Trump-Pence’s food, farm, and agricultural policy record

Given the unexpected result of the presidential campaign, I considered a post on emotional eating for readers, and perhaps I will make such a post later this week. For the time being: breathe.

Right now though, let’s focus on food policy. What do we now know about the likely shape of Trump-Pence food, farm, and ag policy?

To get some idea, I have compiled a digest of a sample of the available material on the statements, positions, and probable agricultural appointments of the upcoming Trump-Pence presidency.

Before we continue, I should note that although I have not thoroughly reviewed Clinton’s statements, her policies are likely to have been pretty similar: slightly more liberal but not radically so. It is not likely that Hillary would have significantly overhauled the agricultural and food sectors, and it is not likely that Trump will either.

Without further ado, Donald Trump has expressed the following views:

Animal rights
* Expresses skepticism about animal rights. (AG)

Environment, climate change, government regulation
* Sued unsuccessfully to block building of wind turbines in Scotland, claiming would mar view from golf course. (AG)
* Claims that government regulations are stealth taxes, to raise revenue. (AG)
– Claims that climate change is a hoax to raise taxes. (AG)
* In 2000 book, The America We Deserve, claims biggest threat to American dream is regulations. (AG)
* Expressed concerns about water shortages. (P)
* Denied that there was drought in California in 2016. (FC)
* Blamed California drought on environmentalists. (FC)
* Endorses elimination of Waters of U.S. rule, implying opposition to water conservation; appointment of pro-ag EPA administrator. (FF)
* Claims that “farmers care more for the environment than radical environmentalists.” (FF)
* Expresses opposition to Endangered Species Act. (FF)

Farm bill, farm policy
* Expressed strong support for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ethanol; this implies support for corn industry and subsidies. (AG)
* Claims “I support a strong safety net for our nation’s farmers”, again implying support for farm subsidies, insurance. (FF)
* 05/16, Expressed great reluctance to “attempting to change any part of the RFS”. (B)
* 08/16, wants to end EPA regulation of farmers, including water regulation; wants to decrease taxes on farmers; implies that “family farm tradition in Iowa” is “thriving and flourishing.” (B)
* Endorses crop insurance. (B)
* Endorses view that agriculture is about national security, not food, implying opposition to progressive food. (B)
* Wants farm bill to be “written by those who are thankful for our remarkable food system in this country”, implying opposition to progressive food. (FF)
* In explicit context of agriculture, claims desire to abolish estate tax, which only applies to estates of $5.45 million or more (affecting only about 20 small American farms), implying increased support for America’s largest industrial farms. (TF)
* Opposes raising taxes on farmers with income of more than $5 million, implying support for gigantic farms (only 12% of American farms). (PF)

Biotechnology/GMOs
* Has blamed biotech corn for sliding pull numbers. (AG)
* Suspicious about Monsanto’s products, Tweeted concern about health effects. (AG)
* Apologized for above Tweet, blamed on intern. (AG)

Immigration, labor
* Has called for mass deportation of illegal immigrants. (AG)
* Claims no opposition to immigrant labor; wants it to be legal. (AG)
* Expressed skepticism in 2013 about path to citizenship; claimed would hurt Republican electoral demographics. (AG)
* In 2000, claimed that legal immigration process should be more challenging. (AG)
* Rejects that children of immigrant workers are citizens if born in United States. (AG)

Trade
* Rejects Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal; this implies support for domestic production of food. (AG)

Agricultural policy appointees
* Seeks to appoint mainstream, establishment Republican agricultural advisers; if maintained, these proposed appointments imply long-term commitment to industry interests and viewpoints. (P)
* Such viewpoints include: ready availability of immigrant labor, support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (P)
* Selected cattle “farmer” Charles Herbster to lead ag and rural advisory committee; Herbster’s primary ag concern is “reducing regulation”. (B)
* Herbster has received half a million dollars in agricultural subsidies over past 20 years; his company sells pesticide additives called adjuvants and synthetic fertilizers; this implies that Herbster will advise Trump to pursue compatible policies. (MJ)
* Herbster endorses free trade deals on agricultural products. (MJ)

