More Wisdom from Jon Gilson

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Disturbing Counsel

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the United States Department of Agriculture is an asphalt factory.

The
USDA is responsible for providing Americans with dietary
recommendations.  Unfortunately, they’re also responsible for creating
national and international markets for American crops, a money-driven
mission that makes a mockery of diet and health.

The United
States’ primary agricultural products—wheat, corn, and milk—are all
carbohydrate-rich.  This is not a problem in and of itself, were the
USDA to recommend their consumption in moderation.  They do not.  The
USDA asks Americans to consume over of 70% of their calories from these
sources.

Carbohydrate
consumption, in the form of wheat, milk, and high fructose corn syrup,
subsidizes American crops and keeps the USDA in business.

The financial incentive for this request, embodied by the Food
Pyramid, is easy to ascertain.  More carbohydrate consumption, in the
form of wheat, milk, and high fructose corn syrup, subsidizes American
crops and keeps the USDA in business.  It benefits the economy and the
American farmer, a worthy endpoint.

Regrettably, it also prescribes hyperinsulinemia to 300 million trusting souls.

Hyperinsulinemia
is a state of chronically elevated blood sugar, brought about by the
incessant overconsumption of carbohydrates.  It is linked to diabetes,
heart disease, and obesity through a very simple and undeniable causal
chain.

Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, removes
sugar from the bloodstream, putting it into cellular storage for later
energy production.  When blood sugar is chronically elevated, insulin
is unable to remove the bulk, and the pancreas ramps production back,
recognizing the futility of rampant insulin release.  Sugar remains in
the blood stream, where it oxidizes with LDL cholesterol and creates
arterial plaques.  

Artery walls harden, and people die.  

Clearly,
money and health are at odds at the USDA, yet the conflict of interest
goes unaddressed.  As their mission statement illustrates, the
organization is more interested in the economic benefits of high
carbohydrate consumption than they are in health of the American people:
    

“USDA
has created a strategic plan to implement its vision. The framework of
this plan depends on these key activities: expanding markets for
agricultural products and support(ing) international economic
development, further developing alternative markets for agricultural
products and activities, providing financing needed to help expand job
opportunities and improve housing, utilities and infrastructure in
rural America, enhancing food safety by taking steps to reduce the
prevalence of foodborne hazards from farm to table, improving nutrition
and health by providing food assistance and nutrition education and
promotion, and managing and protecting America's public and private
lands working cooperatively with other levels of government and the
private sector.”

Nutrition warrants a brief mention, but
actions speak louder than words.  Visiting mypyramid.gov, I plugged in
my statistics to get a dietary recommendation.  As a 5’9”, 170-pound
male with less than a half-hour of physical activity per day, the site
recommended I eat 2600 calories per day, including a whopping 9 ounces
of grains and 24 ounces of milk, while consuming only 6.5 ounces of
meat.  

Per the Zone Diet, my recommendations amounted to 27
blocks of carbohydrates, 9.5 blocks of protein, and 24 blocks of fat, a
short path to hyperinsulinemia and more than enough to induce obesity.

Seemingly unaware that they’d just doomed me to poor health, the USDA left me this little gem:

“The
weight you entered is above the healthy range for your height. This may
increase your risk for health problems. Some people who are overweight
should consider weight loss. Click here for more information about
health risks and whether you should try to lose weight, or talk with
your health care provider.”
     

The irony is palpable.

Given
the USDA’s (colossally laughable) position as America’s foremost
authority on nutrition, this ignorance is unforgivable, and worth
fighting.  The power to dictate diet needs to be removed from the hands
of an organization with so much skin in the game, and transferred to
individuals with the knowledge and freedom to act in the best interests
of the American people.

This will not happen at the top level.
Billions of dollars and an extraordinarily powerful farming lobby
dictate that grassroots education and individual change are the only
tenable way to affect a diet revolution in America.

American farmer or no, this will not stand.  We will bring the
USDA’s elemental flaw to light, one person at a time. The road to hell
is still under construction, but we’re bringing the jackhammers, and
the asphalt will crumble. 

Chris fights obesity at Crossfit Boston.  Picture courtesy of The Napping Poet.

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