Philosophy of Food Fall 2018 Class Notes

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SEP 18: 1

SEP 20: 2

Spending on Food by country

Food Inc Notes

Fed Up!

SEP 25: 3

Gastrpod, "The End of the Calorie"

  • Antoine Lavasier — Guinea pig in coffee urn - we “burn” food chemically. Change in temperature of water the pig is in. 1st “calorimeter”. Axed in French Rev.
  • Later defined by a german scientists (Favre and Silbermann in 1852 or Mayer in 1848) as: Amount of heat energy to raise 1 gram of water by one degree centigrade from 14.5 to 15.5 at sea level.
  • We still use calorimeters......museum of calorimeters also. Visit to contemporary calorimeter. USDA site: Converted walk in cooler. Implication that the woman with the sewing machine “made a mess”?
  • Bomb calorimeter. You burn the food. Segment on how it works.
  • Wilbur Atwater. Atwater values. USDA scientist. “Father of nutrition science” (Nestle likes him.). 4,000 food values. Method...omg. Potental energy (bomb cal value) - excretion = value. 4 cal/gram of carb or protein. 9 calories per gram of fat. (7 alcohol).
  • Recent evidence about variability of calorie values — researchers repeating Atwater research, but using additional measures. David Baer and Bill Rumpler both work at the Food Components and Health Laboratory at the USDA-ARS headquarters, in Beltsville, Maryland. Check out Baer and his colleagues' papers on the difference between the calories on the label and those our bodies can extract for almonds and walnuts.b. “The food is free, but you have carry ...”. 5-6% off on tree nuts, 30% on almonds, 21% walnuts,
  • Richard Wrangham is the author of Catching Fire: How cooking made us human. Harvard medical anthropologist. —
  • First to show that cooking changes food to allow earlier digestion (small intestine) and greater calorie recovery. 30% for starch. Also cooked meat, peanuts. All research on mice (and pythons). Still hard to say what the variation will be for us. Maybe 20-50%, depending upon food.
  • What about heat extrusion, also called Food Extrusion? (Used in cereals.). Industrial food might raise calorie levels relative to atwater values. That's a good thing, right? Or is it? (Note that early digestion means less activity for large intestine.)
  • Digression on Food Extrusion (not in podcast):
  • [1]
  • So, if extrusion damages nutrition, what about pasta? Why doesn't it have a high glycemic index like breakfast cereals?
  • "In pasta products, gluten forms a viscoelastic network that surrounds the starch granules, which restricts swelling and leaching during boiling. Pasta extrusion is known to result in products where the starch is slowly digested and absorbed (59,60). Available data on spaghetti also suggest that this product group is a comparatively rich source of resistant starch (61). The slow-release features of starch in pasta probably relates to the continuous glutenous phase. This not only restricts swelling, but possibly also results in a more gradual release of the starch substrate for enzymatic digestion. Pasta is now generally acknowledged as a low glycemic index food suitable in the diabetic diet. However, it should be noted that canning of pasta importantly increases the enzymic availability of starch, and hence the glycemic response (62).[2]
  • Indivudal variation: age, gender, muscle mass.
  • Sarah Haley — scientist claiming counting calories didn’t work for weight reduction. After second child, big change in metabolism.
  • CALORIES AND THE GUT MICROBIOME - how does microbiome affect calorie processing.
  • Peter Turnbaugh's lab at the University of California, San Francisco, promises "better living through gut microbes." In our conversation with him, we discussed this study on the effects that transplanting gut microbes from lean and obese twins had on the weight of mice. Further examples of the impact of microbes on energy balance can be found in this paper on one woman's weight gain following a fecal transplant, and this paper on how risperidone is associated with altered gut microbiota and weight gain.
  • microbiota creates variation in calorie capture.
  • 36:45. Sarah Hailey comment.
  • CALORIE REPLACEMENTS?
  • Susan B. Roberts is the creator of the satiety-based "iDiet." She has also done extensive research into the accuracy of calorie counts on menu labels. David Ludwig's book, Always Hungry?, also proposes measuring foods based on their satiety score. Adam Drenowksi's Nutrient-Rich Food Index is explained here.
  • They acknowledge that we don’t have a better standard, but other methods might tell us more.
  • DAVID WISHART AND METABOLOMICSDavid Wishart's research group is based at the University of Alberta. You can check out the Human Metabolome Project Database online here. And the Israeli study on personalized nutrition based on individual glycemic responses is available online here.
  • WHY THE CALORIE IS BROKEN
  • We wrote a feature article for Mosaic, the online publication of the Wellcome Trust, to accompany this episode. You can read it online here.
  • THE CHEMICAL DEFINITION OF THE CALORIE
  • In the episode, we say that a calorie is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree centigrade, from 14.5º to 15.5º, at one unit of atmospheric pressure. This is accurate, but it is misleading, because throughout the rest of the episode, we are discussing a different kind of calorie—the kilocalorie, which is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree centigrade. The kilocalorie is the number we see on our food labels and recommended daily allowances, but no one other than chemists actually calls it the kilocalorie. Instead, it has been shortened to "calorie" on labels and in everyday usage. Throughout our episode, we follow common practice by calling a kilocalorie a calorie, but then we mistakenly gave the definition of a true calorie without noting the difference. We apologize for any confusion!
  • The University of Alberta's David Wishart offers us a glimpse of the future, in which truly personalized nutrition advice will evolve from the emerging science of how the chemicals in our bodies interact with all the different chemicals in the food we eat. And Susan Roberts, director of the energy metabolism laboratory at the Tufts USDA nutrition center, suggests an alternative unit as a replacement for the traditional calorie.

