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Finally, Some Anti-Fat Ads!

AnnieMcPhee posted a comment in a forum topic pointing to an article I'd like to share.

If you're in the US, you might recall seeing government anti-fat ads - the ones where people find fat body parts lying about. Apparently some folks in the anti-fat rights movement are upset by this, and want more hard-hitting ads. Essentially, they want marketing and extreme-ness to shame us into losing weight - much like the Truth series of ads treat smoking without kid gloves.

"I think Small Steps' is a euphemism for small vision," said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Center for Eating and Weight Disorders.

Lest you ever think Kelly Brownell is really on our side, here's some evidence.

That drama [as in anti-smoking ads from New York state] is lacking in the obesity spots — for example, none have offered a surgeon's view of fat, or dramatized a death from Type 2 diabetes, or shown a person complaining about how a fat neighbor's medical bills are costing taxpayers.

Gee, great ideas guys! Can we also have an ad about how the fat neighbor got his ass fired from a job because of his size? Or how he wasn't able to sit on a chair in a public university because all of the chairs had arms? Oh, wait! Wait! How about an ad about how a fat neighbor was shamed into losing weight and feeling terrible about her body? Because that would be a great ad!

In 2005, the group put out a spot in which doctors yank a pizza and jumbo-sized soda away from an intently eating fat boy and toss him an apple. They put out another in which the same doctors haul away fatty foods from a restaurant called Chubby's.

Oh man! That's subtle!

There's some discussion towards the end of the article suggesting that the government doesn't have the guts to go against food producers. Truth or not, moving these ads into the more EXTREME!!! category is a dangerous way to go. The backlash will either be against us or against the people who made the ads; I'd rather not be forced into such a position.

COFRA Announces Dare to Show Your Face | Procter & Gamble Promotes ED Behavior

AnnieMcPhee's picture
March 13th, 2008 | Link | They're full of shit about

They're full of shit about fast food being "the problem" to begin with. Have you ever gotten a load of, say, old cookbooks out? (James Lileks pokes fun at them in his books, well worth reading for the hilarity!) Do you know what people used to eat at HOME all the time??? We're talking meat with tons of fat on it, acres of bacon and eggs, all full of and fried in lard, and everything smothered in lardy lard lard sauce (bechamel, white sauces, hollondaise, bearnaise, etc.) I mean seriously, people ate tons of butter and fat foods - and hell yeah they ate french fries at home, only they fried them in LARD, not vegetable oil. This blaming of food companies is ridiculous - people didn't magically have some low-fat diet in the past FFS. Sheesh.

I also got infuriated that they have a long, drawn-out commentary policy on how you mustn't disparage someone in comments based on race, gender, ethnicity (keep going - it's a long list) but the article refers to fat people as slothful gluttons. And that wasn't even weasel words - such as "critics say" - that was the author's own slant. I found the whole thing heinous.

They obviously want ads like Richie and (rebelle?) posted about - with fat people being hung by sausage nooses, or lying on the floor dead next to a pill bottle with spilled M&Ms, captioned "Obesity is Suicide."

Y'know - to this day I remember the public service announcements to wit (from the 70s) - the one with the little boy and his grandpa ("Then you are prejudiced Billy, because you think of him as your Jewish friend, and not as your friend.") and the one about VD Gets Around and VD Is for Everybody. The first used a short but sweet scenario describing prejudice, and the others used catchy tunes. You DON'T have to go insane to make a point. The Truth ads only make me furious.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley

Kunoichi March 13th, 2008 | Link | Do you know what people used

Do you know what people used to eat at HOME all the time???

Funny you should say that - I found this just today.

The study diet is based on the traditional diet (wild salmon, oolichan grease) but also includes modern market foods, (bacon, eggs). i.e. foods that have protein and fat but no starch or sugar.

Check out the pdf poster linked in the story for more on the study.

I was reading a book about First Nations and Metis traditional foods which described how oolichan grease was made, as well as how much of it was eaten. It was in pretty much everything - even in sweet dishes that would today be called dessert - and was one of the most valuable, essential foods.

AnnieMcPhee's picture
March 13th, 2008 | Link | For that matter, anyone ever

For that matter, anyone ever seen how the Amish eat now? It's all homemade but my god, it's FULL of sat-fat and huge portions and sugar and butter and eggs. Those people sure know how to eat lol. (Of course they also work very hard.)

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley

Meowzer March 13th, 2008 | Link | Kelly Brownell...gah, don't

Kelly Brownell...gah, don't get me started. He maybe used to be on "our" side, once. About 15 years ago he was very much talking an anti-diet talk, and even his LEARN program that he developed for weight loss encouraged people to think of a 10% loss as "realistic." And I'm sure he knows 10% will change the BMI category of almost nobody except the already very slim. Now he thinks we don't have enough "hard hitting" advertising to "motivate" people to change BMI categories downward? If that's true, then why is HE fat? He obviously has all the "motivation" in the world, doesn't he?

