The Maintenance Library - "What to Eat" by Marion Nestle

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03-12-2007, 02:05 PM
I am currently reading and really enjoying "What to Eat" by Marion Nestle. While it's not specifically targeted to weight loss, it is full of gems that I think are of great use to those of us who are doing the hard work of loss/maintenance. I thought I would post some of the gems here. I'll keep adding as I get further into the book.

From the Introduction (pp 11-12 of the hardcover edition):

"The deep dark secret of American agriculture (revealed only by agricultural economists behind closed doors) is that there is far too much food available -- 3,900 calories per day for every man, woman and child in the country, whereas the average adult needs only a bit more than half that amount, and children much less. The 3,900 calorie figure is at the high end of the amount available in the food supply of industrialized countries. Even though these are the available calories (the number produced in the United States, minus exports, plus imports) and not necessarily the amount you actually eat, the reflect substantial excess.

"Overabundance leaves food companies with three options. They can make fewer products or smaller portions and raise prices (a risky business strategy); they can entice you to buy their products instead of those of their competitors (hence: advertising); or they can get you to eat more of what they sell. This last option requires not only advertising byt also more subtle methods for selling food that have had profound consequences on the way we eat in America. In the not so old days, to take just one example, we ate most meals at home, where calories are easier to control. Today, nearly half the typical family's food budget goes for foods prepared and eaten outside the home, where businesses with motives having nothing to do with health are in control of content and amounts. Competition for your food dollars has led food companies to develop marketing strategies that help them to sell more food and encourage you to eat more food and more calories, whether or not you need them:

"Convenience: if a food is easier to take with you and eat, you will eat more
Ubiquity: the more places food is available, the more food you will eat
Proximity: if a food is close at hand, you will eat more of it than if it is harder to get to
Frequency: the more times a day you eat, the more food you will eat
Variety: the more foods that are available, the more you will eat ("the buffet syndrome")
Larger portions: the more food in front of you, the more you will eat
Low prices: the cheaper the food, the more you will eat"

03-19-2007, 02:33 AM
Hollieanne - I'm reading this book too. While I skip over some parts, on the whole I'm finding it interesting and informative! Have you read Ominvore's Dilemma. It's a little heavier going, and doesn't touch as many of the food issues, but still quite eye-opening.

03-19-2007, 02:37 AM
thanks for posting that, really interesting stuff. What we need to do is develop strategies for creating our own mental set of "blinkers" that eliminate those needs and focus on what our daily physical requirements are alone. Any thoughts on how to do this? ;)

03-23-2007, 12:08 PM
What truly amazing about those calories per person is that there are many in the US who go to bed hungry each night....There is really no excuse.