Monday, May 27, 2013

The Conservative Case for Food

Mika Brzezinski – Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction – and My Own (Weinstein Books)

Rip Esselstyn – My Beef With Meat – The Healthiest Argument for Eating a Plant-Strong Diet (Grand Central Publishing)

Let me say upfront, just like so many other things in life; I don’t really care about what you choose to ingest. That goes for food, drink, heck even chemicals; from my point of view, it’s your right to choose and your consequences to deal with.

As I read these books I couldn’t quite figure out what it was that rubbed me the wrong way; it wasn’t that I didn’t think the content had some merit. The numbers are pretty clear that we have a very real obesity problem in the United States and that most if not all of us, myself included, could eat healthier.

Then as a re-read the jacket copy for My Beef With Meat; which included the line: “not only does Rip arm you with every fact you need to win any argument you could ever have with a meat eater” that it struck me. The problem with food police and vegan types is their holier than thou; I’m better than you are point of view.

The problem isn’t the message; the problem is often the smug asshole delivering it! Quite frankly I approach this story line like I do everything else, I acknowledge the problem, over-eating and realize that it is an individual issue, not a grand societal problem. And as with most problems, I think it’s up to the individual to solve it; not to force some societal program to “fix” it, because more often than not group think or government programs won’t solve it.

Only in a nation that has 47 million people on food stamps can we have an obesity problem. How much of the obesity problem we face can be traced directly to that government intervention. I think both of these books feature good information that can help the individual address the obesity problem and the inherent health risks. But when you couch it as trying to win an argument or come off as preachy, that is when they fall short of the mark.

I think that most people would willingly make lifestyle changes incrementally but, there is an all or nothing quality to the approaches of both books. For those campaigning for an attitude change on food, I can guarantee you will lose the argument every time unless you offer a segmented, gradual approach for folks looking to make the transition to a healthier choice. Slow and steady will win the race.

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