Meowzer March 13th, 2008 | Link | And yeah, try picking up a

And yeah, try picking up a women's magazine from 40 years ago and reading the recipes. It's ALL stuff made with butter and cream. Not a drop of olive oil or a fresh vegetable to be found, nothing about "low carb" or "low fat" anything. But then, it was pretty much expected then that women would spend all day slaving over a hot stove cooking up these goodies. Calories don't count if women spend all day in the kitchen fixing them. Puzzled

DeeLeigh's picture
March 14th, 2008 | Link | It sort of depends on what

It sort of depends on what culture the cookbook was from. Olive oil isn't exactly a new invention. I certainly think of it as a traditional ingredient and not as "health food."

pani113's picture
March 13th, 2008 | Link | Anti Fat Ads

They must be getting desperate! As the economy crumbles silly Americans realize they have more to worry about than their scales! Gee, FINALLY something to talk about other than weight loss!

p.s. I am sooo proud of myself for getting back on BFB all by myself! It only took me 7 years of owning this computer to realize their was another browser on it! h

paul March 14th, 2008 | Link | Welcome back, pani!

Welcome back, pani! Smiling

AnnieMcPhee's picture
March 14th, 2008 | Link | Now now, fat people are

Now now, fat people are *causing* economic crisis, didn't you know that? (Sorry, that was mentioned in the first Kelly Brownell article I linked to - and yeah, he IS fat! Jeesh.)

Creating false scares - whether about the necessity of women being in hospital to give birth, the obesity crisis, the coming ice age (oh, I'm sorry - that's what it was when I was growing UP - NOW it's global *warming* - duh, silly me) or the current "economic meltdown" hysteria is used by the media to stir up the people. I don't know why, but I think they're mostly sadists in the MSM right now. The only sane journalists are marginalized and disenfranchised (Szcwarc anyone?), but smart people listen to them anyway. Remain in your seat until the ride has come to a full and complete stop. Thank you.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley

BabySeal March 14th, 2008 | Link | This is pure madness. Also,

This is pure madness. Also, the suicide-slanted ads show zero respect not only for fat people, but also for people with suicidal tendencies and for those who have lost a loved one because s/he took his/her own life. I am appalled and disgusted.

Lizzy March 14th, 2008 | Link | They would actually be a

They would actually be a pretty funny parody for our side, if they weren't actually serious. I still have a hard time taking them seriously, though.

thoughtracer's picture
March 14th, 2008 | Link | Nothing like shame,

Nothing like shame, harassment and abuse to make me want to fit in with the shamers, harassers and abusers! Way to go big media and industrial medical complex!

Lillian's picture
March 14th, 2008 | Link | Italian food

I looked at the ad done against Italian restaurants and how meals there had more calories and sat fat that a pile of burgers from a fat food place. I don't eat out every day and when I do, I don't concern myself about the calories or fat in the food. I don't think eating lots of high fat dishes everyday is the way to go. I'm sensitive to fat and too much makes me feel rather ill, but what is so wrong with treating yourself.

It made me rather ill to see favorite Italian dishes compared to burgers and steak. They aren't the same. I haven't eaten Italian food at a restaurant for months, but I certainly don't expect a low fat meal when I do.

rebelle March 14th, 2008 | Link | I actually saw this months

I actually saw this months ago, right after it was published on AP. It incensed me then, and it incensed me now. I cannot believe people actually think fat people aren't harassed enough about their weight, and it's truly offensive they basically suggested: "hey, let's run ads to piss off the fatty's neighbors! Let's imply that fatty is bankrupting healthcare! Let's show a dramatized death from type II diabetes, because we all just KNOW all fatties get TIID, just like we know any illness is really "punishment" for not being good instead of simply misfortune that could befall anyone!"

Further, while the Small Steps ads might not be shocking enough for the likes of Kelly Brownwell, they have been so persistent and repetitive of late that they don't HAVE to be shocking. They keep droning on and on, over and over: fat is baaaad. If you park further away from the stadium, eat fruits and veggies, walk on the beach and play with your kids, you will be thin and thin is goooood. At this point, I'd almost rather see something graphic about the diseases supposedly caused by fat!

One more thing: More and more studies are showing the "shock and awe" campaigns about such things as meth abuse have only limited effectiveness before people become jaded. So, just what would even more hateful anti-fat advertising really do, even if "obesity" was, A: a problem and B: Easily "cured" by exercise and diet?

AnnieMcPhee's picture
March 15th, 2008 | Link | You know, those "This is

You know, those "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs." with the cracking egg..well, they always made me hungry. I LOVE the one with the girl on heroin who smashes her whole kitchen.

Edit meaningless wine talk.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley

Moody Blue's picture
Moody Blue
March 14th, 2008 | Link | Funny Annie mentions the old

Funny Annie mentions the old cookbooks. I have some that belonged to my Mom dated just prior to WWII and some that came out around that time with the wartime supplement in the back. You know what's missing from those recipes and all the lard, bacon, grease, sauces, etc? ADDITIVES. PRESERVATIVES. Meats & poultries laced with GROWTH HORMONES and ANTIBIOTICS. Man-made concoctions like MSG and HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. That's the key. That is why folks were healthier back then and this may be the key to why (and I'm not talking about weight) we are not as healthy as we used to be.