Here’s Pence, regarded by many as Trump’s big ticket to rural and farm state credibility, due to heavy involvement in farm policy in Indiana:

* Has voted for subsidy increases. (B)
* Voted for 2008 bill, supported GWB’s veto, due to “too much spending.” (PJ)
* Voted against 2012 farm bill. (IFN)
* Reversed his support in 2012 for 2002 farm bill, calling support a mistake. (IFN)
* Has expressed consistent, strong support for free trade agreements. (JS)
* When chosen as VP candidate, the Ag-Pulse reports rave reviews of Pence from the agricultural industry:

“Don Villwock, who recently retired after more than a decade as president of the Indiana Farm Bureau, says he’s been impressed in his dealings with Pence, both as a governor and a congressman.

“He is truly agriculture’s dream candidate,” Villwock said of Pence in an email to Agri-Pulse. Villwock described himself as “a big Mike Pence fan,” adding that Pence understood and supported many facets of agriculture from small farms to large agribusinesses. “He is a good listener and seeks input on issues from all commodity groups,” Villwock said.

Jane Ade Stevens, CEO of the Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance, also speaks well of Pence. In a statement, she said Pence “has been a good leader for Indiana agriculture during his time at the Statehouse.” (AG2)

And that’s it for Pence/Trump food, farm, and ag policy. We’re likely only to get more details as Trump establishes a record. However, assuming he listens to his proposed advisory appointees, it seems likely that food, farm and ag policy will remain much the same, with some modifications, but also, likely, some deregulation of the agricultural sector. In other words, an unsurprisingly conservative food, farm, and ag policy.

We’ll keep you updated.

Interested in discussing more about food, farm, and ag policy? Join us at www.facebook.com/groups/farmarians

Information culled from:
Agri-Pulse (AG), on food and agricultural policy-related statements of Donald Trump: http://www.agri-pulse.com/Uploaded/Donald-Trump-positions-farm-food-rural-policy-122315.pdf
Agri-Pulse (AG2), on Pence’s choice for VP candidate:
http://www.agri-pulse.com/Trump-VP-pick-draws-rave-reviews-from-agriculture-07152016.asp
Politico, (P) on food and ag advisory appointees: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/donald-trump-agriculture-team-policy-227083
Ballotpedia (B), on appointees and food and agricultural policy-related statements: https://ballotpedia.org/2016_presidential_candidates_on_agriculture_and_food_policy
FactCheck (FC), on Trump’s drought claims: http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/trumps-dubious-drought-claims/
Mother Jones (MJ), on Herbster, Trump’s ag appointee: http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/07/meet-man-advising-donald-trump-ag-policy
Farm Futures (FF), on ag policy statements:
http://farmfutures.com/story-clinton-trump-where-stand-ag-0-146907
The Federalist (TF), on ag policy statements:
http://thefederalist.com/2016/09/26/important-topic-hillary-trump-wont-discuss-tonight/
PolitiFact (PF), on ag policy statements:
http://www.politifact.com/iowa/statements/2016/aug/31/donald-trump/donald-trump-explains-why-hillary-clinton-wants-sh/
Ink Free News (IFN), on Pence’s ag policy record:
http://www.inkfreenews.com/2012/08/07/pence-campaign-proposes-agricultural-policy/
Journal Star (JS), on Pence’s ag record:
http://www.pjstar.com/news/20160814/farm-and-food-file-mike-pences-checkered-record-on-agriculture-issues-does-gop-ticket-no-favors

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GM crops do not increase yield, and do not decrease pesticide use

New York Times last week published probably the most important food story of the year. Here are the two main points:
 
1. GM proponents argue that GM crops are required to feed the planet. The problem? Most research shows that GM crops have no yield advantage over non-GM crops.
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2. GMO proponents argue that GMOs decrease pesticide and herbicide use. The problem? Again, most research shows that countries using GMOs are seeing increases in herbicide use, while other countries, for example France, which has rejected GMOs, has seen a decrease.
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There is no denying that the public debate over GMOs has been profoundly altered.
See the original New York Times article here:
See the source of the figures above here:
Want to discuss GMOs? Join us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/farmarians
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We know that sugar taxes work. Those who care about public health and our economic future have the upper hand.

