hope for something to end your life or else put way too much credence into some other thing. While I was desperately wondering how much longer I would have to live my poor and out of shape life, I was begging for the prospect to win the lottery or stumble into a supermodel that liked her men negative and pushing 400. As I stuffed my face with ultimate cheeseburgers and pizza, I always wondered when I would have better access to “good” food that tasted good and compelled me to be healthy. When you have no real hope in life and especially love, you think a lot, for the television can only numb your mind so much. Truthfully, change didn’t really hit me until early 2012 when I started entertaining the prospect of possibly starting a health campaign to turn my life around. Of course, I was pretty lazy about changing the forward trajectory of my life, but I was at least thinking about it. Hearing about Nimoy’s death on Friday made me a bit guilty, for I had gotten somewhat lazy during the week, including not running until Saturday (though in my defense, I did have a pretty busy week that often times made it difficult for me to get out on the track). Either way, at some point I will have a little Star Trek marathon, just for the heck of it. However, I do find it pretty cool that I get to see Nimoy in basically his final unique role as William Bell in the TV series “Fringe,” a show I have been getting reacquainted with the last few weeks. But like always, everything will go back to Star Trek.
Being a vegan, one little video that is constantly rotated in my circles is this great clip from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” where an alien species is rather mystified with the future’s “replicator technology.” While we have the capability to create just about anything we desire from these machines (especially Earl Grey….hot!), the aliens are amused by the fact we don’t actually use live animals for our meat supply anymore, calling our technology “barbaric.” Either way, this was always a rather fascinating talking point within the Star Trek universe, that if the replicator food we constantly eat is really considered food at all. Of course, the judgement is always based around the logic that in the future, so many species have gone extinct that technology was forced to pick up the slack and accommodate our need for all basic food staples. But in the aforementioned Star Trek clip, the basic assumption was that “we just didn’t have to” eat regular food grown of the earth. It’s kind of chilling when you think about it, for eating food created out of thin air sounds pretty wild, especially when you have people that might come up with crazy ways to change the flavoring of foods. Just remember the philosophical idea of food and taste from The Matrix movies. If machines were entrusted to know what food tasted like, how would they even know? What if chicken tasted like chicken in the matrix merely to the tune that the computer didn’t know? Now before we start wondering about the future in regards to our food supply, people have to kind of remember the future is already here. A few blogs ago, I wrote about the complex battle being waged by junk food giants, working the system and the chemical engineering side of their “food” to make it more addictive. http://blog.parsonstrainingtucson.com/2015/02/food-addiction-101.html
While the general societal consensus about junk food is pretty clear, the extent of science entering the realm of our eating habits is no laughing matter. One thing I have pretty much adopted during my change from a fast food addict to a healthy whole foods eater is the acceptance of that addiction, but another thing that continues to get to me is the idea of how much choice did I have in my food addiction? Was it completely my fault? We have already seen studies that show sugar, whether it be raw or processed or a substitute, affects our brain similarly to cocaine. We already understand the fast food industry heavily salts their food, making the taste sensation you get from eating similar to a Pavlov’s dogs reaction. But now the next level is occurring as we speak, and in a lot of ways, it is pretty darn scary to think about it. British author Joanna Blythman has a book coming out next month called “Swallow This: Serving Up The Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets,” a book that openly talks about the massive changes occurring in the food industry. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/21/a-feast-of-engineering-whats-really-in-your-food?CMP=share_btn_tw
One of the first examples Blythman talks about in the excerpt from her book is the outright replacement of certain food products all together. Just imagine walking into a pastry shop and seeing the best priced, high end pastries you have ever seen. Imagine a high end 15-dollar cupcake that looks the same for only five if you need some help. It looks the same, tastes the same and even has the same consistency so to speak. But how did the price go down? Well, just imagine a sweet cupcake that tastes like a whole foods sensation made from potato protein isolate that allowed the said baker to mimic all the qualities of the real thing with a fake. What tastes like a mouth watering concussion of cream, butter and eggs actually has none, merely to the tune of this manufactured chemical. Heck, it could be cheaper and MORE addictive due to the baker’s ability to find a product that is not butter, but