BabySeal March 15th, 2008 | Link | I think you have a point!

I think you have a point!

Meowzer March 14th, 2008 | Link | Also, one more time: One

Also, one more time: One cannot make the unilateral decision not to become fat. You can do everything your doctor tells you to do and still be fat. Mother Nature makes the final decision there. Whether one takes meth or smokes cigarettes for the first time -- before getting addicted -- IS something one can make the decision not to do, so if you can make a strong case to someone who's on the fence, you can help prevent someone from getting addicted. Once people ARE addicted, of course, they're going to need a lot more than "but it's unhealtheeee!" in order to get them to quit.

Think of it. One Surgeon General warned us about the dangers of cigarettes; 15 years later, smoking rates were way, way down. Another SG warned us about the dangers of fat, and 15 years later, people were...fatter than ever. Kelly Brownell thinks it's because we were coddled too much. He does not get that he is one of us. Would he be willing to be fired in order to set an example?

Meowzer March 14th, 2008 | Link | Moody Blue, I don't think

Moody Blue, I don't think people were "healthier" then. Not at all. It was common for people in their mid-50s to die of heart attacks and strokes and cancer then. Now the death rates from all three in that age cohort are relatively small.

Kunoichi March 15th, 2008 | Link | Man-made concoctions like

Man-made concoctions like MSG ...

While I agree that there are a lot of preservatives in our food that probably shouldn't be, and that some people are sensitive to it, MSG is not "man-made." It is a naturally produced isolate that's been used in Asia (in the form of dried seaweed) for thousands of years, and in its isolated form for about 100 years. I have some old, original Mdme Benoit cookbooks, and many of the recipes call for MSG. Even ancient recipes have highly processed or even dangerous ingredients in them. (Others, we simply can't identify anymore - no one knows quite what they are.)

I would have to concur with Meowzer - earlier generations were not necessarily healthier. Some of the health problems of previous generations barely even exist anymore; at least not in first world countries (ie: rickets). One of the reasons it *seems* we're less healthy than previous generations is that we're simply living long enough to actually have these problems. It's also likely that previous generations suffered health problems that they just didn't have the knowledge to recognize and diagnose, never mind treat. I wonder how many Ancient Romans suffered from lead poisoning from the water pipes and lead-lined wine jugs? Or medieval cooks and diners from mercury poisoning through those fire-breathing peacocks, filled with quicksilver and sulphur?

And that's not even touching the things people did to themselves in the name of beauty! White lead figures prominently. Jawdropping!

AndyJo's picture
March 15th, 2008 | Link | Food then and now... [WAY LONG POST -- MY APOLOGIES]


I actually collect old cookbooks, and I have a very large collection spanning from the late 19th. Century to the present. While much of what has been said here about cookbooks then and now is true, there are some things that need to be taken into consideration:

1) Price supports for foodstuffs (crops, cattle, etc.) simply did not exist until the late 50's/early 60's. In the early parts of the last century, many cookbook writers note clearly that the proportion of income that the average family paid for food was GREATER than what they paid for housing. Today, that proportion is exactly reversed. Housing accounts for more than 35% of most families' income, while food accounts for 20% or less on average (individual results may vary). If you look at the absolute value of, say, a loaf of bread, it was cheaper then, but adjusted for inflation and for income levels it was more expensive.

2) As a consequence of the above, as well as food preservation requirements (not everyone had an icebox), many companies came up with stuff like shortening, which did not require refrigeration (as butter and lard did), and for which the price could be more consistent. Cooking with these substances was also easier because the smoking point was higher (could cook with higher temps), and the fat could be re-used. It did not absorb odors. I have quite a few books that rave over shortening, and the entire book is dedicated to it. They unashamedly describe its fabrication out of hydrogenated cottonseed oil. The same applies for Margarine, by the way. Food expense was such that some books also recommend ways to extend margarine (which was cheap relative to butter). Olive oil and other "foreign" foods were expensive, and used for "special" occasions.

3) They definitely used stuff that we tend to frown on today: MSG (which someone correctly pointed out comes from seaweed and is much prized in Asia), liquid smoke, meat tenderizers (chemical), etc. They used MORE salt than we do on average for each meal. However -- they DID eat fewer processed foods as we understand them to be (chips, cheese doodles, etc.), but they ate MORE canned goods than we do on average (it is common to read instructions to open a can of carrots -- or whatever). The variety of canned goods available was extraordinary -- they had more because they consumed more.