More good news. According to Berkeley professor Kristen Madsen, on the sugar sweetened beverage tax:

“That is an intervention that’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen aimed at changing someone’s dietary behavior.”

I think the data are now pretty strong: the sugar tax works.

Now, we still need more interventions, and we need to apply them strenuously, and carefully study their effects. We also need better food education. Home ec should be taught in schools again, each and every year. Kids should garden and be taught by example, each and every day in the lunch room, what real food really is.

But this is a start. We’ve got a few things that we know absolutely work. Doubters about proposed interventions will increasingly be on the defensive. Those who care about the public health, as well as the financial future of this country, have the upper hand.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/soda-tax-berkeley-1.3826163

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UCSF bans sugar sweetened beverage sales at workplace, studies metabolic effects of policy

Ya’ll want a positive story? I’ve got a positive story for ya.

Looks like UCSF, consistently ranked in the top 5 among medical schools in the country, has banned “sugar-sweetened beverages from every store, food truck and vending machine on its campus.”

Say what?

Affiliated fast food stores have also stopped selling these drinks: “Even popular fast-food chains on the campus, like Subway and Panda Express, have stopped selling Sprite, Coca-Cola and their sugary brethren at the university’s request.”

UCSF has found that consumption of sugar sweetened beverages has since dropped by 25%!

Even better, UCSF is also studying the *effects* of this policy on the metabolic profiles of employees at the school:

“Researchers there have enrolled 214 of the school’s employees into a rigorous study, collecting blood samples to see if there have been any major metabolic changes in the people who lowered their soda intake. While they expect to publish complete results soon, early indicators are promising.”

In other words, they’re going to be combining hard science with public health–to show that this intervention *works*.

Now if they show something, medical schools and hospitals around the world will have to either change their policies–or, by keeping them, implicitly admit that they don’t care about the health of their employees and patients.

Here’s a quote from one of the leaders of the initiative:

“We’re a public health institution, and there’s something not right about us making money off of products that we know are making people sick. How dare we profit off of a product that our own doctors say causes metabolic disease?”

Well no shit. Hopefully my school decides sometime soon that it is mind-numbingly stupid to sell Coca-Cola and treat diabetes in the room next door. That’s like having a cigarette vending machine across the hall from the cancer ward.

UCSF is an inspiring example of a place that has decided they don’t want to be morons. God bless them.

Original link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/08/well/eat/putting-sugary-soda-out-of-reach.html

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The rise of industrial agriculture, the collapse of rural America, and the rise of Donald Trump

Would you be surprised if I told you that industrial agriculture was the cause of Donald Trump?

That’s the claim, anyway, of a new article published in the Good Food movement’s flagship magazine publication, Civil Eats.

Here’s a recap of its central points:

  • Rural, white America is angry—and this anger is why it is supportive of Donald Trump.
  • This angry rural demographic was forged in the aftermath of the 1950s-80s collapse of traditional American agriculture.
  • The support for Trump results from widespread economic problems plaguing rural communities.
  • 46 million Americans still live in the countryside.
  • In the post-war years of the 1940s-70s, farmers could eek out a reasonably good living by producing good quality food.
  • The era of the small American farm ended in the 1980s.
  • The collapse of America’s rural heartland was the direct result of government policy, starting in the 1950s.
  • This government policy aimed to eliminate a third of all farm families and increase the size of the average farm.
  • The number of farms dropped from 4.8 million in 1954 to 2.1 million in 1990.
  • When the implications of the policy came to a head in 1980, the USDA requested that foreclosures be accelerated, some illegally.
  • Reagan made deep cuts to price supports and rural development programs; he would “keep the grain and export the farmers.”
  • Suicides, spousal abuse, and other violence spiked in the rural population.
  • In 2016, midsize family farms continue to go out of business.
  • In 2012, 4% percent of farms produced 2/3 of agricultural value.
  • Trump’s agricultural advisors are top industrial agriculture advocates, who will in turn magnify the very damage that has resulted in Trump’s support base.

