Pacific Islanders Undertake Grand Experiment Against Purveyors of Junk Food

http://www.renegadetribune.com/pacific-islanders-undertake-grand-experiment-purveyors-junk-food/
By Russ Winter of The New Nationalist

Zero Hedge ran a derisive article entitled, Government Knows Best- Junk Food Ban Goes Global. ZH, which TNN believes usually does very good yeoman work on a variety of real issues decided to use the sham epithet, “nanny state” to describe policy put in place by Pacific Islanders to protect the well being of their people who suffer from serious obesity and diabetes. TNN has an epithet for you on this particular issue- mindless libertarianism. With all due respect to ZH, this is where TNN departs company. Why are you mocking this?

Public health experts who study the island nations of the Pacific welcomed the ban, saying that bold measures were necessary for an impoverished and isolated region of 10 million people — one where the cost of sending legions of patients abroad for dialysis treatment or kidney transplants is untenable.

Imagine if 75 million Americans had diabetes — that’s the scale of the epidemic we’re talking about in Vanuatu,” Roger Magnusson, a professor of health law and governance at Sydney Law School in Australia, said in an email.

“Can anyone seriously say that Vanuatu doesn’t have the right to exercise its health sovereignty in every way possible to protect its population from an epidemic of that scale?” he added.

As the chart shows, while the “nanny state” has slumbered, an epidemic of diabetes has snuck up on the US as well, tripling in twenty years. With all the fat youth on hand, this promises to triple again over a couple decades. These unaccountable people and purveyors in turn become a burden on the rest of the nation. Wake up, this is a national emergency, and is a first line order of business for good governance. Yes, TNN governance will defer to public health experts on this and in fact double down.

This is also a prime example of third position politics and social policy. The very job of government under new nationalism is to stand up to slash and burn exploiters and set the stage for encouraging a healthy people. Therefore we follow this Pacific Island experiment with interest.

In fact we would take it further and bring in the heavy hand of government against the People’s Republic of Walmart, where the land manatees cruise down the isles on electric scooters, and against companies like Pepsi, McDonalds and GMO purveyors like Monsanto. These companies fit the very definition of privatizing gains and socializing the losses. Yes, these are the slash and burners that are quick to whine about liberty when their ill got profits are in question, but ignore real liberty issues like police state surveillance, warmongering and free speech. What easy to see through hypocrisy-TNN knows your game.

At the top of TNN nanny state agenda is killing subsidies on corn. Replace with new subsidies for vegetables and purple-dark fruit which have become luxury items for rich people. The rest of the plantation is fed worse than hogs. TNN policy would provide public land for large scale gardening and public markets, and encourage rain water collection for that.

TNN’s Youth Program and Owning the Nanny State: Am Dead Serious

The TNN “nanny state” will provide a free one month summer youth camp program in part funded by selected cooperating corporate sponsors, with junk food and electronics companies excluded. The State would also provide funds.

This would incorporate special “nanny state” instruction and courses on healthy living, dieting and back to basics. A “coaches cadre” will be developed. This will be non-professional in attitude and be inclusionary enough for all to compete and develop at their own level. The youth program would be quite heavy on physical play, sports, games, dances (no twerking), fun and competitive. Activities such as squirt guns, dodge ball, tag, musical chairs, etc, that were banned under national pussification programs (see) will be brought back. The idea is to turn out fit razors. Electronic devices and TV would only be permitted after dinner hours and before lights out at 9:00 PM.

Banned games TNN brings back-

Nannies and no nonsense supervisors will be on hand to run herd over reprobates and criminal types. Shape up or ship out expectations are high and problem children will be booted out and shamed as losers. Criminals and serious disrupters will be “taken out of the game” and sent to detention centers run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be subject to an-all-together enhanced experience.


This article originally appeared on The New Nationalist and was republished here with permission.

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Burger King in Israel is offering an adults-only ‘happy meal’ for Valentine’s Day

(JTA) — Just in case a Whopper doesn’t turn you on, a Burger King franchise in Israel is offering something extra to spark romance this Valentine’s Day.

After 6 p.m. and only on Tuesday night, Israelis over the age of 18 could purchase a special “Adults’ Meal” (as opposed to a traditional Kids’ Meal) from the Burger King in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

The meal, which consists of two burgers, two orders of fries and two beers, comes with one of three non-culinary treats: a blindfold, a feather duster or a head massager.

In an interesting twist, Valentine’s Day (named for a third-century Catholic saint) is not widely observed in Israel. Instead, there’s Tu B’Av, a minor holiday in the summer that’s considered a “Day of Love”  — but even then it’s not as big as Valentine’s Day is in the U.S.

Maybe Burger King thinks the romantic accessories will arouse its consumers’ taste buds.

NJ Jews and refugees break bread and barriers at Syria Supper Club

Pop-up supper clubs are trending on the contemporary culinary scene. In New Jersey, the Syria Supper Club is proving a hit for reasons well beyond the food. Hosted by members of the Jewish community and catered by recently arrived Syrian refugees, the ongoing series of meals allows new neighbors to break bread — and social barriers.

Friends Kate McCaffrey and Melina Macall, both members of the Reconstructionist-affiliated Bnai Keshet synagogue in Montclair, New Jersey, conceived of the supper club last fall. What started in September as a few Middle Eastern-flavored dinners in the women’s homes has now snowballed into a larger grassroots welcome wagon.

“We started the project in response to Islamophobia and hate language, and we used the tools we had to do it,” said Macall, who lives with her husband and four children in Montclair.

Macall is a food justice activist who runs an organic food coop. McCaffrey, a married mother of two from Maplewood, New Jersey, is a Montclair State University anthropology professor who researches new immigrants. The pair finds their perspectives complimentary.

Syria Supper Club gathering in Maplewood, NJ October 2016. (Courtesy)

Syria Supper Club gathering in Maplewood, NJ October 2016. (Courtesy)

After New Jersey Governor Chris Christie informed then-president Obama in November 2015 that he was no longer willing to have his state participate in the US refugee resettlement program, the friends decided to help newly arrived Syrian asylum seekers.

“When the governor said that no Syrian refugee should be allowed in because even a five-year-old was a terrorist risk, he didn’t speak for me — or for many of us,” Macall told The Times of Israel.

A year prior to forming their supper club, McCaffrey and Macall had already begun assisting Syrian refugees in nearby Elizabeth: After seeking the advice and support from Rabbi Elliott Tepperman at Bnai Keshet, Jewish refugee organization HIAS and local Muslim organizations, McCaffrey organized a couple dozen volunteers to provide tutoring to refugee children. Independently, Macall spearheaded a Muslim-Jewish Chinese food dinner on Christmas 2015 at Bnai Keshet for 180, including 50 refugees.

‘Every time we visited a refugee family, we were hauled to the table to eat’

After the Christmas dinner, the two women combined efforts to raise funds for a Syrian family from Daraa “adopted” by their synagogue. McCaffrey and Macall felt strongly that the best way to help Maryam and Fadel Al Radi and their children was to help them repay the $7,000 relocation and transportation loan they owed the US government.

“We weren’t going to do a sock drive or something patronizing like that. That’s insulting to the family. By removing the travel loan, we would be putting money back into the family’s budget,” Macall said.

Khlood Alnablise puts the finishing touches on her spread at Syria Supper Club dinner in Maplewood, NJ, October 2016. (Courtesy)

Khlood Alnablise puts the finishing touches on her spread at Syria Supper Club dinner in Maplewood, NJ, October 2016. (Courtesy)

“We didn’t want to do a social service thing. We wanted to do something that made a political statement, and that was replicable. It’s unbelievable that a shellshocked refugee family struggling to adjust to a new life is expected to pay back $7,000,” McCaffrey said.

