Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bloomfield's Badass Foods: What the hell are we eating?

Good day, all! I hope that everyone has been feasting on some of the Everyday Veggie's delicious veggie side dishes this week. I've seen some seriously exciting real food here which got me wondering: what are we eating? Why do we have so much food choice and yet frequently vastly overeat a small number of foods? This contradiction made me keen and angry and exploratory all at the same time.

So, intrigued by the idea of quantifying everything we eat and showing it all in its gross glory, I went searching on the interwebz for something that I could you all to help display the results I found, and I have to say that what came up was an aesthetically pleasure doozy! Whilst this great graphic from visualeconomics looks beautiful, just remember that this is truly terrifying, especially if you are American; although Europeans, Australians and Canadians shouldn't be too smug as we aren't far off these figures either!

(link below for larger version)

Here's a rundown of the alarming facts and figures shown above, along with some additional information to really make you sit up and think about what the average person chows down on these days. I'm going to ignore the meat and dairy issues here (non-vegans, do email me!) but they are staggeringly large figures (110lbs of red meat! I fear for the colons out there!).

Let's start with the figure pertaining to vegetables. The average American, we are told, eats 415.4lbs a year. This figure seems huge at first, but it actually works out to a mere 1.1lb of vegetables per day. This is a really tiny amount, which is terrifying when you consider that vegetables will be the prime sources of vitamins and minerals for most people. What's even scarier is that an 1/8th of that figure is corn. That is a huge portion of the vegetable intake of the average person, and again doesn't count that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that Americans consume as a sweetener in thousands of products. This high sugar food, especially in its HFCS state, is very dangerous and likely one of the biggest reasons for the skyrocketing obesity rate. Corn syrup adds an additional 42lbs of corn into the diet, meaning that Mr Average eats almost 100lbs of corn every year.

Remember fruit?
Fruit is even scarier; only 273.2lbs a year! No wonder there has been more than double the cases of scurvy in recent years when people are eating only 0.74lbs of fruit a day. Not even a pound! This means we are missing out on huge amounts of Vitamin C especially, one of our best immune system boosters - necessitating us buying more "healthy" supplements to keep us at a decent level of health. Prevention is always better than cure, and a strong immune system is not created by using anti-biotics and pharmaceutical restoratives. It's not only Vitamin C that your body needs for essential running, but all the other vitamins and minerals too. You wouldn't try to start a car engine with a flat battery and no petrol in the tank, with no oil or window washer fluid either, so why treat your body that way?

Another alarming figure that stands out from this graphic is the amount of wheat that we consume: 134lbs a year. This is a huge amount, and this really does need to be addressed. Wheat is an irritant to the gut, causing bloating and swelling when the digestive tract is exposed to it, even to those without coeliac disease. When you eat 134lbs of wheat a year, you can consider yourself thoroughly overexposed. All this gluten-containing wheat means that our bodies struggle to cope with digestion, causing flatulence, indigestion, constipation and diarrhoea, to name just a few. The problem here is not that having a small amount of wheat is bad, rather that having wheat everyday will really hit you hard and eventually lead to you showing wheat allergy symptoms, when previously everything was hunky dory. Try to avoid eating it everyday, although this is tough considering that it is put into a load of products including (but not limited to) bread, breakfast cereals, pasta, pastries, biscuits, cakes and crackers!

Here are some more facts that aren't quite as they should be:

We eat 141.6lbs of sweeteners in our sugary bright new world. Per year. That is an astounding amount of brain-destroying, gut filtering sucralose, aspertane, and other horrible substances flooding our system. Oh, and more corn syrup, naturally!

We eat almost 2.8lbs of salt a year. This is one of the main reasons that blood pressures are soaring worldwide (and mine soared when I read that!). So much salt throws out our delicate balance with potassium, a balance which dictates many crucial workings of a healthy body such as blood pressure and regulated heart beat.

We eat 23lbs of pizza and 24lbs of ice cream. Again, a lot of this is sugary mush and our old friend corn syrup shows up again (uninvited, that party crasher), especially as a soft scoop ice cream ingredient in the form of HFCS.

We manage to consume 24lbs of coffee, cocoa and nuts in a year. I'm willing to bet that a large percentage of that is going to be coffee and chocolate, usually of a fairly poor quality to which we add sweeteners, sugars and - oh! - more corn syrup. Our besieged and hyper-stimulated adrenal glands simply can't cope!

Finally, we consume a truly scary 53 gallons of soda/pop/liquidised sugar filth each per year. That's a tenth of a gallon a day, or for us English folk, roughly a pint and a sixth! I don't need to say more; this stuff is evil.

The point of me raking over these facts is not to scare or intimidate people into apathy; far from it. I want to shine a guiding light on the path we should be taking. I want these facts to speak for themselves, so have a little absorb and feel free to ask questions, argue, or generally have an opinion on this. The future is not all bleak; up your intake of fruit and vegetables, and try to leave out salt, sweeteners and processed foods where you can, and seriously, drop the soda!



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