A link to the original story:

http://civileats.com/2016/10/27/want-to-understand-trumps-rise-head-to-the-farm/

Now, I got a secret to tell: I’m a big fan of the Orange Man. I have a heart for all underdogs, and I gleefully troll well-educated coworkers with my declarations of half-hearted support for The Donald. (I just conceal the half-heartedness in my best facade of Socratic dialectical trollery.) And I just do that because I’m so dissatisfied by Hillary. (I was a big Bern fan.)

But ya gotta admit. No matter what your political persuasion, the collapse of American rural communities1 is heartbreaking. And no matter what policies you support, ya gotta admit: the rise of the Trump is pretty damn scary.

Even if he loses, we may be feeling the effects for years down the road. If another candidate steps up with the same message, more polish, and less of the dirt, Heaven help us.

But if Civil Eats is right, a Trumpish outcome for this country may be just one more awful thing to add to the list of awful achievements… the great and awful achievements… of U.S. industrial agriculture.

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  1. Perhaps best described in J.D. Vance’s book Hillbilly Elegy, released this year: https://www.amazon.com/Hillbilly-Elegy-Memoir-Family-Culture/dp/0062300547/ 

Does Big Ag “feed the world”, or are such slogans just clever public relations?

Big Ag claims that its technologies and methods are necessary to “feed the world.” But is that really what Big Ag does, or is “feeding the world” merely a marketing slogan with little basis in reality? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) investigated the issue and released a report last month. It found that:
 
* Less than 1% of US agricultural exports went to the world’s 19 most hungry or undernourished countries.
* 63% of this went to Haiti and Yemen alone.
* 2.3% of the world’s most undernourished countries’ diet comes from exports from the United States.
* More than 50% of the agricultural exports to its top 20 importers were for animal product or meat
* In many countries where malnourishment is a problem, obesity and overweight is a bigger problem. US agricultural exports contribute to this.
* Developmental aid would produce a much bigger positive impact for global malnourishment than would expanding US agricultural markets.
* In sum, given the relative ineffectiveness of Big Ag in resolving the problem of hunger, there is little reason to believe that a no-holds-barred race to sleeker and more sophisticated agricultural technology is going to make an impact on global hunger.
* The United States should assist other countries in learning to feed themselves, not insisting on American agricultural investment as a means of addressing a problem that it won’t address.
 
Here’s a summary by Civil Eats:
 
Here’s the full report:

https://static.ewg.org/reports/2016/feeding_the_world/EWG_FeedingTheWorld.pdf

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Two thoughts about agrochemicals consumed in our food

Two thoughts about agrochemicals consumed in our food.
 
1. The data suggest that glyphosate in grains, at concentrations present at the legally permitted level (30 ppm), disrupts the growth of many common gut microbes and encourages the growth of others. The adjuvants added to glyphosate in the final Roundup product are almost certainly significantly more toxic to gut microbes than glyphosate itself, and we have even less information about the impact of these.
 
Here are two of the papers from which I draw these conclusions, for anyone who is interested or wants to discuss them. (I would sincerely like to be persuaded that my interpretation is wrong or unlikely):
 
http://www.netwerkvlv.nl/downloads/2012-Krueger,%20M-glyphosate%20effects.pdf
 
http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/yesmaam/pages/680/attachments/original/1393210276/Effects_of_Roundup_and_Glyphosate_on_Three_Food_Microorganisms.pdf?1393210276
 
What effect this disruption of human gut flora might have on the immune system or metabolism has to my knowledge not been studied.
 
