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tv   Full Frame Food News with Andrew Weil  LINKTV  May 17, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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mike: as the old adage goes, "you are what you eat," from the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet to the "engineering" of addictive snacks to what our food vocabulary says about our culture. food news is on the menu this week. i'm mike walter in los angeles. let's take it full frame. dr. andrew weil is one of
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the world's leading voices on holistic health. he's a graduate of harvard medical school. he's also widely known for establishing the field of integrative medicine. if you don't know already that's the combination of the best tenets of conventional and alternative medicine to create a more holistic treatment plan for patients. dr. weil is the founder and director of the center for integrative medicine at the university of arizona. he's authored 10 books that have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. one of the cornerstones of his philosophy on better health is diet. he's re-created the food pyramid to emphasize anti-inflammatory foods, including organic fruits and vegetables. he's also a fan of seafood and healthy fats. dr. weil believes reducing chronic inflammation within the body can offset many health problems. i recently sat down with dr. andrew weil in washington, d.c. to get his insights on the connection between food and better health and discuss his new role as a restaurateur. let me...
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let me--start off by saying, when i set out to get into my career, i wanted to be a broadcaster. um, i don't think people generally wake up one morning and say, "i want to be a guru," which is what you've become. how do you get from, you know, the kid to where you're sitting here today? weil: well, i think i've really followed my bliss and my truth. uh, i was always a maverick. when i finished my medical studies, i knew that i hadn't learned how to keep people healthy. i thought there was more to medicine than what i'd been taught. and, uh, i began traveling around the world and meeting other kinds of practitioners and thinking, and gradually put together my own blend of--of medical theory and practice that i came to call integrative medicine. and i was just putting out what i thought was right. and, increasingly i got a following in the public. mike: talk to me about that because initially, um, you're just this thinker... weil: yup. mike: and you come up with this concept,
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but then you started to get like a parade of people that came forward and then the books and... weil: right, but interestingly for up through the first decades of my work, i had a larger and larger following in the general public, but none of my medical colleagues paid any attention to me. it was really only in the 1990s when the economics of health care began to sour that medical colleagues and institutions began to pay attention to what i'd been saying. and now, integrative medicine is really becoming a mainstream phenomenon. mike: but there was pushback then; there's still pushback-- weil: there's still pushback and there probably always will be. but, clearly this is the way of the future. this is what people want. they want medicine that's cost-effective, that emphasizes health and healing, that makes use of natural therapies, not just pharmaceutical drugs. and, um, i think what's really driving this movement now is economics because our current health care system is clearly not sustainable, and integrative medicine offers
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the promise of lowering costs while preserving or enhancing outcomes. mike: integrative medicine for those who aren't familiar-- how would you describe-- weil: the short answer is it's the intelligent combination of conventional and alternative medicine, but it's really much more than that. it's medicine that's focused on the body's innate healing mechanisms, that looks at people as whole persons, not just physical bodies, that looks at all aspects of lifestyle, and therefore is really able to offer preventive advice, that values the practitioner-patient relationship, and then, you know, makes use of all available methods of managing disease. mike: breathing, uh, meditation... weil: breathing, dietary adjustment, exercise, uh... taking advantage of the mind-body connection as well as conventional medicine. integrative medicine does not reject conventional medicine. we build on that and enlarge it. mike: you were named by "time" magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005. how did that change your life?
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[weil chuckles] weil: uh, well, you know our society is very celebrity-driven, and um... that cuts both ways in my life. my celebrity has really enabled me to do what i do in academic medicine. you know, i direct a center of excellence at the university of arizona college of medicine, which trains physicians in integrative medicine. i don't think i'd have been able to do that if, you know, i had not had the, uh, celebrity that comes with things like that. mike: and then television appearances? weil: yeah. mike: so now when you go into the airport, people are like "there he is." weil: yes, everybody watches what i eat, for example. ha ha! mike: do you eat bad every once in a while? weil: i'm pretty good. you know, i pretty much follow what i preach. mike: well, speaking of eating we're in an eating establishment. um, it's interesting you say you follow your bliss but somehow you followed into the restaurant business, which i suspect, it was not on your agenda early on.