4) A lot is said about portions and freshness, but after reading and studying lots of these books and menus I can tell you a couple of things:

a) Portions were definitely smaller then, and that's likely a result of cost. Today's average in cookbooks is about 8 ounces raw weight of meat or protein per person. That translates for 6 people as a 3 pound roast. Back then, 4 ounces was average (although I've also seen 3 ounces recommended), which translates into 1 1/2 lbs of roast for 6 people.

b) Meals were more varied, and food writers emphasized food nutrition greatly -- particularly when it came to children. During this time, the school food programs were developed, and food writers felt it necessary to educate home makers about nutrition and what was known then as balanced eating (each writer had her own nomenclature). Basically, it boils down to this -- many children were NOT getting enough calories, so they needed to be supplemented. Their parents may not have been able to afford balanced meals, and the writers offered appropriate menus and "pantries" at various budget price points. This is, for most people but not for all, not a problem today. We have producer price supports and other programs which keep food cheaper. As this happened, our parents (who grew up back then) fed us more BECAUSE WHEN THEY WERE CHILDREN THEY FELT THEY DIDN'T GET ENOUGH. In fact, that was very true. Guess what -- we got taller and "bigger" (a discussion for another day). Look at soldiers today, and compare them to pictures of soldiers in 1941, 1951, or even 1965 (never mind the Civil War) -- enough said. Have we overcompensated? Maybe, but it cannot be argued that there is an "obesity epidemic" based upon that overcompensation.

c) Women were assumed to be home makers only, but as the 20th Century moved on and food preservation technology -- especially in the home - became more widespread, there appears an increasing focus on time saving and prepared food in these books. Whereas the earlier ones can focus on food preparation all the way to the gutting and plucking of a chicken, by the 1950's you see much more in terms of frozen foods. Canned foods continue popularity until about the 1970's, when there is more of a return to fresh foods. HOWEVER, today there are very clear distinctions between "high end" cookbooks (which emphasize freshness), and "Quick" cookbooks that emphasize prepared foods.

d) The contents of menus were more varied. There were lots of individual bits and pieces. They didn't have just Lasagna with a sad salad on the side (for instance). Home makers were encouraged to have a variety of vegetables, starches and (yes...) Sweets during a meal. There exist "slimming" menus, and they are no better than our "slimming" menus today, but they can be forgiven. Slimming became an obsession in the 20's due to the fashions at the time focusing on a very lean, boyish line. What a shock. HOWEVER, because there was a significant part of the population involved in very physical work (construction, farm work, etc.), menus are offered for different genders, ages,and physical effort. One that I have offers menus for children, women in sedentary occupations, men in sedentary occupations, and men in very physically demanding occupations. Yes, it can be said to be sexist (farm work is hard for either men or women), but that was then.

e) Women were assumed to know how to cook, and most of them did. The very early cookbooks are nearly incomprehensible unless you already know how to cook. Today this is not true -- many depend upon pre-prepared, take-out, or restaurant foods. We're back to the ancient Roman model, where your average Publius lived in an apartment with no kitchen and bought food from street sellers. I think this is a blot upon our society, because [POLITICAL RANT] -- it makes us dependent upon an industry when we don't need to be [END RANT]. By the way -- it takes work to use some of the older ones, because the "standardized" reicpe wasn't widespread until the late 'teens or the twenties. Measurements can be pretty random.

So... Given all of this... The hearts and flowers that the "anti fat" folks like to spew about how much better people ate before is in many cases false and out of context. On the other hand, we could also learn from their overall food experience and their context. I frankly prefer to use many of the old recipes (I do it all the time and adapt them with respect to fats and salts). As a society, we would probably be wise to re-institute home ec in schools today (it has largely disappeared).

So... Some good writers/series to look for:

Isabella Beeton (UK) -- first editions of the Book of Household Management are a treasure and unbelievably expensive. I don't have one. Later editions (published after her death) are more affordable. She had a whole series of cookbooks for the different social classes. HOWEVER, one needs to know how to cook in order to use these. Make sure you have a large source of conversion tables (recipes call for things like a "gill" of liquid).

Fannie Merrit Farmer (Fannie Farmer school of cooking -- Boston, USA) -- Good editions from the 1920's are available

Jessie DeBoth -- VERY popular in the Midwest USA, published some books that can be considered "culturally sensitive" for their time as they contain tables of holy days for Catholics, Protestants and Jews, and offer appropriate menus. They're not exact (and wouldn't help someone very orthodox in observance), but they are at least an effort I never saw made before. GREAT recipes.

Ida Bailey Allen -- My fave. I have a HUGE collection of hers from the 'teens through her death in 1973. In her books you see reflected this whole story. Some of her most practical are the small volumes she published for Woolworth in the '30's. They are 2 volumes called The Service Cookbook vols 1 and 2. She wrote A LOT of cookbooks and pamphlets for food companies over the years. Her books featuring substitutes (meat substitutes, sugar substitutes, etc.) for World War I are fantastic and very useful for today!

Check 'em out and enjoy.

--Andy Jo--

MichMurphy March 15th, 2008 | Link | That was fascinating,

That was fascinating, AndyJo. I recently read a book about the poor working-class of 19th-century England and their foodways -- it was called "Round About a Pound a Week," and it's an interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes sad look at how people managed to 'get by' even while destined for a life of chronic under-nutrition.

