Wednesday, 16 November 2011

We are what we eat (2)

'The Food Hospital' is a series of Channel 4 television programmes (8pm, Tuesday evenings). Last night's edition featured a young girl, a dancer, who suffered from Crohn's Disease. She was taking Steroids to control her condition, although it appears they were not doing so. In order to replace them, she was given a dietary programme, which she followed, with what appeared to be outstanding results.

The Channel 4 webpage is entitled 'Using food as medicine'. I mention it for three reasons.

First, to congratulate Channel 4 for having the audacity to transmit a programme that is mildly critical of ConMed drugs - not something that the mainstream media (and certainly not the BBC) does often.

Second, it highlights the growing realisation that there are better, safer, and more effective responses to disease that resorting to Big Pharma drugs, and that tiny pockets within the NHS are now prepared to recognise this (another example is the greater use of 'talking therapies' in the treatment of depression).

And third, the central importance of good diet to our health and well-being. We are, indeed, what we eat!

Although this series of blogs does not give dietary advice, it is going to focus on many issues concerned with what is wrong with the food and drink that we consume, or perhaps more accurately, the food and drink we are encouraged (by big food corporations) to consume. Indeed, the concept of the 'Big Food' industry is going to be central to many of the arguments used here.

Big Food 'adds value' to food by processing it.

But the 'value' added to our food is a monetary rather than dietary concept. Food, taken from the ground, and consumed in its (almost) natural form, is usually inexpensive, and good for our health, our well-being, and our energy levels. The more that food is processed the more expensive it becomes - and the less value it is to us, and the way we function.

Take, for example, this article about the chicken we eat - especially from 'fast food' outlets, such as McDonalds. This is not fresh chicken, taken from the field, and cooked. As the article states, the 'chicken' is only 50% of what you are eating. You are also eating foaming agents, and preservatives - not there to assist your health, but to enhance profit. As the author states, not many people realise what they are eating. It is called chicken - so we believe it to be chicken.

Or this article about Pringles Potato chips. Made from potatoes. Well, no - actually they are made from a slurry of rice, wheat, corn and potato flakes that are then pressed into shape, cooked. An enjoyable, harmless snack? Well, no - as the author explains, rather than eating something we consider good and wholesome, the production process actually creates Acrylamide, a substances known to be carcinogenic.

Over the coming weeks and months, we will examine more about food, how Big Food produces it, processes it, and profit from it, often at the expense of our health.