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The Full Yield Blog

Informed Consent

March 29, 2010 | Tags: Featured , Health | Post comment

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It doesn’t seem useful to call foods good or bad. While those are useful words, they are often heavy with morality and there is already too much shame around eating and weight and health.  How many times have you heard a person say, “I was so good, I ate the salad but not the cake!” or, “I was so bad, I ate the whole bag!”?  If you eat good foods, are you “good”?  If you eat bad foods, are you “bad”?  Absolutely not.  But what you eat does have implications for your health, and your health has a great deal to do with how good you feel and with the quality of your life, day after month after year after decade.

At The Full Yield, we call foods what they are: health-supporting—and health-depleting.  When we’re clear which foods fall into which category, then no matter what we eat, we can at least be clear about the consequences of our food choices to our health and to our lives.

I’ve rarely met a person who voluntarily chooses health-depletion.  On the contrary, almost everyone I’ve ever met wants to feel good and to have good health.  I truly believe that if you give people what they actually need, they will show up to the best of their ability to do so.  Given the evolution of our food supply toward a greater and greater percentage of highly refined foods (along with claims of health on practically everything in a bag or a box) we have lots of reasons to be cynical or discouraged about getting what we need—or about getting accurate and honest information about how to meet our needs.

Once we all know which foods are health-supporting and which are health-depleting, we’ll change public health in big way.  We need to call them out by their consequences so that we can make choices that protect and restore our health:  yours, mine, his, hers, ours, and also the health of future generations (the foods a woman eats during pregnancy and while breastfeeding not only impact her baby’s health but also help determine which foods her baby will recognize as familiar and seek to eat as a child and as an adult).

Am I suggesting that, like tobacco and alcohol and raw dairy products, we need a warning label on all health-depleting foods? Yes.  We are all paying for the consequences—with our health, with our comfort, with our productivity, with our pocketbooks, with our country’s economic viability.  

Will it happen? Not for a long time, if ever.  Like the banking industry, the food industry is too big to fail and its failure would only further fail us.  What we do need is a clear and consistent message for everyone, everywhere, about which foods are health-supporting and which are health-depleting, and better choices for everyone, everywhere.  We need informed consent.

In healthcare, a patient must be informed about the benefits and risks of a procedure in order to be able to make an informed decision.  It’s the law.  Informed consent is required any time a physician is going to touch the patient or perform an invasive procedure; if informed consent is not obtained, the patient has the right to sue for medical malpractice.

Don’t misunderstand me: I am not suggesting we sue the food industry.  But I am suggesting that it’s as important to our health to understand the risks and benefits of the foods we eat as it is to understand medical procedures before we agree to undergo them.

By using the terms health-supporting foods and health-depleting foods, The Full Yield intends to help educate and empower our country’s citizens to make informed eating decisions and thereby to improve public health.  And we will work with any and all organizations whose aim is the same, especially those in the healthcare and food industries. We’re all in this together.

A word about The Full Yield Meals and Snacks: not only is their purchase not a requirement of our program, I’d just as soon no one bought prepared foods at all.  The reality is, half of the money Americans spend on food each year is food prepared outside the home and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  So if, because you are pressed for time or don’t yet know how to prepare your own meals, you need to rely on prepared foods, please look for those which are health-supporting (that is, made with real food, with plenty of fiber, reasonable amounts of salt and sugar, and high quality proteins and fats).    And please know, because of what is available through food service and the supply chain to those of us who manufacture prepared meals, what you can make at home is likely to be of the highest quality possible.

The power rests with you: the better the quality of the food you eat, the more you are supporting your health.  And the better the quality of the food you purchase, the stronger the message to the food industry; they need to know that, if they build it, you will come.   Not for their sake: for yours.