Here is an ‘interesting’ episode of the Freakonomics podcast: click here.
I loved the book Freakonomics, I love this podcast, in general, and I love listening to just about anything that Stephen Dubner and Steven Leavitt have to say. In this particular podcast, though, I was disappointed with the conclusions drawn because, after all, these are the guys who see the hidden side of everything, and really, they didn’t seem to do that at all. They actually saw only the obvious.
Once again when discussing our American diet over the past century with a focus on what is happening particular during this great recession, they focused only on cheap and abundant calories and the cost of those calories. They don’t seem to understand the hidden side of cheap and abundant calories, that is cheap and abundant calories are primarily processed carbohydrates, and to a lesser extent industrial processed seed oils which are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which seem to be highly toxic to cellular membranes and liver. Peter from Hyperlipid wrote an interesting blog post about omega six fatty acids of the development of non-alcoholic NASH (a form fatty liver disease that is not associated with alcohol ingestion). And Paul Jaminet is working on a series of blog posts that are very interesting that seem to suggest the same thing in relation to ingestion of pork products.
Why cannot anybody see that if the majority of cheap and abundant calories are not coming from animal fat and protein?
Why does everybody even these two renegade economists, who have allowed me to see the optical illusions in my own daily life, focus on the same old shtick of we need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and not single out what seems to be very clearly the main problem: a highly processed grain-based diet?
The fact is we are obese and fat is not simply because we have cheap abundant calories alone, it is because those calories are mainly carbohydrates and carbohydrates are uniquely fattening.
Certainly, it is true that the majority of the subsidized grain in America is used to feed cattle (vegans and vegetarians like to point that out in all other graphics). The fact is, though, we are not eating a lot more more meat as a result. Look:
The majority of the American diet is carbohydrate, especially the cheap ones you can find easily that expand food in a recession (i.e flour, bread, potatoes) when your buying power is pinched because you have lost your job. Unfortunately, those cheap foods that help you expand your meal, making you feel full, do this at the cost because they are generally carbohydrates which will fatten you up and keep you hungry in the long-term.
They did not see those graphs, did they?
I am a little bit disappointed because Dubner and Leavitt are supposed to see the hidden side of everything, and they kind of missed the ball on this one.
I am planning on forwarding the blog post to Stephen Dubner and Steven Leavitt and see what they think. Since I am in Chicago maybe I will get a chance to meet with both of them. Who knows? Maybe that will be great for bringing the awareness to what is the real unintended consequence and the hidden side of the cheap calories you can find in a recession.