Anyhow, I totally agree with what you said about going back to the Roman model and allowing ourselves to be dependent on an industry (that, let's face it, doesn't always have our best interests and well-being at heart.) Luckily, I think there's been a huge resurgence of interest in food preparation, and I hope the trend continues in such a way that people can be more independent and have more agency in their food choices -- because I think people should be able to make choices independent of both the 'nutrition police' AND the food industry.

In regards to this article, I don't know who is insane enough to think that we need more scare-tactics around "the obesity epidemic." And as far as I'm concerned, Kelly Brownell has damn near turned self-loathing into a science.

Can I also say that CSPI just seems to consistently piss me off? Maybe they should be renamed "Center for Science in the Interest of Scaring the SHIT Out of the Public?" CSISSOP?

But it could be that this message is one of the death-cries of an industry/interest-group that has failed miserably in its objective to END FAT PEOPLE. (Read through history and watch as recommendations to 'meet ideal body weight' change to 'fall within your healthy BMI range,' become 'lose 10% of your body-weight,' then 'lose 3-5% of your body-weight,' and now, a trend in I'm seeing in the literature, 'weight-loss maintenance.')

It's like they're progressively losing the damn fight but just can't admit defeat -- so they keep lowering the bar for their own 'success' standards, while simultaneously insisting that the alarms blare ever louder.

diane March 15th, 2008 | Link | AndyJo, I'm sure lots of

AndyJo, I'm sure lots of people have already said this to you, and perhaps you're already doing it--but if not, then I think you ought to take this "rant" as you call it, add to it and send it off to Simon and Schuster or whomever publishes books about cooking. What you've written is so comprehensive, interesting and informative that I seriously hope this is a small part of your overall book! And I"m being totally serious here! There is a surge in books geared towards the domestic side of things---"Stitch & Bitch" the "Goodess of Cleaning" (or something like that), so there is definately (as i see it) a market, plus yours is also an historical journey and social commentary as well. It'd be a fabulous book and one that needs to be written! Slainte'!

AndyJo's picture
March 15th, 2008 | Link | BLUSH! Thank you!

Thanks! ((BLUSHING VERY RED))... I appreciate it...

I must confess that I have often thought about writing a book about this, within the context of concepts of how home-making was and is viewed, as well as nutrition, etc... Still a mish-mosh in my head! Thanks, however! I appreciate very much your encouragement!

--Andy Jo--

Kunoichi March 15th, 2008 | Link | Excellent and interesting

Excellent and interesting post, Andy Jo! I share your enthusiasm for cooking history - the older the better, for me. Eye-wink

I recently acquired a book, "Back to Basics," that is meant to encourage people to go back to the "old ways" because they're so much better than today (having grown up living what that book describes, I know personally how much of that is idealized). Preservation techniques are included, including using salt as a preservative. The quantities are astounding. The amount used to preserve a single crock of green beans is more than we use as a family over ... I'm not even sure how many years. At least three. That doesn't even count their use of brines. It's fascinating to learn about the methods used before canning became safe and refrigeration common.

Moody Blue's picture
Moody Blue
March 15th, 2008 | Link | In defense of my earlier

In defense of my earlier post, there have been studies done that prove that MSG (Remember the old joke about Chinese food and that a half hour later you're hungry again?) and High Fructose Corn Syrup (which is in everything from bread to fruit beverages) are put in food because the food industry knows they increase the appetite. Many diet foods contain these additives so I have to ask myself: How does the diet food industry stay in business if their products do what they say? These foods are set up to make people fail and to make them hungrier so they come back for more. Dollars and cents. I still say people were healthier back then. The only reason we live longer now is because we have better diagnostic tools and can catch some illnesses in their early stages. We also have antibiotics (some which are way overused which is why we have drug-resistant strains of infections now) and other drugs that don't necessarily heal but suppress our symtoms. If we are so healthy now, how come every time you turn around another Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid or other big chain pharmacy is going up on every corner? In my town they outnumber Dunkin' Donuts! LOL

AndyJo's picture
March 15th, 2008 | Link | No defense needed, I think...

Moody Blue --

No defense as such needed, I think, as I don't know that there is definitive evidence and I think more research is needed there...

MSG is one of those things that is controversial because some of the issues that come up with it are real (allergies -- there are a number of people who are TRULY allergic to it). In fairness to the folks who originally came up with it (the Japanese), it occurs naturally in Kombu seaweed and anything containing Kombu will have a certain amount of MSG. I need to re-read the history of it, but essentially the man who invented it (a Japanese scientist) was (if I remember correctly) looking for a way to enhance certain flavors. Some studies have shown that as people age and their taste buds go, putting MSG in their food (as well as salt) enables them to taste the food better and thus gets them to eat enough. Some older people lose their appetite and don't take in enough calories.

Now... Wholesale use of MSG everywhere is another story. If it makes something taste better, you are likely to eat more of it. Can it make something less palatable more palatable? Maybe. I really never ate anything with Ac'cent (my Mom didn't use it), and I don't really eat prepared foods., but I suspect palatability is part of it. Am I going to go out and eat a heaping spoonful of MSG? Nope.