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Andrews, Chapters 1 & 2, The Slow Food Story

Chapter 1, "Politics in Search of Pleasure"

(This wasn't assigned for us, but I have these notes to share:)

  • context for slow food: social movements of the 60's and 70's. (Italian counter-culture.)
  • low power radio stations common means: Radio Bra Onde Rosse.
  • politics at Club Tenco, also the pursuit of pleasure.
  • revival of traditional festivals: the singing for eggs (Cante i'euv)
  • 1982 incident: Montalcino Sagra del Tordo (thrush) Mention Arci clubs.
  • in play: Is the pursuit of pleasure through healthy food and culture a capitalist bourgeoisie plot or a fundamental right to be advocated politically?
  • formation of an "Arci Gola" (appetite)
  • projects: Gambero Rosso, wine guides, Osterie d'Italia, guides to osterie.
  • 1986: wine poisoning scandal. McDonalds opens in Rome at Spanish Steps.
  • Slow Food Manifesto
  • parallel movement in US embodied on story of Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse. Pollan also finds sources of these ideas in 1960s US counter-culture.
  • Eco-gastronomy -- (a great sub-field of food study, by the way! cf. Dan Berber, The Third Plate) and the "politics of aesthetics" (only partly in line with Marxism). (So Carlo Petrini is another candidate for Gramsci's authentic intellectual.)
  • Projects: international food exhibitions, then Terra Madre (2004), related movements in Germany (Greens)
  • slow food also has a conservative dimension.

Chapter 2, "The Critique of 'Fast Life'"

  • some key dates: McDonald's in Rome, 1986, incident between the two arci chapters (a moment in which politics and gastronomy interact to great effect!).
  • critique of "productivity culture"; efficiency vs. frenzy; idea that you need to live faster because other things are accelerating (financial trade volume, sale, news cycles, social media posting and communication)
  • critique includes resistance to corporate formations and rationalizations (degradation) of taste. Slow Food is tied to leftist politics, but also has a US upper middle class "face" in the US site. [3]
  • Castell's theory of time-space compression -- capitalism more and more about speed of transactions. circuluation of capital. (on edge of a big discussion about the future of work - piece work is coming back).
  • Counter view of Charles Leadbeater and others: fast culture is the answer, the problem is that we have all of these institutions from the 19th century and earlier slowing us down.
  • Ritzer's "McDonaldization of Society" -- "globalization of nothing" (social forms centrally conceived, centrally controlled and lacking in context).
  • Schlosser, Fast Food Nation:
  • 1970 6 billion on fast food; ("million" in the text is a mistake)
  • 2001 110 billion
  • 2010 200 billion (not in text)
  • British "trolley towns"; American suburbs. globalization of construction and architecture.
  • Petrini on slowness: p. 39 read
  • Slow cities: features of slow cities

SEP 27: 4

Microbiome Movie Notes


Sonnenbergs, C 1, "What is the Microbiota and Why Should I Care?"

