This Week's Links: Some More Thought for Food

By Emily Lewis

This is not the links blog you want to read over your lunch break, unless you're actually hoping to take a break from lunch. Don't say we didn't warn you.

But for starters, here's something mild to whet your appetite. A recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine may have proved the long-held theory that consuming high-allergen foods actually prevents future allergies. "It may sound radical, but it works: Eating peanuts slashes the chance of a peanut allergy, at least in children at high risk of developing one."

Illustration by Oliver Munday

Illustration by Oliver Munday

A little more upsetting to the stomach is the recent research into dysfunctional food regulations in the U.S., where responsibility for food safety is divided among fifteen different federal agencies. The most prominent of these are the F.S.I.S. and the F.D.A. -- but, to give you a taste, "Fish are the province of the F.D.A.—except catfish, which falls under the F.S.I.S. Frozen cheese pizza is regulated by the F.D.A., but frozen pizza with slices of pepperoni is monitored by the F.S.I.S. Bagel dogs are F.D.A.; corn dogs, F.S.I.S. The skin of a link sausage is F.D.A., but the meat inside is F.S.I.S. . . . Both the F.S.I.S. and the F.D.A. are also hampered by internal tensions. The regulatory function at the F.S.I.S. can seem like a distant afterthought at the U.S.D.A., whose primary purpose is to advance the interests of American agriculture." But private litigation is finally moving the concern back to the health of the consumer. Read the whole, juicy thing over at the New Yorker.  

But what if it's not the food industry that's killing us? What if it's the food itself. A new film called Forks Over Knives "examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods."

Those so-called "diseases of affluence" afflict many in the first world, but in poorer countries the cause of disease is much simpler and easier to root-out, though it has no less to do with what people put in their mouths."Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year, and they prevent many more from fully developing mentally and physically." In such places, improving health infrastructure is one of the most effective approaches to disease eradication. Enter the new poop project from the Gates Foundation

Disease eradication worldwide requires people working at both ends of the wealth spectrum . . . and both ends of the intestine (and everywhere in between). For those as hungry to see change as we are, no other answer will satisfy. 

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Emily Lewis is the staff writer and online strategist for the Roberta Winter Institute