Five Things Friday – Links and Stories Worth Checking Out

Processed Foods

You know what is funny – today was -2 when I went for my run, but after being this cold all week I found today to be quite comfortable. In fact, rather than focusing on my cold hands I was noticing that the front of my thighs were cool as I ran – something I hadn’t noticed at all before. Funny how you adjust to just about anything.!

For ‘five things Friday’ I am shamelessly ripping off Megan’s idea of sharing some links to interesting articles … because I think it is an awesome idea. These are things I have left open in my browser, read at least once, and thought that other people should know about. There is a mix of heath and non-health stuff … oh, and I am also not shy about offering some relatively harsh opinions.

1. Oxfam Healthy Eating Report – I have never been shy at saying that I think much of the ‘obesity epidemic’ in the US is not only self-inflicted but is also orchestrated by large food conglomerates and with government support in the form of helping farmers get corn put into everything (and thereby making any farmer who likes money a corn farmer). Certainly there is individual responsibility, but it is trickier as we have learned that the chemical make-up of our so-called ‘healthy’ foods actually messes with our natural ability to detect fullness.

So I am not surprised that we didn’t do all that well when ranked against other countries in terms of ‘healthy eating’. Here is quote from a report called “Why the U.S. Sucked Big Time in Oxfam’s Report on the World’s Healthiest Eating”

“one clear explanation for America’s high rates of unhealthy eating has to do with what food is available, not just how much. Processed, high-fat foods are often significantly cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables. Despite many Americans’ efforts to eat healthier, not everyone can prioritize healthfulness over sustenance.”

One thing that has always bugged me is the ‘processed foods are cheaper’ thing, and for a couple of reasons. First, if you actually plan out full meals in both systems then you find it isn’t as true as it initially seems.

Also, it shouldn’t be remotely true – because my manufacturing brain reminds me that in any process the raw materials are only a fraction of the cost, and that each ‘value add’ step brings in additional cost in terms of overhead, machinary, and on and on. What that tells me is that to be price competitive, processed foods need to have considerably cheaper raw materials – aka FILLER!

2. Global Income Disparity – ‘The Rich get richer, the poor get poorer’, ‘income elasticity’, and so on – these are all things used to describe how year after year the wealth of the world gets concentrated into fewer and fewer hands. This isn’t meant as political commentary – it is just a reminder that in all areas where money can make a difference, there are fewer people weilding more of an impact with each passing year.

From Yahoo Finance:

An Oxfam briefing has noted that the richest 85 people in the world control the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population. That means about seven dozen people (the number of people it would take to crowd one subway-car) have as much of the world’s wealth as 3.5 billion people put together.

About half of the world’s wealth is owned by the richest 1% of the population and that wealth (all $110 trillion of it) is 65 times the wealth of the bottom half of the population.

To put that 3.5 billion into perspective – you would have to add up the 7 most populous nations (China, India, US, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Nigeria) to approach 3.5 billion.

If you are really interested in some of these dynamics, you can read more about why it is nearly impossible to ‘lift yourself up by the bootstraps’, how the richest folks got richer during the recession that should have hit them hardest, and another reminder that more than ever the financial status of parents strongly defines children and grandchildren as ‘income mobility’ remains a real problem.

3. OK, let’s jump into a ‘hot-button’ issue – Guns. I really don’t plan to get into the 2nd amendment vs. ‘right to be alive’ debate. Instead this week there was a report that many people considered common sense and others are challenging – as usual based on politics. Here is a bit from NBC News:

Studies looking at homicide found that if people had access to guns, they were two to three times more likely to be killed themselves.

“Firearms cause an estimated 31,000 deaths annually in the United States,” they wrote in their report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “Data from the 16-state National Violent Death Reporting System indicate that 51.8 percent of deaths from suicide in 2009 were firearm-related; among homicide victims, 66.5 percent were firearm-related.”

While it seems like a simple leap that having guns around would lead to more gun use, and since guns are designed with a singular purpose (i.e. death), increased use would mean increased death. However, much of campaign against gun control centers on getting MORE guns into the hands of people in order to DECREASE death. This report indicates that the ‘more guns theory’ doesn’t hold in the face of reality. Of course it is also one of those ‘correlation not causation’ things, and doesn’t provide answers … just more questions.

4. Detox – for me that is a bit of a catch-word. Because it has been shown pretty convincingly that your body is ALREADY a detox machine and therefore juice cleanses are not needed, and can actually be disruptive and potentially dangerous. When done carefully they can make you feel great … but as this article at Greatist shows, perhaps a better idea would just be to focus on clean and healthy eating:

The word “detox” tends to bring to mind scary-intense juice cleanses or a gluten- dairy-meat-grain-sugar-caffeine-free diet that will make you run away screaming (and hungry). But never fear — when we say “detox,” we’re talking about refocusing the mind, body, and palate on healthy, tasty, and nutritious foods. Instead of going crazy-restrictive and nixing all food groups except kale and steamed fish (not exactly a sustainable diet), let’s use the first weeks of 2014 to explore new tastes, textures, ingredients, and cooking techniques. Most of these recipes are based on healthy staples like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and both vegetarian and meat protein sources.