With respect to HFCS there's probably a much bigger story. Remember price supports... Farmers are paid to produce crops irrespective of consumer demand. Making sugar out of corn makes little sense OUTSIDE of this context, but lots of sense if by putting in price supports makes it cheaper than cane sugar for industrial applications. Now... I've read Sandy's comments on HFCS, and I've read material regarding how it is metabolized differently and messes with your insulin. I just don't know. I need to read more. I personally need to understand at a chemical level how it is possible for this to happen. For now, for me personally, all possibilities are open.

Now... With respect to people being healthier back then... There are lots of pieces to that part of the story. For one thing, we're living longer and generally more healthy lives and we're developing diseases that our ancestors didn't develop only because they didn't live long enough to get them. On the other hand, there are a number of diseases that have become endemic in certain populations, and that can't be ignored.

For another -- physical labor = exercise which contributes to health. My own family on my father's side have strong predisposition (genetic) to high blood pressure and its attendant issues, yet our ancestors two generations back (my father's grandparents) lived well into their nineties while their kids died earlier and earlier. The biggest difference is that they lived on a farm and engaged in massive physical labor, while their kids did only for a short time, and then moved on to more "modern" (sedentary) jobs. We know of the POWERFUL effects of exercise in staving off disease. I frequently make jokes that I'd just be fine if I could plough the back 40 in weather 40 below, with me pulling the plough. I sincerely believe that there is TONS more research to be done here.

Another point -- immunity. Mass vaccination programs didn't exist until close to the middle of the century. By the time a person reached adulthood, he could have had measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, diptheria, chicken pox, maybe even smallpox, rheumatic fever, and any number of other diseases. It was common for people to say "I had X children, and Y lived". So... In any adult population you are looking at the survivors -- they were strong people. Antibiotics helped a bunch too. HOWEVER, now we don't die of childhood diseases, so more of us reach adulthood. It stands to reason that some may not be as strong, but I don't know if I'd give up vaccinations just to improve our species. We should, however, quit using antibiotics injudiciously because the microbes have developed immunity, and are causing horrific diseases such as medication-resistant staph aureus.

All of this raises questions, though, and avenues for research --

* Some folks say that vaccinating kids as early as we do is causing disease. Some disagree. I have no kids, so I have no clue, but I would tend to take parents' concerns seriously and investigate.

* Some say we are now "too clean" and don't build up natural immunity, thus we have lots of allergies. That's the hygiene theory. Maybe... I tend to be pretty healthy, but I grew up with lots of animals, other kids, and in places where summer outbreaks of stuff like Cholera were normal. We probably need (as a society) to find out more about whether this is true.

* Some say that our reliance on out-of-season foods (salads in January) is overall bad, because eating locally and in season is how we evolved. For optimum health we should eat that way. Might be a good avenue for research...

I won't go further and bore everyone to death but here's my point... There are lots of pieces to this puzzle, and context is everything...

To put this back into the context of the original article... However one might feel about a pizza, to have an advert that takes food away from a child serves no interest for health or the well-being of children, and does everything to shame them and encourage eating disorders. Same for the rest of the ads. Shame on them. Clearly, as someone said before, they must be desperate. Science plays NO PART whatsoever for them, obviously.

--Andy Jo--

Bree's picture
March 15th, 2008 | Link | Probably because they're

Probably because they're running out of room to stock all those drugs big pharma keeps making.

AnnieMcPhee's picture
March 15th, 2008 | Link | Andy Jo I have a book that

Andy Jo I have a book that explains how a lot of that came about, examining the early "home economics movement" which is really interesting, and not necessarily what you'd expect. It stemmed from motivations that are often pretty surprising. Anyway, give it a look sometime or I'll see what I can do about lending it to you - it's called "Perfection Salad" and is a Women's Studies course book.

As to MSG, I don't remember my grandmother ever cooking meat or steak without it - it was called "Accent" then. Then we had red dye #3, which we all ate in the M*&Ms. Heh. There were lots of "bad" things around. Like Saccharine. As to HFCS, well, Sandy did a number on our fear of that, I'd say.

I dunno, until the few weirdos we called "health food nuts" in the 70s, and they weren't all that common, people ate "bad" compared to how we eat today. Fast food and packaged food can't be all that much worse. JMO.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley

AndyJo's picture
March 15th, 2008 | Link | Thanks AnnieMcPhee!

Thanks Annie! I'd love to read it and exchange comments with you.

Please post the author(s) and the ISBN (I'm sure there are others who would be interested)... I'm sure I can get it through interlibrary loan!

--Andy Jo--

AnnieMcPhee's picture
March 15th, 2008 | Link | Actually this seems to be

Actually this seems to be it, though my copy has a different cover.