The women launched the fundraising drive for Passover 2016, with the goal of raising $1,000 for each day of the holiday. They ended up raising the entire amount in 72 hours.

Next was a collaborative project with Carole Schwartz from Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, New Jersey, to subsidize day camp tuition for 20 refugee children at the Elizabeth YMCA.

But as summer came to a close, the women’s jokes about their “baklava bellies” and the “kibbeh kilos” they had gained from Maryam and other refugee women’s delicious food sparked the idea for the supper club.

“Every time we visited a refugee family, we were hauled to the table to eat. The value and pride in hospitality was already there, and it was something that was instantly transferrable,” Macall said.

The offer of a paid cooking gig was warmly welcomed by the refugee women, who have struggled to learn English and find work.

‘I’ve made lots of Jewish and Christian friends. The most important thing is to treat people with respect’

A few months later and today you’ve got to move fast if you want a place at one of the Syria Supper Club’s tables.There were 15 events (some co-ed, some women-only) in January alone, and an online schedule and sign-up form indicates the pace will not let up in the months ahead.Through May, the dinners of beautifully presented dishes like tabouleh, hummus and stuffed grape leaves are no longer available.

Each dinner is attended by a host who must have been a guest at a previous dinner. There are 10-12 guests, an interpreter or two, and the Syrian cook, her spouse, and a couple of her Syrian friends. The guests pay $50 a head, which goes to the cook to reimburse her for food costs and in recognition of her time and talents.

Social isolation is a major issue facing refugees. While the dinners are a way for the Syrian women to make a little income, they are perhaps even more importantly a way for them to meet Americans, as well as one another.

Melina Macall (left), Maryam Al Radi, and Kate McCaffrey. (Molly Tavoletti)

Melina Macall (left), Maryam Al Radi, and Kate McCaffrey. (Molly Tavoletti)

“It’s a good initiative. There are women who can’t leave the house because they don’t speak the language, so this helps them with the language,” said Khlood Alnablise, a 37-year-old refugee from Daraa who arrived two years ago with her husband and child.

“The people I’ve met at the dinners are good, kind people who support us and are sympathetic towards us,” added Alnablise, who cooked for a recent dinner.

‘It’s better to struggle to communicate in a warm, welcoming environment like this one than in some cold bureaucratic office’

Maryam Al Radi, 40, has become close with McCaffrey and Macall. She said she has enjoyed getting to know Americans of different faiths.

“I’ve made lots of Jewish and Christian friends. The most important thing is to treat people with respect,” said Al Radi.

A couple of young adult refugees from Iraq, a brother and sister, met a group their age from New York City who came to one of the recent dinners.

“It was anything but a pity fest. They all got along great and now this brother and sister have some new friends to hang out with,” Macall said.

Maryam Al Radi with the spread she prepared for Syria Supper Club dinner in Maplewood, NJ, September 2016. (Courtesy)

Maryam Al Radi with the spread she prepared for Syria Supper Club dinner in Maplewood, NJ, September 2016. (Courtesy)

Even when not every word is understood, the Americans and Syrians manage to communicate well enough. The interpreters help, and thankfully Google Translate is only a fingertip away.

“In any case, it’s better to struggle to communicate in a warm, welcoming environment like this one than in some cold bureaucratic office,” Macall said.

In fact, groups of supper club guests have stayed in touch and formed action groups to help refugee families deal with bureaucratic red tape. In one case, they are helping a family negotiate a payment plan for an electric bill. Another group is helping a family sort out car insurance issues.

“The social safety net is so weak, especially when it comes to translation services,” McCaffrey said.

The Syria Supper Club started out as a way for Macall, McCaffrey and their friends to fulfill the Jewish commandment to welcome the stranger. In recent weeks it has taken on a political imperative, as well.

Macall hosted a dinner at her home on January 28, the day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days. The order, which has been temporarily blocked by federal court orders, bars refugees for 120 days and bans refugees from Syrian indefinitely.

The group gathered that evening acknowledged the travel ban, but did not let it interfere with their goals: to “make contact, communicate, share hospitality and affirm basic humanity,” Macall said.

How Trump’s Immigration Policies Could Nearly Double the Price of Milk

President Trump’s plan to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico is a bad idea for many reasons, from insulting a close trading partner to harming migrating wildlife to the fact that the wall won’t actually improve current border defenses.

According to a 2009 study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit independent think tank, 97 percent of undocumented migrants are still able to make it into the United States, even with walls constructed at various points along the border. “There is no barrier known to man that will stop someone who has traveled hundreds of miles to feed his family,” a border patrol agent told the Daily Beast. “He will go over, under, or around anything you put up.”

But let’s say Trump’s wall does get built and it succeeds in preventing illegal immigration along the Mexican border. And say he also goes through with his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. One of the biggest impacts will be seen on America’s farms, and consequently, Americans’ dinner tables. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey, between 50 and 70 percent of farmworkers in the the nation are undocumented. Based on these estimates, between 1.2 million to 1.75 million farmworkers are undocumented. These workers pick the vast majority of produce grown in the United States.

What’s more, legal residents and citizens don’t want these jobs. A 2014 report commissioned by the nonprofit American Farm Bureau Federation found that U.S. citizens and legal residents are simply not interested in the farmworker positions that are ultimately filled by undocumented migrants.

“Given the limited skills required for farm work and the manual nature of the work, the majority of Americans apparently believe that they have ‘outgrown’ farm work as reflected in their unwillingness to take farm jobs even temporarily despite being unemployed,” write the researchers, who identified three generic immigration reform alternatives: enforcement only (e.g., Trump’s border wall); enforcement plus a pathway to legalization; and enforcement plus a pathway to legalization and a guest worker program for sectors with special labor needs, like agriculture. “While the generally low wages to paid farmworkers are consistent with the low-skill nature of the work, far more Americans are willing to accept even lower minimum wage jobs rather than work in agriculture.”

“The United States already allows a significant amount of legal immigration from Mexico under the ‘guest-worker’ program—1.6 million entries by legal immigrants and 3.9 million by temporary workers from Mexico over the past 10 years—because farmers can’t find enough native-born Americans to pick crops,” writes political commentator Robert Reich.

“There are growers out there screaming for labor,” Carlos Castañeda, a California farm labor contractor, told Politico. “The people who are coming in are doing the work that not a single American would like to do.”

So, if undocumented migrants if  are prevented from entering and taking on farm work, and Americans won’t do those jobs, what will happen to the nation’s farms that rely on undocumented laborers? The enforcement-only option, according to the AFBF report, “would have a significant disruptive impact on agriculture, leading to large enough losses in farm income by the end of a 5-year implementation and adaptation period to trigger a large scale restructuring of the sector, higher food prices and greater dependence on imported products.”

“Without workers, farmers will have no choice but to watch their crops rot in the fields, creating shortages that will hit the grocery store,” writes S.E. Smith in an article recently published by Truthout. Noting that “not all foods are created equal,” Smith envisions the potential agricultural fallout from Trump’s border wall:

Fruit prices will likely start to rise first, followed by vegetables, because both are very labor intensive. Next will be animal products, beginning with dairy and moving to meat and eggs. Staples like grains and beans, which can be harvested mechanically, will eventually follow. On average, food prices could rise by around six percent. Imported foods aren’t as subject to these circumstances, but their prices may go up as well—especially as dwindling U.S. supply puts pressure on imports to make up the difference.

