TEDxManhattan, “Changing the Way We Eat” will feature a dynamic group of speakers addressing issues in sustainable food and farming. As in the past 3 years, TEDxManhattan will promote innovative work being done by groups large and small, for-profit and nonprofit, from around the country. Speakers include Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio, LAUSD Director David Binkle, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and many others.
The event will be webcast worldwide live from New York City on Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 10:30am-6:30pm EST.
Rather than watch the webcast alone at your computer, why not host a viewing party; invite friends over so you can join the discussion and join the global Twitter conversation @TEDxManhattan (hashtag #TEDxMan) or engage on our Facebook page.
The new documentary, Food Patriots, follows average American families who are changing how and what they eat – and having fun doing it. You don’t have to be a farmer, earthy-crunchy or an activist. You just have to commit to eating 10 percent local and sustainable, and things will start changing.
We’ll be streaming this film on the Internet for FREE at 7 p.m. CST, Wednesday, Feb. 26th. Afterward, we’ll be holding a Twitter chat with the filmmakers, Consumers Union staff and other organizations on ways we can all get involved and make a difference.
By Melissa Healy
The British Medical Journal has issued a clarion call to all who want to ward off heart disease: Forget the statins and bring back the bacon (or at least the full-fat yogurt). Saturated fat is not the widow-maker it’s been made out to be, writes British cardiologist Aseem Malhotra in a stinging “Observations” column in the BMJ: The more likely culprits are empty carbs and added sugar.
Virtually all the truths about preventing heart attacks that physicians and patients have held dear for more than a generation are wrong and need to be abandoned, Malhotra writes. He musters a passel of recent research that suggests that the “obsession” with lowering a patients’ total cholesterol with statins, and a public health message that has made all sources of saturated fat verboten to the health-conscious, have failed to reduce heart disease.
Indeed, he writes, they have set off market forces that have put people at greater risk. After the Framingham Heart Study showed a correlation between total cholesterol and risk for coronary artery disease in the early 1970s, patients at risk for heart disease were urged to swear off red meat, school lunchrooms shifted to fat-free and low-fat milk, and a food industry eager to please consumers cutting their fat intake rushed to boost the flavor of their new fat-free offerings with added sugar (and, of course, with trans-fats).
The result is a rate of obesity that has “rocketed” upward, writes Malhotra. And, despite a generation of patients taking statins (and enduring their common side effects), the trends in cardiovascular disease have not demonstrably budged.
Real food includes saturated fat, Lustig said, and real food lives up to the principle that food should confer wellness, not illness. “Instead of lowering serum cholesterol with statins, which is dubious at best, how about serving up some real food?”
Malhotra cites a 2009 UCLA study showing that three-quarters of patients admitted to the hospital with acute myocardial infarction do not have high total cholesterol; what they do have, at a rate of 66%, is metabolic syndrome — a cluster of worrying signs including hypertension, high fasting blood sugar, abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and low HDL (“good” cholesterol).
Meanwhile, research has shown that when people with high LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) purge their diet of saturated fats, they lower one kind of LDL (the large, buoyant particles called “Type A” LDL), but not the small, dense particles (“Type B” LDL) that are linked to high carbohydrate intake and are implicated in heart disease.
Recent research has also shown that Mediterranean diets — admittedly skimpy on red meat but hardly light on saturated fats — have outpaced both statins and low-fat diets as a means of preventing repeat heart attacks. Other research suggests that the saturated fat in dairy foods may protect against hypertension, inflammation and a host of other dysfunctions increasingly linked to heart attacks.
“It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity,” writes Malhotra.
Whether physicians at the front lines of health have gotten the message, a change in thinking is evident, at least, among some of medicine’s leaders. But it’s not easy to tune out years of what Malhotra calls “the mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
“When saturated fat got mixed up with the high sugar added to processed food in the second half of the 20th century, it got a bad name,” noted UC San Francisco pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig. On the question of which is worse — saturated fat or added sugar, Lustig added, “The American Heart Assn. has weighed in — the sugar many times over.”
The effects of eating genetically engineered (GE) foods are still largely unknown. The studies that led to the market release of certain genetically modified seeds were conducted by the same companies that manufacture the seeds themselves, and the raw data for these tests have not been released for the public to see. There have been independent, peer-reviewed studies that suggest that there could be harmful effects to human health caused by the use of GMOs and the chemical pesticides and herbicides that go along with them, but again, there has not been enough research done and the jury is still out. Also, without labeling GE foods, we cannot associate any health problems with people who ate them — because we do not know who ate them. Since the FDA has no way to track adverse health effects in people consuming GE foods, and because there is no requirement that food containing GE ingredients be labeled, there is no effective way to gather data on health problems that may be happening.