The Role of Processed Foods in the Obesity Epidemic

The Role of Processed Foods in the Obesity Epidemic
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The rise in the U.S. calorie supply responsible for the obesity epidemic wasn’t just about more food but a different kind of food.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The rise in the number of calories provided the U.S. food supply since the 1970s is more than sufficient to explain the entire obesity epidemic. Similar spikes in calorie surplus were noted in developed countries around the world in parallel with, and presumed primarily responsible for, the expanding waistlines of their populations. By the year 2000, the United States was producing, after taking exports into account, 3,900 calories for every man, woman, and child—nearly twice as much as many people need.

It wasn’t always this way. The number of calories in the food supply actually declined over the first half of the twentieth century, only starting its upward climb to unprecedented heights in the 1970s. The drop in the first half of the century was attributed to the reduction in hard manual labor. The population had decreased energy needs, so they ate decreased energy diets. They didn’t need all the extra calories. But then, the so-called energy balance flipping point occurred, when the “move less, stay lean” phase that existed throughout most of the century turned into the “eat more, gain weight” phase that plagues us to this day. So, what changed?

What happened in the 1970s was a revolution in the food industry. In the 1960s, most food was prepared and cooked in the home. The average “not working” wife spent hours a day cooking and cleaning up after meals. (The husband averaged nine minutes.) But then, a mixed blessing transformation took place. Technological advances in food preservation and packaging enabled manufacturers to mass-prepare and distribute food for ready consumption. The metamorphosis has been compared to what happened a century before in the industrial revolution, with the mass production and supply of manufactured goods. This time they were just mass-producing food. Using new preservatives, artificial flavors, and techniques such as deep freezing and vacuum packaging, food corporations could take advantage of economies of scale to mass produce ready-made, durable, palatable edibles that offer an enormous commercial advantage over fresh and perishable foods.

Think ye of the Twinkie. With enough time and effort, any ambitious cook could create a cream-filled cake, but now they are available around every corner for less than a dollar––or delivered straight to your door for 30 cents! If every time someone wanted a Twinkie, they had to bake it themselves, they’d probably eat a lot less Twinkies. The packaged food sector is now a multi-trillion dollar industry.

Or, consider the humble potato. We’ve long been a nation of potato-eaters, but they were largely baked or boiled. Anyone who’s made fries from scratch knows what a pain it is, with all the peeling, cutting, and splattering. But with sophisticated machinations of mechanization, french fry production became centralized, and could be shipped at -40o to any fast food deep fat fryer or frozen food section in the country to become America’s favorite vegetable. Nearly all the increase in potato consumption in recent decades has been in the form of french fries and potato chips.

Cigarette production offers a compelling parallel. Up until automated rolling machines were invented, cigarettes had to be rolled by hand. It took 50 workers to produce the number of cigarettes a machine could make in a minute. The price plunged, and production leapt into the billions. Cigarette smoking went from relatively uncommon to almost everywhere. In the 20th century, the average per capita cigarette consumption rose from 54 a year to 4,345 cigarettes a year by the time of the 1964 Surgeon General’s report. The average American went from smoking about one cigarette a week to a half-pack a day.

Tobacco itself was just as addictive before and after mass marketing. What changed was cheap, easy access. French fries have always been tasty, but they went from being rare, even in restaurants, to omnipresent access around every and each corner (likely next to the gas station where you can get your Twinkies and cigarettes).

The first Twinkie dates back to 1930, though, and Ore-Ida started selling frozen french fries in the 1950s. There has to be more to the story than just technological innovation…which we’ll explore, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The rise in the number of calories provided the U.S. food supply since the 1970s is more than sufficient to explain the entire obesity epidemic. Similar spikes in calorie surplus were noted in developed countries around the world in parallel with, and presumed primarily responsible for, the expanding waistlines of their populations. By the year 2000, the United States was producing, after taking exports into account, 3,900 calories for every man, woman, and child—nearly twice as much as many people need.

It wasn’t always this way. The number of calories in the food supply actually declined over the first half of the twentieth century, only starting its upward climb to unprecedented heights in the 1970s. The drop in the first half of the century was attributed to the reduction in hard manual labor. The population had decreased energy needs, so they ate decreased energy diets. They didn’t need all the extra calories. But then, the so-called energy balance flipping point occurred, when the “move less, stay lean” phase that existed throughout most of the century turned into the “eat more, gain weight” phase that plagues us to this day. So, what changed?