2. One of the things about agrochemical toxicity studies is that they are almost always only looking for gross pathological reactions to a given compound. Subtler reactions are not studied. If an agrochemical compound might make a consumer feel crummy but is otherwise nontoxic, that would be missed by the safety studies. To see how it could be possible for a compound to be nontoxic but still detrimental to a human’s sense of well-being, one only has to look at the antihypertensives in medicine: perhaps the most effective drugs that physicians have to improve patient outcomes in cardiovascular disease, the antihypertensives are nontoxic when given at therapeutic doses, but nonetheless make many people feel subjectively worse. This is part of the reason that patients sometimes do not take their antihypertensive medications.
 
Toxicity does not measure how a compound will make one subjectively feel; it measures gross disturbance in biological functioning. Thus, could agrochemicals cause subjective discomfort while being technically nontoxic at the concentrations commonly consumed in food? This is not an inconsequential question. If the purpose of agrochemicals is to improve human well-being, and if agrochemicals subjectively produced the opposite effect, this would call at least some aspect of their stated purpose into question. That this question has not been tested seems to me to be an important oversight.
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Wheat consumption drives the obesity epidemic? Bullshit. | Part 1 of a 3-part series.

In this three-part series, I will be evaluating some of the proposed dietary drivers of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

I decided to create this series to address claims that are made on the my forum, which are, quite frankly, at odds with the evidence. I hope that this blog post will contribute to putting some of these claims to rest.

In the first part of this series, I will be addressing a popular theory: that the obesity epidemic is driven by increasing consumption of wheat.

This claim is evidently at odds with the evidence–a huge amount of evidence. Here’s a few pieces of that evidence.

  1. Wheat consumption has decreased over the past fifteen years (United States Department of Agriculture):

  1. Yet, the percentage of obese adults has gone from 30.5 to 37.7% in the same period of time (United States Center for Disease Control):

It therefore follows that over the last 15 years, the consumption of wheat and the rise of obesity have been strongly INVERSELY correlated: wheat consumption has consistently gone down, while obesity has consistently gone up.

  1. But wait, there’s more. This decline in wheat consumption is, from historical perspective, even more marked (United States Department of Agriculture):

From 1935 levels, Americans’ consumption of wheat is down nearly 40 pounds per person per year.

  1. Yet, while the level of wheat consumption in the 1930s was higher than its peak in the ’90s, and much higher than that today, average BMI (and levels of obesity) was lower in the ’30s (Centre for Economic Policy Research, VOXEU):

(The highest line marks the 90th percentile, the lowest lowest line marks the 10th percentile, with all gradations in between.)

In other words, the historical record on obesity shows a trend in the opposite direction of this decrease in wheat consumption.

  1. To drive the point home, here is a graph of the rate of change in BMI, also charted in deciles:


Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this graph is the inflection point that occurs between 1945 and 1950, just following World War 2, when the rate of increase in BMI among deciles–especially the upper 2-4 deciles–begins to spread markedly, and the rate of increase in obesity accelerates dramatically. Relevant to the theory of wheat consumption-driven obesity epidemic, according to the information presented two graphs back, this inflection point occurs at precisely the same moment when wheat consumption per capita in the U.S. begins a marked, 3-decade-long decline.

So again, we see an inverse correlation between wheat consumption and obesity.

  1. There’s more evidence to contradict the case against wheat (at least in terms of the obesity epidemic). How does the United States compare to other countries? As the most obese developed country in the world, does the United States have the highest consumption, per capita, of wheat? Is it even in the upper tier of wheat consumption?

No.