Truly fascinating and will add a whole level of depth to what you just wrote above that you just didn't see coming hehe. Smiling

My grandparents ate steak every night. With butter. And potatoes with butter. And buttered toast/bacon/eggs for breakfast every morning. Cereal with whole milk for snacks. Not a lot of sugar, but most certainly a lot of MSG, meat, sat-fat, etc. My grandfather died at 86 of lung disease despite being whip-thin. My grandmother died of uterine cancer. And no, not because she was fat. In fact, she probably lived *longer* because she was fat - for one whole year the cancer ate her fat instead of her organs - she came out of the hospital looking thin (and her hair grew back in snow white) for the first time ever and I...I told her how good she looked. Except she had no reserves anymore, so when the cancer came back, it ate HER instead. THEN she died. She probably would have died the first time if she hadn't had the fat to feed that stupid evil cancer.

I frankly believe too much is better than too little.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley

sannanina March 15th, 2008 | Link | AndyJo - I also think that

AndyJo - I also think that what you wrote was quite fascinating.

Moody Blue - While I agree that modern processed foods contain a lot of things that are potentially harmful (or at least not beneficial) for health there were a lot of harmful things that used to contaminate the food of earlier generations but doesn't do so anymore. For example, one of the most potent carcinogens is a poison produced by a fungus. People used to take it up with their food, but thanks to fungicides this is usually not a problem anymore. I don't like the idea of my food being treated with fungicides, but in this case it is the lesser evil. Also, people used to take poisonous "medicines" like mercury for all kinds of conditions - while there are still many unknown risks today we generally have a better idea of what is poisonous and what isn't (the water pipes made of lead mentioned earlier, as well as highly poisonous paints and dies are other examples for this). As for people taking more medications - first of all (again as mentioned earlier) we have treatments for conditions that people in previous generations did not know how to treat and secondly a lot of people are prescribed more medications than they should/ would need to take for optimal health.

AndyJo's picture
March 16th, 2008 | Link | Perfection Salad... [APOLOGIES -- got too long again]

I think I have a recipe for Perfection Salad somewhere... I'm sure I do... Just for yucks, I'll post it if I find it.


I clicked on the URL, and saw the book on Amazon... I have actually heard of this theory before, and I think that, again, it's only part of the story... On the one hand, there's the gender-role-enforcement theory of the whole shebang (not dealt with specifically in the Prologue, but maybe it's dealt with later in the book). Then there's the theory advanced by this particular book.

Thanking Amazon for its images, I could skim it. It's out of print, so I'll have to do the library thing. Unfortunately, after reading the prologue, I'm concerned I might find that it's a "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" type of book, which removes some of the historical reference that's important. I'll find out more when I read it entirely. I'm referring specifically to the author's continued reference to beans in ramekins being emblematic of an attitude. Probably, but you find the forerunner of that concept of orderly food (i.e. -- non-messy) in the very stylized food of the Victorian era, along with the astonishing array of tools to prevent one from touching the food with one's hands at all. In the teens and twenties, society's food styles were coming down from the high Victorian, but they weren't all that much evolved toward what our food styles are today. That said, it's as unfair to compare the Victorian food styles unfavorably to today's very open and unstructured food styles, as it is to compare the specific writers, foods, and movements she references to our own views today without reference to their development.

The focus on order and method in home keeping is also at its root very Victorian and founded in the Industrialization era (you find it a lot in the Mrs. Beeton series). The 20th Century ushered in the efficicency expert, and that just added more fuel to the mix. What I find most American of these books, however, is the call to the lower classes to "be like" the middle and upper classes, as well as instructions for how to "grow into" a higher class than one's own. The concept of social mobility is well reflected in there.

I think what she says in the prologue (paraphrasing) that these specific women (Fannie Farmer et al) were very smart and struck out doing something that they COULD do (other avenues being closed to them) is very, very valid. It is a point that is often missed. Ida Bailey Allen was as influential and popular in her day as Martha Stewart is today, but is not recognized as such. What is also true is that the food companies and the food writers were very much tied at the hip through the women's magazines of the era. It's the old story -- if Nabisco is advertising on Page 1, have a recipe for Nabisco whatevers on Page 2.

What she says (again paraphrasing) about women being made to feel responsible about the success or failure of the home, family, and husband's career is, again, absolutely true. Some will be very clear in drawing a causal line between what a wife might wear or serve when the boss comes to dinner, and a husband's professional future. For instance -- While there might be some influence (if the boss or his wife thought she might not 'fit' the society they envisaged for the husband), I reckon a lot more depended upon whether the husband was competent at his job or not.

Along the same lines... Many of the articles in my collection focus also on how women and their work are the foundation of the home. What is unfortunate is that the language in those articles is (in our 21st-century feminist view) pretty much insulting and inflammatory. What is lost is some of the fundamental concept of the home and family as an economic institution which deserves the same amount of care and concern as a business. That's the message that is, regrettably, lost and I believe has hurt us in some ways while we have benefitted from some progress.

