County, you can afford grass-fed beef, as long as you don't eat steak or other expensive cuts every day.

    Another thing to consider.....how many people purchase multivitamins or omega-3 oils (which, incidentally, may or may not contain what they claim on the label, and could actually be harmful rather than helpful), but then balk at spending the extra $2-3 for a dozen pasture-raised eggs? It has been proven that pastured eggs contain far more nutrition than conventional, organic, or so-called "free-range" eggs from chickens eating grain. Same for pastured vs. conventional meats. And nutrients are better absorbed from foods than from multivitamins anyway. How many people spend a small fortune on glucosamine and chondroitin supplements when they could be making homemade bone broth for next to nothing? These are the things I'd like to see people considering if they really want to support their own health and the environment.

    Laurel Blair, NTP
    www.dynamicbalancenutrition.com
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  8. TopTop #5
    Glia's Avatar
    Glia
     

    Re: Environmental Working Group Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change+Health

    Naughton did the 30 days of fast food to prove a point and be a counter-argument to the allegations made in "supersize me."

    He does discuss he long-term health issues of eating a fast-food only diet, and he also spends some time illustrating the idea of LIMITING QUANTITIES and making good choices regardless of where you eat. However, he makes a good point: fast food such as burgers and fried chicken are available because that's what people like to eat. As he puts it, we are not the first species on earth to crave stuff that's we should not eat. The problem is all the weird pseudo-food garbage that is put into prepared foods, as you point out.

    Definitely watch the movie! You obviously have an internet connection and you can try Netflix for free. (If you decide to subscribe, it's $8 per month.)

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by DynamicBalance: View Post
    I haven't seen the movie Fat Head, just the trailer. I'm a little confused as to why Tom Naughton would want to eat so much fast food when his movie is exposing the dangers of vegetable oils and trans fats, abundantly present in fast foods. I totally support his efforts to prove that meat and saturated fat are not unhealthy, but what is the message of his movie? That you can eat as much fast food as you want and be healthy? The meat in fast food isn't even real meat! It is clearly possible to eat junk food and lose weight, but that doesn't mean that it will support health. Maybe watching the movie would clear things up for me?
    | Login or Register (free) to reply publicly or privately   Email

  9. TopTop #6
    Speak2Truth
     

    Re: Environmental Working Group Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change+Health

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by DynamicBalance: View Post
    I disagree with the assertion that we need to eat less meat to be healthy or to save the environment. There is nothing inherently unhealthy or environmentally-unfriendly about meat (yes, even red meat!).
    I was born an omnivore as were my ancestors. It's the natural diet to which my body is adapted. I'd be depriving me of something if I skipped that wonderful Buffalo Burger.

    Thanks for that dose of reality.
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