While a six percent increase is significant, the impact of Trump’s border wall on milk prices is much greater. Economists at Texas A&M University conducted a study in 2015 commissioned by the National Milk Producers Federation. They found that if the nation’s milk industry were to experience a 50 percent decrease in the current workforce, which includes around 80,000 immigrant laborers, milk prices would increase by 42.5 percent. The average price of a gallon of milk would rise from $2.72 to $3.90.

Simple enforcement of immigration laws by building a border wall would be the most disruptive reform action President Trump could take. If he must build his wall, he would be well advised also to establish a path to legalization for at least some of the undocumented workers already in the U.S., and also boost guest worker programs for the sectors of the economy that have become dependent on immigrant labor; namely, agriculture.

Every year, farmer Harold McClarty relies on thousands of undocumented laborers to pick peaches and plums on his California farm. He told Politico, “Trump is terrible for agriculture.”

By preventing laborers from entering the country—and worse, deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are currently here—Trump will not only create problems for America’s farmers and consumers, but will negatively impact public health, particularly among the poor. “These effects will hit low-income Americans especially hard,” writes Smith. “Many already struggle to get enough fresh fruit and vegetables in their diets, and these foods could turn into pricey luxuries.”

Another pricey luxury is Trump’s border wall. Although he claims it would cost $12 billion, a Washington Post analysis puts the figure closer to $25 billion. As Reich flatly puts it, “There’s no reason for the wall.” With Mexico adamantly refusing to pay for it, the burden would fall on American taxpayers. Americans would be forced to pay for Trump’s bad idea—and would then be socked with higher food prices as a result.

Reynard Loki is AlterNet’s environment and food editor. Follow him on Twitter @reynardloki. Email him at reynard@alternet.org.

Food Matters

http://www.renegadetribune.com/food-matters/

 

Let your medicine be food. You are what you eat. Great abs are made in the kitchen. These should all have quotation marks. They don’t because anyone could have said the above. We’ve all heard them, or something like them, before. Eating is among the most basic among actions, but it is also quite possibly the most underrated and neglected. Unless you are a Calvin Klein model, it is something we all do. And if you are a Calvin Klein model, keep reading, you might learn something.

For many of us, our earliest memories contain food. Taste buds are some of the earlier sense organs to develop fully. A survival mechanism, sure. But like so many things human, the evolutionary has been supplanted by the customary. And like so many things modern, the customary has been supplanted by the dispensary. We have dispensed with custom and embraced a lack.

It speaks highly to the rate of decay in post-modern existence that we must have these conversations, to literally bring ourselves back to the basics. Even food itself, simple mechanistic nutritive survival, must be reinforced and rediscovered. Face it – food culture, likely the best take of leisure, with leisure being the basis of civilisation – has been maligned.

In a fast paced world, food is taken for granted. It comes from supermarkets, not from soil. Water comes from bottles, not from wells. Before I lead you down the chemtrail rabbit-hole, the complexes of biogenetic engineering and the paramount importance of nutritional intelligence, I want you to understand the basic. Food is taken for granted. We eat on the run. The pendulum swings in extremes; so often food either becomes an obsession or an inconvenience. What food is, really, is the measuring stick of well-being.

With a vast majority of the populace being fed misinformation about food, it is no wonder that even the ‘healthy’ still manage to be sick. For all the study one can do about GMOs, about artificial production means, none of that changes the core of the problem. Society has become desensitised, depersonalised.

The kitchen is just one of the many sanctuaries that has been assaulted by the modernist plot to censure organic meaning to life. Ask yourself: how many meals do you eat at home? What percentage of the food you eat have you prepared, or otherwise handled yourself? In what way do you eat? Ask yourself this before you even move on toward ingredient lists and health concerns. This, right here, is the basic.

I have compiled the information I wished I would have known, or been brave enough to believe, when I decided to take control of my body in College and be better than the mediocrity that so many Americans have settled for and been convinced is somehow healthy. This is by no means comprehensive, and it is fairly simple. But common sense, it’s so often said, is fairly lacking. I’m riding on the coattails of my extremely limited influence in Nationalist thinking to hopefully encourage my peers to make themselves into better selves. This is a great place to start. The absolute basics.

Where does your food begin? In all honesty, your food begins in the soil – one way or another. Nothing eats for free, and vast processes have undergone to make your dinner. From the toil of human hands, your meal comes. You are assisted by your utensils, the handiwork of metalsmiths. The very act of eating is in itself a gift, and it should be treated as such, a response to generosity.

Modern culture has painted an unsurprisingly grim picture, with traditional food culture – that of meals being communal, events prepared in home, meant to nourish both body and mind – as inconvenience. It takes *time* to engage in such an activity, to carefully mete out the ingredients for a complex meal, to wash them, season them, pare them so as to maximise their palatability. Oh, it’s all so droll. To that end, a modernist fair offer is to trade you that meal for some new-fangled, and *convenient* “alternative. Maybe they give you a TV Dinner, an ethnic take-out, take-away. Perhaps you will replace food culture with a brilliantly devised and scientifically formulated shake or bar.

What the modernist push does not give you, is the associations. You will not build or fortify character by slugging down a protein shake when you should be looking at your loved ones from across the kitchen table. You will not engage in the same intimacy, connectedness, from scarfing down a rudely microwaved, BPA-ridden plastic tray of questionable foodstuffs in front of the TV… alone in a crowd.

In cultures unmolested by modernism, a meal is a ritual. Variances in celebration have modalities in different cultures, but there is an underlying universality. Meals make communion. Communion, properly understood, is a gathering, a union of others. Meals bring meaning to life. They allow families and friends to decompress and process life events. They allow for reaching conversations that might not have occurred along the lines of the day’s labours.

Religious families often begin a meal with some form of Grace. They recount their blessings and make supplications for others. Until relatively recent years, American families would store their daily events in their minds and bring them to the table for discussion. It was a way for members to get re-acquainted. Lunches held between friends offer the opportunity to further relationships. Hell, you might even have met your husband or wife over lunch, or maybe it is when you really got to know them.

Modernity does not wish for you to embrace this fact. To modernity such a pittance is an affront. In reality, the inconvenience modernity paints mealtime as, is the opposite. Your engaging in a wholesome food culture is an inconvenience to modernity. The time it takes to prepare and engage in a meal is an hour or two that the modern world does not have you. To the modernist, the individual is a non-entity. A punch on a time-card.

And it’s *all* about time.

My wife and I sit at the kitchen table. We light our candles, say our peace and find something to talk about. It may be the day’s affairs, it may be philosophy, or politics. But it is always something. Even when I am at work, doing some such thing or other in some stranger’s home, whether it is in the summer in the burning heat, in the winter in the freezing cold, or taking a break from someone’s remodel to eat in my truck, I try to make an effort to make my lunch a good one, even if it is a ten minute break. Our ability to eat with mindfulness, the Buddhist doctrine (and really all of humanity before it) teaches us, is what separates us from the vulgar animals of the field.

Consider the effects of poorly mismatched and mishandled food culture. Do I really need to present the implications? We all know what’s happened: poor health, no understanding of nutrition, inept social skills, and so forth. There is no end to the allegations one can make against the modernist assault on food.

