Full Frame explores what we eat, from processed food to dumpster diving

Full Frame

This week on Full Frame, food is on the menu. From “true food” to processed food, from the food we eat, to the food we waste, and the language we use to talk about it, we’ve got a full plate of news.

Whether you eat to live or live to eat, don’t miss this episode featuring experts on nutrition, health, and the food industry. Tune into Full Frame on CCTV America at 6:00 PM EST on January 24. Or watch the live stream of the program here.

Andrew Weil shares the benefits of “true food”

Andrew Weil is well-known physician and a maverick of medicine. Now, he is at the forefront of a restaurant revolution that seeks to combine nutritious food and fine dining.

The Harvard educated doctor’s bestselling books have introduced many to the philosophy of “integrative medicine,” a combination of conventional and alternative medicine that was first popularized by Weil, and has since become somewhat of a phenomenon in the world of health.

A healthy diet is a central aspect of integrative medicine. Weil said that the mainstream American diet, made up of processed and manufactured foods, causes chronic inflammation in the body that can lead to a multitude of diseases.

So he created the anti-inflammatory diet, a reimagined food pyramid which recommends focusing meals on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, oily fish, and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and nuts.

When Weil met restaurateur Sam Fox, the concept for a healthy fine dining restaurant was born. Fox was skeptical at first, but after a home-cooked meal by Weil, he was convinced that healthy food could be delicious.

In October of 2008, the first True Food Kitchen opened in Phoenix, Arizona. The menu is based on the anti-inflammatory diet and draws inspiration from Mediterranean, Asian and Californian cuisine. The enormous success of the Phoenix location prompted Fox and Weil to expand the concept nationally.

On this week’s episode of Full Frame, Mike Walter meets with the holistic health guru at a recently opened True Food Kitchen near Washington, D.C., to discuss the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet – and to get a taste of Weil’s cooking.

Follow Andrew Weil on Twitter: @DrWeil

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The Processed Food Puzzle

Americans eat a lot of processed food: a whopping 70 percent of our diet comes from these chemical-laden, salty, sugary packaged products. While it’s convenient to reach for these ready-made meals, they are not healthy – even if food labels claim they are.

Health consultant Beth Woodard said if people can’t understand the ingredients on a label, they’re bodies won’t be able to either. She advises sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store, stocking up on produce including greens and lean proteins and staying away from the center aisles of processed foods.

The processed food problem isn’t confined to the United States. Michael Roberts, a professor at UCLA School of Law, said the Western diet is being exported to other countries, where foods like soda and chips are becoming increasingly significant parts of people’s diets.

One simple solution is to incorporate more home-cooked meals into a diet. Niki Tehranchi, a chef and founder of EATZ cooking classes in Los Angeles, teaches people how to cook fresh food and encourages them to use their newly-acquired skills in the kitchen to steer clear of processed foods.

In this week’s episode, Full Frame contributor Sandra Hughes investigates misleading food labels and dazzling supermarket displays that leave many consumers confused. She also speaks to an expert about how to avoid the pitfalls of processed foods.

Michael Moss on America’s addiction to salt, sugar, and fat

Bliss point. Mouthfeel. Snackability. These are a few of the words the food industry has coined to describe their products. One word they won’t use? Addictive.

But according to bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Michael Moss, processed foods are addictive — and they were intentionally engineered that way.

In Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Moss reveals how the food industry giants conspired to keep the “family jewels” of salt, sugar, and fat in their products and on the shelves.

It’s these three ingredients that have hooked consumers on processed foods with salt, sugar, and fat that send signals to the reward center of the brain that tell you to eat more. As a result, the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese and 70 pounds of sugar a year, a staggering amount that translates into $1 trillion in sales for the processed food industry.

But the food industry’s gain comes with a serious public health cost. With one in three adults, and one in five children weighing in as clinically obese, the health crisis in the United States is a $300 billion-a-year problem.

Moss is an advocate for transparency and food labeling and information, and he hopes readers will feel empowered by learning the deliberate formulations behind the processed food products they are buying.

Don’t miss this interview with Michael Moss, as he discusses his findings on the food industry with Full Frame’s Mike Walter.

Follow Michael Moss on Twitter: @M_MossC

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Learning the language of food with Dan Jurafsky

Ketchup is a beloved American condiment. It’s the ubiquitous presence on restaurant tables, and the nearly required dressing for hot dogs, hamburgers, and fries. So you might be surprised to discover that a sauce which is often considered distinctly American was originally a fermented fish sauce created in China thousands of years ago.

In The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu, Dan Jurafsky, a linguistics and computer science professor at Stanford University, reveals the fascinating history behind words like “ketchup” and “toast,” the psychology of restaurant menus, and the grammar of cuisine.

Jurafsky and his team reviewed over 6,500 online menus and determined that there are consistent differences in the way that inexpensive and expensive restaurants describe their food. Here’s one example: While inexpensive restaurants use the pronoun “you,” as in “your way,” expensive restaurants are more likely to refer to the chef, as in “chef’s choice.”

They also found a difference in the way that online reviewers talk about cheap, versus fancy, restaurants. The food at the former is more likely to be described with drug terminology — such as: “donuts are like crack” — while the latter lends itself to sexual metaphors — “a seductive crème brûlée”.

Another interesting study revealed that potato chips all tout health food language on the bag, but gourmet chips advertise what’s not there, such as trans-fats and genetically-modified ingredients, while the cheaper chips tell consumers what they contain, such as “real potatoes.”

Join Full Frame for this fascinating look at the relationship between language and food, and learn why some countries call it “tea” and others call it “chai.”

Follow Dan Jurafsky on Twitter: @jurafsky

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Rob Greenfield is Dumpster Diving for Dinner

One man’s trash is another man’s… dinner?

In this week’s Close-Up, we meet Rob Greenfield, an activist who is raising awareness about food waste by rescuing discarded food from grocery store dumpsters across the country.

Dumpster diving began as a way for Greenfield to sustainably feed himself on a bike ride across America. On that first trip, Greenfield estimates that 70 percent of his diet — nearly 280 pounds of food — came from dumpsters.

Last year, Greenfield completed his second coast-to-coast bike ride, during which he ate exclusively from dumpsters for the 1,000-mile, seven-week stretch from Madison, Wisconsin, to New York City. This time, his goal was to show the public how much food is going to waste by hosting “food waste fiascos,” demonstrations where he displayed large bounties of rescued food from dumpsters, enough to ultimately feed more than 500 people.

The demonstrations serve as small-scale examples of the $165 billion in food that goes uneaten every year, while 50 million Americans are food insecure.

Greenfield is the first to admit that some of his lifestyle choices are extreme. In addition to eating from dumpsters, he has spent a year without showering and traveled to Panama and back with nothing but a passport and the clothes on his back. In between adventures, Greenfield lives in a 50-square-foot tiny home in San Diego with just the most basic necessities. He said he doesn’t expect everyone to adopt these tactics, but hopes that he can inspire people to think about small changes they can incorporate into their lives, for their own good as much as for the future of the planet.

Follow Rob Greenfield on Twitter @RobJGreenfield and learn more about his adventures.

Follow Rob Greenfield on Twitter @RobJGreenfield and learn more about his adventures.

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