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how'd that come about? weil: i'm a very good home cook. uh, and over the years, many people who have eaten my food have said, you know, "you ought to open a restaurant." i was smart enough to know that i knew nothing about the restaurant business, and it looked like a very tough business. so i was never tempted by that. but about 7, 8 years ago i was introduced to a very successful restaurateur, sam fox, in arizona, and i proposed to him the concept of a new kind of restaurant that would bring together the worlds of good nutrition and fine dining. he didn't get it. he said, "health food doesn't sell." and i think he thought i meant tofu and sprouts. uh so i invited him and his wife to my home. i cooked for them. he liked the food. his wheels began turning. and he said he was willing to try it, but he was very skeptical. so we opened this first one in phoenix about 6 years ago just as the economy tanked... mike: that's always good. weil: always good! from the moment it opened its doors, it was--it was a stunning success.
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and sam initially said, "well, can't tell anything about a new restaurant because everybody's going to come." but after 6 months, he said he'd never seen anything like this, he'd never had people come up on the street and hug him for opening a restaurant. he'd never had people from all over the country begging him to open one of these. uh, he'd never had a restaurant where people would come in and eat dinner 4 and 5 times a week, the same people. so i think we've hit on a really good concept that people like. and it's been great fun for me. i do not have to do much on the business side. you know, i get to design menus and create recipes and oversee the food philosophy. and that's, for me, the fun part. mike: what about china or spreading outside the united states? weil: actually, we've had requests to open, um, these in canada, in china, in japan, uh in dubai, but i think for the moment, our focus is on the u.s. and, uh, you know, we want to get up to a certain number of restaurants here, but then i would be certainly open
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to looking into foreign markets. mike: let's talk about some of the stuff that you, uh, talk about--chronic inflammation. can you talk to us about what that is and what it can produce? weil: yeah. we all know inflammation on the surface of the body. it's local redness, heat, swelling, and pain in an area that's been injured or under attack. and inflammation is the cornerstone of the body's healing response. it's how the body gets more nourishment and more immune activity to an area that needs it. but inflammation is so powerful. and it's so potentially destructive that it's very important that it stay where it's supposed to stay and end when it's supposed to end. if inflammation persists, if it serves no purpose, it becomes productive of disease. and it now looks--and this is a relatively new idea in medicine, that chronic low-level imperceptible inflammation is the root cause of all of the major diseases of aging--things like cardiovascular disease alzheimer's disease, even cancer. um, and, therefore, containing
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inappropriate inflammation seems to be the best overall strategy for maximum longevity and health. there are a lot of influences on inflammation: uh, genetics, stress, exposure to environmental toxins, but diet has a huge influence. and i think there's no question that the mainstream diet in north america favors inflammation. it gives us the wrong kinds of fats, the wrong kinds of carbohydrates, and not enough of the protective elements that are found mostly in fruits and vegetables and herbs and spices. so i designed about 10, 12 years ago an anti-inflammatory diet. i based it on the mediterranean diet because we have very strong scientific evidence that that's the way of eating that's best correlated with overall general health and longevity. but i tweaked that to make it more powerful by adding asian influences. i've spent a lot of time in asia; i'm familiar with asian ingredients. um, so i've come up with this anti-inflammatory diet and
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anti-inflammatory diet pyramid. and that really is the basis of the menu that's at true food kitchen. mike: uh, you had talked earlier about some of the criticism-- and we do have kind of a silo-based medical profession where you might be in one silo and the others are... but one critic wrote this about you, and i want to get your thoughts on it. and i'm sure you've heard all the criticism, so this won't come as a surprise. "he looks like an aging 1960s rock star. he's quite charismatic. no physician that i can think of has over the course of his lifetime done more to promote the rise of 'quackamedic medicine.'" um, when they say "quack" or "quackamedic," um, it has to sting, doesn't it? weil: no, because i know that what i do is right and based in scientific evidence. first of all, a great deal that's done in conventional medicine does not have a good scientific evidence base. uh secondly, statements like that are really ignorant because a lot of, um, what is dismissed
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as quackery, in fact has very strong evidence. for instance, i'm trained as a botanist as well as a physician. and medical botany is one of my career interests. there's an awful lot of good scientific evidence for the efficacy and safety of many plant medicines. and this is all dismissed, you know, in one sentence by people like this. i saw an article recently in which all of chinese medicine was equated with, uh crystal healing. that's just ignorant. you know, that chinese medicine includes acupuncture, which has been validated for conditions like, um, back pain. and it also includes very sophisticated herbal treatments. um, in many cases, these plants produce effects for which we don't have pharmaceutical drugs. mike: tell me about, uh, your thoughts on traditional chinese medicine because you just talked a little bit on it. uh, there are a lot of people who are turning to that as well--and
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for many of the reasons you just said. weil: it's made great inroads in our culture, and i think it's a mixture of ideas and practices that are sensible and some that aren't. but i'll tell you one aspect of chinese medical philosophy that i find very appealing. i have a colleague in new york uh, dr. zhang, who's trained in china, has an m.d. a very smart man. and i had him out to arizona to lecture to our physicians. and he said that if he could summarize all of chinese medical philosophy in one sentence, it would be "to dispel evil and support the good." western medicine's whole thrust is on dispelling evil. you know, we identify germs and develop weapons against germs. we do very little to support the good, which is the body's natural defense mechanisms its natural resistance. so i think both of those approaches are necessary. and, uh, to me, an integration of that chinese and western philosophy produces the best medicine.
