Friday, April 25, 2008
The What Tami Said Read-a-long begins…
Your choice of an evening meal may cost you more than the $5.00 you paid for it.
People of color suffer disproportionately from the epidemics (heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cancer) that are fueled by excess meat consumption. They are the ones most harmed when the Food Pyramid continues to push frequent meat consumption.If it is true that we are what we eat, as the saying goes, then it is no surprise that a staggering number of Americans are over-fat, Super-sized and sick. And if I may get real with my brothers and sisters, African Americans are suffering more than most.
The cancer incidence among African-Americans compared to whites in the United States is 26 percent greater.
The prostate cancer rate among African-Americans compared to whites in the United States is 36 percent greater.
The lung cancer incidence among African-Americans compared to whites in the United States is 53 percent greater.
The likelihood of an African-American woman dying of breast cancer compared to her Caucasian counterpart is 67 percent greater.
The hypertension (high blood pressure) rate among African-Americans compared to whites in the United States is 40 percent greater.
The heart disease rate for Hispanic women compared to white women in the United States is double.
The incidence of obesity among African-American and Mexican-American women compared to white women in the United States is 45 percent greater.
The diabetes incidence among Hispanic men compared to white men in the United States is 53 percent greater.
The diabetes incidence among African-American men compared to white men in the United States is 69 percent greater.
The diabetes incidence among African-American women compared to white women in the United States is more than double.
The diabetes incidence among Native American women compared to white women in the United States is more than triple.
Healthy lifestyles, including eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise, can significantly help to prevent, reverse and control these diseases. Studies have shown that people eating plant-based diets have far lower rates of heart disease, cancer, hypertension, obesity and diabetes than do meat-eaters. But current government policies are indifferent to the reality that non-Caucasian persons are suffering disproportionately from diseases caused by the standard American diet.
The federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans purport to provide nutritional advice to keep Americans healthy. Though ostensibly written for all Americans, the guidelines ignore the unique health needs and traditional food customs of African Americans and other racial minorities. –John Robbins in the article “Racism, Food and Health”
In the article above, John Robbins, scion of the Baskin-Robbins family, writes:
Statistically, people of color have less formal education and less access to many kinds of resources, and are therefore more vulnerable to the manipulations of junk food advertising. Children of color are disproportionately the latchkey kids who watch an average of 32 hours of television a week during which they are bombarded by ads for sugar-laden greasy foods. Neighborhoods of color are full of billboards for tobacco, alcohol, and the least healthy of foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, organic foods, and whole grains are difficult (if not impossible) to find; instead there are convenience stores and fast food chains with their greasy "bargains." Meanwhile, women of color are about 50 percent more likely to be obese than their white counterparts.Yes, poverty and poor nutrition education are the reasons for some of what ails the black community, but now let me get really real…with myself. I am overweight—moreso than I have ever been. My diet is abysmal and my life is way too sedentary. I have a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke—in fact, my own blood pressure in congenitally high. I am an educated, middle class black woman living in the suburbs. There are three major supermarkets within minutes of my house with a bounty of whole foods for the buying. I have access to Farmer’s Markets with locally-grown produce. I have consumed more books, magazines and reports on proper nutrition and its link to health and the environment and world hunger than I could possibly list here. And I actually like healthy, whole foods better than most of the greasy, fatty stuff. You see, I know better. I know better and I could do better, but still I have found it difficult to separate from my bad habits—some I inherited from my family and culture, and some I have acquired all by myself. I bet some of you can say the same.
The diets of people of color are typically higher in sugar, salt, fat, and refined
carbohydrates. Lacking access to healthier foods, and also lacking knowledge about what diets are in fact healthier, the poor are easy prey, not only to the tobacco and alcohol sellers whose billboards pervade their neighborhoods, but to the junk food industry and the fast food chains who see these communities as markets they can readily exploit.
Recently, I made a pledge to myself to reach some of my health-related goals before my 40 birthday, which is two years away. The more information I read about the food industry, the more I am inspired. Hearing how consumer food companies prey on the American appetite and how our government is complicit in promoting profit over the health of its citizens, makes the lefty activist in me good and mad. If you read the excerpts from John Robbins’ essay above, you should be good and mad, too.
Read with me: The Food Revolution by John Robbins
I hope you will join me in learning how “your diet can save your life and our world.” Join the What Tami Said Read-a-long and dive into “The Food Revolution” by John Robbins. The publisher says of the book:
Fears of Frankenfood, e coli, and "mad cow" meat abound. If, indeed, we are what we eat, what in the world are we becoming? Now, John Robbins, who revolutionized how we think about food, reveals the truth about our already deadly diet. Fifteen years after the publication of Diet for a New America, and 10 years after the popular PBS special about the book (September 1991), general readers are informed, curious, and articulate about diet and nutrition, and that phenomenally successful book was one of the vehicles for awakening people’s interest in the direct connection between whatFirst assignment
they eat and their health.
Now, at this time in our culture’s history, people in the general population are fairly sophisticated in their knowledge of quite a wide range of issues related to diet: the importance of a low-fat diet; the relative importance of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in daily eating; the connections between certain foods and certain health issues, particularly heart disease and cancer; the dark side of the agricultural business, particularly the beef and chicken industries; and the questions raised by scientific breakthroughs in genetically engineered foods.
This sequel to Diet for a New America speaks to a nation that is much more savvy about food and health issues than it was in the 1980s and presents the tremendously compelling new information that has come out of research in the fields of nutrition,
medicine, and agriculture, bringing the reader in on what we now know about relationships between diet and longevity, aging, and robust health. Armed with powerful statistics, fascinating discussions, and exposes of false information and its proponents, the author argues for people adopting a vegetarian diet for their own well-being as well as that of the planet. Politically charged, the book is unquestionably convincing in its advocacy of a lifestyle that is not only personally beneficial but of critical importance to the world at large. This is a book of health and hope, and it unabashedly makes a pitch for a better world through better eating.
The first reading assignment is Part I of The Food Revolution: Food and Healing. We will read the first eight chapters of the book over the next two weeks and discuss them here on Friday, May 9. I’ll post my thoughts and readers can comment. Or, if you are interested in writing one of the posts for the Read-a-long from your perspective, let me know.