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Cook our way to health

 

When catsup and pickles are the only vegetables many people recognize, and when there is an epidemic of heart disease and diabetes, and when there is rampant obesity, even among children, we know we have a problem.

Dr. Mark Hyman recently wrote about a documentary he is filming called “Fed Up.” He explains how he interviews one South Carolina family in crisis. They are facing morbid obesity and all the related health issues, including financial distress. Their lives are in a downward spiral. He shows them how to cook their way out of crisis, but he literally has to teach them how to cook and what real food is. Their teenaged son is excited about learning this new concept.

As with so many folks caught up in the web of government dependency, they have grown accustomed to eating only processed and packaged foods with ingredient lists that could be found in any chemistry lab. Real food in these households is almost nonexistent.

One of the problems, Hyman points out, is that the food stamp program (now called SNAP) run by the USDA under the so-called Farm Bill, pays out $4 billion a year to the soda industry. Despite the pretense of providing good food for hungry people, it allows participants to spend their SNAP food stamps on sodas, junk food, and fast foods like fries.

Hyman wants to open the eyes, not just of this one family with his documentary, but he hopes to open the collective eyes of a nation of overweight, unhealthy American consumers.

Too many families no longer know how to cook. At best, they open a can or stick something in the microwave. Aside from pickles, catsup and fries are the next things closest to vegetables in their diets. Hyman found that, in South Carolina, 92 percent of the families only eat two vegetables a day and that includes catsup and fries.

Perhaps classes in school should teach nutrition -- not just the USDA guidelines -- but ones that would introduce students to real food and real food preparation.

A quick Google search shows 30.5 million children get their lunch through the National School Lunch Program, and that was six years ago. With record unemployment and a continuing push to reign in even more participants, the number has undoubtedly grown since then.

These government-run programs are big business, indeed. Every year, there are efforts to expand the reach of these national food programs even more instead of teaching people how to cook.

Hyman refers to the food industry as “big food” and points to its influence over the average consumer as “food terrorism.” Indeed, we are facing a crisis and he wants to teach us how to “cook our way out of this mess.” He advises families to spend time together in the kitchen instead of in front of the television.

“Cooking ... is the most real activity we can do every day.” Our sense of how we eat connects us to the world, he writes.

To read more about Hyman, go to: http://bit.ly/13W7uZb.

 
 
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