The United States, the most obese developed country in the world, actually has relatively low levels of wheat consumption, at least when compared to many other developed countries. Data from the World Bank:

Country Amount Date
Australia 308.04 thousand metric tons 2004
Turkey 254.32 thousand metric tons 2004
Russia 246.79 thousand metric tons 2004
Canada 240.66 thousand metric tons 2004
Morocco 207.66 thousand metric tons 2004
Ukraine 204.95 thousand metric tons 2004
Algeria 195.75 thousand metric tons 2004
Iran 190.36 thousand metric tons 2004
Egypt 179.91 thousand metric tons 2004
Pakistan 120.85 thousand metric tons 2004
United States 113.4 thousand metric tons 2004
China 80.63 thousand metric tons 2004
India 62.13 thousand metric tons 2004
Brazil 54.07 thousand metric tons 2004
Japan 47.28 thousand metric tons 2004

 

Sweet Jesus, if there’s one thing that jumps out from this table, it’s that on an international scale, Australia has nearly THREE TIMES the wheat consumption per person as does the United States. This might seem to indicate that the Australians should have wheat bellies the size of kangaroos. Yet what is the actual rate of obesity among Australians?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia has an obesity rate of 27.5%. Contrast this with America’s at 37.8%. Australia’s rate of obesity is a full 10% lower than the rate of obesity in the United States.

What about Turkey? Even lower than Australia at 18.5%, a full 20% lower than America’s 38.7%.

Russia? 26.5%.
Canada? 29%.
Morocco? 8.2%.
Ukraine? 21.3%.
Algeria? 18%.
Iran? 15.4%.
Egypt? 9.3%.
Pakistan? 22.2%.

In every single country with a higher per capita wheat consumption than the United States, the obesity rate is actually lower.

So what role does wheat have in the obesity epidemic in the Unites States? The likely answer: not a damn thing.

But is carbohydrate consumption the driver of the obesity epidemic? I will address this question in part 2 of this series.

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Political Paleo? Why the Paleo diet must necessarily become a political program.

I have been going through Food and Western Disease: Health From an Evolutionary Perspective by Staffan Lindeberg lately. Staffan Lindeberg’s book is thought by many to represent the very apex of scientific Paleo: it’s a recent, comprehensive assessment of the current scientific evidence in favor of the Paleo diet. (Lindeberg was known earlier for his work on the Kitavans, which had a big influence on Robb Wolf, as many of you undoubtedly already know.)
 
Anyhow, the reason I have been reading his book is that I want to challenge my own pro-grain beliefs. Virtually all of my nutrition friends don’t much care for grains. What am I getting wrong about grains? And legumes? Apart from grains and legumes, I consider myself Paleoish, but what in the world does that mean? I do have a lot of respect for an evolutionary paradigm–any nutritional system worth its salt must be consistent with what we understand about evolution. But Paleo with grains and legumes is not really Paleo. #identitycrisis
 
But we shall have to discuss all this some other time. I have something that I think is a bit more interesting to discuss. I am posting this because I found the following interesting passage in Lindeberg’s book:
 
>>> Another objection, and a highly relevant one, relates to sustainability. If the majority of humans on this planet shall avoid grains and increase their meat intake, then we clearly have a problem (although cutting dairy products is helpful). With or without such dietary changes, we will have to eat more locally produced foods, more starchy root vegetables and less ruminant meat, and we need to travel less. In our clinical experience, an ancestral-like dietary model does not require a higher meat intake than the present average (100 and 130 g/day for Swedish men and women, respectively). >>>
 
Does this mean that Paleo, if it wants to change the world, also has to think about food systems? That it has to think politically?
 
Think of it this way: let’s assume that we want to promote a diet much like the Paleo diet for the population as a whole. We do this because we want to promote the public health. But if such a diet is unsustainable, then we promote the public health today at the expense of future generations. If, therefore, “Paleo For The People” is a goal, we must also try to advocate for political positions and changes that will make such a widespread dietary system sustainable.
 
And if this is so, then it seems to me that the Paleo movement needs to become broader in its aims and goals: not just the promotion of real food, but the promotion of the sorts of farm policies and food systems that will help make real food a possibility for everyone, as well as for future generations. Should Paleo become a broader political movement–not limited to nutrition but with interests also in agriculture, regulating Big Food, etc.?
 