What happened in the 1970s was a revolution in the food industry. In the 1960s, most food was prepared and cooked in the home. The average “not working” wife spent hours a day cooking and cleaning up after meals. (The husband averaged nine minutes.) But then, a mixed blessing transformation took place. Technological advances in food preservation and packaging enabled manufacturers to mass-prepare and distribute food for ready consumption. The metamorphosis has been compared to what happened a century before in the industrial revolution, with the mass production and supply of manufactured goods. This time they were just mass-producing food. Using new preservatives, artificial flavors, and techniques such as deep freezing and vacuum packaging, food corporations could take advantage of economies of scale to mass produce ready-made, durable, palatable edibles that offer an enormous commercial advantage over fresh and perishable foods.

Think ye of the Twinkie. With enough time and effort, any ambitious cook could create a cream-filled cake, but now they are available around every corner for less than a dollar––or delivered straight to your door for 30 cents! If every time someone wanted a Twinkie, they had to bake it themselves, they’d probably eat a lot less Twinkies. The packaged food sector is now a multi-trillion dollar industry.

Or, consider the humble potato. We’ve long been a nation of potato-eaters, but they were largely baked or boiled. Anyone who’s made fries from scratch knows what a pain it is, with all the peeling, cutting, and splattering. But with sophisticated machinations of mechanization, french fry production became centralized, and could be shipped at -40o to any fast food deep fat fryer or frozen food section in the country to become America’s favorite vegetable. Nearly all the increase in potato consumption in recent decades has been in the form of french fries and potato chips.

Cigarette production offers a compelling parallel. Up until automated rolling machines were invented, cigarettes had to be rolled by hand. It took 50 workers to produce the number of cigarettes a machine could make in a minute. The price plunged, and production leapt into the billions. Cigarette smoking went from relatively uncommon to almost everywhere. In the 20th century, the average per capita cigarette consumption rose from 54 a year to 4,345 cigarettes a year by the time of the 1964 Surgeon General’s report. The average American went from smoking about one cigarette a week to a half-pack a day.

Tobacco itself was just as addictive before and after mass marketing. What changed was cheap, easy access. French fries have always been tasty, but they went from being rare, even in restaurants, to omnipresent access around every and each corner (likely next to the gas station where you can get your Twinkies and cigarettes).

The first Twinkie dates back to 1930, though, and Ore-Ida started selling frozen french fries in the 1950s. There has to be more to the story than just technological innovation…which we’ll explore, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

83 responses to “The Role of Processed Foods in the Obesity Epidemic

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  1. Your last comment was particularly important. You are very appropriately looking at a multiplicity of factors causing this pandemic of obesity. I like looking at the necessity of wealth being associated with over consumption and unbridled “pleasure”. Hence gout as the “disease of king’s.” And I believe this is implicit in the success of the marketing and growing convenience of fast unhealthy (dare I say murderous?) food.

    Listening to the obese diabetics discussing ordering lunch is a fascinating study in hedonistic self destruction. Marketing and culture has a tremendous role in this but so does the ease of acquisition of greasy fried chicken et al.

    1. Stewart,
      Nutritional health may be for the nerdy, educated few. Mass marketing of junk nutrition combined with a costly, sick care, health system is a murderous one–two punch. Food is the #1 killer. There is no quarantine, no vaccine and no herd immunity.

      1. Good point Dan. Now we have moved away from the wealthy obese more to the poor obese. So yes, nutrition education is for the well off and nerdy.

        1. Stewert,
          Nutrition is not necessarily a socio-economic thing. Sure, the poor are getting nailed. However, there are plenty of highly educated people who are clueless about their bad health. Their doctors are not helping. Plant based nutrition is the only thing that will reverse much of the food borne diseases. That is not where the money is.

          1. true comment re: the docs. Last time I was in to check bloodwork, around lunchtime, the inner office staff were all eating at their desks on a beautiful warm sunny day, each noshing with backs to one another, in silence, Mcdonalds bags everywhere. I spoke up as to the irony, and they chuckled.

