The Standard American Diet: Downstream Revenue For The U.S. Health Care System

I once heard someone say that the standard American diet (high in fat, sugar, salt and processed foods) was a mechanism for providing downstream revenue to the country's health care system. Two recent reports add to the mounting evidence about how this strangely destructive system involving both food and agricultural chemicals works.

One report focuses on the effects of eating soybean oil. That oil is one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in packaged food, and it makes up the lion's share of cooking oils. To test this assertion, next to time you shop for groceries, read the labels of the packaged food and cooking oils you buy (unless you are already careful to avoid soybean oil—in which case you'll have to read labels on things you wouldn't dream of buying).

So, what did the report find? "[S]oybean oil not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but could also affect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, and depression." Now, that really does spell lots of revenue for the medical system. The study notes that "soybean oil is by far the most widely produced and consumed edible oil in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

If you already know that ancient Romans used leaden cups to drink from—the Romans said it improved the flavor of wine—think back to when you first read or were told about that practice. I thought to myself, "How could they be that foolish? How could they not see what happened to people who worked in lead mines?" Upon reflection I realized that slaves worked in the lead mines, so their condition wasn't very visible to ordinary free Romans.

Now I realize our civilization is poisoning itself through both its food and its containers (see below for containers). In fact, we seem to have supercharged the practice with the proliferation of processed foods containing unhealthy ingredients like soybean oil laced with man-made agricultural chemicals dispersed in the environment for our "benefit." This site estimates that there are now more than 150,000 man-made chemicals of all types loose in our world. (We also seem to be experts at polluting the water we drink and the air we breathe, but those deserve pieces all by themselves.)

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Kurt Cobb is an author, speaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He is a regular ...

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