10/18/2016: Great Barrier Reef; Rebooting the Food System; Mammograms & Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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Caryn discusses several recent articles in the news covering the Great Barrier Reef, Rebooting our Food System, Mammograms and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Caryn Hartglass: Hi everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass, and it’s time for part two of It’s All About Food. And it is almost all about food. I was just talking here with my friend, I mentioned my friend Josée is here from France, and she mentioned a very good point in the last 30 seconds, and that was food is important, but there are a lot of other things that contribute to disease and that’s our very dirty environment. Our environment is filled with all kinds of toxic chemicals and it’s different in different regions, in where we live, our water unfortunately. Many water sources are not clean. Our soils, for overgrowing with pesticides and herbicides and petrochemical fertilizers our soils are not alive, and they need to be alive with healthy bacteria and small living beings, insects, in order to grow what we need, nutritious healthy plant food. So there’s… there’s really a lot that is part of health, we cover a lot of that here on this program, and I think that goes right into very well with the first topic I wanted to talk about on the second part of this program, and that is the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. A lot of people have talking in the last week about an article that’s been going around, which had another sensational title. I talked about how Dr. McDougall’s book, The Healthiest Diet on the Planet, is somewhat sensational because there are many different kinds of plant-based diets, and is one really superior to another? Even in the whole foods plant based diet, there are many variations. Is one healthier than the other; I don’t know that we know that. So, moving to another sensational title, there was an article that came out that said, “The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.” And it’s a heartbreaking article, but it’s a bit of satire, it’s not true. The Great Barrier Reef is still with us, it’s just not as healthy as it used to be, but the article touches on many, many important issues, one that when temperature rises too high, the algae in the water produces too much oxygen and it becomes toxic in high concentrations. The coral there must eject the algae to survive and without the algae the coral turns white, which is called bleaching, and it begins to starve. So this happens with the rise in water temperature and we know our oceans are getting warmer. It also happens because the oceans are taking in more carbon dioxide, and that makes the water more acidic, and that also threatens the coral. So this lovely area, the Great Barrier Reef, a wonderful place where many people like to go and scuba dive, and do all kinds of water activities, it’s really a stunning, lovely place. I haven’t been there yet, and I would like to visit, Jose’s been there, she’s telling me, but it hasn’t passed away yet. But the point is, sensational titles get our attention, and there so much going on in the news today that it’s so easy to, I know when I get all my emails I just go, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete. I don’t have time to process most of the things that come in, and there are so many different blogs and newspapers, check your Facebook page and all the timelines that are going on, there’s just so much information. It’s the ones that have sensational titles that people start talking about, so I’m not surprised that this satirist chose, “The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.” as a title, and the author ends the article saying that, “the Great Barrier Reef was predeceased by the South Pacific’s coral triangle, the Florida Reef, off the Florida Keys, and most other coral reefs on Earth. It is survived by the remnants of the Belize Barrier Reef, and some deep water corals. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Ocean Ark Alliance.” It’s cleverly written, but the point is we have a problem, and when the ocean goes, there’s really no life anywhere because the ocean supplies us with oxygen. The ocean supplies us with a lot of temperature control. It supplies us with all kinds of life and balance, there’s a balance between the water and the ground and the air. So, we’re doing a lot of damage, and what do we say here on It’s All About Food about what causes a lot of that damage, certainly, quote, progress, civilization, 7 billion people on the planet, but a lot of it is what we eat, and a lot of it is the animals that we raise for food. And as there are more people on the plant, and more people consuming animals we have to unfortunately concentrate those animals in small spaces that we call factory farms, and it’s very inefficient to grow plants to feed these animal, to make food for humans, and we’re learning more and more about the devastating impact it has on the environment. It’s not only horrifically cruel, and it’s not only bad for our health as Dr. McDougall was telling us earlier, it’s devastating on the environment and a lot of it, even though what we’re doing on land, it connects to what’s going on in the ocean. And we see it unfortunately in beautiful places like the Great Barrier Reef, and I hope that at some point we are able to turn this around because I would really like to visit it sometime. I don’t have any plans to go