          2. Actually I’m glad you mentioned that. It is cultural but there is a tremendous range of factors going into what we might call culture. It is more accurate to point to “tendencies” that push in a certain direction. Poverty is certainly a factor as is wealth and education. However, the bombardment with television culture promoting supersizing and greasy sweet food as pleasure is ubiquitous and has become almost axiomatically associated with everything from sex to a better jump shot.. Better education and better critical thinking skills are associated with greater likelihood of breaking that ideological paradigm. However it is by no means a certainty. At this point we are only looking at very small numbers who do do successfully escape the SAD and its consequences.

      2. Dan,

        What is interesting is that – during this quarantine phase – there has been a quarantine and

        If enough people couldn’t find junk food during the panic-buying – on the other side, there may well be some degree of herd immunity in some communities.

        Fewer parties. Fewer restaurant trips. A complete change in socialization.

        1. Newspeople have talked about how hard it was to find meat for the first few weeks.

          That, and people have been binge-watching Netflix and Game Changers is a sports video and there are almost no sports.

          Seems to me like we are going to see genuine Herd Herd Immunity on the other side of this.

          1. PLUS, everybody is afraid they will be broke after this pandemic and a lot of people actually will be.

            Gardening is something people are binge-watching on YouTube.

            1. Deb, Actually,  this government lock-down is good practice for living under Socialism.   

              You know, … where the government controls every aspect of our lives, tells us what we can and cannot do, destroys the economy, causes big lines at the grocery stores and causes the masses to hoard food … in fact, it’s sort of like Venezuela is today.

              I’m all stocked up now just in case we get a new president in the Fall of 2020 ;-)

              1. How did the Pence driven Venezuelan coup d’etat go for ya? (by the way thats a socialist French word)… Haven’t heard much about that lately. Venezuela is now a squashed bug which you point to as a failure, that this country was simply annoyed with. Hmm thats the behavior we should be proud of, and god help us if we have free education and healthcare for all! Imagine if we would no longer be able to give trillions to corporations because we foolishly wasted our printed money on our own citizens health and education?

                Man thats crazy talk. Im going out and get me some few pallets of toilet paper because this country doesnt have people hoarding supplies like ’em socialist countries! Yee haw!!

              1. Realty Bites,

                I’m all for people trying to grow their own food. It ain’t easy. It takes smarts, education, and experience. All kinds of pests, pathogens and predators. Unpredictable weather. And more.

                And then I hope they realize that we don’t pay our farmers nearly enough for the food we eat.

  2. Great history on American food consumption. So the reason for the weight gain phenomenon is related to doubling the intake of calories via cheaply produced, processed foods. Home cooking seems to be a counter measure.

    1. Due to the current situation of covid 19 a lot of people are finding themselves cooking at home . In my area the most popular restaurants are closed with the pizza joints still offering take out as well as the fast food places with their drive thru . Most of those are only doing 30 % of what they used to do . The most popular place in town would do 5000 chicken wings a night . I found it interesting the other day listening to White Coat Black Art a radio podcast by CBC radio here in Canada . Dr Brian Goldman was being interviewed and the interviewer asked . ” I understand that the emergency dept of most hospitals are very quiet with few patients coming in , what would be the reason for that ? ” That is something I just can’t understand , we have far fewer heart attacks and emege dept are down I would guess 20% maybe 40%.
      Just seems to tie into todays video.

      1. mrpinkerton,
        I believe a large proportion of emergency department patients are non-emergency visits by folks without health insurance, without the financial means to pay, and without a primary care physician. So they go to the emergency department as that’s there only option and they know that the cost will be covered by the hospital. But now with COVID-19, these people are home bound and the hospitals are not dealing with non-emergency treatment so visits by those folks are way down.

      2. Hospitals are not having the people coming in from auto accidents and work related injuries. That is why the slow down. They are getting more heart attacks and more victims of domestic violence though.

        1. Reality Bites,

          I read that cardiologists are seeing fewer patients — fewer are showing up at the hospital ER.

          One suggestion was that people might be thinking twice about going to the ER, since a lot of visits turn out not to be heart attacks or emergencies. They are balancing the risks (of becoming infected) vs the benefits (it’s a serious emergency).

    2. Dan, I agree home cooking is best.. no argument there. But I think it’s a bit simplistic to say that heart attacks etc have been reduced in this past short time frame. Checkvout today’s video by dr john campbell, especially at the 10:20 mark. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uGHB6358P7o
      He discusses there a frightening discovery in the death statistics that might explain a part of it. From what I have seen here people have been buying just as much crap, if not more, than before. Wether it’s eaten at home, or in a restaurant doesn’t make any difference. Pizza take out businesses are busier than ever.

