Several months back, a major study comparing the nutritional value of organic food to conventional food made the rounds. Organic food, it found, was “no healthier” than ordinary food. There were no significant “differences in nutrient content,” and the study’s authors found “no evidence to support the selection of organic over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.” Hmm, so there were “differences,” but they were “unlikely to be of any public health relevance.” Okay – even if I accept that the differences were unimportant, there was a major, glaring qualifier: “nutritional superiority.” Going organic, then, doesn’t suddenly change the essential composition of a plant. A grape remains a grape (small differences aside), whether you use artificial pesticides or “natural” pesticides. I buy that, and I don’t think many people who support organic are arguing that industrial organic farms produce purer, more “appley” apples than conventional farms. They’re simply wary of ingesting the artificial chemical cocktails applied to conventional crops.
Yesterday I challenged you to estimate my body fat percentage by looking at a recent picture. To be scientific about this little exercise I chose to reference as the correct answer the results of the “gold standard” hydrostatic weighing I had subjected myself to at the Malibu gym (it was actually a specialized truck that shows up once a year and performs the intricate and expensive underwater weighing tests for $60 each). 317 of you took a stab at guessing from the photo of me. It’s clear to me that many of you are quite good at estimating actual body fat levels (the average guess was 6.7%), but Gwen, anticipating the tenor of today’s post, took the prize with the closest guess at 12.5%… Ironically, that was also the highest guess of all and yet it was still a full 4 percentage points lower than what the actual “gold standard” test demonstrated. That’s right, my test score showed that I am 16.9% body fat. That’s 28 pounds of pure fat – if you believe the lab values. Even my wife Carrie tested lower at 13%. Am I really that fat? Probably not, but I went through this exercise to illustrate a point about which I will write today: that quite often, these so-called “gold standard” lab values are of little actual predictive value. Sometimes these tests are just plain wrong. And sometimes they can create far more problems than they solve. And if they are that far off when something is largely visible, what happens when they are dealing with more intricate hidden body chemistry? In this case, my jeans still fit loosely, so I really don’t care what the lab value was. I know the reality. But if I lived only by the lab values, I’d be inclined to start cutting calories immediately to lose weight.
It’s a nebulous term used by snake oil-salesmen to sell products cloaked in pseudoscientific terminology on late night television. Detox. If what they say is true, we apparently have millions of toxins constantly circulating throughout our body, permeating our cells, coating our digestive systems in a poisonous film, bogging down our organs. These toxins cannot be dealt with, nor reasoned with via the standard avenues of diet and exercise; no, they require the aid of special supplements and detox paraphernalia: magic herbs, weird colon-scouring clay mixtures, foot pads that supposedly suck the toxins directly out of the body, lemonade or juice fasting kits, liver flushes. They’ll often bring out a spokesperson who plays doctor well enough to convince your average Cheeto powder-encrusted insomniac that he or she needs this book or that colon cleanse to avoid obesity, cancer, disease, and depression. If you could just flush out all those toxins, you’d be doing great.
Yesterday, I debunked a few of the common, “evolution-based” arguments leveled against meat-eaters that might have the potential to stump anyone with only cursory knowledge of evolutionary science. By and large, these are arguments that appeal to our emotions. They invoke a peaceful, gentle pre-history of slender, humane early humans co-existing in perfect meatless harmony with the animal kingdom, an image that sounds great and makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Those sharp spears found at various dig sites, you ask? Why, those were just used to skewer hard-to-reach apples, or perhaps to gently separate two squirrels battling over an acorn. But the fossil record shows distinct markings on large ruminant bones that seem to indicate cuts, tools, and butchering – how do you explain those? Oh, those? See, early humans were so grossed out by animal carcasses that they couldn’t bear to actually touch them with bare hands. They developed tools so that they could move the offending meat out of their line of sight without actually putting hands to flesh. Pretty ingenious!
Meat is murder.
Meat will clog your arteries.
Meat is an unnatural food.
Man is really an herbivore.
Meat will give you cancer.
Meat is bad for the environment.
It’s easy to forget that these are the common arguments leveled against meat-eaters. It’s easy to forget that most of the developed world assumes meat is inherently unhealthy – for our health, for the environment, and for animals. It’s easy to forget these things because, as Primal Blueprinters, we’re immersed in the literature and are actively involved in what we eat. To that end we understand that man evolved eating meat, that meat is an important part of a healthy human diet, and that meat production doesn’t have to be the unsustainable, industrialized monster it’s mostly become (and which rightly garners the most negative press). Still, what is the average meat eater to say in opposition to these charges?
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