Skip to main content

Several months ago, I was trying to explain to someone why clean coal was an oxymoron and that, even if it were possible, it would be a waste of money.  In my habit of analogizing, I ended up developing a number of connections between the US’s problems with energy and food (that other form of energy).

"So, I have an excellent idea for how to solve the obesity epidemic.  What we should do is pay scientists—or the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, whichever—tons of money so that they can chemically extract the fat out of hamburgers.  Right?  People eat lots of hamburgers; they don't want fresh produce.  So we should make the hamburgers better for them by blowing ridiculous sums of money on this scheme to engineer fat-removal.  Now, we certainly won't change the ways that we raise the cows; that, of course, need not enter the picture.  The same can be said for the idea that maybe, just maybe, instead of eating these fat-removed hamburgers, people would be better off eating fresh produce, and we should spend our money on getting fresh produce available.  Madness, I tell you!  If we don't invent chemically-engineered fat-free hamburgers, the Chinese will do it before us.  They've certainly increased their beef consumption lately."

However, after reading an article about natural gas later that day, I realized that my analogy could go further.

The trio of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) can be paired with the trio damaging the American diet:  fat, sugar, and salt.  Clearly, we've already established the coal-fat connection.  Sugar would be the equivalent of oil.  Sugar is in just about everything that we eat, and the only way to avoid it would be to avoid purchasing any item that has been remotely processed.  The US has also invaded other countries or at least threatened their sovereignty because of its sweet tooth just as it has for its oil fix.  Because of how big of a sweet tooth we have, we've also been producing a good amount of sugar here at home, in the form of high fructose corn syrup, whose producers the government lavishes with subsidies despite that such large quantities of GMO corn will do to the land.

Salt, then, would be natural gas.  People like to say that natural gas is "clean burning," and salt has no calories, right?  You want to lose weight—start replacing fat and sugar in your diet with salt!  No calories—amazing!  Let's dump salt on all our food so that we won't need to grease it up or sweeten it.  Now, despite the occasional studies that try to prove otherwise, we all know that salt is still bad for your heart, and no person in his or her right mind would tell you that salt, salt, and MORE SALT is the solution to health problems and the way to get in shape.  

Aspartame would be ethanol.  It's just like sugar, but it's better for you, right?  I'd guess again because loading up your diet on aspartame still isn't healthy.  You're fooling yourself.  Something like stevia could represent other biofuels, the ones that are, in all honesty, better for you; stevia isn't chemicalized as much as aspartame.  But, at the end of the day, you are still sweetening your diet.  It could help, but it's still not fresh produce.

Coffee would be nuclear power.  "I've got the perfect solution for your diet problem.  CAFFEINATE, CAFFEINATE, CAFFEINATE."  Right?  Caffeine has no calories and can help you lose weight.  (Coffee and cigarettes, the diet of the stars!)  Granted, though, it makes you thirsty, and if you drink too much, you might explode.

All the while, the idea of investing money in bringing produce to more communities—both healthful food and a more decentralized system*—falls by the wayside and gets thrown into the culture wars.

*You certainly can't aren't going to have your own personal oil rig or coal mine in your backyard--nor your own cattle range or corn field.  However, you can have a solar panel on your roof and a garden in your backyard, and decentralization seems to be the sustainable future for both food and fuel.

Originally posted to Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees on Thu May 09, 2013 at 05:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  But you CAN sweeten your diet with fresh produce! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, rktect, flowerfarmer, Joieau

    Including stevia, believe it or not. It's native to, I think, Paraguay, but I was able to keep it alive and healthy year-round outside in the Pacific Northwest, west of Seattle, for three years. Then Bob and I separated and he let all my stevia plants die. If you grow it yourself, you have zero-calorie fresh green leaves that you can sweeten things with quite well, and you can just go get them from your windowbox.

    Then there are fresh fruits, some sweeter and more adaptable than others. Some are strongly flavored, others fairly mild. Many of them are sweet and make great treats or additions to things. Apples go into damn near anything and are available all winter when there's very little else fresh and reasonably local out there. I've been getting apples from a family-owned organic farm since last September, and they kept on coming all winter long. I am going to wind up canning applesauce with a lot of the most recent ones; they've piled up because we've been eating more organic citrus (OK, that's not local, it's from small organic farms in California, but we're buying it through the same sorta-local organic family farm that grows all the apples and supplies us with boxes of tasty fresh fruits of all sorts (that grow in Wenatchee, anyway) all summer and through early November).

    There are ways and ways and ways to sweeten foods that involve using fresh produce, not sugar. Try concocting a lamb curry stew with raisins, sweet potato pieces, and skin-on apple chunks; I made it in a slow cooker. Yum!

    Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

    Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

    by Kitsap River on Fri May 10, 2013 at 01:39:07 AM PDT

    •  Gardens and alternative energy are a lot of work (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      before I dump and spread the horse manure that fertilizes mine I have to accept that its full of stuff I don't want as well as stuff I do so when I rototill it I have to be care full to at a minimum rake out the rocks.

      I have to get the planting felt that acts as  barrier to weeds spread out, rake and weed the rock garden sections where the paper is impractical, get the barn well pump working, get the hoses out, get the fence up to keep the deer and wild turkey out.

      I have to accept the consequences of not having fully utilized the potting shed to get get some seedlings started cause I was busy fixing my roof, painting the front of my house, picking up blowdowns, raking the rocks out of the yard where they regraded my dirt road.

      Usually I wouldn't plant until June but climate change has advanced the seasons to where my trees are in blossom and I really should be planting now.

      Because I didn't spend as much time as I should have pruning my grapes and the fruit trees in my orchard and garden I'll have more fruit drop than I really want and if I don't pick up the apples in a timely manner I'll end up with worms in my trees.

      All the time I spend gardening is time I could have spent converting the old bicycles in my barn into hydropower, but as there was less runoff than usual from snow melt that wouldn't have been effective anyway.

      By the time I even begin to get caught up it will be time to start cutting, splitting, stacking and getting under cover all the wood I will need for winter.

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Fri May 10, 2013 at 03:14:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Homesteading (0+ / 0-)

        living out where you can grow food (both animal and vegetable) isn't something most people these days are even willing to try. It takes a whole lot of time and energy, which means you aren't going to be out working a 60-hour a week job and calling a handy plumber or roofing company or GC when you need things done. Gotta do it yourself, or fanagle friends/family into helping.

        The old "when there's money there's no time, and when there's time there's no money" is certainly true. But for some of us, it's a very highly satisfying way of life. Won't make us rich, but wealth can be counted in things other than money. Plus, if the whole thing falls apart, you're in much better shape than most to engage in the kind of local bartering that can be the difference between life and death.

        Now. Gotta go dig up the fenceline and get these derned tomatoes and peppers in the ground... §;o)

    •  If you are NOT consuming any kind of added sweet (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      flowerfarmer, brentut5

      thing in your usual daily diet, then some onions are noticeably sweet and carrots can be annoyingly so and apples and oranges can feel like a sugar bomb.
          I learned that while working for a year as a macro-biotic cook for someone and was really surprised at how the change occurred even to me although I wasn't living that way all the time. It's only when there is added sugar syrup in everything, even things that shouldn't have or need it, that the body never gets off the insulin roller coaster, and continuously 'wants' for more whether it needs it or not.
          I don't like stevia because it leaves a funky aftertaste that seems like aspartame even though it's not, although it is important to check the label as I've come across 'stevia' products that contained it.

      So I ask people this riddle: What is it that is white or brown, and comes in powdered form, crystals, or large blocks, is addictive and mind-altering, and whose production has resulted in environmental disaster and economic damage worldwide due to our government's subsidizing and pushing its production?

      I found the answer back in the days that they tried to sell us young mothers the original "Frookies"- The first high fructose product I remember, that was supposed to be better for babies...

      Meanwhile, the best thing I learned when I accidentally went cold-turkey off sugar for several weeks was how different every day feels when you are not spending every waking moment planning your next meal.


      •  Oatmeal cooked with onions was a treat (2+ / 0-)

        for me- i followed a macrobiotic diet for 6 years and cleared up a number of health issues.
        Cooked onions lose the heat and release the sweet, just enough to satisfy that desire.

        I agree re stevia- yuck, same funky moldy aftertaste as cilantro- double yuck- and am allergic to aspartame.

        Completely eliminating wheat from my diet has also eliminated  'hungry all the time'.

        As for sugar, i now use a spoonful of maple syrup in oatmeal per day and fresh or dried fruit occasionally for snacks and that is it.

        We are a nation hooked on abuse of everything we can get our greedy little hands on, from food to fuels- good analogy.

        'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

        by flowerfarmer on Fri May 10, 2013 at 05:34:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maple syrup in my plain wholemilk yogurt- and (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I do not like the Greek stuff or anything pre-colored or flavored. And if people say they don't like yogurt, I ask 'em if they started with Activia, and then explain, 'cuz that one is especially yuccky to me.

          I started the grand-kids out with yogurt my-style and a lot of other things I learned too late for my own kid. Now they come over and they will eat brown rice & squash by the handful! I wonder now why yogurt is not automatically one of the first baby-foods suggested by doctors instead of cardboard cereals from a cardboard box...

          I don't like cilantro either, and it smells like cheesy sweat-socks when it's growing.