      People bought a lot of beans, oatmeal, rice etc., who normally wouldn’t have, but I bet many will have those items still in the cupboard when this is over.

        1. Prior to all of this, the emerg dept was packed with non-emergencies. People abused it. Now, everyone is told doctors wont see non-essential appointments. People won’t go to hospital for fear of contracting coronavirus, even if they really should go and get checked out.

          My exercise schedule has been cut wayyyy down. When I would expect a rise in heart attack/stroke numbers is when restrictions are lifted and we can go back to the gym, pool, track, team sports etc. I know I will have to be very cautious in starting up again. Very depressing in having to start all over after having to sit around for months.

          1. I predict the day after we’re told the world has been reopened…that it’s back to business as usual, etc., people will still “fear” one another. They’ll be afraid to take off their trusty masks — some with cute designs that they spent big bucks on — or come within six feet of others. Betcha!

            Like prisoners who are wary of facing the Outside World, they might commit crimes just to get a hot meal and a roof over their heads again.

            https://www.dw.com/en/life-after-prison-re-entering-society-is-no-easy-task/a-18051657

            Also, some people will have gotten used to not wearing lipstick or inserting their teeth partials because, why should they? Once they’re released from their “house arrest/lockdown,” they might feel the need again.

            1. YR,

              That is an interesting concept.

              I do believe that people who are boundary-setters and people who have health-vulnerabilities may well just incorporate 6 feet into their lives.

              People who are rebellious are already out there violating the boundaries.

              It will be the touchy-feely people who are going to online looking up “Is it okay to give hugs again?”

              And they will watch people backing away from them as they walk forward.

          2. Start walking. When my gym closed, I started walking 5 miles/day every morning. I don’t run, so this is what I can do. Now a month later, I am walking 9-10 miles/day. I’m not lifting as much weight as before, but at least I’m walking for 2-3+ hours every day.

            1. That’s wonderful but where I live we aren’t even supposed to leave the house except in limited very carefully defined circumstances.

  3. Twinkies are still available???? I thought they tasted plastic when they were my chubby sister’s favorite food in the ’50s. I liked chocolate plastic much better. But eating all that crap (as defined in yesterday’s video) gave me a sweet tooth that has been virtually impossible to extirpate after five years of WFPB no SOS impossible. I still use maple syrup in my oatmeal and tea, and turbinado sugar in my coffee. Still, I am cured of my addiction to Hersheys kisses and peanut M&Ms, for which I am eternally gratefu!.

    1. Barbie,

      Laughing at “I like chocolate plastic much better.”

      The sweet tooth is interesting to me. I succeeded at not having one for 2 years, maybe even longer, but when I come down in fat intake, I think I ended up back at a sweet tooth.

      I am not eating Reese’s peanut butter cups or peanut M&M’s either, but I still find the sweet tooth interesting because I had gotten totally rid of it. I was even able to eat a slice of birthday cake a few times per year with no residual sweet tooth those years.

      It started back for me the pot video with all of the candy wrapper images. I think I have to re-do the vagal nerve stimulation to re-break off the emotional response to the food again or something. It is like that video and a Reese’s commercial brought it back.

      Years ago, I had that happen after I had given up soda successfully for years. I suddenly craved it and ended up back drinking it. That soda one happened a few times. Off of it for years, back for a year, off of it, back. I have been off of it for several years now, but the brain is interesting.

      1. For me, it would still after all of this time be peanut with chocolate and you brought back the concept of peanut M&M’s. Those would have been another for me. Peanut butter cups, Reese’s Pieces. Peanut M&M’s.

        Mint and chocolate is the other combination.

    2. That any animal eats twinkies in any form is disgusting be it fried or cereal. The people who design these abominations should have to pay extra taxes.

    3. Barbie,

      I was just thinking about food cravings tonight.

      I used to have chocolate cravings, but I read that it was related to a magnesium deficiency and I took magnesium for a while and it went away immediately.

      The thing is, people crave even things that aren’t food and they say that it is because they have a nutritional deficiency and what is interesting to me is that my conscious brain didn’t know chocolate had magnesium and yet there is something outside of my conscious mind that does know what is in every food and can cause food cravings. I can’t generate food cravings by speaking to my conscious mind. I also can’t shut off food cravings speaking to my conscious mind. Information doesn’t do it.

