Salt Sugar Fat

How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Cancer Tastes Good: Part 2 – Thoughts from the editor of Liberté de Santé

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

(A note from the Editor of Liberté de Santé. This story is part of the ‘Ask your Editor’ initiative, detailed in a letter to followers/subscribers of Liberté de Santé on 1 November. Part 1 of ‘Cancer Tastes Good’ by Sherryn Anderson appeared in Liberté de Santé on 25 November 2016).

This article is not going to be a shining example of adroit research analysis and presentation. It is not a ‘go-to’ academic treatise on what is ‘safe’ to eat, and what to avoid like the plague. I did consider such an approach as my Part 2 response when Sherryn Anderson wrote her article. I am after all a medical researcher, and so the temptation was there! I dismissed the formal research focus for my article as this is not the place for it. The subject is too vast and complex to do it justice with a ten-minute read. Instead, I have taken a more conversational approach. I have provided various insights and a ‘call to action’ that I hope will both educate and inspire the reader to explore further.

Choices. Personal responsibility. That is what you have. When it comes down to it, what you put in your mouth for sustenance is your call. Too often we engage in the blame game. We delegate responsibility to someone or something else. Instead, we should say to ourselves this —

‘What am I prepared to give up to have the life I want?’

So, with what you eat and drink. What shifts in education, values, beliefs, attitude, behaviour, habits and the like, has to occur? When will you know that you have taken 100% responsibility and ownership for your wellbeing — and for those you care for. When you change you are always giving up one or more things that made ‘you’ who you are. But you are also gaining a new way of being — making a new you. Life is always in a constant state of flux.

In ‘Cancer Tastes Good: Part 1’ Sherryn did, indeed, provide much food for thought. Her article focuses on food consumption in the USA — especially by children. Charged by their mother to select meals from the supermarket for the coming week, Sherryn’s two sons set about filling a basket each with what they considered ‘appropriate’ food for their needs. They returned to their mother with — well, suffice it say the necessary response from their mother was “You know that half of that basket — actually ALL of that basket causes cancer, don’t you?” The retort from her eldest son?

‘Then cancer tastes GOOD!’

Although a response that is sure to make one smile and wince at the same time, for Sherryn the statement from her son had a ring of truth to it —

‘Foods that cause cancer not only taste good but are also heavily marketed to children. It’s simple really. Highly processed wheat and GMO’s make the food relatively inexpensive, dyes make the food attractive, and the high fructose corn syrup makes it addictively delicious. The large food brands have found the perfect recipe.’

The two major questions posed by Sherryn were these:

  • why are these foods still produced?
  • why do they taste so good?

The answer to those questions has been partly provided by Sherryn. To add weight, let me give you a review for a hard-hitting and eye-opening book by Michael Moss. He the is the author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, a number one New York Times bestseller. It is also a winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for Writing and Literature —

‘Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese and seventy pounds of sugar. Every day, we ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt, double the recommended amount, almost none of which comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food, an industry that hauls in $1 trillion in annual sales. Michael Moss shows how we ended up here. Featuring examples from Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Frito-Lay, Nestlé, Oreos, Capri Sun, and much more, Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, eye-opening research.

He takes us into labs where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks, and talks to concerned insiders who make startling confessions. Just as millions of “heavy users” are addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, so also are the companies that peddle them.’

Front cover of the book Salt Sugar Fat

There is no doubt that a real dilemma hangs over us all. It is a veritable conundrum. Like the sword of Damocles, hanging by the single hair of a horse’s tail above our heads ready to fall and take our lives, personal responsibility for our food choices (or made on our behalf) can make the difference between good health or ill health, life or death. But what are the ‘right’ food choices, especially for parents? As Sherryn states —

‘Even foods that we think are healthy, such as fruits and vegetables or fish, all can be a source of carcinogens, due to the GMO’s, potential pesticides, or the way in which they are farmed.’

Of the total array of illnesses and diseases one may suffer due to the ill-effects of the food we consume, none casts a greater shadow than cancer. As Sherryn states at the close of her article —

‘I have clearly never had cancer. My kids have clearly never had cancer. I am still fortunate enough to live under the delusion that cancer will not touch me. It’s a far away “maybe”. A horrible disease that affects “other people”. If I truly believed that cancer would one day touch my personal world very deeply and that I could do something about it by changing the way we eat, I’d like to think that I would — in as much as possible.’

Is this not the worst nightmare of every parent — their child assailed by cancer — whether the cause is from food, or not? Let me tell you now a little about Larry and Gretchen Witt. They know a good deal about cancer; in particular childhood cancer. Their son, Liam, received a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer in 2007. Liam came to the end of his courageous 4-year fight for life on January 24, 2011, at the age of 6.

It beggars belief that 12–13,500 thousand children receive a diagnosis of some form of cancer in the USA each year. It eclipses all other illnesses and diseases as the number one childhood killer. It shocked Larry and Gretchen to learn of the poor availability and effectiveness of treatments for paediatric cancers due to a lack of enough funding. For every dollar spent on cancer, something in the order of only three cents gets spent on paediatric cancer research. With this discovery in mind, they pledged to support the funding of research for safer, more effective treatments…

Continue reading this article on Liberté de Santé™

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