Food once held transcendental meaning. Have you ever seen a boar’s head with an apple in the mouth? This stems from the ancient Germanic culture. In Norse society, custom had it, that a boar would be roast whole at the winter solstice with an apple to trap the flavours inside. The boar’s body would be eaten, and when all was said and done, the apple would be removed. It is said that the Norse would whisper oaths to the Gods for the coming year, their hopes and prayers as well. Does it sound at all familiar? It ought to sound a bit like a primordial New Year’s Resolution. It also sounds like a good reason to pair pork chops with apple sauce, doesn’t it? (Or not. In all honesty, I advocate strict Vegetarianism or flexible Veganism for optimal health. But history is history.)

So before you read any further, walk away from your computer screen. Go and take a stock of what your food culture looks like. Do you have one? What makes it special? What about it contributes to your strength as an individual? As with all things, if it does not contribute to your physical and emotional power, then it detracts. A neutrality exists to be swayed by the positive or the negative, and in today’s world, neutrality is detrimental. It is an open invitation to let modernity in and bring ruin with it. So. Go away, think, and then come back.

Now that you have considered food culture, we might as well talk about the basal benefits of food. Nutrition is a science as old as… science. Pre-literate cultures would have had anecdotal knowledge of herbs and plants alongside how to apply them in food, drink, salve, and so forth. These anecdotes come to us in the form of folk remedies. Consider the written superstitions of the various European cultures, the charms, spells, often called for food. Many of these folkways still have applications today.

The methodology of food had meaning too. Season and purpose affect many a dish. Outside of imagined preference, there are reasons we associate salads with summer and soups with winter. There is also an underlying logic to it all too. As with many things, our wise ancestors simply moved according to instinct and progressive science shows what wisdom their instincts really held.

The metabolism, we know, is a vastly complex mechanism. While it values consistency, it has a long memory, and with the Central Nervous System it fuels and helps regulate with, the metabolism is also adaptable. It functions best when it is treated to consistency. The body is a machine, indeed, the body and its mechanisms are the archetypes by which we subconsciously design machines. So it stands that, like our machines, the body requires consistent and regular tuning.

People make much ado fussing with diets. Since it is such a concern today, here is where I will begin again. Diets do not matter so much as the mind-body connection does. I would argue that, based on credible and available research, a flexible vegetarian diet is probably best. One can derive all necessary nutrients from such a diet.

The building blocks of a good nutritional programme derive from: amino acids, which formulate all other macronutrients, as well as various vitamins and minerals (vitamins and minerals are often called micronutrients). The division between micro and macro nutrients refers to caloric density. Macro-nutrients are calorically dense, they can regulate body functions as well as assist in general body composition changes. The most important macro-nutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Some add fibre, but fibre is a complex carbohydrate, according to convention. Micro-nutrients, so-called, are more stimulant than anything else. In that their consumption can inspire certain effects on the body, but they do not carry the same caloric density of the macro. We’ll begin with macro-nutrients.

Protein, obviously, fuels muscle, organ and tissue development and regeneration. Protein assists in cognitive stability, to a degree. Protein is best absorbed as a support nutrient, thus allowing protein to follow its natural course as a regenerative macro-nutrient. Protein can be utilised by the body to support caloric requirements, however, this is a waste of protein. When the body absorbs protein as an energy source for motion and activity, this is normally due to a lack of other, more suitable fuel sources. It is best to draw energy from fats or carbohydrates. Protein is a complex cellular arrangement of amino acids. However, these are not any freeform aminos; protein is formed in bulk by essential amino acids. These include, among others, lysine, leucine, and iso-leucine. All food sources contain some essential amino acids, but the body must have a certain ratio of them in order to perform muscle synthesis.

This is where the concerns of most vegetarians and vegans begin. Meat consumption presents the illusion of an easy way out. However, modern science is beginning to show that a balanced diet of vegetables, legumes, and if your preferences allow, dairy, will endow you with the requisite aminos. We are told that the amino acid ration must be fulfilled inside an hour for proper absorption. While there is merit to this, we also know that the body can hold incomplete proteins for long enough that if one consumes a healthy diet, they will maintain good health.

Legumes – beans, lentils and so forth – present the most complete vegetarian protein complexes. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and leafy greens like spinach, provide excellent support proteins. Moreover, there are other viable protein sources which equal or supercede the values of meat. Such substances include quorn (mycoprotein,) seitan (vital wheat gluten,) tempeh (soybean loaf) and tofu (fermented, pressed soybean curd.)

An example of a complete protein pairing is rice and beans, or beans and lentils. Peas, incidentally, in addition to boasting high protein synthesis, constitute an adequate amino acid ratio. Protein should be consumed with every meal for consistent tissue and muscle repair. If you are an active person, then you benefit from consuming a light protein before bed. Tissue regeneration and production occurs largely during the sleep process, which is why pre-bed protein is beneficial. Caseinate protein is the best option for sleep repair, in that casein digests slowly as it clots in the belly and is chipped away over the course of several hours. In this way, one can stave off the potentially catabolic effects of sleep. If you are a sedentary person, your body will likely resort to your caloric surplus during nightfall and you will not need additional protein calories.

If you are a dairy user, then cottage cheese is an excellent source of casein. Milk, technically, is a caseinate as well, however there is a large body of controversy regarding the beneficial nature of milk for general consumption. If your constitution and ethics allow, dairy can be a clean source of protein, but it is certainly not for everyone. There are, for those who are fiscally endowed, supplemental protein powders exclusively designed for Vegans. These vegetable based supplements are easy on the gut and contain a full amino acid profile, being plant-based and thereby endowed with fibre, their digestion rate is naturally slow. For your leisure, my wife occasionally uses a protein blend called Orgain, and we have both been happy with a product called “Raw Fusion.”

Now onto fats. They are not fat, per se. Fat is the primo vera source of energy for the body. Fat helps to lubricate the brain, as well as regulate the hormonal environment of the body. Much ado has been made to daemonise fats. Fat, however, is grossly misunderstood. First of all, dietary fat is not (necessarily) the jiggly, stinking mass of congealed, sopping play-doh looking stuff that gets shaved off the side of the dead meat sac. Fat comes from oils, often. It forms a viscous gel and will either liquefy, or solidify with changing temperature. There are multiple kinds of fat. Obviously plant based fats are best. These are generally called unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are not overly harmful to the active, but sedentary persons ought to avoid saturated fats because of the potential chemical exchange. An active metabolism is conditioned to chew through fat for energy, but in sedentary persons, saturated fats can lie dormant, and their cellular chains can become tangled, causing hormonal disruptions. There are also transsaturated fats. Avoid them.

Healthy sources of far include, but are not limited to: nuts, avocadoes, and yucca root. Fats can be found in vegetables that have a wet, slick texture when cut. This is a good method of telling the fat content. Fats are a good source of energy, in that if they are burned for fuel upon consumption, then they do not metabolise into bodily fat stores. It is therefore best to eat fats before heavy activity.

Carbohydrates. Another grossly misunderstood macronutrient. Carbs are not the Devil’s work. Ignorance is. Carbohydrates are the simplest of the macronutrients. They do not have as much auxiliary function as the other macros, and as such, they contribute largely to energy. Blunt, basic energy. The exception is fibre, which is a gross substance that is complex to the point that the digestive tract cannot fully break it down; it thereby lends bulk to stool and aids in the elimination of waste. Carbohydrates supply your brain with glycogen. Glycogen is a complex sugar-like substance which is the fuel most utilised by the brain.

