We are all familiar with the USDA food pyramid, right? I know it changed to My Plate a few years ago but it’s essentially the same.
Isn’t it nice of them to educate us, out of the goodness of their bureaucratic hearts, about what we should be eating? After all, I’m sure that our health is their top priority and they have nothing to gain but a nation of happy, well fed citizens.
“Wait. Doesn’t USDA stand for the United States Department of Agriculture?”
Why, yes, it does. Did you know that the handful of farmers that grow the bulk of our food supply are subsidized by the government? Yep, if we don’t eat all that grain that they pour money into every year, they lose.
Before I go on, let’s take a look at how our government wants us to eat, shall we?
“I’m quite sure this was meticulously researched. They wouldn’t lie to us. This has to be the best way for us to eat. After all, I learned this in school.”
Would you be surprised to learn that we are the first society in history of the world to voluntarily base our diet on grains? In the past, only poor people had to live on grains and eating “low-fat” would be something to be ashamed of. Meat and fresh produce was preferable and prized. Wealth equaled health because rich people owned more livestock and thus ate more meat. It takes a lot of labor to get grains (grass seeds) into a form that is edible so, traditionally, people ate very little of it unless it was all they had. It was better used as animal feed to fatten up the livestock.
As more people moved into cities, small groups of people could specialize in farming and grinding grains that could then be cheaply sold to other people in the community whose jobs may have been something else like blacksmithing, sewing, etc. Where do you think the surname “Miller” came from? With our more urbanized way of living in recent centuries has come a diet that includes grain at every meal…and lots of new health problems. The Agricultural Revolution meant we could feed large numbers of people, but at a cost:
“Generally, in most parts of the world, whenever cereal-based diets were first adopted as a staple food replacing the primarily animal-based diets…, there was a characteristic reduction in stature, an increase in infant mortality, a reduction in lifespan, an increased incidence of infectious diseases, an increase in iron deficiency anemia, an increased incidence of…bone mineral disorders and an increase in the number of dental caries and enamel defects.” – Loren Cordain, “Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword”
The bottom line is that the USDA needs us all to eat grains because it is the cheapest way to feed millions of people, not because it’s the healthiest. It’s interesting when you look at how much money the government actually spends on farm subsidies that support the production of grains…it’s over 60%. Hmmm. That’s just about the same percentage of our diet that they say should be grains.
The fact is that grains make us fat. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick illustration:
I live in Texas in a rural area where conventional farming wisdom is abundant. Around here, everyone knows that to fatten up your cattle or pigs you have to pen them up and feed them nothing but grain for a couple of months before you plan to slaughter them. That’s the only way to get juicy beef and thick bacon. We never get bacon from the wild pigs that my husband hunts. There have been times that we didn’t get any from our pigs that we raised ourselves because we fed them as little grain as possible.
Just for kicks, let’s look at the nutrition in some “Hog Finisher”. (That’s the stuff we’re supposed to feed our pigs to get them ready for slaughter). This is the high-end stuff, too:
Crude Protein – 16%
Crude Fat – 2.5%
Plus a lot of added minerals, amino acids and such. That means the remaining 81.5% of the feed is carbohydrates, almost entirely from whole corn and wheat flour.
Looks like a nice low-fat diet full of whole grains, just like we’re supposed to be eating, doesn’t it?
FYI – pigs will typically go from 150-200 pounds to a slaughter weight of 250-300 pounds in less than two months on finisher feed. Seriously. On a high-grain, low-fat diet. If that doesn’t make you go, “Hmmmm…” I don’t know what will.
Here’s the tag from a cattle feed that I saw at my local feed store the other day. This is a “grower” feed for cows who are on pasture as well (that means eating their veggies, like we are supposed to do, too, right?) to help them to quickly put on as much weight as possible:
Lots of whole grain? Check, a whopping 9% fiber. Low fat? Check, only 2.5%. Looks a lot like the nutrition in this “healthy” cereal, doesn’t it?
Wow – 9% fiber and only 2% fat, just like the cattle feed! Yum!
I haven’t even mentioned the fact that whole grains – the kinds that include the bran layer of the grain…the kinds that are touted as the most healthy – contain compounds that actually prevent us from absorbing other nutrients. That’s another post. I won’t get into the grain-people-ate-in-the-past-doesn’t-exist-anymore can of worms, either. That’s another post, too. So is the fact that the Frankenstein Wheat in our current Standard American Diet is causing our immune systems to constantly be on “high-alert”, causing all kinds of chronic inflammation. Go ahead and click on the links at the end of this post if you’d like to read a little about those hang-ups right now.
Cutting the grains out of our diet has improved my family’s health in so many ways, not the least of which is the fact that we have lost our extra weight and are no longer slaves to the hunger/carb/crash/hunger cycle anymore. Um, no thanks, USDA.
If you’re interested in learning more, just google “do grains make you fat”. Also, here are some links to a little more light reading on the subject of grains:
How Grains Are Killing You Slowly at Wellness Mama
Amber Waves Of Pain at Fat Head
Paleo vs. Standard American Diet at Robb Wolf’s website
“The USDA food pyramid isn’t about health. It’s about selling agricultural products.”- Mary Dan Eades, M.D., co-author, “Protein Power” books