      Which part of my brain knows what vitamins and minerals are in chocolate and what part of the brain did that part talk to?

  4. THIS is at the root of the current ethnic inequity in survival of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
    Heavily marketed, lab-designed “addictive edibles”, with cheap ingredients, (subsidized by the very tax dollars that we all pay from our pockets), make low-income, and less educated populations their victim.
    Food is political. Without “the grown up in the room” of a responsible government’s oversight into industry and the average citizen’s health, America is responsible for killing a population unable to afford good food, uneducated in dodging marketing, or choose wisely — then unable to afford the health care to manage the results.
    I can’t thank you all enough for your bringing the power of awareness to the public.

    1. Berry,

      The concept of “without a grown-up in the room” is an interesting one.

      Certainly, the grown-ups at the beginning are the ones who valued the price and convenience the most.

      The next generation of grown-ups grew up on it and didn’t have a sense of it being wrong to eat.

      It seems like it has been health science which has been the grown-up in the room and I guess that needed to be established before the governmental grown-ups could step in.

      Freedoms versus responsibilities become the constitutional divide.

      There have always been people who wanted to have no alcohol, no junk food, no animal products, no pornography, no overstimulating technology and then, there is the public saying, “More alcohol, more junk food, more animal products, more pornography, more overstimulating technology.”

      With a rebel yell American’s cry more, more, more.
      In the midnight hour American’s cry stay open all night so we can have more, more, more.

      1. Its pretty unrealistic to place the burden of “self responsibility” onto the backs of that segment of population that struggles under impossible disadvantage. Those born into the advantaged classes, as I was fortunate to have been, make “choices”.
        I disagree that “the public” is saying “more”– having long been vocal and disgusted by the heavy hand of lobbyists distorting the definitive picture for profit.

        1. Berry,

          Maybe it is everybody around me who has always been just eat whatever pleases them oriented.

          I have never met a vegan or anybody who is plant-based oriented or even really health-oriented.

          My 90-year old aunt and uncle hang out at McDonald’s a lot of the time or they go to diners that sell diner food.

      2. Deb,
        Are you saying we have turned the grown-up in our brain off? Are you saying we are ultimately responsible for ourselves? That sounds a bit dangerous to the money thirsty hackers of our integrity.

      3. I don’t know if it’s the “public” saying more alcohol, pornography, etc, etc. Those are commodities that HAVE to be marketed to the public. When I complain to my brother in law, a movie executive, about the poor quality of most movies, the violence and gratuitous sex, he said it doesn’t matter what the majority wants to see. Young males are exclusively targeted, not necessarily as consumers, but for shaping the culture. How they view women, technology, the future, etc.

  5. Is there a cheap and easy way to verify an individual is using plant based only nutrition?

    I ask because i’m wondering how a big corporation with self funded health insurance could incorporate benefits for individuals who are taking this action that is known to statistically reduce the financial burden they will be on that insurance plan vs those that are not willing to make that change.

    1. mysusrn,

      Insurance companies do charge more for people who are overweight and for people who have any comorbidities.

      I don’t think it is the same as proving you are using your gym membership or having something measure how safely you are driving.

  6. Yes, homemade is the way to go! Now, imagine the delectable aroma of homemade bread wafting through your home. Homemade bread has the reputation of being difficult to make, but if you have a bread maker you can throw the ingredients for a loaf together in five minutes; then all you have to do is wait for it to cook. If you don’t have a bread maker it is still quite easy to make bread from scratch. The hardest part is the waiting while the bread rises, but you don’t have to stare at it while it’s rising! A little patience is all it really takes.

    Preparing vegetables is so much easier than preparing meat, and they store better. All the laziest cook has to do is to throw some frozen veggies into the microwave! Or, slice up some fresh vegetables in a food processor and stir-fry or steam them. When I make a morning omelette I use at least 6 cups of vegetables with two beaten eggs. The eggs there serve mainly as a binder for the vegetables.

    For anyone who is weight conscious, I find the best combination to be soups and salads. Soup is very filling and reduces cravings for unhealthy foods. For an excellent soup recipe, refer to the fairy tale on how to make “stone soup” – without the stone, of course! You can throw almost any food into water or broth to make a delicious soup, and the more vegetables and beans, the better. You don’t have to watch the soup while it’s simmering, either.

