Two news items may have missed your attention this month as we were swamped, starting with the farewell to a living legend Muhammed Ali to the last Presidential primary to #OrlandoShooting to the Cavaliers’ win to #Brexit to Messi’s retirement. The posterity would remember June 2016 for long, we too though for different reasons and two news items would change the direction of our campaign.
First, Philadelphia became the first major city in the US to impose the soda tax. Actually major or minor, it is only second city after Berkeley, CA to go that route. Needless to mention the millions were spent from both sides, Mr Bloomberg on one side and the beverage companies with Teamsters union at the other. But the Mayor of Philadelphia Mr Jim Kenney in his speech at the signing event did not mention a single time why the soda tax was imposed in a city with 68% of obesity and overweight prevalence. Like he did mention he needs money for the community schools, health centers, parks but he did not have courage to say reduced soda consumption in his city would be better for its residents. Berkeley did not mince words though.
Second news item involves soon-to-be the world’s largest agriculture company Bayer AG, a German company, who is buying Monsanto, the US company. So someone at Bayer’s crop science division tweeted ‘reduced meat demand would be good for our planet.’ And there was such a blow-back from the farmers here in the US that Bayer’s unit apologized to the farmers. See article here -
I was shocked but not in disbelief. I don’t think anyone needs a college degree to know the sodas are bad for our health and the current meat consumption is not good for health as well as not sustainable. Please read my earlier posts. We do have data - the obesity rate inched up to 36% last year and then the last line of this global obesity rate stamped what we suspect already~
“What chance does the United States have to stop the rise of obesity by 2025? Zero, the study says.”
Are we so helpless? Is not the ‘Freedom of Personal Choice’ being misused? Remember our first 75:25 rule. 75% of the health issues owe its origins to being overweight or obese. Need proof? The US has 5% of world population but consumes 52% of total world medicines.
Read here ~http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js6160e/6.html .Is not this crazy? Like some experts would claim the longevity of the population has gone up, the mortality rate of some groups has gone down but with the help of piles and piles of medicines. Whereas the world over lot of people are leading the healthy life without medicines.
But both of these news items authenticated my classification of 10% vs 30% vs 60% which I mentioned fleetingly in my earlier posts. I would explain. Second, I am not very political and for me, 99% vs 1% is over simplified. But from now, we decided to go for the socio-political campaign for #DisruptiveEating to maximize its impact.
10% of people are super rich and they don’t get impacted by our issues. Like nothing means nothing can change their fortunes or well-being except for some untoward heavenly interventions. They are out of my purview.
30% of people are well educated and skilled in some way or other. It includes the people working for the Beverage companies to the meat industries to the Teamsters union to the restaurant owners to the big food and agriculture corporations to the pharmateutical companies to the health insurance providers to the hospitals to the majority of politicians.They are well-paid, majority of them earn in excess of $50K per annum.
60% people live paycheck to paycheck or the paycheck to the food stamps and back, majority on the hourly wages. So 5%% people may be jumping around between the last two categories. Incidentally almost 70% of people are overweight here in the US. And the obesity rate among the African-American women is 56%, Hispanic women 46% as against 36% for all. No brainer this menace is directly linked to the income level.
In the Philly case, Teamsters union who represents the workers of the beverage bottling plants argued that due to soda tax, the consumption of soda drinks would go down, hence the bottling of sodas would go down and hence the workers would lose jobs. The same logic for the farmers who forced Bayer AG to apologize because they are earning million per year and are not ready to take a hit due to the reduced meat demand.
So these 30% people are smart. Barring few they are not overweight or obese. They have money and access to buy the healthier options. That’s why Whole Foods Inc, Trader Joe flourished during the worst recession of our time. Like they are not drinking sugary drinks or eating red meats in tons, trust me I put myself in this category. And I meet people all the time who won’t touch even potatoes, leave aside the red meat. Or if they become obese or overweight, they have resources to go for weight loss surgery, or buy diet meals from big name experts or see a nutritionist or join the fitness centers.
Now take 60%, majority of whom are obese or overweight. They don’t have money or access to healthier options and nobody tell them or restrict them to eat or drink whatever they want under the garb of Freedom of Personal Choice. So they become slaves to their bad health and the medicines, spending their most of time, energy and money for the good health. Once you are not healthy, it is an uphill task to achieve the income and educational equality as you spend your resources traveling to and fro to health care providers to buy medicines, skipping hours at your job or missing your kids’ home work or absence of them at the schools.
All of us know these things, right? They why we don’t do anything about it? Why we accept the status quo meekly? Why us 30% for our extra well-being or good life let our fellow community members from 60% to struggle to get their basic things right? People are compassionate here no doubt if you think of multitude of the foundations, the money spent on the charity and the respect for the animals of all types. They why we could not be a bit extra compassionate towards our fellow human beings? Like why we can’t prevent something which are preventable rather than spending money for the cure?