It is unfortunate that the arguments presented in the prologue is so disappointing in terms of presentation of evidence, but it might just be her style and the prologue is just the setup anyway. It seems to give a hint of what one will find in the whole book, and I'm hoping that she does a good job of analyzing and presenting the data and supporting every element of her case. I'm hoping that some very valid points aren't being unduly stretched. I looked at her Index too, and I found some surprising entries (one for Upton Sinclair -- love that guy -- have to read it just to find out how he fits in), and some strange omissions (again, Ida Bailey Allen). Given that she could have found a treasure trove of evidence in many of Mrs. Allen's writings, I'm wondering why she isn't in the references. Guess I'll find out...

With respect to Home Ec, that's where I feel that we have a baby with the bathwater situation here. She refers to the (paraphrasing) classes that make the students groan. Any class which is compulsory (be it Math, History, or Home Ec, or even Health) is going to make students groan. Any class which is targeted to one gender (Home Ec for women, Shop for men) enforces gender role differences and actually (in my mind) impoverishes both genders and makes them less independent if both do not have an opportunity to learn. In my own experience in a DOD (Dept of Defense) High School, Home Ec was optional and in general we got a lot out of it in terms of learning how to perform activities of daily living (like cooking). There were some boys in the class, but the teacher tailored the activities well to each gender. I'm not going to say the guys were wild about it (in the mid 1970's home ec was STILL primarily for girls), but they did not cut class that much nor become too disruptive.

Throwing out the bathwater (minus baby) would mean structuring classes so that all genders could learn to be independent and to perform these activities of daily living. Recall that most parents work today and, even if one parent knows how to cook, it is unlikely that given the circumstances of today's life the children (of either gender and on average) will have a good opportunity to learn how to live independently (i.e. cooking, cleaning, repairing furniture) by observation from their parents.

By throwing out Home Ec entirely, we now have a generation of children who will have no opportunity to learn how to live independently of food companies or other good and service providers, and will thus have to spend more of their money just on handling the necessities of life (those annoying bottom bits of Maslow's hierarchy of needs). That's my own specific political/economic rant...

Paul -- we've all gone way off topic with this, but it may still be interesting to some... Should we move it to the Forums under another title? Just checking we're OK with respect to the rules.

--Andy Jo--

AnnieMcPhee's picture
March 16th, 2008 | Link | What she does very well is

What she does very well is lay out the roots and causes of the whole home ec movement. The idea of the kitchenless home, for example (which isn't exactly foreign to feminism.) The idea of a central food source and communal eating. A very strange idea about central planners making the wholesome, nutritious food and delivering it to each house via a complex suction tube system like they have at banks. I didn't get the sense that she wanted to "throw out" home ec, but was merely examining where it came from, and felt it undervalued women as a whole. I don't recall it dealing with the current state of home ec much.

In 7th grade, we *all* had to take wood and metal shop, and we *all* had to take home ec (sewing, cooking.) Boys and girls alike. They wanted the kids to figure out what interested them so they could take electives later. I always chose cooking classes because I was always hungry and needed food, though metal and wood shop were fine too. But there were boys in those cooking classes Smiling And...yeah we made lots of bullshit perfection salad type things; fortunately we made good stuff too. I can see looking back the roots of "home ec" in the classes I took, though.

Not everyone in the 21st century is a feminist, though I'd venture that most are fairly equalist Smiling

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley

paul March 16th, 2008 | Link | Off topic

Hey folks, can we move the off-topic discussion to a forum topic? We've veered off course here. Thanks.

JulietJames's picture
March 17th, 2008 | Link | The government is just

The government is just getting more and more fascist. Look at New York City (my former hometown). Banning trans fat? I mean, come ON. Trying to force restaurants into posting calories? Personal responsibility people. I'm someone who doesn't think any foods should be "banned" from ones diet, because I've learned all too well the hard way what that causes.

We aren't helping our kids with all the "obesity" screaming. We're making the problem worse by belittling and shredded what self-esteem these kids have. I know, I was one - and that was before it was a daily news story and we had five year-olds saying they'd rather lose a limb than be fat.

First off, I don't believe a lot of the "hype" around the "obesity epidemic." However, even if EVERYTHING they say is true (which is absolutely impossible, as far as I am concerned), I think there are better ways to handle things. We're scaring parents into putting their kids on diets. I'm not one to subscribe to conspiracy theories in general, but if there ever was reason to believe in one, this might be a red flag. It's like the government and dieting industry are in cohoots - let's get the kiddies while they are young. Let's convince ten-year olds and their parents that WLS and diets are GOOD for kids.

It's absolute insanity.


"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." ~Virginia Woolf

wriggle99 March 19th, 2008 | Link | Pot, let me introduce you to kettle........

Should we pretend that we haven't noticed that Kelly Brownell is himself fat? Eye-wink

AnnieMcPhee's picture
March 20th, 2008 | Link | Maybe he wants some

Maybe he wants some "thinspiration" lol. What a jerk. You know, if you combine this ads thing with the P&G thing, it's pretty scary isn't it? It's like an actual conspiracy to induce anorexia in as many people as possible...maybe because anorexia is far more dangerous than fat and really does cost a hell of a lot of money to treat for? I can't figure it out, but it's getting to be a creepy world, that's for sure.

Zero isn't a size, it's a warning sign. - Carson Kressley

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