      •  I remember a picnic, where someone had baked (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nuclear winter solstice

        an apricot pie and forgotten to add the sugar, lol. (Things like this happen at family picnics.)

        Anyway, everybody hated it, of course, except for me--I found it slightly tart, and genuinely apricot. I ate at least half of the pie, lol.

        And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

        by Pale Jenova on Fri May 10, 2013 at 07:40:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You'd love my jams, then. (0+ / 0-)

          I don't put much sweetener in any of them, so the real fresh fruit taste comes through. It intensifies the chocolate in chocolate jams, too.

          Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

          Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

          by Kitsap River on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:01:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I remember the day (0+ / 0-)

      when we were not allowed to import stevia into the US from Canada. Seriously--because "they could not guarantee the safety. Sugar industry, anyone? Try our newfangled "high fructose corn syrup" instead!

      And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

      by Pale Jenova on Fri May 10, 2013 at 07:37:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We could import it (0+ / 0-)

        even then, but only as plants.'What we did with the plants once we got them wasn't subject to regulatuon.

        Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

        Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

        by Kitsap River on Sun May 12, 2013 at 11:03:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like it's time for the Atkins (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova

    diet to come back . . .

    Or maybe a high fat diet - how cool (and timely!) would * that * be?

    •  Atkins = animal products + lots of veggies (0+ / 0-)

      Way too extreme, though. You will lose weight but it will be hard on your kidneys. (And you cholesterol!)

      I would throw in some whole grains and fruit. And dial back the bacon to breakfast only, lol. (Bacon = the candy of meat)

      And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

      by Pale Jenova on Fri May 10, 2013 at 07:43:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  By the headline... (2+ / 0-)

    I thought this was going to be about my fat people on treadmills idea.  You see, if we provide treadmills that generate electriciy to fat people and tell them if they use the treadmills, they don't have to pay taxes.  And then we hook it up to the grid, our obesity and energy problems will be solved!  :)

    •  That reminds me of the Blender Bike! (0+ / 0-)

      A few years ago, I volunteered in the Green Tent at the Virgin Mobile Music Festival, and Rock the Bike was there with a blender bike ( and a party bike.  I forget the official name of the party bike, but it had a lot of musical equipment attached to it.

    •  I always figured our American (0+ / 0-)

      talent for storing fat (to the point that people can't walk) would be part of the solution to our transportation fuels problem. Offer free liposuction at centers in every city, where the clinics can then sell the accumulated fat to biodiesel manufacturers (where it will be rendered and blended). Get GM to deploy that nifty Mercedes-like small truck/car diesel engine it's been sitting on ever since it got the joint patent with EPA, convert everything over to biodiesel (needs different hoses and gaskets). Cars and light trucks, semis, trains, shipping, agricultural machinery, home heating up north where they use fuel oil... all of it. Except of course for in-city gad-abouts, which can be all electric. You can make diesel-electric hybrids too.

      Sure, that would require some large agricultural policy changes, but there are some fine oil crops out there that can grow abundantly on marginal land, need no fertilizers or pesticides. Hemp, for instance. The seeds of which produce high quality light oil that burns hotter than any other vegetable oil.

    •   "to be about my fat people" (0+ / 0-)
      "eat lots of hamburgers; they don't want fresh produce."
      Yes! but a subtle being about.

      I can't believe that so far there has been no reply by some DKers trying to justify "they don't want fresh produce"

  •  Problem with your analogy (0+ / 0-)

    The idea of being able to eat beef but squeezing the fat out is VERY appealing to a lot of people.  They get most of the benefit of the taste they are used to and like, and simply have some of the bad stuff removed.

  •  obesity is not correlated to fat intake (0+ / 0-)

    it's mostly a question of rate of energy-input (ie food) and rate of energy output (exercise, metabolic energy burn etc.).

    Certain kinds of good are more likely to cause fat to accumulate (dietitians please....?) that others, and it's just not true that dietary fat is a significant factor:

    Dietary fat plays a major role in obesity: no. or if you prefer a raw URL:

    •  The problem for most is (0+ / 0-)

      refined carbohydrates.  Bread, pasta, and any liquid sugar (including alcohol). Take your carbs from natural, hard to digest (that's the real secret) sources (unprocessed fruits and veggies) and your weight will normalize over time. Avoid over-concentrated starches like potato, but the starches in bananas and rice are fine.  I know, I've done it and shed 1/3 of an overly generous body mass over a 2 year period. Proteins are fine and dietary fats (not in excess) just don't cause weight gain.

      Dietary fat just isn't the problem for most. These stupid stereotypes do more harm than those not burdened with obesity understand.  Most of the conventional and medical "wisdom" about obesity is just plain wrong.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site