    We CAN take back our health! What the public really needs is: (1) to care, and (2) education.

    1. Katya,
      “Homemade” is a good banner to rally around. We can do it better ourselves because no one cares about us the way we do.

  7. After being WFPB for a number of years, this self-isolation led my husband to bring us a “treat” of a certain fast food chain’s French fries. Tasted as yummy as before going down, but wow – the stomach aches we had afterwards!! Back to Medjool dates and pomegranates as our expensive treats.

  8. I agree with everything in this video. But in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, I, and many others who are over 70, are opting not to go to the grocery store. It is made worse in view of the fact that I get respiratory illness very easily. So I can’t buy fresh organic produce any longer–perhaps for the next eighteen months. So Amazon delivers groceries to my home via UPS. I live in Hawaii, so there is not an option to get fresh produce–only processed foods. To make matters worse, all the foods that will keep in long-term storage are mostly carbs–cereals, rice, pasta. It is impossible to get fresh organic. So, though I agree with the video, at this time, processed food is all there is for me. It is a choice between two bad options–processed food (not good), or dying from COVID-19 (worse option).

    1. Diana,

      Sorry to hear that. I know that it is hard. Maybe temporarily that is necessary, but over the long term, maybe it is good to prepare for the future and understand some other options.

      I have been watching a lot of videos on how to buy once and regrow your own vegetables often in pots or mason jars with or without soil.

      There are interesting methods like the Kratky method.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWUirDxgavc

      There are ways to regrow from supermarket vegetables.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk2Z954prz4

      Things like microgreens and broccoli sprouts can grow very fast.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtvuMNVLISo&t=1823s

      https://wellnessmama.com/346177/broccoli-sprouts/

      You can grow greens in a pot and keep trimming them off and keep having them grow and just trim the tops

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZJD4lu9vOY

      You are right though to not go out often, particularly with respiratory problems.

      I was just reading about how masks are dangerous for people with respiratory problems, so that does make it harder.

      https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/design/a32156952/stanford-redesign-n95-face-mask-covid-19/

    2. Diana,

      I will also say that as far as the “mostly carbs” that part is good, though you want brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or lentil pasta or other non-white pasta, steel-cut oatmeal, whole grains, lentils, beans, and there are dehydrated vegetables online.

      I don’t know if you have looked at the data and found out that non-refined carbs are good for you. The Blue Zones – the oldest people around the world eat lots of carbs.

      1. Diana,

        I checked Amazon and they do have both dehydrated and freeze-dried vegetables.

        That is what Dr. McDougall recommended and I have stocked up on them while I learn about the various ways to garden.

    3. Diana,
      I’m not an expert on virus transmission. I have heard that covid-19 transmits via body fluids like cough droplet spray. That’s the reason for social distancing of six feet. The virus does not transmit as well on objects. If you let your groceries sit for a day before handling them, the risk goes down further. Also, if you want to play it safe anyway, Dr. Greger has videos explaining that canned goods are very nutricious.

  9. Sadly much of this processed food obesity epidemic is not on the part of the choices made by the victims. The USA has incredibly large food desert areas where unprocessed foods are hard to find and expensive if you can find them as they are rare. A corner bodega or 7-11 is the only choice of dinner unless they eat fast food or can afford a more expensive restaurant. To go actual healthy food shopping for many people involves a bus, cab, or car. Cities, towns, and county zoning and the food industry completely fail at coordinating adequate coverage of healthy unprocessed food for the population.

    1. I’m thinking this CoVid-19 pandemic may change how we get food locally in future.

      That is, I believe farming is taking a big hit and next year’s crops are going to have to be adapted to being harvested by machinery, if it is a crop that isn’t already harvested that way.

      However, there are going to be people out of a job and a really good way to put them to good use is to hire them as hydroponic farm growers. There are going to be buildings that are left vacant as business tenants may have gone under.

      You can have a hydroponic farm in the city, in the suburbs, or in the country. It would be a short drive from grower to seller, and even though it is done soil less, mostly… by providing the proper nutrients in the proper amount, can be grown healthily.

      1. Lonie,

        I have been looking a lot at the hydroponics and other methods of growing everything.

        People grow broccoli sprouts on damp paper towels.

