Forks over Knives, Reviewed in an Urban Agriculture Perspective

The premise of Forks over Knives is that a whole foods, plant based diet is the healthiest human diet. The documentary shows compelling examples of people who have reversed cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity by switching their diet. The movie is a must see for everyone, especially doctors and those who are not currently eating a whole foods diet. The movie is relevant to the urban agriculture movement because an increase in whole foods can help people live healthier lives. As a nation this will also help sequester our ballooning health care costs. In places with poor access to fresh food, urban agriculture has to be the solution. If the market cannot support grocery stores with fresh food, people must grow their own and sell it if there is an opportunity.

The example given of Norway’s heart disease decline when the Nazi’s confiscated their beef and dairy cows was very convincing, so I did a little research into the claim. Above is a chart of the dietary change in Norway during WW2. Meat and milk consumption did fall dramatically, but what they did not mention was fish consumption increased 200% and sugar consumption fell 50%. The movie overlooked sugar intake and the role of processed food and treated all animal products as equal1.

forks over Knives image

A large part of urban agriculture is egg laying chickens, which could replace garbage disposals and food going to landfills. Eggs contain vital nutrients such as cholesterol and vitamins, they also are a dense form of energy from a chicken fed table scraps. Forks over Knives does not distinguish between any animal product, so a caged chicken that never stands up throughout its life is treated the same as a pasture raised, bug and vegetable eating chicken. Also, grass fed and grain fed beef is not mentioned in this entire movie. Another product not distinguished between is grass fed and grain fed beef. Grain fed beeves fed antibiotics their whole lives lack omega 3 fatty acids in their diet. The omega 6 fatty acids in this grain fed beef, as well as other oils that are a product of industrial agriculture can cause inflammation leading to weight gain, hypertension, and hormonal imbalances2.

In the movie there is a really cool animation discussing the role casein protein plays in liver tumor growth in lab mice. A sample was fed 20% casein and they saw cancer growth, when the casein was reduced to 5% the tumor size was reversed. What they failed to mention was that mice that were fed no casein died within the year, while the mice with the liver tumors continued to live with the tumors. Connie Diekman, the President of the American Dietetic Association sounds like the epitome of the industrial food system. She recommended skim milk (as well as other food choices), the movie discusses skim milk in another point in the movie because the fat has been removed to increase the protein ratio. The missed point is the increase in lactose as a ratio, meaning skim milk creates more of an insulin spike. Homogenized milk pushes fat molecules through a screen, causing more fat cells that can attach to more insulin like growth hormones. This increase in insulin is more likely to cause diabetes. Non-homogenized milk has less insulin, so there will be less of an insulin spike. Cream and Butter produce a very small insulin spike.

The rise in price in oil and then the eventual rise in price in natural gas will eventually force humans to be more conscious of our energy usage. The agricultural system that will result will have urban food production at its heart. The Midwest will be returned to pasture from tilled fields and forests similar to how Native Americans manages that land. When transportation because more expensive, it will only be efficient to move highly calorie dense foods long distances. I imagine vegetables (that are full of water) to be grown in every house or on small scale farms in the city’s periphery.  The middle of the country will be primarily for intensively grazed cattle.

I think Forks over Knives is a very well made movie, getting people to eat whole foods instead of processed foods will increase health. I think that the meat from fish and herbivores with other whole foods is optimal for human health and performance. Aquaponics systems to raise fish (depending on what they are fed) can be an important part of a whole foods diet. Locally grown vegetables, fish raised in aquaponics systems, and grass fed meats will be the future of the semi-localized food system of the future. Grain production is too energy intensive, environmentally destructive, and the inflammation factor caused from grains will make them a nonexistent part of the food system in the future.

Do you disagree? Tell me why

Watch the documentary

Read the China Study, on which the book was based.



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