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Posts tagged ‘trans fats’

Personal Resbonsibility, What’s Yours?

Mea Culpa

I’m a big fan of personal responsibility. I don’t think we can clean up the world, unless we are cleaning our own house. However, I caught myself thinking something today that made me wonder about my own attitudes. I was cleaning the cat box. I use the clumping cat litter, and I was wondering if it is bad for the environment. My next thought was “They wouldn’t be allowed to make it if it wasn’t”. Outside of how ridiculous that thought is (can anyone say “superfund”?), it was an obvious dodge of personal responsibility. In this case, I want to dodge it, as I love this stuff. It makes keeping three cats easy, neat and not stinky. How often do we avoid considering personal responsibility because we don’t want to change?

The Tie In

I live in New York state. Often called the “Nanny state”, since we seem to have more “it’s bad for you” laws than any other state, other than California. Most of us poo-poo those laws, citing personal responsibility. The cat box this morning made me reconsider that. How many of won’t change until forced to, because we like the thing that might not be good for us? They don’t have to ban clumping cat litter for me to stop using it, but the negative qualities would have to be dramatically and forcefully shown to me in order for me to change.

I can’t say I quit smoking because of the indoor smoking ban, but it certainly helped. Going through the mini- withdrawals I had to endure each time I spent time in a public building was an added incentive to quitting. Make it easy to do the right thing, hard to do the wrong is the basis of behavior change. Is it wrong to have our governments to participate in these efforts? What if a company doesn’t exercise personal responsibility and makes a product that hurts people? Is our only recourse tort law? Of course, bringing up tort law reminds us that anything that can be used for good purpose can be used for bad, 10 times over!

That, of course, is the whole reason people are against the government getting involved in areas that should be relegated to personal responsibility, sinceĀ  governmental laws ALWAYS have unintended consequences. One law does not fit all circumstances. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has gotten much criticism and praise for banning trans fat, supersized drinks and making it a law that calories had to be posted in menus. Are people only angry because they don’t like being told what to do? Is there a threat to trying to eliminate unhealthy things? To further complicate things, since we are already in the process of socialized medicine, do you have the right to do what you want, if I have to pay for it? Do I have the right to tell you what to eat if you weigh 250 and are a type II diabetic, and that is costing my tax money to pay for?

Let me know what you think. I don’t know for sure. I don’t want laws that stop me from doing what I like, but I can’t see the harm in guiding behavior in healthier lines, since we have companies doing so much to affect us psychologically and emotionally to buy their products that don’t help us at all. Can we educate everyone and inoculate them mentally to resist? Or do we legislate that companies cannot put certain things in their products, or use certain tactics to sell the items. Does knowing better actually lead to better behavior? I can attest that knowledge alone does not create change.

“It’s for the Children”

I’m going to be doing a presentation to mothers of preschoolers later this month. This has caused me to spend time thinking about what kids eat. It has always bugged me that we create foods for our children that are absolutely the worst things they should be eating, then wonder why their eating habits are so bad. That article yesterday on the girl who would only eat chicken nuggets only exasperated me further. I will be publishing two entries on solutions, but I want to vent some more about the problem first.

To begin, we are starting to realized that highly processed foods are not good for us. I say “highly” because everything you do to food, from washing it to cutting and cooking it, is processing it. However, there is a huge difference between roasting a chicken and:

“Mechanically Separated Poultry is a paste-like poultry product produced by forcing crushed bone and tissue through a sieve or similar device to separate bone from tissue.”

What do we do with this paste of meat, gristle and bone? We add nitrites, salt, sugar and other ingredients, steam it into a paste, inside a skin and feed it to our children. If the disturbing nature of how it’s made don’t bother you, how about setting them up for the future? I have here a study result from Harvard School of Public Health that clearly links processed meat with greater risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Do I even have to go into the evils of trans fats? It is another, man made Franken-fat, made by hydrogenating unsaturated fats to make them act like saturated fats. Manufacturers love them, as they don’t get rancid like real fat does. However, we’ve found out that they are worse than saturated fats when it comes to our arteries and heart. If you’d like to read more, this article, again from the Harvard School of Public Health is a good, easy read.

So where is my set up leading? To our old friend Oscar Meyer, who has set himself up as a friend to mothers and children for decades now. I copied this off of their website, it is simply their nutrition label.

Serving Size 107g
Servings per Container about 1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 380
Calories from Fat 150
% Daily Value*
total Fat 16g 25 %
Saturated Fat 7g 35 %
Trans Fat 0.5g 0 %
Cholesterol 55mg 18 %
Sodium 740mg 31 %
Total Carbohydrate 47g 16 %
Dietary Fiber 1g 4 %
Sugars 26g
Protein 12g
Vitamin A 6 %
Calcium 25 %
Vitamin C 10 %
Iron 8 %

Ingredients: WILD CHERRY WATER BEVERAGE WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVOR: WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CITRIC ACID, SUCRALOSE (SPLENDA(R) BRAND SWEETENER), NATURAL FLAVOR. BOLOGNA MADE WITH CHICKEN & PORK: MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, WATER, PORK, CORN SYRUP, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, POTASSIUM LACTATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, FLAVOR, SODIUM NITRITE, EXTRACTIVES OF PAPRIKA, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SUGAR, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE. PASTEURIZED PREPARED AMERICAN CHEESE PRODUCT: MILK, WATER, MILKFAT, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, WHEY, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM CITRATE, SALT, LACTIC ACID, SORBIC ACID AS A PRESERVATIVE, CHEESE CULTURE, ENZYMES, OLEORESIN PAPRIKA (COLOR), ANNATTO (COLOR), WITH STARCH ADDED FOR SLICE SEPARATION. CONTAINS: MILK. CRACKERS: UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA AND/OR CALCIUM PHOSPHATE), WHEY (FROM MILK), SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVOR. CONTAINS: WHEAT, MILK, SOY. ARTIFICIALLY FLAVORED CANDY: SUGAR, INVERT SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, TARTARIC ACID, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORING, YELLOW 6, RED 40, YELLOW 5 AND BLUE 1.

I italicized all the ingredients I would have a problem with. I skipped some that I wasn’t sure about, I leave it to you to decide. Do you want you children eating trans fats, mechanically separated chicken, four chemical food colors, artificial flavors that are chemicals, starch, salt, sugar, nitrites and high fructose corn syrup?

Why do we do this? We should be giving our children our best, not our worst! I dare you to walk around a supermarket. Pick up any product aimed at children. How much sugar is in it? How many food colors? Does it have artificial flavors? Hydrogenated oil? What real food products are in it? How far is it from something recognizable as food? Gogurt? Why aren’t we just feeding them yogurt? Plain, add your own real fruit yogurt.

Next week I’ll come up with some suggestions for alternatives to mass marketed children’s meals and snacks. In the meantime, read the labels. If you don’t know what the words in the ingredients mean, think twice about feeding it to your children. Avoid hydrogenated oils, make “crackers” out of flat bread or pita bread toasted in the oven. Make meatballs, bake them in the oven, freeze them individually so you can thaw and serve them as needed. Then you know what your child is getting in his meat. Remember, if you can leave a food on a shelf indefinitely without it spoiling, it is full of chemicals to make it so.

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