Why do Americans eat so much? That is the question for our age, isn’t it?
If you have been around as long as I have, you are old enough to remember that the previous generation did not have to ask the question, nor did the generation that preceded them - and so on before that. How did this consumption and concomitant weight-gain happen so fast and become so extreme so quickly? There are many theories and the fact is, a situation so extreme probably requires failure from many angles, all colliding at once.
Can we reduce the collision to 2 sides of the same coin? I think so. It has to do with what we put in and what we took out of our food, and the latter may have more to do with it than the former.
The weight adding element is probably the presence of sugars in so many of our processed foods and drinks (see my early column entitled “Getting Fat on Diet Coke”.) Enough said about that - it’s the sugar, stupid.
What about the subtractions, the things that have been eliminated from our food? The loss of variety in our vegetables and fruits, and the fact that our soils are mere plant pots rather than a living thing, limits the vitamins and minerals to be ingested.
Conventional meats come from trapped animals that live restricted lives on highly restricted diets, calculated to add as much weight in as little time as possible. In short, we have worked the nutritional profile of our food down to a very narrow list. These losses may well be more significant to our dilemma than the problematic additions. Why? Because our bodies cry out for certain nutrients that can no longer be found in our food supply, or is found in such limited quantities that it never quite satisfies us. Our brain says we are still hungry while simultaneously saying that our stomachs are stuffed. The brain knows - we are not getting the nutrients we need, so we try again, only to be left again with an unsatisfied hunger for the nutrients we cannot quite find but consuming mega-calories in the process.
That is why we are so dedicated to providing our creatures with a wide variety of vegetables. Our cattle dine on the 15 prairie grasses of the southern plains, as well as the clovers and herbaceous flora that comes with it, plus the gardens we plant for them. So do the pigs and chickens, but they go even further because they are omnivores. Add the acorn and pecan nuts of the forest, the wild berries and fruits, and the vegetable garden supplements we bring them and you have the widest nutritional profile to be found anywhere. Interesting isn’t it? We grow meats from creatures raised as vegetarians. It makes the perfect food combination: protein and high quality omega-3 fatty acids with all of the vitamins and minerals from the soil and vegetable garden. Our creatures are what they eat, and we are too. Good news for all.