Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Vegans aren't going to like this.

The War on Soy: Why the 'Miracle Food' May Be a Health Risk and Environmental Nightmare

By Tara Lohan, AlterNet. Posted November 21, 2009.

Vegetarians aren't the only ones who should be concerned; there's soy in just about everything you eat these days -- including hamburgers, mac 'n cheese and salad dressing.

" . . . soy's glory days may be coming to an end. New research is questioning its health benefits and even pointing out some potential risks. Although definitive evidence may be many years down the road, the American Heart Association has quietly withdrawn its support. And some groups are waging an all-out war, warning that soy can lead to certain kinds of cancers, lowered testosterone levels, and early-onset puberty in girls.

Most of the soy eaten today is also genetically modified, which may pose another set of health risks. The environmental implications of soy production, including massive deforestation, increased use of pesticides and threats to water and soil, are providing more fodder for soy's detractors. . .

A study in the British medical journal Lancet in 1996 warned of the effects of soy in infant formula. The study found babies had levels of isoflavones that were five to 10 times higher than women taking soy supplements for menopause. The effects in girls could be early-onset puberty, obesity, breast and reproductive cancers. Boys could face testicular cancer, undescended testicles and infertility. Additionally, O'Brien says, a 2003 British study conducted by Gideon Lack of St. Mary's Hospital at Imperial College London followed 14,000 children from the womb through age 6 and found that kids who had been given soy formula as infants seemed almost three times as likely to develop a peanut allergy later on."
Doesn't it seem like every week there's some "news" story in which we learn that some previously be-knighted health food item isn't all that healthy after all?- or that in order for health-conscious eaters to enjoy their pristine palatable, little children in Laos have to be forced into back-breaking labor? As a fairly care-free omnivore I read stories like this with some bemusement.

[Sigh.] Folks, it's become manifestly clear that ingesting anything whatsoever is a risky proposition, either nutritionally, or for the global environment.

There is no such thing as any food that is 100% good for you, and 100% guilt-free. If you are one of the "food purity" people who only eats "health food" I've got news for you, and so does Tara Lohan at Alternet.org. Even your SOYBURGERS turn out to have some health risks.

While it's fine and well to be mindful of what you're putting in your body, I think people who think that they're "eating healthy" or eating without guilt are kidding themselves. All food has risks. All food has negative consequences for the environment in some way.

My advice? Enjoy what you eat, knowing full well that it's probably killing you slowly. Some of these health nuts seem to think that eating the right foods will make them fucking immortal.

Personally, I think I'm gonna have tater tots and about ten beers this evening. I may not live forever, but I'm certainly going to enjoy being alive, and eating and drinking what I damn well please. I'm not huge fan of tofu, but I enjoy it once in awhile, especially when it's pressed and fried. My hunch is that from here on out, it might even taste a little better!

2 comments:

John Stoner said...

There's no such thing as zero risk. Risk is a part of life. The question is the relative risk--what's the difference between eating a soyburger and something else?

I think it's probably reasonable to propose that a regular hamburger is riskier than a soyburger, and by the way, contributes substantially more to deforestation.

Downtown Dave said...

Your point about relative risk is well-taken, John. But does a soyburger provide the payoff in deliciousness that a real burger might?

I'm not even some hard core red-meat-a-tarian. Just sayin' . . .

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