But I have finished these books: Paul Campos, The Obesity Myth; Fran McCullough, Good Fat with 100 Recipes and Malcolm Kendrick, The Great Cholesterol Con.
I recommend them all. I read Good Fat first and got some more information to support my current leanings towards traditional fats which are solid at room temperature. This was interesting, but an elaboration of what I already knew.
The Obesity Myth is, in my opinion, an important book. You should read all of it. Two key points in it concern firstly the fake allegations that weight and health are linked (except in quite extreme cases) and secondly, the role of fat in the social hierarchy of American life. I had not heard of 'anorexic ideation' before, but I see clearly how it works in terms of the norming of very skinny persons as the only people who are not 'fat'.
Page 225:In America today, bodies have replaced clothes as the most visible
markers of social class. In a culture that combines a high degree of
fashion informality with relatively cheap, high-quality clothing, clothes will
non longer function as reliable indicators of relative status. On the
other hand, a "fit" (misleadingly defined as a slim, and youthful, or at least
youthful-appearing) body is much more difficult for the average person to
achieve. Acquiring a body which matches this definition of fitness is, for
most people, in large part a function of having access to things - health club
memberships, personal trainers, plastic surgery, and, most of all, enough energy
and leisure time to devote to the pursuit of it - that are far more readily
available to professional and upper-class people than they are to the average
member of the lower-middle or working classes (let alone to a poor person).
So fat is something evil to be controlled, with a gridlock of narratives of evil surrounding it, lest anyone say out loud that body shape is not logically linked to laziness, slovenliness, increased mortality or intelligence.
p.126:Except at the statistical extremes, weight has little or nothing to doOh ya-de-ya. Still got to be active. Not let off the hook there. But even there, I note that the basic necessity for metabolic fitness is actually pretty easily acquired:
with basic health and fitness; on average, fat active people will be as healthy
as thin active ones, and much healthier than thin sedentary ones.
p.37:...to move into the category that offers most of the benefits associated
with metabolic fitness, people need to engage in some moderately strenuous
combinationof daily physical activities equivalent to going for a brisk half
When I added up the activities in my day, I'm either there or not far off it just by doing my ordinary jobs.
The Great Cholesterol Con also looked at a campaign of misinformation on a massive scale, this time benefiting pharmaceutical companies who are keen to get the entire world taking their very profitable statins. I was wary of media reports of medical papers before, but after reading this book, I will be even more so. The extent to which an industry which is pretty much entirely funded by big pharma will interpret data in contrary ways (like duplicitous ways) is awful.
There is a chapter in The Obesity Myth which is called 'Anorexia Nervosa and the Spirit of Capitalism'. Which is a wonderful title and apt to boot. Within it, Campos looks at the legacy of Puritanism and how this has re-manifested itself in contemporary America as the control of the flesh rather than of pleasure or riches.
Which brings me to Sally Fallon and Nourishing Traditions, also an American book, and a text to which I am both drawn to and repulsed by.. I want to suggest that in a culture where control and judgement are tightly intertwined with eating, Falloon's book offers us a new version of food laws but one which still offers that sense of having to work in order to be worthy.
Fallon's encouragement to us to open the cream and buy up large at the butcher's are tempting indeed, especially for parents who learn rather fast that low fat excuses for food will not satisfy our children sufficiently for them to run around or even sleep for a decent length of time, and thus look around for something more convincing. But consider instead, the exhortations about the endless evils in our supermarkets, at the apparent need to sprout wheat, then grind it ourselves, then soak it, then make our own bread and cakes. Could anything else be a stronger incentive to go gluten free? But wait it gets more exciting. Not just grains needs soaking sprouting, praying upon, turning three times and mixing only in lime green bowls just like the ancient tribes of Mesopomania, but we should also be soaking and then baking nuts before using them.
Nourishing Traditions in its most committed form (and for evidence of commitment, a tiki tour round blogville should convince; there is currently a jump off point on my sidebar if you fancy) offers a lifestyle of endless food preparation for those who fancy it. For those who thought, most lazily it seems, that snacking on a raw carrot is a good kind of thing to do, then please note that Ms Fallon prefers you saute your carrots (peeled no matter if organic or commonly sprayed) in about $3 worth of butter for 40 minutes. As a lifestyle, I think Nourishing Traditions offers its own elitism in that just like getting the perfect body at the gym, the luxury of a great deal of time is necessary.
I'm still bouncing off Isa Ritchie's conference abstract and thinking next of where neo-liberalism fits in. I don't think there is a simple answer on that one at all. The dichotomy between state support and individual responsibility which is so often posited in discussions of neo-liberalism is, in my opinion, completely undermined by the powerful sway pharmaceutical companies have over goverment policy which has lead to governments encouraging us, exhorting us even, to partake in their state funded projects to down loads of pills and absorb lots of jabs.