When I mention ‘I am OK’ is not enough, I mean exactly that. let me share an example. We all know the whole grain is good or the whole wheat bread is good. Like if you read our blog at website ‘Why whole wheat bread’, you would think why I am eating the white breads when 1 whole wheat bread is equal to 8 white breads. We struggled for a year to discard the Naan white bread at Nirmal, synonymous with Indian food here as 95% of the Indian restaurants serve the Naan. Naan white bread is made in Tandoor oven which consumes 3 times more energy that that used for making Roti, the whole wheat bread, at Tawa. The way of working at Tandoor oven endangers the health of Tandoori chef as his face and hands continuously come into contact with 900 F. But what clinched the issue for us was a NPR report when the expert called the ‘white bread’ a trash. yes you read it right because the white bread harms you like other high glycemic index (GI) foods. You feel full for sometime due to the blood sugar spikes when you eat high GI food items and then you again feel hungry say in one-two hours forcing you to eat the junk foods, kind of double whammy. But because majority of 30% eat other healthier options, they are OK with Naan white bread or do-nuts or bagels or white bread burgers. That is the reason I don’t find the whole wheat flour at nearby Sam’s club or GFS, the two biggest suppliers for the restaurants. And as majority here eat outside, you are deprived of the whole wheat or whole grain options at most of the eateries.
So many whys? And the answers are simple for 60%. Prevention is always better than cure. When we first heard it may be in 6th grade, right. How many of us practice it in our daily life? And it is not that hard. Total $100 Billion plus is spent to fight the obesity and overweight prevalence in the US every year but the dietary guidelines which have potential to reduce the overweight prevalence, come once in 5 years. Why? Because so many jobs would be lost if 60% start #EatRight in 7 steps or even #EatHealthy as detailed in my earlier post. Does not it sound ironic or weird?
I remember signing a petition to stop the usage of computers in the offices, colleges when I was in college in India around 1990s. Like some people came and said this machine can do the work of 10-20 person alone and would take the jobs of our family members and the neighbors. Now when I think back, these computers created millions of jobs In India and all over the world. So when 50% of our population are not producing output at their 100%, what happens to the economy or the community or the city? So effectively they become the consumers only, not the contributors and all of us lose out on the long term. Healthy people make a city, state or country, not the ventures, the parks or the big factories.
June 2016 would be another watershed month for our journey when we decided to shed our cloak of ‘political correctness’ and go whole hog to position Indian food as the best option for the prevention mode. How?
Starting with our second 75:25 rule for alkaline vs acidic food. See this link here ~http://greenopedia.com/alkaline-acid-food-chart/ . Please go through these charts and you would say it makes sense to eat more alkaline food. Most of spices, tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, the core of Indian food, are alkaline. Mother’s curry, made of onion and spices, which we use in the majority of entrees, has PH of 6.4 as per recent lab report, low acidic as water is considered neutral at PH value of 7. Beef and pork, the most acidic meats, are strict no-no in Indian cuisine.
But if the key is eating more plant proteins, more whole grain, more vegetables, start eating Indian food and you would find how easier it is. Like lentils, parboiled rice or whole wheat bread is so easy to cook at home which would make your lunch or dinner more affordable. Lentils with any whole grain is the complete protein. Why I talk about the lentils and the home cooking? Canada is the largest producer of lentils in the world. India is 2nd largest and the lentils are a staple food in Indian cuisine. Why not here as the lentils could be the cheapest source of protein as well as has 2nd highest protein per calorie after the soyabeans. It is also the richest source of the dietary fiber.
Another reason for the home cooking of Indian food is to avoid the Indian restaurants here. Reason, they don’t represent what we eat at home, authentic Indian food. We eat Roti, the whole wheat bread, at home daily but Naan white bread is cynosure of all eyes. Chicken Tikka Masala is the most popular dish here, a creamy entree whereas we don’t use dairy cream at all at home. Actually only North Indians eat creamy items but mostly the butter, to be fair to them. Though India is so diverse that every 100 miles our food changes with our language, no kidding.
Are you aware of ‘Seven countries study’ done in 1950’s which put the Mediterranean diet atop the perch of the healthy eating here in the US. Please read here -http://www.sevencountriesstudy.com/about-the-study/countries/ .
The seven countries in the study were US, Greece, Italy, Finland, Netherland, Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia) and Japan. Fast forward 2015, the overweight prevalence in 6 countries except Japan are over or close to 50%, Greece just behind the US with 63%. if you combine Japan’s overweight prevalence of 23% with the obesity rate among Asians in the US being only 12% last year, you can easily give the thumbs up to the Asian food and our eating style. But Indian food reduces your meat consumption considerably which we need to do eventually. India has 500 million vegetarians, 42% of its population as compared to 10% in the US and 5% in China. The credit for the vegetarian eating goes to the Curry as the spices in the curry dominate your taste buds not the chicken or the cauliflower. Below is the data for overweight prevalence.
Back to soda, we stopped serving soda drinks at Nirmal, replacing it with so many Indian drinks from lemon water to cumin drink to almond drink to yogurt drink to off course ubiquitous Indian tea with spices, last one served hot. Soda drinks are most acidic and lemon water is in most alkaline category so does the other drinks. But the soda drinks have 300% profit margin. Normally the other food items have 30-40% profit margin. Why don’t the cities or the county can give incentives to the restaurants to discard the soda drinks? Or Mr Bloomberg? My 2 cents. Given that majority here eat outside, that could make the huge impact, better than the soda tax, for sure.
Our task is cut-out. I can wish though the Columbus could have discovered America on his return journey after buying spices from India like other traders of his time. What keeps us going despite the Mount Everest of skepticism is this tribute to a G.O.A.T from an Indian girl at his funeral services this month, so inspiring.
he stood tall in the face of pelting rain and shouted: 'I am the disturbance in the sea of your complacency and I will never stop shaking your waves'."