there any time soon but I’d like it to be there and in a beautiful, healthy state when I do get to visit. There’s another article, it’s kind of connected to all of this, that came out recently called, “Rebooting the Food System”, and it’s reporting that there’s a new global collaboration between Eat Foundation, I’ve mentioned the Eat Foundation before, I recently went to their conference at the UN a few weeks ago called Eat X, and they are collaborating with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and the United Nations Food program, and they’re taking aim at obesity, hunger, climate change, and environmental degradation all together. It’s a good article. I smile when I read it because they’re mentioning issues that people like myself, people like Dr. John McDougall and many people I’ve had on this program, have been talking about for decades, decades. We’ve had numerous opportunities to make change to reboot the food system, to do things that are radical, but it takes a long time for people to get the message, for people to understand the message, and unfortunately things need to get dramatic, things need to get sensational before we want to get off our butts and do something about it. So I want to look at the positive side, and some of the things they mentioned in this article are talking about how many people have food instability, food insecurity, malnutrition and hunger haunt 1 in 9 of us, and at the same time we’re overweight. Obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. A staggering 30% are now overweight or obese, and at the same time, all these crazy things are happening all at once, so much food is wasted, I know here in Manhattan alone how much food is wasted, I participated in a number of dumpster dives a few years ago, and at 10, 11 pm at night, all this food is put out in plastic bags on the streets, bakeries put out perfectly good bread because they can’t sell it the next day, it has to be freshly baked. Huge green garbage bags filled with bagels. Now, I don’t eat bagels, they’re made with refined flour, but it drives me crazy when I see this food, food that can nourish so many people, being put out on the street, and then there’s the waste that happens in your own refrigerator. I know I cry if there’s something that goes bad in our house. I use everything. I don’t let anything go bad, and when it does, I feel really sad. The best thing to do with food waste, if you have it of course, is to put it in compost so those nutrients can get back into the soil, but for the most part that’s not what we’re doing. So waste is definitely an issue, and the article continues and says, “we’re polluting ourselves”, we just covered that. What’s interesting is they say, “one third of the greenhouse gasses that drive climate change are from agriculture production and the livestock industry alone account for almost 15% of all human caused emissions.” Now we’ve talked about this many times on the program, and that number is really loose. It’s really hard to nail down what the exact figure is, but what we do know is animal agriculture is toxic, to eat animals foods, and what the industry is doing to our environment, it’s a filthy business. And it says, “we’re running out of band-aid solutions,” now in my mind, the only solution, and they mention it right here in the article, it’s pointing towards healthy plant based diets. They say, “low in meat, animals products, and processed foods.” I would like to say none, but okay let’s say low, really low, because people don’t know how to… how to calibrate that. When you say a little is okay, sometimes the floodgates open and they eat a lot because they said, “Oh this doctor said it was okay to have a little.” What is “a little”? “A little” is really not very much, so maybe three to six ounces of animal food a week maybe, not a lot. Dr. Joel Fuhrman says less than 10% of your calories, and he’s really encouraging a 100% plant based diet but if people want to eat animal foods he gives you a number, but still people really don’t know how to calculate those things. Okay, and they also mention in this article it’s a huge business opportunity. That’s an interesting topic. I would like to believe that there is a way for many people to profit so that investors see an opportunity in growing healthy, organic food. Right now what I see as I mention earlier, is the businesses that are making processed plant foods to replace animal foods, it’s clever, it’s better than growing animals for foods, so we’re starting to see many, many plant milks, rather using the cow or the goat to get milk, or replacing the animal and using plant ingredients to make an essentially similar product. There’s even a company, I haven’t tried it yet, that makes milk from peas and it’s supposed. Through some sophisticated process, taste just like cow milk, which in my mind, isn’t a good thing cause I don’t like the taste of cow milk, but’s supposed to have casein and whey, the component in cow milk that we know aren’t good for us, so I’m kind of confused about that one. And then there are businesses that are making lots of plant-based meats. The thing that I find interesting, I’m not really a fan of the newest plant based meats, you’ve heard it here. I don’t really like the Beast burger, I don’t… I’m not fond of Impossible Foods’ Meats, Gardein is okay. The ones that I like are the foods that you find, and not all of them, but there are some products sold by May Wah here in New York City. Plant based meats that are made by monks in Taiwan, and they’ve been doing it for a really