It does seem to me that Paleo, as its very central paradigm, rejects agriculture as a whole. But can Paleo principles be pragmatic–and be synthesized and impactful on the modern food system, without completely rejecting it and insisting on a strict return to the Paleolithic? In other words, is a “Paleo politics” possible? Or is it a contradiction in the very terms?
 
I dare say, if “Paleo politics” is insisted upon as a contradiction in its very terms, and if the Paleo diet must always be something individual (eaten only one person at a time), and not political (for which we advocate and insist on policy changes collectively), then it follows that, without the necessary changes to our food system, “individual Paleo” is not sustainable and therefore, in the long term, not possible. Is it therefore, if Lindeberg is correct in his assessment, not the case that individual Paleo necessarily entails political Paleo? And that despite the apparent contradictions, if a Paleo For The People is to be a reality, the Paleo movement must turn explicitly and avowedly political?
 
These are some of the thoughts I have. If this hasn’t run on too long, I would like to hear yours.
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Carbohydrate restriction in Type 2 Diabetes: What does the evidence say?

Some of you may have seen the following NYT Opinion piece trending:
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/opinion/sunday/before-you-spend-26000-on-weight-loss-surgery-do-this.html
 
Especially interesting was the following claim:
 
>>> The diabetes association has yet to acknowledge this sizable body of scientific evidence. Its current guidelines find “no conclusive evidence” to recommend a specific carbohydrate limit. The organization even tells people with diabetes to maintain carbohydrate consumption, so that patients on insulin don’t see their blood sugar fall too low. That condition, known as hypoglycemia, is indeed dangerous, yet it can better be avoided by restricting carbs and eliminating the need for excess insulin in the first place. Encouraging patients with diabetes to eat a high-carb diet is effectively a prescription for ensuring a lifelong dependence on medication. >>>
 
To try to prove their point, Hallberg and Hamby write:
 
>>> At our obesity clinics, we’ve seen hundreds of patients who, after cutting down on carbohydrates, lose weight and get off their medications. One patient in his 50s was a brick worker so impaired by diabetes that he had retired from his job. He came to see one of us last winter, 100 pounds overweight and panicking. He’d been taking insulin prescribed by a doctor who said he would need to take it for the rest of his life. Yet even with insurance coverage, his drugs cost hundreds of dollars a month, which he knew he couldn’t afford, any more than he could bariatric surgery.
 
Instead, we advised him to stop eating most of his meals out of boxes packed with processed flour and grains, replacing them with meat, eggs, nuts and even butter. Within five months, his blood-sugar levels had normalized, and he was back to working part-time. Today, he no longer needs to take insulin. >>>
 
Which was it that was responsible for the change: reducing processed foods, or reducing carbohydrates? These two things changed at the same time. The change may have been for the better, but it doesn’t establish what the authors hope to establish: that a diabetic patient should “first, do low carbs.”
 
To Hallberg and Hamby’s anecdote I might add my own: I once met a patient who, on introducing a single dark leafy green salad each day, reversed their diabetes, had their A1C levels decrease to normal, and could go off of medications.
 
So what about such other diets–those that are not carbohydrate restricted but are intended to help diabetic patients? How do they square off against carbohydrate restriction in Type 2 Diabetes?
 
This question has been addressed in the scientific literature. The answers are different from what Hallberg and Hamby give. A 2015 meta-analysis on the utility of low carbohydrate diets (vs. other diets) in type 2 diabetes found:
 

>>> Recent studies suggest that low carbohydrate diets appear to be safe and effective over the short term, but show no statistical differences from control diets with higher carbohydrate content and cannot be recommended as the default treatment for people with type 2 diabetes. >>>

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4674467/

 
I also really like this excerpt:
 
>>> Interestingly, the carbohydrate debate seems to be based on strong personal opinion and those working in the area tend to cherry-pick the evidence to support their particular view, whether that of low, moderate, or high carbohydrate. Debates about the issue can become very passionate, and it is worth reminding ourselves that “passion in science is an infallible marker of lack of evidence” [3]. >>>
 
That’s a quotation worth remembering.
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