Thursday, September 10, 2009

Health Care and the S.A.D.

Just wanted to share a few links I've found interesting lately, mostly on the topics of wellness, healthcare, and food.

Most of you probably saw John Mackey's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal back in early August. If you didn't already read it, I suggest reading his original, un-edited version. Mackey lays out eight clear steps to government health care reform. He also suggests greater personal responsibility for health and preventable illness, pointing out how the American diet is responsible for such an overwhelming percentage of disease. As the CEO of Whole Foods, he's certainly made a lot of liberal foodies more than a little annoyed, and many are currently boycotting Whole Foods because of Mr. Mackey's opinions on the subject. I suppose it was to be expected that stating that health care is not a basic human right would be sure to get people riled up.

"Many promoters of health care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care-to universal and equal access to doctors, medicines, and hospitals. While all of us can empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have any more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have an intrinsic right to food, clothing, owning their own homes, a car or a personal computer? Health care is a service which we all need at some point in our lives, but just like food, clothing, and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually-beneficial market exchanges rather than through government mandates. A careful reading of both The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter, because there isn’t any. This "right" has never existed in America."

Michael Pollan also weighed in on the health care reform issue, suggesting that the biggest problem isn't just the health care system; what really needs to be addressed is the Standard American Diet and the government subsidies within agriculture (corn, soy, etc.) that often affect what Americans can readily afford to eat.

For other news on the health-and-wellness front, check out this USA Today article pointing out that 60% of adults can't digest milk. Yep. Since becoming a vegetarian back in February, I've found myself leaning more and more towards the "human milk is for baby humans, and cow milk is for baby cows" viewpoint, finding it increasingly odd that the human species relies on dairy for a sizable percentage of food intake. (Not that I ever liked cheese or milk!) Of course, some call my viewpoint on this issue "propaganda," but then take the "Got Milk?" commercials in stride without a second thought - of course cow's milk is part of a healthy diet. What?

The American Heart Association made waves by suggesting that women limit their added sugar intake to no more than 6 tsp. a day, and for men, 9 tsp. Quite a reduction from the average, which this article says is 22 tsp. per day!

For those calorie-counters who say, "A calorie is a calorie - who cares if it's from a potato chip or an apple?", here's an interesting article that delves into the science of that very issue. It's not the sort of thing you can skim - I found myself really having to think about each thing the author was saying.

That's all the linkiness for now!

By the way, I still love being a vegetarian. I was chatting with Nathan this evening about how my mindset has changed in the past seven months. I'm gaining a new perspective on how I view food as I think more about where my food has come from, and in some cases, at what costs. I told Nathan I find it interesting that some use words like "extreme" when describing my decision not to eat meat, when I, in my current frame of mind, view my dietary choices as exactly the opposite of extreme. Factory farming seems extreme to me. Almond butter, fresh-picked fall apples, medjool dates, avocados, spinach, hummus, ak-mak crackers, pita bread, sweet potatoes, squash, savory beans... mmm, these things are delicious simplicity.

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