Food and Guilt


Every so often, another food craze comes across people I sorta know on twitter or blogs. (“food craze” makes me think of grocery store tabloids telling you pineapples will help you lose your belly fat, and well some of these are about that silly, but some aren’t, at least.)

This article suggests obesity is driven by polyunsaturated fat. I found the graphs about carbs and sugar really striking. US sugar and carb intakes have gone down since ~2000! (edit: maybe; sigh, everything is hard) And obesity continues to rise. I remember in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan hesitates at everyone’s “theories of everything” in food, but then kind of maybe endorses the “omega 3 vs omega 6” theory of everything.

This series A Chemical Hunger suggests obesity is driven by environmental contaminants. Specifically: antibiotics, PFAS, and lithium, though it leaves the door open to others too.

(I’ll feel pretty silly if plastics end up being a big part of it, since I had a semi long running argument with Tati where I was saying that plastic food storage isn’t a problem and she says it is.)

As usual, eat food not too much mostly plants, but … dang, I want to know what’s going on here! I don’t have to be all Soylent-optimized about it, but I want to at least know what direction I’m going, so I can train my feelings accordingly.

Guilt, continued

One big source of guilt is always “the environment; mostly carbon”. I feel stuff like “I should turn the heat down even though it’s less comfortable”. But how big is that impact?

If you believe Scott Alexander, my total yearly carbon can be offset for $240, or captured-and-sequestered for $16k. We can argue about offsets (though those are the “prices for offsets that seem like they’re legit”, not “stupid offsets”) but… for $16k a company can literally put your 16 tons of carbon back in the ground! Is this an (expensive but not prohibitive) hair dryer? (see section V. basically: instead of worrying back and forth about how to manage the guilt, should I stop wasting my time and just remove all the guilt?)

I feel a few responses:

  1. Here is a list of reactions I could have to the question of, say, “should I heat the house to 70 all winter (comfy) or heat it to 68 (uncomfy but definitely livable)?”
    1. Worst: heat to 68
    2. Equally worst: heat to 70, feel guilty
    3. Better: heat to 70 and just buy $320 of carbon capture to completely offset it, don’t feel guilty
    4. Best: heat to 70; don’t feel guilty; separately decide how much I want to fund carbon capture technology
  2. Even if I can’t go from “worst” to “best”, going to “better” might be worthwhile.
  3. If I could pay $240/year and feel guiltless, then that is a hairdryer-level thing I should try. (as a purely self-centered move because it makes my brain work better.) If offsets don’t feel good and I’ll need to spend $16k, then that is maybe not hairdryer-level and not worth trying on a whim. In that case, maybe I should work on my feelings and try to figure out how much I really want to fund this technology or if my money is better spent benefiting the world some other way.

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