long time based on a century old recipe, and I find these are tastier and they’ve been around a long time and it’s not sexy. Investers like these new companies that are popping up that are kind of recycling information and that we’ve been putting out for a long time, and making variations on products that have been out for a very long time. And that’s where the money is. So you got to go where the money is. We need a complete reboot, as that article is talking about, a reboot of the system, and that will include how we make profits so that means a complete reboot of our subsidies system that provides incentives and tax breaks and money to the farmers that are making foods for animal feed, soy, alfalfa, corn, primarily grown to feed animals to feed people and those benefits, those incentives need to go to growing organic plant food for human beings in more efficient and effective ways, and I would like to see the big agribusiness giant farms broken up into smaller farms, let’s bring farming back. It’s coming back in little pockets but it needs to be sexy, it needs to be respected, we’re no where without food and our farmers need to be given a big boost and it shouldn’t be that difficult to grow food, and there are more people starting organic farms, not organic farms, urban farms. I love this idea of growing gardens all over the city, not only is it great to grow healthy food this way, but it’s beautiful to look at. Which reminds me of an article that I wanted to bring up, I was going to bring it up later, cause I wanted to end on a happy note but… I’m going to bring it up now. In terms of adding greenery how important it is for all of us human beings, I just found an article, and actually Jose, my guest, who’s sitting with me, was her son her posted it on Facebook and I saw it and I grabbed it and I loved it. And the article, it talks about the Japanese practice of forest bathing, and it is scientifically proven to improve your health. So now they have studies that show if you sit amongst trees, in a woods, it is healthy, it is beneficial, it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, it can reduce stress hormones production, it can boost the immune system and improve overall feelings of well being. Take a walk in the parks, and parks, even urban parks like the beautiful one we have here in Manhattan, Central Park, or the Queen’s Forest Coronado Park, which I was surprised to find out is bigger than Central park not too long ago, anywhere where you can find lots of trees, sit amongst them. It’s good for you, and breathe! I love talking about breathing and breathing in the woods is a delightful experience and it really doesn’t cost anything, just some time. So if you’re curious about it, you can just Google, “forest bathing”, there are actually meet up groups that bathe in the forest together. I like that. Whew! Okay. So, another article I picked out to just briefly mention, it’s on the website www.foodnavigator-usa.com. The article is, “Do you eat meat? What about animals? Scientists slice open a carnivore’s paradox.” Basically the article talks about the further away we get from seeing the animal, the more we’re likely to not mind eating. So when we see body parts of chickens for example, wings and breasts wrapped up hygienically in plastic, we don’t feel so bad. We feel worse apparently according to these studies, it’s not true of everyone and I know that, but let’s say you go to a luau or something and you see a pig roasting with its head, your less likely to want to eat that pig meat than if you were offered it without the head. So this is based on studies that they’ve done, the further away we get from acknowledging the meat on our plate is an actually sentient feeling, living being, the more we don’t mind eating it. Now people will say that if factory farms had glass walls people wouldn’t be eating meat, and I would really like to believe that’s true. I don’t believe it’s true for 100% of us. But, if more of us realized where our food is coming from and how it’s made and decide to take the more compassionate path, the healthier path, the more environmentally friendly path, and choose more plant foods, I like to think that we’re all sheep and we go with the masses, so we’re just waiting for that tipping point to move the masses towards more plant eating and less meat eating. Now one last thing in this article that I have to mention is the terminology. Language is so important and marketing is so good at manipulating our language. So a popular term is “harvesting”, “meat harvesting”, and more people are using the word “harvesting”, instead of “killing” or “slaughtering”. It sounds, it sounds so nice and natural and harmless and something that goes with the cyclical nature of life, but it’s not. Harvesting is not, when we’re talking about meat harvesting we’re talking about taking the life away from sentient beings that want to raise their families, raise their babies, live with their friends and families, and grow and live and range, roam the earth and do what they like to do, be it roll in the mud and the dirt and the leaves and peck at themselves and each other, and they have a right to do that. Okay, last thing, what month is this everybody? Okay if you’re listening now or listening soon in the future it’s October, and October is pink month! It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, you know how I feel about this right. We don’t need any more awareness about breast cancer. We all know about cancer. In fact I remember when I was a little girl, my sister and I were