Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Queen of Fats

I hope I'm not going too far out on the soapbox here, but I've been reading a book called The Queen of Fats, by Susan Allport, who was recently featured on NPR's The Splendid Table. She's a science writer who writes about how our American diet has become dangerously low in Omega-3 fatty acids and too high in Omega-6.

In one section, Ms. Allport quotes from Corinne Shear Wood, Human Sickness and Health: A Biocultural View, "good nutrition does not inevitably guarantee good health. Poor nutrition, however, always produces poor health." Wow.

Allport's argument is that food production in this country has been geared toward providing an abundance of cheap foods, which are not as cheap as they may seem if they are harming our health. If, in fact, as she argues "these foods do no meet all of our nutrition needs and that the health costs associated with these foods mean they are far from cheap." One major example is the move to feedlots and commercial use of corn to feed steer, in lieu of the grass these animals naturally eat. In essence, this argument is that the meat we eat today is inherently different than the meat of the grass-grazing steer of yesteryear. This is something Michael Pollan has been saying for years and which even George Will has acknowledged (Washington Post, Sunday March 8, 2009). Michael Pollan says "you are what what you eat eats, too."

It's an interesting thought to put the greater expense up front in healthier foods and potentially save it later in health costs. Something to think about when comparing the price of beef at Costco and the cost of grass fed beef at a farm market.

I've mentioned many foods and recipes on this blog that are high in Omega-3: salmon, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, cabbage. Other foods that include Omega-3s are flaxseed and tofu and many other fruits and vegetables.

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