  • How the world looks to a microbiologist! "Without microbes humans wouldn't exist, but if we all disappeared, few of them would notice." 10
  • Introduction to the Tube and digestion
  • Microbiota Case against the Western Diet
  • Sets the history of human diet in context. Agriculture already a big change, but then industrial ag / industrial foods
  • Adaptability of M remarkable. Makes us omnivores.
  • Baseline M - cant' be health Western Diet eaters. studies of groups like Hadza -- far more diverse.
  • 19 - Evolved Symbiotic relationship between us and bacteria --
  • types of symbiotic relationship - parasitic, commensal (one party benefits, little or no effect on the other), mutualism.
  • The heart warming story of Tremblaya princeps and Moranella endobia. (21) -- why we should be happy mutualists. Delegation and division of labor might create resiliance.
  • 22-30 - Cultural History and History of Science on Bacteria
  • The Great Stink 1858 London, Miasma theory disproved, Cholera bacterium, not isolated until near end of century. Dr. Robert Koch.
  • 60-70's: Abaigail Salyers: early pioneer, 2008: Human Microbiome Project
  • Contemporary research: gnotobiotic mice. early fecal transplant studies of [Dr. Jeffrey Gordon].

Montgomery, David and anne Bilke, "What Your Microbiome Wants for Dinner" (recommended for Florence Fall 2018)

  • Digestion Basics
  • good introduction to digestion.
  • inverse relation between complexity of the food molecule and how far it continues to contribute to digestion as it moves through the tube.
  • note distinct environments of the tract and their respective "ecologies" - 7 quarts of fluids through small intestine.
  • genomic "division of labor" -- our genes code for 20 enzymes to break down complex carbs but our bacterial guests code for 260 enzymes for that purpose.
  • Microbiota (M) like a pharmacy.
  • Grain Wreck
  • Chemistry of Typical cereal crop seed --
  • Note that you lose the fats in the grain to stabilize it for production purposes. Fats go rancid. Also, white bread is sweet to the taste. Because it's already breaking down into sugars (simpler carbs) even in your mouth.
  • historical point: total carb consumption stable over 20th c US, but types of carbs changed. Whole grains and rate of sugar absorbtion (tracked by "glycemic index")
  • Meat
  • Protein Putrefication (Does this happen alot?) - compounds produced by undigested meat in large intestine interferes with butyrate production -- important for general colonic health. Thinning of bacterial density leaves openning for pathogens and physical damage.
  • High fat diets can lead to higher rates of bile in the large intestine, which it doesn't handle well. secondary bile acids.
  • Needn't be a general health argument against meat, but he acknowledges some legitimate health advantages to a vegetarian diet. Point is that cereal fermentation might be part of the process that helps us tolerate the protein putrefication and excess bile of meat and fat.
  • espouses what I'm calling the "consensus healthy diet" - movement away from industrial processed food.

Philosophical Implications of the Microbiome

  • The Microbiome research we are reading seems to have implications for the following course research questions:
  • 1. What is food?
  • 5. What are the challenges of nutrition science as a field of knowledge and what is the state of knowledge about nutrition, broadly?
  • 6. What is a nutritious diet?
  • 10. How should I critically assess my own food practices in light of my understanding of the nature of food and food culture?
Here are some possible theoretical claims for you to evaluate in terms of their plausibility and their own implications:
  • Your food doesn't just feed you.
  • Your food doesn't just nourish you, it also supplies a pharmacy in your gut. These effects cut across the health spectrum and life span.
  • You exist as a distinct organism, but you cannot survive outside of the symbiotic relationships you have with bacteria and other organisms that call you home.
  • Mental health is influenced by the health of our M.
  • We have co-evolved with our Microbiome.
  • The interic nervous system is an ecology.
  • Some of the requirements of industrial food production are at odds with the requirements of a healthy Microbiome.
  • In small group discussion, consider how information about the Microbiome might change your approach to questions like "What is Food?" Then look over the proposed philosophical implications above. Are they too strong? Warranted? Do you have sceptical doubts about using this research to alter your view of these research questions?

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DEC 13: 23