Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bacon: You Think Eating Yourself To Death Is A Nice Way To Go?


The other day I was at my favorite restaurant in L.A. and the chef was telling me that starting on Monday she's revamping the menu entirely. Maybe she saw how nervous I became but she reassured me by going over all the new dishes she had worked up. One caught my attention; it was something with "bacon." It's a raw, organic vegan place. No room at the inn for bacon. (In fact, as ex-cattle rancher Howard Lyman, told the East Bay Express last week, carnivores can't be environmentalists.

He wasn't just a cattle rancher. He was a diehard fourth-generation Montana cattle rancher with a thousand animals on the range and thousands more in feedlots. On more than 10,000 acres of cropland, he grew grain to feed his livestock, which also included pigs, chickens, and turkeys.

Thirty years later and 130 pounds lighter, Howard Lyman is a changed man. First and foremost, he's a staunch vegetarian. "I would love to see feedlots close and factory farming end," Lyman wrote in his book The Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth From the Cattle Rancher That Won't Eat Meat. "I would love to see more families return to the land, grow crops for our own species, and raise them organically. I would love to see farm communities revive. I would love to know that I've wandered into my nation's heartland by the sweet smell of grain and not the forbidding smell of excrement."

Now the "bacon" my chef friend Lisa was talking about was faux bacon made entirely from raw baby coconut meat. Not this kind of bacon-- you know, the kind that will kill you. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health concludes that "eating two rashers of bacon or a sausage every day can increase your risk of heart disease by nearly half, scientists claim. Their study found meat that has been cured, salted or processed in another way can also push up the likelihood of developing diabetes. It linked the salts and chemical preservatives used on processed meat to ill health if the products are eaten regularly." Add various cancers to the bowels and breasts-- and then there's the little obesity problem we were talking about with Rep. Jared Polis a couple weeks ago. Turns out Michelle Obama has made tackling that thorny subject-- solving the childhood obesity problem in a generation-- one of her top priorities in the White House.
But the goal is so ambitious only because the crisis of childhood obesity is so grave -- with the current generation of Americans is "on track to have a shorter lifespan than their parents." Obesity "is estimated to cause 112,000 deaths per year in the United States, and one third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime." Each year, obese adults incur "an estimated $1,429 more in medical expenses than their normal-weight peers," and overall, the nation spent up to $147 billion on obesity-related costs in 2008.

...[T]he newly enacted comprehensive health reform law "contains a number of provisions to address childhood obesity in the context of health care and public health." Several studies have indicated that, when presented with calorie information and recommendations, people on average consumed meals with almost 100 fewer calories. The law improves nutrition labeling in fast food restaurants by requiring all chain restaurants "to provide clear labeling of the calorie counts by March 2011." By that date, restaurants must "display a succinct statement on the recommended number of calories individuals should consume each day as well as provide written nutrition information when requested." Vending machines will soon have to meet a similar requirement. The law also promotes breastfeeding by mandating that "employers with more than 50 employees must provide break time and place for breastfeeding mothers to express milk," gives grants to community based obesity intervention programs, invests in broader population-level obesity intervention efforts, and promotes primary care and coordination efforts that emphasize prevention. Still, none of this alone can significantly lower obesity rates. For that, policymakers must do much more to enact the Task Force's recommendations and look beyond health care into the nutrition of food in school cafeterias, the physical education programs, America's agricultural policies, and the food options in lower-income neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, some in the conservative media are using the Task Force to further the meme that the administration is undermining personal freedoms and liberties. Last week, for instance, Matt Drudge ran a headline saying, "White House seeks controls on food marketing." On the May 11 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said: "An Obama government obesity task force." "Does every American family need a dietitian appointed by the government to tell them that this food is going to make you fat and this food is not?" he asked. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin also turned the Task Force into a hit, saying that her "problem with the Obama administration is that it's more concerned with policing grocery aisles and our refrigerators than it is with our borders." "And we'd be heck a lot better off if they got their priorities in order." Only former Governor Mike Huckabee, who himself has struggled with obesity, warned conservatives against mischaracterizing the report. During a discussion in February about Obama's campaign to fight childhood obesity, Huckabee explained that the initiative is not a "nanny-state solution" or a "leftist position" and warned that conservatives would engage in reactionary attacks against the program. Speaking of Obama, he concluded, "She does not believe that it is a government solution and that government should dictate what size cheeseburger you eat."

How about a cheeseburger with no cheese, no burger and no bun, just stuff that's delicious and nutritious? and don't get me started on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation deciding to permit the systematic poisoning of the state's strawberry crop with methyl iodide, a potent carcinogenic gas which is certainly a neurotoxin and disruptor of thyroid function, particularly for fetuses.

Ever go to a Hollywood premiere? We've written about Bold Native in the past, while it was being filmed. Now it's completed and this spectacular film about about animal liberation, the nature of terrorism, and those who believe it is sometimes necessary to break the law in the pursuit of a higher good will have it's world premiere on Wednesday evening, June 16. I'm goin'. And the folks from Open Road Films gave me a pair of tickets to give away to a Blue America donor. Everyone who contributes in the next 24 hours-- to any Blue America candidate on this ActBlue page will be entered into a drawing for the pair of tickets. Now if you live in Maine, you'll have to figure out how to get to Hollywood yourself. Same if you like in Santa Monica. But there are 3 or 4 vegan restaurants real close by the theater.

UPDATE: Could Be Worse... Take The Fare At The Beijing Zoo For Example

The Chinese love eating rare game... the rarer and more exotic the animal, the more the Chinese seem to want it in their moo goo gai pan. And if the species is endangered and on the verge of extinction... yum, yum, yum.
Some zoos are not just for looking at animals. If you're going to Beijing, you can eat them as well.

Crocodile and kangaroo tail, as well as the webbed toes of a hippopotamus are all on the menu at the Beijing zoo's restaurant.

And if that doesn't sound exotic enough, there's always scorpion and deer's penis, with ant soup as a starter.

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At 12:24 PM, Anonymous king buzzo said...

Surprisingly, deer penis isn't as good as it sounds.

At 1:28 AM, Blogger Philip Steir said...


Thanks for this post. Bold Native is going to be a powerful film on many levels.
Also...I know so many meat eaters who will tell me that they will never watch slaughterhouse footage because it's too brutal or disgusting or cruel....or etc..
Yet these same people who feel it's not ok for their eyes (minds) somehow think it's OK for their stomachs (hearts).
It's kind of the same strange mentality with the people who support the war in Iraq never want to see the coffins coming home.
Thanks for your wise words and enlightened thinking!


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