very aware of cancer, specifically when it came to cigarette smoking. Somehow we got, we were really scared about cancer and cigarette smoking, I don’t know how we got it, but that c-word, that cancer was really scary to the point where we would have, we would put on little shows in our backyard and charge like 10 cents, 25 cents, I don’t know back then, to raise money for cancer research. But it was something; the fear of cancer has been with us for a long time. What I don’t understand is why the fear of heart disease is not the same. Does anybody have that answer? Cancer seems so frightening and yet heart disease, it doesn’t seem as scary. And the thing about heart disease that we all know, heart disease is preventable; heart disease is reversible if you catch it in time, that’s nice. So maybe that’s why we’re not as afraid of it, but it’s not really keeping many people from getting heart disease themselves. Cancer seems a little more mysterious. We certainly know that, I would say upwards 60% maybe more of the cancers that people are being diagnosed with today are preventable. A large amount of cancer is preventable. Then, there’s a certain percentage that’s a mystery. What I would like to see is that with people jumping on this plant based whole foods bandwagon we all get a lot healthier, and then the remaining diseases that exist we can focus our help, our research dollars on the real mysteries out there, not the diseases that we cause. We spend so much trying to figure out how to cure diabetes. We know how to cure it. We know how to prevent it. We know how to reverse it. It’s a diet disease. Now cancer’s a little more mysterious. Okay so October’s Breast Awareness month. I know I’ve heard from my health insurance company to get my mammogram. I want to say that I have never had a mammogram, and I hope that I never will. There’s a lot of controversy around mammograms, and there’s a new study that just came out, and it was published a few days ago in the New England Journal of Medicine by some researchers at Dartmouth, specifically Dr. H Gilbert Welch, a physician at Dartmouth. There’s a wonderful little YouTube video that I recommend watching, he really does an excellent job of putting in layman terms, easy to understand terms, what their research was about, and what their findings were. So the findings are kind of confusing, but basically the improvements that we’ve seen in breast cancer with improvements in mortality, decreased mortality, have been primarily because of treatment. The treatment options have improved, or so says Dr. H Gilbert Welch, and I will agree that the treatment options have improved, maybe not improved in the way that I would like to see because I don’t think women should have to go through the things that they go through in order to get to a point where they’re in remission, and the disease is gone. But what has not helped, according to this study, are the mammograms. So they try and interpret the data and basically the data has told us that mammograms haven’t really contributed very much. Now it’s kind of hard to parse out and if you want to listen to his YouTube video you can do that. I just want to highlight a few things that he said. As I mentioned, “Falling breast cancer moralities is largely the result of improved treatment, and while screening mammography helps some women by advancing the time of diagnosis for cancer, is destined to become larger. More often it identifies women with small cancers that would have otherwise never bothered them. Now the interesting thing about many of these small cancers is that if we know about them or if we don’t know about them we can manage them because they’re slow growing. Many of them are not aggressive, many of them are slow growing, and when we move to a healthier diet of foods that boost our immune system, anti-cancer fighting foods, we can take care of those. A lot of people talk about how we always have cancer in our bodies but immune system is able to manage them. The thing is our medical industry likes to make cancer scary, wants us to sign up for more diagnosis and to find more stuff, and unfortunately many women are being over diagnosed and being treated for things that they don’t necessarily have to be treated for. Now he makes an important point, “Screening mammography is a choice, women who feel good about screening can feel good about continuing it, and for those who do not can feel equally good about not pursuing it.” It really is a choice, if you found something that’s bothering you, you might feel better to have a test to see if there’s something there, or choose some of the other tests that are out there. There are a number, ultrasound in this country; unfortunately there are other methods that haven’t been approved by our FDA. And that’s that. So, we talked about a lot today, haven’t we? Are you digesting that well? I hope so! If you have any comments and questions about today’s program or anything about food you can contact me at info@realmeals.org, and you can find me at www.responsibleeatingandliving.com, that’s where I live, and check out my blog, daily blog, What Vegan’s Eat, if you’re new to this program and new to plant based eating, I post everyday what I eat. It’s real food. I’m not lying, I’m not making it fancy, it’s just my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s real, and sometimes I link to recipes to be helpful. Thank you so much for joining me and for caring about food! Have a delicious week!

Transcribed by Zia Kara 12/6/2016

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