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Two reasons why you should “vote with your fork”

Voting with your fork means choosing foods that align with your values. We feel that it is important that folks know what they’re eating and that their food choices align with their values. Below are two reasons, highlighted today in the Wall Street Journal, why you might care to vote with your fork.

Story 1 – “Gene Maps Are no Cure-All

The scientific “nature vs. nurture” debate refers to the relative role that your genes or who you are (nature) plays in disease and health as compared to your behaviors or what you do (nurture). In most cases, there is not much of a debate to be had as these days we acknowledge that both genetics and behaviors play a role in most health and disease outcomes.

Nonetheless, some people place a lot of emphasis on one’s genes. However, a new study, published Monday in the journal Science Translational Medicine and presented at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago, found that for 23 of 24 diseases analyzed, the relationship between genes and disease was not entirely straightforward.

For example, about 2.2 million women in the U.S. are expected to get ovarian cancer at some point in their lives. However, even if all 156 million or so women got a whole-genome scan, the tests would be able to identify only 100,000 of them. That means that just looking at a woman’s genes will miss the cancer risk in the other 2.1 million women.

Gianrico Farrugia, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, said that the study, “is making a statement about how complex it is for most diseases” to be assessed using the technology. Another statement from Dr. Lynda Chin, who heads the department of genomic medicine at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas included, “We don’t understand about 99.9% of what the genome is telling us.” “The predictive value is less until we do.”

In other words, we’re not entirely sure what your genes means right now. However, we do know that what you eat (which is currently easier to change than your genes anyway) has a big impact on your health.

Story 2 – “Beef Processor Falters Amid ‘Slime’

Another reason to vote with your fork is that it does make a difference. In this story (link above), “meat processor AFA Foods Inc. filed for bankruptcy-court protection Monday, saying a national controversy over a common filler for ground beef severely curbed consumer demand for its products.” (Note: if you’re not familiar with the news related to this “common filler” just Google “pink slime”)

The story states that, “Falling demand for the additive caused Beef Products Inc., a key maker of the product, to shut down three of its four plants last week. Cargill Inc., the other dominant producer of finely textured beef, has significantly cut back its production, a spokesman said.”

Phil Lempert, a food-industry consultant, said “the fight is over” and that the next step for the beef industry is experimentation with other types of filler. Consumers aren’t going to accept the product given all the publicity about “pink slime,” he said. And there is little the industry can do to change that, Mr. Lempert added.

Here’s another idea Phil – when I buy ground chuck, I expect to get a chuck roast that has been ground; when I buy ground sirloin, I expect to get a sirloin steak that has been ground (period). What I do not expect is for someone to then “cut” that ground meat with a cheap meat scrap “filler” like a dirty drug dealer might do.

As expected, there has been some pushback by industry officials and governors in states where the filler is produced, who have said that “finely textured beef” (aka pink slime) is being unfairly maligned. The additive has been used for two decades and declared safe by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Yes, but safe does not equal good for you. I could safely eat dog food, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

So, vote with your forks people. It’s one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health, and with enough people, it does make an impact on the world in which we live.