Recent scientific developments have shown that chronic dieters, habitual under-eaters, can experience a form of brain damage. This is due to the consistent lack of available glycogen. Having myself once been in a glycogen depressed state for extended times, I can vouchsafe the negative effects. To couch the phraseology, in terms of blood sugar and insulin response, a well-stocked glycogen tank is what gives you your chemical wellbeing. It buffers stress hormones, to an extent. When you lose glycogen, your body can become limp and your mind will feel ‘disconnected.’

There are simple and complex carbohydrates. Dense, fibrous vegetables, roots and legumes provide complex carbs. Liquid sugars, and some fruits, provide simple carbs. The division of terms lies with the rate of absorption, or how quickly your body can extract glycogen from a substance. You might think that a simple carb is good because it shuffles brain-juice faster, but the caveat is that your brain will consume it about as quickly. This is why if you eat a simple carb, it should be buffered with something substantial. Or simply avoid simple carbs.

Whatever your body does not utilise for glycogen production, it stores as mass. This is where the major confusion regarding the almighty carb has come from. In sedentary persons who do not deplete glycogen as quickly, mass retention is an obvious consequence. For active persons, carbohydrates pose little concern. Their sourcing does, however. One is wise to be cautious when considering the consumption of grain-based products. I say this not as an advocate for the ‘paleo-diet’ but as one wary of food production methods. Breads, especially, utilise cheap fillers. They can be rough on the digestive tract, especially items that have been bleached or processed. The least amount of process a carb undergoes, the best. Rice, potatoes, squash are all excellent sources of blunt carbohydrate. All fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates in nature, though some, like broccoli, boast respectable protein and amino acid profiles.

For further research, there is something called the glycaemic index. This is a chart which lists food itesm in order of digestibility. All foods have a glycaemic index. As a general rule, though, carbohydrates, due to their absorption as glycogen, have the biggest impact on the index. By understanding the glycaemic index, you will be able to manipulate to a degree, the stability of your blood sugar.

Modern research seems to indicate that internal toxicity, free radicals, processed toxins, et cetera, contribute mostly to aging. Therefore it is best to choose foods which prompt a hormonal balance and excites the elimination of waste. Waste retention, as a sidenote, grossly harms the body. This is why it is vital to ensure the regularity of the digestive tract. Because your body has various receptors in many systems, the presence of toxins in the body invite reabsorption.

Onto micronutrients – vitamins and minerals. There are many kinds of vitamins, and each type as a different purpose. Each type has to be taken in moderation, as there are potential contraindications for both vitamins and minerals. For example: Vitamin B, in its different forms, bolsters carbohydrate absorption and sensitivity. Overdose on it, and you can cause your insulin levels to fluctuate, which can mess with your head.

Where it concerns food, my favourite topic to discuss is spice. Spice is an art that’s been largely lost on modernity. In their day, virtually every spice you’ll encounter in a good pantry had a heyday as a miracle medicine. Turmeric, that yellow powder that you know Indians put in everything, has mild anti-inflammatory properties. Cayenne pepper also has anti-inflammatory functions, along with virtually every other substance containing capsaicin. Capsaicin is what makes hot food, well, hot. It is also an excellent detoxifier. The extra heat encourages blood flow and vaso-dilation. The added bonus of this is that with the superior blood flow, comes better waste expulsion. Don’t be surprised if it makes your sweat stink. A great way of getting capsaicin is to leave the seeds to your peppers intact when you cook them, as this distributes the hot oils throughout your food. Parsley has been known to encourage free testosterone production. Garlic has been said to act as a cortisol inhibitor. The polyphenols from beet juice provide the body with an excellent nitrate source.

And so forth. The potential applications from a varied, organic diet are as close to endless as you can get. Ginger has been long known as a stomach remedy, along with mint. The effect cinnamon has on the metabolism is considerable, in that it has been shown to act as a metabolic exciter. Ginseng has been known to increase libido and balance testosterone and oestrogen.

The long and short of it is, in fact, with a well-balanced diet, the average man, woman, child and goldfish can put the pharmaceutical business on its head. The body is an amazing organism. With the adoption of adaptogens in the body from a good, whole-foods diet one can begin to improve their wellbeing from the central nervous system up. Diet, when combined with therapeutic exercise, is a cornerstone toward creating a physically superior human.

There is research which suggests the manner in which you eat, and even the effects of flavour, scent and perception of food, impact your wellbeing. For instance, the scent of certain foods has been shown to have effects on the brain that anticipate consumption. Chocolate, a well-known stimulant and aphrodisiac, has proven that by inhaling the scent thereof, one can begin to glean nervous system calming effects. The same goes for essential-oil bearing plants such as mint. This should not be a surprise, given that the skin is a sense-organ. Thus, receptivity to olfactory sense is bound to affect us.

It should also encourage us to adopt hygienic living spaces, as well, and to put some effort into creating inviting living spaces.

That considered, the way you prepare your food effects things, too. For instance, no matter how strapped for time you think you are, food tastes better when you prepare it. It tastes best when you know where it was grown, and you prepared it yourself. When you prepare meals from ingredients freshly processed, your food will taste better, sure, but the health benefits are also better. The minute a vegetable is split from the stem, it begins to degrade. The minute a chicken egg shell is cracked, the vitamin content begins to break down.

Our ancestors ate a diet that was pretty simple. Stews and soups were a convenience staple, but there’s something to it. They ate basic grains – oats, barley and rice when they encountered it. Meat was consumed sparingly, and if necessity hadn’t made food scarce, there is a legitimate reason to question if they’d have eaten meat much at all. Our ancestral diet was not “raw,” it included a lot of soft, and boiled foods, like porridges and cereals. These things are palatable and easily digestible. These were winter foods, of course. In the summer, we would have eaten our fruits and vegetables.

Granted, while we don’t have to eat exactly as they did, there is the argument to be made that we mirror, to an extent, our forebears. Our digestive tracts do, too. One of the greatest maladies suffered by the modern European is issues within the gut. More-so in the Colonial European lands where multiculturalism flourished the earliest. It is in these places where the continuity of an ancestrally styled diet were disrupted first. Consider, in the U.S. blank in 10 Americans will have suffered from constipation or diarrhoea. It isn’t just the food choice, it’s the food preparation.

Onto diets. I made a swing at diets earlier, I would like to deliver my chokehold now. Diets in and of themselves are overrated. They prey on low-information consumers who want to be spoon-fed assurances. Let me assure you: diets, in the way of a personalised nutritional strategy, can work. What works is the mechanism. A good diet encapsulates lifestyle. Be wary of any ‘programme’ promising you a three week tenure. Communism was a time-share programme. The metabolism works best with consistency. While it is true that you might need to occasionally boost, or revamp your metabolism, you will find that your body will respond most efficiently when the metabolism is trained. Just like with a muscle. Or anything for that matter.

I prefer Vegetarian and Vegan lifestyles more than carnivorous ones. There are plenty of reasons why, and certainly they have all been discussed. But to be blunt, the chief reason, subtracting any ethical concern, is that of waste elimination. Your body processes vegetable matter far more quickly and efficiently than it does meat. Dairy is another matter, but for those with the enzymes for it, it is nevertheless less toxic than flesh consumption. Moreover, with the unraveling of contemporary dietetic science, we are finding that meat-eaters have less free testosterone production than vegetarians and vegans. This could simply be by way of meat process: a lot of production meat is abused before the slaughter, the transference of acids from adrenal release into muscle fibre could have a cortisol stimulating effect on flesh-eaters. Or it may simply be that mankind adapted to eat meat, but was never designed to, much in the way the European evolved special enzymes to process dairy, but did not evolve to.