        Lots of ways to not need to get your hands dirty.

        I know that soil does provide nutrition, theoretically. I have read that it doesn’t provide as much nutrition anymore.

        I think because of money problems it will be that people grow their own.

        I was spending so much on fruits and vegetables, so the concept that I could buy one bag of organic carrots and grow more from the part I cut off seems like it might be the way to go.

        I looked at the pot of greens and the concept of trimming them every day and that also seems like a good way to go.

        Less food waste. Less packaging.

        I wish there were more farms shipping fresh produce near me, but the Kratky Method is about as lazy a method of growing food as possible.

        You don’t have to worry about watering or changing the water. You actually want the plants’ roots to be exposed for oxygenation.

        I will save hundreds of dollars per month if I do that.

      2. Lonie, Regarding the Hydroponically grown food, I think that would be a great research topic for Dr Greger and his team to study and present videos on.

        Are Hydroponically grown plants just as nutritious as those grown in soil?

        1. Are Hydroponically grown plants just as nutritious as those grown in soil?
          ————————————————————————————————–
          I can’t say for sure, but those weed growing houses you see on TV?… I suspect they grow very strong weed so probably growing food hydroponically is probably nutritious as long as one gets the right nutrients to the plants.

      3. Lonie,
        I read your experiences of farming. Farming is for the truely brave and resilient. I’ve seen futuristic predictions of hydroponic, vertical farming which will be done inside year round. It might be possible to make the hydroponic location a point of sale location also. That would make for some really fresh produce. This concept reminds me of pick-yourself produce at truck farms.

    1. Lonie,
      You gots that McRight.
      But exercise is free to do so how are people who are accustomed to love to save on big discounts like 50% off or 70% off gonna feel
      good if exercise is free to begin with?
      Speaking of 50% off I think I saw an ad once that said big discount, vasectomy 1/2 off.

      1. the Hydroponically grown food, I think that would be a great research topic for Dr Greger and his team to study and present videos on.

        Are Hydroponically grown plants just as nutritious as those grown in soil?
        ————————————————————————————–
        Darwin, good idea for DR Greger to do videos on growing food that way… but (I haven’t checked in over a decade) but there’s a lot of info out there already. Come to think of it, Pinterest has a mountain of such content.

        My personal experience with *indoor* gardening happened probably 15 years ago. My idea was to rent a front end loader, scoop out 3 parallel ditches, each ~ 100 feet long, 8′ wide, and about 6′ deep. I had them connected at each end and a crossway between each one about middle way. The crossways were only cut down so they left about 2′ on the bottom in case of flooding in one ditch and not spilling over into the others. The ends were cut out large in order to setup some of those above ground swimming pools… one on each end, for catching rain water via gutters.

        The gutters were under the lip of each side of the roof. The roof was made of 4′ wide and 6′ in length, extruded polycarbonate panels on each side of a peaked roof (2x4s running the full length as the center of the roof.) I was worried the roof might be blown away by high winds so I layed 24′, 2x6s on each side of and the full length of the middle ditch to provide weight to the roof frame and as a place for my 2×4 rafters to attach to. The whole area had a berm around the outside made of the dirt I excavated from the ditches.

        I only did the middle ditch this way as the polycarbonate was expensive back then and I didn’t have enough money to do the other two ditches but hoped to afford doing so later.

        My first year I was going to grow ginseng. I was given some mouldy hay bales by a guy if I would just haul them away. I placed them end to end the entire length of the middle ditch. I laid some soaker hose the entire length for watering, bought a lot of small ginseng roots and planted them in the mouldy hay. Every thing was going fine until a gully washer rain spell hit and submerged my hay and plants and stayed there long enough for the planted roots to become squishy. Crop failure because when I was doing the berm I left two open spaces so I could drive inside the berm to load up at harvest time. Closed the berm where the water came in.

        That happened in spring/summer. When fall came, I planted tomato seeds in the hay and prepared to have spring tomatoes the following year. And I made beaucoup tomatoes. Problem was, the packets of seeds I bought over the internet were mislabeled. Instead of an heirloom variety, I received a strong tasting Italian variety (dark red medium-sized pucker-faced.) Nobody liked them for eating and wouldn’t buy them, so I gave them to a neighbor who picked the lot for canning.

