Dr. Hedley Freake: Nutrition
Dr. Hedley Freake, Professor of Nutritional Sciences at UCONN came to our class to talk about his background with food. The Professor has a background in molecular science, as well as nutritional biochemistry. Despite the professors extremely versed knowledge in the science of our food, he spoke to us mainly on a philosophical level about the subject. Freake posed the question, what do we really define as food.
One of the points that he made that really stuck with me was the fact that he pointed out that people these days have really lost touch with our food. We have things like Coca Cola Zero, which has absolutely no nutritional value or logical benefit from consuming, other than 'it tastes good'. In today's world, if we use our taste buds to guide us into eating whats good, we will quickly be mislead because there are scientists working around the clock to accomplish this. Food as we know it has gone from something that we can intrinsically trust, into something that we need to be suspicious of. We have to look at where our food comes from, and ask if it is really in line with our beliefs of what food should be. Food should be something that we can trust, something that is good for us, and something that we enjoy.
Headley also spoke about the fact that modern science mainly uses a reductionist approach to solving our modern problems. If we want the answer to why an item causes high blood pressure, we reduce the science down to a few possible causes and then prescribe a fix. This type of approach is dangerous because as we know, our bodies are complex systems that have delicate balances to them. The cause and effect approach may seem to work, but when you look at the bigger picture there are always other repercussions to these actions. We've come to accept this for some reason, which is why we see a long list of side effects for just about any prescription 'medicine' on the market.
The presentation really took a turn when Headley shared his views on food. He stated that he took a trip overseas, where he ate various types of insects, all of which he said tasted about the same and were pretty good. The irony is that while we were all disgusted, most people around the world would actually agree with Headley. Everyone has lines however, and they are not always clear cut. The professor said that he really did have some remorse after trying some dog meat, and then later seeing a dog being killed. I suppose there are many lines that people can draw when it comes to defining food, and this was just another example.
Some very interesting and key points that Headley shared with us between natural and industrially grown food:
-Natural food grows slower and has more nutrients
-Deeper roots from naturally grown plants reach more minerals
-The soils that result from industrial farming are basically dead compared to naturally grown soils
-Pesticides reduce beneficial polyphenols and caretenoids
-Natural foods are picked when ripe, unlike (industrial foods)
-Monoculture erodes society
-Energy costs, pollution and erosion are extreemly high in industrial farming
The list goes on...
The point was really driven home when Headley pointed out that for the richest country in the world, we are ranked 45th on the list for lowest infant moratility rates against other top leading countries. When we ask ourselves why is this, we have to look at the bigger picture. The countries main crops are corn and wheat, both of which are mainly GMO products. The moral is that in an industrial world, we have to try to get back to our basics. If we can focus on going back to the systems that have stood the test of time, and the systems that have literally shaped us over millions of years, the answer just seems obvious. The further we steer from our roots, the less healthy and fulfilling our lives become. We have to take charge of our food situation and weigh the costs of convenience, health, what is availble etc, against the cost of giving up what is truly right and good for us.
Photo, "I Eat Therefore I Am: I choose Life", http://ate-ate-ate.blogspot.com/2010/06/i-choose-life-over-death.html