So, that being said, Plant-Head, Meat-Head or otherwise, be consistent. Try to space your meal-times consistently, daily. If you have breakfast at 0530, try to ensure there is a ten minute window each day. Don’t have it at 5 on Monday and 7 on Tuesday. The metabolism has its own memory, if it suspects it will receive fuel at X time, it will run accordingly. If you fuel your body erratically, it will operate erratically in response.

For myself, I have found this pattern to work the best. I eat breakfast at five thirty, I have a couple of snacks before lunch at 1130-12. The intake up until lunch is light. Just enough to keep the engines running hot, but not enough to slow them down. I allow myself a heavier supper to get my macronutrients and have a caloric surplus to build from overnight, when the whole tissue repair happens. Admittedly, on heavy weight training days I eat more. Usually I use a protein supplement, then, simply because I don’t want a lot of bulk for my intestines to process.

That’s another thing. If you can, smaller portions that are calorically and nutritionally dense and rich are better. Overtaxing your digestive tract is never a fun thing, as it can result in its own kind of fatigue. Furthermore, a risk bodybuilders and powerlifters run, with the heavy handed calories they have to take in to maintain their regimens, is that of developing insulin resistance. Not cool beans. Although, to be fair, their preferred method of intake can be questioned.

Another thing I want to tackle before I begin to wrap this up, is the question of a calorie. Nobody really spends an adequate amount of time reasoning through the calorie haze logically, as a result crazy ideas abound. Some desperate, a good Mainer would say. Some desperate; the times are desperate, so are the people. First of all. A calorie is a unit of heat. Scientifically, a calorie is a measurement for the amount of heat produced by the body in conjunction with vital function. You burn calories when you engage in activity. You absorb calories when you consume food. Calories in, calories out. Your body burns calories regardless of your activity. What changes is the rate of burn. Your “basal rate” is the rate per hour at which you burn calories. Engaging in activity increases this rate.

You must have a sufficient number of calories to maintain proper health. Stronger persons typically require more calories. Active people require more calories. One of the major misconceptions people have is that calories, like carbohydrates, make people fat. Not necessarily true. A sedentary lifestyle, coupled with high calories, may lead to excess fat gain. However, more often, it is the source of calories that is a concern. Foods that disrupt the endocrine system, that is, senselessly rich foods or heavily processed goods are likely culprits.

A little discussed aspect of diet is the thermic exchange. This refers to the amount of energy required to process calories. If you were to place, for example, 400kcal of lollipops beside 400kcal of broccoli, they are not calorically equivalent, despite the surface number. The broccoli, being densely fibrous, requires far more metabolic push to absorb. Also, because the broccoli is composed of complex atomic strings, your body utilises a great deal of the substance for various functions. Now, the lollipops being base sucrose, will absorb as glycogen, the rest as simple carb, and whatever is left, is stored in the pancreas to be metabolised as fat. What your body cannot utilise, it will save. Thus, those who have highly functional diets will experience a metabolic boost. “empty” calories contribute to weight gain more than anything else. (As a side note, I do *not* recommend consuming 400kcal of broccoli in one sitting; it will only result in feeling like you’re going to slip a lumbar disk on your next bathroom trip.)

My wife, as an example, lost a substantial amount of weight after she began to model her diet after mine. Simply by increasing her volume of nutrient-dense foods, and putting her mealtimes on a predictable schedule, she shed (I don’t know how many) pounds in a stack of months. She has not added any strenuous exercise, and certainly does not emulate my weight training regimen in any way. That, I add as a point of reference, illustrates the power of a conditioned metabolism.

That said, recreational activities, combined with a logical diet, produce the best results. The synergy helps to balance hormones, and it helps ward off disease. It creates a positive balance in the body where calories promote nutrient health and vital regeneration, and where exercise promotes calories out via expulsion of waste. (By the by, ‘waste’ can refer to dead tissue, as well as digested food. The body sheds base material like a skin when it becomes unwanted.)

So rather than count calories, count macros. Aim to consume nutrient dense material. Worry less about numbers. Engage in recreational activity. My bias is for weight training, but any kind of therapeutic activity is wonderful; swimming, hiking, hell, pogo-sticking. Whatever floats your boat or sinks your dinghy.

The final analysis is, if you take care of your body, and take care of it in a way nature has intended or developed, then it will take care of you. Do thisand you will not need some ridiculous fad diet. All the Dr. Oz’s, Dr. Phils and whoever else will not provide you with the answers that a sound connection with your body will not.

Hopefully some of this has demystified some of the concerns around food, and perhaps convinced you that health is easily within your grasp. Once you achieve a sound routine, it really is easy. Take it from me, I’ve been on more sides of the dietary fence than I care to admit. Now is the time to seize your health and chase the overman.

How Low-Fat Foods Actually Made America Fat

In the second edition of the USDA’s Dietary Goals for the United States, published in 1977, Americans were advised to limit their intake of fats, substituting their regular fat sources (meat, butter) for complex carbohydrates and manufactured substitutes (margarine).

And just as low-fat, fat-free and “lite” products began cluttering grocery shelves with their fat-less promises and shiny packaging tempting grocery shoppers to pick the skinnier, chicer lifestyle purchase, obesity rates began to grow and eventually soar in the United States.

Avoiding fats has made America even fatter than before.

The percentage of Americans who are obese has been steadily increasing since the low-fat campaign began in the 1970s. (image: National Institutes of Health)

“The 40-year-old campaign to create low- and nonfat versions of traditional foods has been a failure: We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products. Why? Because removing the fat from the foods doesn’t necessarily make them nonfattening. Carbohydrates can also make you fat, and many low- and nonfat foods boost the sugars to make up for the loss of flavor,” Michal Pollan explains in Food Rules. “By demonizing one nutrient—fat—we inevitably give a free pass to another, supposedly ‘good,’ nutrient—carbohydrates in this case—and then proceed to eat too much of them instead.

Since the low-fat campaign began in the late 1970s, Americans have actually been eating more than 500 additional calories per day, most of them in the form of refined carbohydrates like sugar. The result: The average man is 17 pounds heavier and the average woman 19 pounds heavier than in the late 1970s. The takeaway here is that you’re better off eating the real thing in moderation than bingeing on lite products packed with sugars and salt.

2015 study conducted by American and British doctors concludes that the dietary fat recommendations introduced to 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens in the late 1970s and early ’80s were completely unsubstantiated by clinical trials. As a result, “clinicians may be more questioning of dietary guidelines, less accepting of low-fat advice (concomitantly high carbohydrate) and more engaged in nutritional discussions about the role of food in health.”

The spread of the low-fat myth

Intuitively, or at least to those not versed in nutrition and medical science, eating less fat to be less fat may add up. And when politicians and the media perpetuate this myth, one can see how easy it is to buy into. When low-fat snacks are sitting next to traditional packaged cookies on the shelf, just feet away from the aisle-cap magazine boasting the newest tricks to eat less fat, what are Americans going to buy?

In the February 2008 article “How the Ideology of Low Fat Conquered America,” published in Oxford’s Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, scientist Ann F. La Berge points to popular 20th-century magazines like Prevention, Family Circle and the now-defunct Ladies’ Home Journal, as well as the New York Times, for popularizing the half-baked science that low-fat foods were the solution to America’s weighty woes. Combine the ever-steady stream of articles on how to eat less fat with clever marketing, and tasty products like Snackwell’s line of low-fat baked goods, and it’s easy to see how America ate into the myth.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, we have reduced fat in our diet from 43 percent to 33 percent of calories, yet “we are sicker than ever,” he writes. Higher rates of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, which has increased 700 percent since the 1980s, plague Americans, and yes, our diet is to blame.