        Ah, but the next year was going to be different. I ripped out the unwanted vines, put steel fencing poles every few feet and hung a sheep fencing wire called American wire the entire length of the ditch. This would give the next batch of tomato vines something to climb and stay off the ground. The hay was becoming composted to the point of looking soil like. I would plant a high value tomato, Brandywine from a reputable seed company, and they should come off in late fall and even into winter when a fresh grown tomato should be well received.

        And the first batch of a few came off and I had an arrangement with a small store on the highway with a large local clientele, to sell them. But then a *friend* complained that he could get tomatoes at Walmart cheaper than what I was asking. Remembering all I had gone through to finally get a product to market, this deflated me. I continued bringing the tomatoes to the store and they sold pretty well, but the sizing was inconsistent and people would pick through and get the best ones and leave the rest, waiting for a new load to be brought in. So I had a lot to pick up and take home.

        And then, a multi-ton straw broke my camel-back. That is, a hundred year snow storm came and dumped about a foot or more of wet snow on my wind proof roof. I had 2×2 supports across and just below the peak. I didn’t have cross members from side to side at the base to hold the thing together because I didn’t think I would ever need them. The heavy snow broke the braces just under the peak and inverted my peak into a valley. And of course it was freezing… and of course my plants all froze.

        I’m surprised I remember all this. Since all that happened I have worked hard to forget the entire experience. ‘-(

      2. But exercise is free to do so how are people who are accustomed to love to save on big discounts like 50% off or 70% off gonna feel
        good if exercise is free to begin with?
        ————————————————-
        Oh, no prob. Instruct them to put a dollar in a piggy bank each time they exercise. ‘-)

    2. Thanks, Lonie, that is really cool.

      Of course, I can’t go to the gym and work has gotten more complicated for me, so I haven’t been exercising at all.

      Maybe this will motivate me to figure it out.

      1. Deb, I personally do push-ups leaning against my window sill. My home is on an acreage in the country so I can also walk but I seldom do… outside of using the push mower to mow under trees the riding mower can’t get under.

    3. Thanks Lonie! That is motivational for sure. I am finding that people are more considerate of safe distances out on the trails than they are in the grocery stores. Overall I think the benefits of exercise are worth the possible risk in passing a few people on the trail..

      1. Yeah, I wonder if a city park would be uncrowded under shelter in place times? My local VA has a cinder trail around the grassy lawn for people to walk on. I usually have morning appointments and can’t remember anyone walking at that time. I went in for labs yesterday morning and that entire building seemed empty, except for some staff. A masked man greeted me at the entranceway and shot my forehead with his temperature gun, asked me a litany of questions about travel etc., and then let me through.

    1. Thanks for your reply! There must be a way to access the paper, as Dr Greger is able to show it in his video, as cited in my post above? Can anyone here at NF help me out? I am really interested to read it.

  10. Dr. Greger,

    Your take on it is the take on it that isn’t being talked about.

    I am wondering if the COVID-19 workers are going to go to work in the pig pens and chicken factories and if we aren’t going to have crowned pigs that fly.

  11. Dear doc, are you kidding me? It should be me thanking you!! I’m 60 with 5 heart attacks diabetes BP cholesterol gout inflammation Cpap user chronic kidney disease and lying flat I find it hard to breathe. A poor state of health. But now I’m actually looking forward to losing most of these ailments. I shall buy your book How not to diet. My only concern is will my kidney function improve on a vegan diet? My GFR is around 21. Thx to you I’m looking forward to a healthier life. Tom gotts

  12. Hi Tom: Unfortunately we don’t know for sure because: 1) we don’t know your current lifestyle habits, 2) we don’t know if you’ll fully comply with an unprocessed plant based lifestyle, optimal sun exposure and optimal exercise, and 3) everyone is different. We do know that under optimal circumstances, many people with your diseases experience improvement when they change to optimal lifestyle habits, while many people consuming a standard American diet are at significant risk for progression of the diseases you have. With your health problems and the medications you’re likely taking, it’s going to be very important to implement any changes under the guidance of your doctor. Finding a doctor that is familiar with the vast body of high quality clinical evidence supporting the benefits of a unprocessed plant based diet is always tops on the list of our recommendations as well. I can tell you that it worked for me as my GFR was dropping, but when I started following Dr. G’s recommendations (100% without cheating) that my GFR, blood pressure and cholesterol improved tremendously, and I’m about your age.

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