Well, hell. I didn’t mean to spread a contagious round of insomnia with my post about late-night musings regarding the supposed virtues and evils of saturated and unsaturated fats. I forgot that many of you who pop in here at Sagebrush and Serendipity are health conscious and have a genuine interest in nutrition. Smart folks, you.
For the record: I am not a nutritionist. I am just a nerd with a touch of paranoia who was raised by a father with a passion for conspiracy theories. I have no formal education or training in nutrition, I just love to read about all things nutrition. A lot. (I am also growing more and more obsessed with food ways, local foodscapes, what is involved in both individual and community commitments to locavore food ways and systems, food traditions, etc. I don’t think I am exaggerating, either, when I choose the word obsessed.) In fact! Next week I am sitting in on a lecture called Ethics, Economics and Public Policy for the Global and National Food Systems. The title is a bit dry, but the abstract for the lecture is positively sexy. I have circled and starred the date on every available calendar and have invited everyone I work with and A. to join me. OBSESSED.
A few weeks ago, I ran across this post via Pann (with, what looks to be, a yummy recipe to boot!). In the post, Pann links to this post by Michelle S. Michelle’s post gives a lengthy and well-written argument against using canola oil. I always give information like this consideration but I don’t usually change my diet without further investigating claims myself. (Why I trust myself to decipher all of this shit, I don’t know. It is kind of like trusting yourself to drive more than anyone else, I guess.) I take what health columnists in newspapers and magazines write with more than a grain of salt, too. I really think their interpretations of health studies are often questionable at best. Not to mention the original structure and framework of said studies… But maybe I am just being an arrogant snot. It is not unheard of.
Even though Michelle’s post includes a lot of information, she does not include references and that always gives me pause. I still have one foot in the Pool of Academia, after all. To be fair, it would be a lot of work to include all of the references I am sure she has come across. And she has posted this to a blog rather than submitting to a journal, etc.
Nonetheless, Michelle’s post piqued my interest. Her arguments did not appear to be unsound. Just unreferenced. I decided to keep my eyes open for more info and my ears tuned to any mutterings in the nutrition world regarding canola oil.
If you glance over to the right at my “what I am reading” section, you will see I am reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon – for fun! The title of the book caught my eye; I thought the volume might be about traditional foodways in a time of convenience and fast foods. Rather, it is a cookbook with a referenced introduction that challenges conventional nutritional guidelines. I am always up for challenging the status quo, so I snatched it right up. (Also, I am curious about the food choices A.’s little sister, B., and BIL-Twice Removed* make for their son, The Most Darling M. This book appeared to be in line with their thinking.)
Much of what Michelle S. talks about in her post is brought up in this book. Hmmm. Fallon goes into enough detail regarding the different molecular structures of oils and why some are better and some are worse to further convince me to dig through more research on the effects of canola oil in our diets. I like that she didn’t brand anything (other than hydrogenated oils and trans fat) as unequivocally, unconditionally bad. Nutrition and health and environmental factors seem far too nuanced and sophisticated to allow such rigid proclamations. Her arguments and illustrations definitely keep the lay reader in mind, which is both nice and problematic. I like lots of references, casual readers probably do not. But there are enough sources included in the back of the book to get me started on my own little journey toward Dietary Validation.
So, I am not advocating throwing out your canola oil and slathering your naked body in butter. Unless you want to. *devilish grin* I would encourage you to keep your eyes open for solid, well-referenced and rigorously examined information, though. Hopefully without sounding too preachy about it?
I haven’t even started the section about sugar. Shall I post about the next Dietary Crisis I find myself in when I look through all of my cookie recipes?
* A.’s little sister, B. has a child with K. They are not married, and neither are A. and I. Hence why K. and I are in-laws twice removed. I rather like the nickname BIL-Twice Removed.
** Was this the strangest mix of nerdiness and snottiness in one post, or what?