Even the Harvard School of Public Health, which says that the “evidence just isn’t there” when it comes to low-fat diets being the key to good health and weight loss, is ready to end the low-fat myth.

“Carefully conducted clinical trials have found that following a low-fat diet does not make it any easier to lose weight than following a moderate- or high-fat diet,” an HSPH article states. In addition to the low-fat diet trend spiking a 30-year high in obesity rates, researchers have found that low-fat diets offer no benefits when to comes to disease prevention. Rumors that low-fat diets can help prevent illnesses like breast cancer have been scientifically dispelled.

Should we avoid food products with the words ‘lite,’ ‘low-fat’ or ‘nonfat’ in their names?

“Generally any foods with a dietary claim on them are generally misleading and should be avoided,” said culinary nutritionist Tricia Williams, of Food Matters NYC. “Stick to foods that are as close to they are found in nature and not packaged or processed.” Foods marketed as low-fat are traditionally foods found in nature that are then, “stripped of their healthy fats,” Williams said. Skim milk, for example, is a natural ingredient that has its fats removed to sound more appealing to the weight-conscious customer.

“Low-fat foods are not healthy for you. Most people that stick to a low-fat diet gain weight because they end up going heavier on carbs,” Williams warned, noting the correlation between the low-fat diet craze and the obesity epidemic. Don’t forget: When fat was taken out of foods it was replaced by sugar and carbs to add flavor.

Look at it this way. A single Oreo cookie has 40 calories, 16 of which are from fat, as well as 7 grams of carbs and 3.3 grams of sugar. A single Snackwell’s Devil’s Food cookie (which does weigh .6 oz to Oreo’s .3, but still, it is a single cookie), has 50 calories, and though there’s no fat, the cookie has 12 grams of carbs and 7 grams of sugar. To market a cookie that has more than twice as much sugar as two Oreos as a health food, is misleading.

If you are trying to cut back on fat, consider foods that are naturally low in fat, rather than mechanically re-created to be low-fat. The American Cancer Society defines a low-fat food as one in which 30 percent or less of the calories in the food come from fat, i.e., a food like a 65 calorie apple, which has .2 grams of fat in it, is considered naturally low-fat.

The healthiest diet in the world, the Mediterranean diet, however, is not packed with naturally low-fat treats and snacks with their fat removed, but rather rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts, some of which contain healthy fats. Long touted as the best diet for longevity and health, the Mediterranean diet has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent type 2 diabetes, and yes, help with weight loss, even though olive oil, meats, seafood and other naturally fatty foods are staples in this diet.

Next time you think that eating fat will make you fat, think again. We have been conditioned to think about health and nutrition with certain terms and labels, but moving beyond what the mass of American eaters has accepted as truth for too long is essential to our health.

Melissa Kravitz is a writer in New York City who writes about food and culture for First We Feast, Thrillist, Elite Daily, Edible, and other publications.

Whole Foods Is Closing Nine Stores After a Year of Sluggish Sales

Whole Foods Market (WFM, -2.59%) on Wednesday said it is closing some stores and increasing use of customer data to improve results after cutting its full-year sales and profit forecasts after posting its sixth straight quarter of same-store sales declines.

Shares in the organic and natural food grocer were down 2.1% in extended trading.

“We’re examining every aspect of our retail operations,” Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey, who recently resumed the role of sole chief executive officer after the departure of co-CEO Walter Robb, said on a conference call with analysts.

Whole Foods has been battling intense competition from rivals that include Kroger Co and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT, +1.38%), as well as new competitors such as Amazon.com (AMZN, +0.89%) and meal kit provider Blue Apron.

The company has been lowering prices and experimenting with its value-oriented 365 by WholeFoods Market chain, as it tries to shed its unflattering ” Whole Paycheck” nickname.

Mackey said the company is “doubling down” on its most loyal customers, continue to lower prices and taking other steps to improve profitability and efficiency.

“What has become clear is that we don’t want to compete in a ‘race to the bottom’ as consumers have ever increasing choices for how much and where they shop,” Mackey said.

Whole Foods has closed one commissary kitchen and will be closing nine stores and the company’s last two remaining commissary kitchens in the current quarter. It also terminated two leases.

Mackey said the majority of the stores slated for closure were smaller, older acquisitions and that shuttering them should improve results.

Whole Foods also is teaming up with dunnhumby, a private, wholly owned consumer data subsidiary of Tesco (TSCDY, +2.19%), in a bid to catch up with Kroger (KR, -0.73%) and other rivals that already use such information to improve merchandising and personalize offers to loyal customers.

The organic and natural food grocer on Wednesday said same-store sales fell a sharper-than-expected 2.4% in the fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 15, the sixth straight quarterly drop. That decline accelerated to 3.2% for the current second quarter through Feb. 5.

Whole Foods it expects sales for the year to rise 1.5% or greater, compared with its previous forecast of growth of 2.5% to 4.5%.

It also cut its profit forecast for the year to $1.33 per share or greater, from its previous view of $1.42 or greater.

First-quarter revenue rose 1.9% to $4.92 billion from a year earlier.

Net income fell to $95 million, or 30 cents per share, from $157 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company said it incurred a charge of about 9 cents per share in the quarter, related to Robb’s separation agreement and store closures. It expects to incur an additional charge related to the closures of about 6 cents per share in the current quarter.

Can Diet Sodas Actually Make You Gain Weight?

If you’re trying to lose weight, choosing diet soda over regular soda might seem like a good idea. You get a caffeine kick and a sweet, bubbly taste similar to the real deal, only without the sugar and calories. But while zero calories sounds a lot better than the 150 calories from a can of regular Coke, several studies have found that artificially sweetened sodas might actually lead to something you were trying to avoid: weight gain.

Although aspartame, sucralose, saccharin and other artificial sweeteners are FDA-approved, and the National Cancer Institute and other health agencies say they are generally safe in limited qualities, recent studies might make you think twice before drinking your next diet soda.

A study published in PLOS ONE in November 2016 tracked the body measurements and diets of 1454 participants (741 men, 713 women) in the U.S. over the course of 28 years, with a median followup of 10 years. The results showed that low-calorie sweetener users tend to have a higher average body mass index, a 2.6-centimeter larger waist circumference and a 53 percent higher incidence of abdominal obesity compared to participants who never reported using low-calorie sweetener.

Similarly, a 2008 study monitored the weights of 3,682 individuals for 7-8 years. After ruling out factors such as diet, exercise or diabetes status that might skew the data, the researchers determined that drinking artificially sweetened beverages (versus none) was associated with an almost doubled risk of being overweight or obese.

So why might diet soda cause weight gain? One reason is that even though artificial sweeteners are hundreds or even thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar, your brain is no fool.

“Some studies show that sugar and artificial sweeteners affect the brain in different ways,” writes Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Case in point: In a 2008 UC San Diego study, researchers scanned the brains of volunteers who sipped water sweetened with sugar as well as water sweetened with sucralose, the zero-calorie artificial sweetener you’ll find in Splenda. The resulting MRI scans showed that the brain can distinguish between the calories from the non-caloric sweetener, although the conscious mind could not. As the authors of the study suggested, sucralose “may not fully satisfy a desire for natural caloric sweet ingestion.” Thus, artificial sweeteners might cause you to crave or consume more sugary foods, which tend to have more calories.