5. Supplements – There is much discussion on supplements, including a load of great info at links from Megan’s first ‘7 links’ post and her post specifically on what she takes, so I won’t tread on those, but over at Candies and Crunches I came across a huge infographic about how you can get many of your needed vitamins and minerals through fruits and vegetables. (she also had a cool Periodic Table of Vitamins from Daily Burn)

Again it isn’t about whether or not you should supplement, but instead about how to get those vitamins in the first place so that a supplement might not be needed at all. The article didn’t link to the original graphic (tsk tsk), so I wanted to share it from the original site that created it:

Most Commonly Eaten 25 Healthy Fruits and their Health Benefits Infographic
Most Commonly Eaten 25 Healthy Fruits and their Health Benefits Infographic

Bonus: While we are talking supplements, I know a lot of folks are into protein powders. I have always wondered about those – particularly when people talk about them linked to ‘clean eating’. Something about powders made in a factory doesn’t scream ‘real food’ to me. Apparently I am not alone, as I came across this post with some links questioning the benefits of protein powders, saying:

Alarmingly, the amount of lead in a single serving in 8 of the tested protein supplements would require a warning label in the state of California.

I really don’t know what to think – I know loads of people are into using them to mix into smoothies and so on, I would just advise everyone to be careful and make sure that they are balancing all of their nutritional needs – and to ALWAYS check into the stuff you put into your body!

And how about an added crazy bonus?!? Any Supertramp fans? I remember when they were HUGE back in the late 70s / early 80s, and their ‘Breakfast in America’ album tore up the charts. Now according to the UK Mirror, a poster on the David Icke forums cites a whole conspiracy around the Supertramp album and the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. It is super-crazy in every way … yet somehow I think that ‘Eve’ should be given creative control of a TV show RIGHT NOW! Who knows what would happen!

Happy Friday and I hope everyone has a great weekend! Keep warm!

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13 thoughts on “Five Things Friday – Links and Stories Worth Checking Out

  1. I love that fruit infographic! Saving it!
    And I LOVE SUPERTRAMP!! I actually have a bunch of Supertramp on my running playlists and I just finished reading that link. Eve is crazy, but that is actually CREEPY!

    • That is a great info graphic – I have one on ‘healthy substitutions’ I saved from somewhere a year or so ago … have to share that one soon!

      Supertramp was such a huge thing with that album … but I think that you can take nearly any image near the twin towers and turn it into a conspiracy.

  2. Thanks for the great links! I’m glad to know that I eat bananas, avocado and blueberries every single day! I’m trying to eat more apples and I use naval oranges for fresh squeezed orange juice every day as well. Guns…don’t get me started. It seems like school shootings are old hat these days…like we’ve just accepted it. 😦

    • I think a big thing is trying to go local and fresh – being in NY (and when we were in Mass) apples are pretty much always around and fresh, whereas oranges are always imported. But I definitely think that keeping fruit and vegetables around and ‘front & center’ is important. And yeah, the thought that we are becoming desensitized to mass-murders is troubling.

  3. Some great food for thought – and I love that infographic. I know that some populations need supplements, but I work hard NOT to be one of those. I have to get regular bloodwork done for Celiac’s, so I know when my vitamins and minerals are out of wack so I can mix things up in my diet to address that before I have a serious deficiency!

    • That must be a real challenge – given all the issues Lisa has with foods I don’t take it for granted that I can eat pretty much anything without adverse effects. I have no issue with supplements, just always think it should be a ‘plan B’ unless there are medical reasons … but again, no judgies!

  4. YAY! You did it! I love your selection of links and that it covers such a wide spectrum of topics. Really made me think. The info graphic is amazing!!! Great message that we CAN get all of our needed vitamins and minerals from real food if we’re careful about it. (Although, yes, I’m still on the side of “better safe than sorry” for some things). LOVE LOVE LOVE the detox article – no crazy cayenne and lemon juice for me, I really believe we need REAL nutrients. I’m not opposed to some of the juice cleanses with actual real food (although I don’t think it’s a good method for weight loss, just for giving the digestive system a rest, and I’ve actually never tried one), but I think the best way to “detox” is to focus on real foods!

    • Thanks Megan – of course my approach is totally different than yours, which I think is always great – and I look forward to your next set! As for detox and cleanse, I obviously have a bit of an opinion there, but ultimately whatever makes people feel good in their body is great! I just don’t like bad science trumped out by people selling something, which happens too often in the health and fitness realm (I will never forget the ‘3tbsp of refined sugar is better than an apple’ ads from Domino sugar … )

  5. Pingback: Five Tips for Giving Credit Where Credit is Due | Running Around the Bend

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