tastes like it and intensifies the taste artificially to trick the mind into thinking it is eating butter. Technology is not just seeking ways to hide ingredients and manipulate tastes according to Blythman, for the food industry as a whole is seeking ways to hide chemical additives from the consumer. One example she uses is how a company might be able to mask unsavory ingredients in a product with a better sounding one, making the consumer unaware that a new modern process is allowing the chemists to put something similar into the mix, but legally allowing them to not have to label the said product and giving them a fighting chance with more picky consumers. Truthfully, there were a couple of really shocking examples for me when I read the excerpt. The first being the ability to manipulate the age of cheese. Having been something of a cheese nerd during my unhealthy days, I especially loved aged swiss, hard fontina and even aged gouda. But what you may be eating is simply added enzymes, chemicals added to change the taste of the cheese that will trick you into thinking you have eaten cheese that was aged for a week or two, only to find out it was done in as little as 24 hours. But of course, the most shocking new product that might be hitting all restaurants is called NatureSeal, a citric acid based product where one can dip their fruit and leave a protective coating on the food that gives it a good three weeks of shelf life. And here is the legal kicker if you find this weird: since the product is known as a processing aid and not an ingredient, companies that use this product don’t have to put it on the label! Never mind the fact this “processing aid” has a laundry list of ingredients that don’t have to be labeled.
I don’t know about you, but if all this information comes off as scary and shocking, then you are in the right state of mind. Forget about stuff like carrageenan and azodicarbonamide or the cancer causing content of normal soft drinks. This is generally stuff we can avoid as long as we are vigilant. The real problem is creating food transparency, for it is quite obvious the food industry is winning the battle. I can certainly point fingers, like at the head of the FDA food division or the various trade organizations that lobby millions to hide their secrets from the public, but one thing I learned during my journey of good health is the fact you need to take some actions into your own hands. This past week I finally stopped by the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market, the one that is literally a few minutes from my house. Yup, it took me this long to finally get my butt there. Anyway, I was exposed to a great variety of food that I normally don’t get to see on the southside of Tucson. You see, the dirty little secret of the supermarket world is poorer sides of town don’t necessarily have the same variety of food a more upscale side of town would have, merely to the tune produce managers don’t want to waste money. Needless to say, it was kind of nice to see organic foods other than kale, arugula and lettuce. I was really staring at the turnips, the radishes and the various fresh spices that littered an entire table. There was a rack full of fresh, artisan bread which didn’t heavily rely on chemical additives so then your bread would taste more akin to the bread of yesteryear, not the spongy fabricated staple of today. I got a chance to try a little turmeric drink from a local vendor here in town called Turmerico, for once getting to quench my thirst with something other than water, tea and coffee. While I don’t eat eggs anymore, it was pretty cool to see the backyard egg people selling their multi-colored eggs to the public. Personally, I have never seen green tinted eggs in my life! The only thing I bought was this amazing mix of quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat and love (so cute, had to put that in!) from Whole Balance based here in Tucson. One would never thing to put all of those things together, but it works! Another thing I will have to take advantage of was a woman that was selling a nice variety of pasta, and she wasn’t just selling rotini and spaghetti! She had fettuccine and shells and the pastas had various flavors!
I can only assume I will getting to know some of these local vendors in good time. This month, starting today, I intend to set a proper goal for my weight loss regimen, and much if it starts with a massive change in my diet. While I know I might lose a few gains in the weight lifting department, I fully intend to incorporate more plants and fruits into my diet. I have a goal, whether I do Ragnar Las Vegas or not depending on what happens, do be under 230 pounds by November 6. Now it sounds easy, simply because I’m still a stout 260, and while some might consider losing the equivalent to a female fitness model (140 pounds or so) is good enough, I still want more. If I want my running to get better and my body to get leaner these will be some of the necessary steps. I intend to have a last meal of sorts, for I will have a good vegan friendly pizza from Pionic on Saturday before I start my “more veggies and fruits” life. I have neglected this thought for long enough, and considering what is going on in the real world in regards to food, it is decision that should be much easier for me to take on.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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