One of the most convincing arguments is the psychological factor. When I posed the question, “Do you think diet soda causes weight gain?” to my Diet Coke-loving friend, she admitted that the word “diet” might make diet soda drinkers feel like they can have a treat later.

“The same can be said for exercise. It’s not that exercise does not burn calories. People reward themselves for exercising by overeating,” she said, adding that “diet foods in general can be less satisfying, which may cause cravings for more food.”

A 2010 study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine concluded that “artificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.”

There are a number of other explanations for the diet soda/weight gain enigma, as Sharon Fowler, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, explained to the Washington Post.

Besides thinking they have “extra permission [to eat],” soda drinkers might be altering our all-important gut bacteria, Flower noted. A 2014 study of mice found that sweeteners and/or the acid in diet soda may impact gut flora, which may lead to obesity and related ailments such as diabetes.

Of course, there is no definitive scientific proof that artificial sweeteners cause weight gain. I must note that aforementioned studies only show correlation, not causation. In fact, there are numerous diet soda studies that have conflicting results in which the beverage actually reduces the intake of calories and promotes weight loss or maintenance.

The American Beverage Association said in a statement to the Washington Post that “previous research, including human clinical trials, supports that diet beverages are an effective tool as part of an overall weight management plan. Numerous studies have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of diet beverages—as well as low calorie sweeteners, which are in thousands of foods and beverages—in helping to reduce calorie intake.”

While we should be wary of the source—the American Beverage Association is in the business of promoting soda-drinking—James Hamblin, a senior editor at The Atlantic, also acknowledged this point in an article where he argued that “artificial sweeteners probably don’t cause weight gain, when used strategically.”

“The conclusion lands in support of artificial sweeteners in the right context, specifically when they are substituted for sugar,” Hamblin wrote, citing a 2014 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition meta-analysis. “People tend to see ‘modest weight loss,’ suggesting that low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs) indeed ‘may be a useful dietary tool to improve compliance with weight-loss or weight-maintenance plans.'”

Ultimately, the science is not settled. Nevertheless, sales of the most popular diet soda brands such as Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi have slumped year after year.

Consumers are increasingly wary of the purported health risks linked to the controversial sweetener aspartame as well as diet soda’s “unintended boomerang effect on appetite,” according to U.S. News. Consumers are switching to bottled water or healthier drinks such as tea and fruit or vegetable juices instead.

“There’s plenty of scientific evidence suggesting that artificial sweeteners are linked to weight gain, not weight loss,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know, a consumer group. “So how can Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi be advertised as ‘diet’ products?”

In 2015, U.S. Right to Know asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for falsely advertising “Diet Coke” and “Diet Pepsi” as “diet” drinks. The FTC and FDA declined to act on the requests.

So what should a diet soda aficionado do in the face of all this bad press?

The best alternative is to take matters into your own hands and DIY. Get one of those home soda makers that are all the rage (there are several good models on the market) or keep a few bottles of sparkling water in the fridge. Then add a splash of grape juice, a few drops of vanilla, a sprig of mint, or use a more exotic recipe, and you’ll have a glass of low-calorie bubbly goodness without any nasty chemicals, caramel coloring or artificial sweetener.

Starbucks Pledges to Hire Refugees, Instantly Hit With Nasty Boycott

President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries for 90 days has caused a lot of outcry in liberal circles.

In response to the order, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, announced that his company would work to hire 10,000 refugees, Fortune reported.

Almost as soon as the news was reported, the hashtag “Boycott Starbucks” started trending across all major social media platforms as very angry Americans expressed their outrage that Starbucks would decide to hire refugees over Americans looking for work.

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“While Trump is creating jobs for struggling Americans, the left is cheering Starbucks for giving 10,000 to refugees,” tweeted one user.

While Trump is creating jobs for struggling Americans, the left is cheering Starbucks for giving 10,000 to refugees.

In the statement posted on the Starbucks website, Schultz promised to first hire refugees who had helped the U.S. military overseas.

“And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support,” the statement read.

It should be noted that the announcement stated that Starbucks would hire 10,000 refugees “over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business,” which could indicate that not all the 10,000 will be employed in America.

Starbucks wasn’t the only large company that publicly disagreed with Trump’s order. Facebook, Apple, Netflix and other major corporations also announced their discontent. 

In any case, what Starbucks did was nothing more than a lame PR stunt to pander to their left-leaning customer base, and just like their other publicity stunts, this one has backfired.

It is unclear how much this boycott will impact Starbucks’ bottom line, or if it will be enough to get corporation to change policy.

Trump is imposing this temporary ban in order to make sure that anyone we admit into the United States in the future shares our values and isn’t a threat to our people.

If Starbucks can’t seem to understand that, then the company doesn’t deserve our business.

Why France now bans unlimited soda refills

Five years after passing a tax on soft drinks, France now officially bans unlimited refills of sugary drinks across the country.

Aiming to fight obesity, France’s new all-you-can-drink ban is the latest move amidst a growing global trend, as cities and countries try to reduce overconsumption of sweetened drinks. In the United States, however, where several cities have tried to impose soda taxes, such attempts have faced a difficult fight.

“We’re definitely seeing more interest in taxing sugary sweet beverages both in the United States and around the world, as there’s a growing awareness about the health consequences of overconsumption of sugary sweet beverages,” Julie Aoki, the director of healthy eating and active living at the Public Health Law Center in St. Paul, Minn., tells The Christian Science Monitor.

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The new regulation, which was adopted in April 2015 as part of a larger public health law, went into effect on Friday. France has already had a tax on sweetened beverages since 2012. The law intends to further the government’s fight to limit obesity and related problems, particularly among young people.

The mandate states that it will be illegal to sell any drinks with added sugars or sweeteners on an unlimited basis, either for a fixed price or for free. In addition to soda, some other affected beverages include flavored non-carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks.

Following the order, soda fountains at school cafeterias, hotels, and restaurants will no longer be available.

A 2014 Eurostat survey shows that 15.3 percent of France’s adults are considered obese, just below the average of 15.9 percent across the European Union as a whole, and much lower than the 36.5 percent obesity rate in the United States.

The new French law, the first of its kind in the world, is in line with the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). In October, the WHO, an agency of the United Nations, urged countries around the world to raise taxes on sugary drinks by 20 percent to reduce their consumption as a way fight obesity and health issues that have been tied to obesity.

Some countries have already implemented similar propositions. Mexico, with one of the highest rates of obese adults in the O.E.C.D., introduced a roughly 10 percent “soda tax” in 2014. Britain, where about 25 percent of the adult population is labeled obese, is introducing a sugary drinks tax in 2018.

Yet, as the popularity of taxing sugary drinks spreads around the world, it has met with much resistance in the United States. Opponents of such laws call them government obtrusion into consumers’ personal choices, and question the effectiveness of these taxes.

In June, when Philadelphia’s City Council gave approval for its 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugared beverages, the American Beverage Association released a statement calling the move “discriminatory and highly unpopular.”

“The tax passed today is a regressive tax that unfairly singles out beverages, including low- and no-calorie choices,” the association said.

In Mexico, at least, the tax may be working to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Researchers identified a 6 percent decrease in the sale of sugary beverages in 2014; by the end of the year, that had grown to 12 percent. Meanwhile, sales of bottled water were up by 4 percent.

In the November 2016 election, four US cities passed new soda taxes (San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., Albany, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., ), bringing the total to seven US cities with a soda tax. Berkeley, Calif., was the first US city to pass a sugary drinks tax in 2014, and a 2016 study showed that consumption of soda fell 21 percent in low-income neighborhoods.