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mike: fruits and veggies. you're a big proponent of those, but you also say you should take the supplements. if i get enough, why do i need them? weil: that's a good question. i mean, i think ideally, if you're eating a balanced diet every day, you should be able to cover all your nutritional bases. but, you know i grow a lot of my own food. i'm a very careful shopper. i cook for myself. and i take a daily multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement because there are days, like two days ago when i traveled here from arizona when for one reason or another i don't eat the fruits and vegetables that i should be eating. so i think that these things can be useful as insurance against gaps in the diet. and some, like vitamin d um, i think have specific therapeutic or preventive effects that you really can't get enough from the diet. mike: how many marriages do you think you've impacted? because i already pointed out to you my wife gets an email from you every day. she's walking around in your shoes. she's telling me how to live my life... weil: well, it's interesting. you know, women really have been the leaders in
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this movement. um, they're the greatest readers of health magazines. they're the chief buyers of books on health. one interesting phenomenon is that--you know, our center offers two-year intensive fellowships to doctors who want to get up to speed in all the things they didn't learn in medical school. a lot of them have been sent there by their wives who read my books and told them they have to go. mike: will you send her a note one of these days saying i'm ok and i'm trying to stay good? weil: ha ha! yeah. mike: um, if i were to, uh, go to the store and buy essentials, uh, and you were to make out my shopping list for me, what should i have in my kitchen? weil: well, first of all, what you should not have--you really want to try to not have refined, processed, and manufactured food. that's really the source of all the trouble. i'd say you'd want to have good extra virgin olive oil. you want to have a variety of herbs and spices. certainly garlic, which is a nutritional powerhouse. um, you want to have good quality produce. um,
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i'm a great believer in eating greens of one sort or another, whether it's kale or spinach or collards. i think these are very good to have. i think it's good to have oily fish in the diet, which are sources of omega 3 fatty acids. and very inexpensive ones that you can get in any supermarket are sardines or... or smoked kippers in cans. they're cheap. they're very good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. mike: you like asian mushrooms, too? weil: i love asian mushrooms. uh, you know this is everything: shiitake maitake, enokis, oyster mushrooms. these have, uh, many unique medicinal properties. they lower cholesterol. they help our bodies fight infection, and they increase our defenses against cancer. mike: will you take us on a little tour of your kitchen? weil: sure. mike: all right. thanks so much. ok, so we transitioned into the kitchen, and it's busy here. it's busy out here, i might add, as well. what are you going to make for us? weil: well, one of our signature dishes is tuscan kale salad. mike: sounds good. weil: uh, this is black kale.
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it's an italian heirloom variety. mike: wow. weil: easily gettable. so you remove the stalks on this. it's been chopped up. and now i'm going to put over this a dressing that's extra virgin olive oil fresh lemon juice, salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic. mike: looks good. weil: now the secret of this salad is that the leaves have to sit in the dressing ideally for 30 minutes. and the salt and lemon juice soften the kale and take the bitterness out of it. if you just try to eat raw kale, it's not so pleasant... [laughter] mike: so you have to experiment to get to this stage, i guess. weil: yeah. so you want to then--i would say normally let it sit now for 30 minutes. and then to this we put on a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs and some, uh grated parmesan. and that's our salad. but, you know, you--you're not going to like it so much right now because it hasn't... well, i'll give you some
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finished to try, but you can take a bite. mike: i'll take a little shot at it. you've already prepped me that it may not be the best thing. let me ask you about, uh eating practices. i know you said mediterranean. you like that style. weil: yes. mike: um, the american style of diet, i mean, you just look around--it seems everybody's obese. weil: well, the huge problem is that most people are eating great amounts of refined processed, and manufactured food. that's the big change that's happened in our culture. mike: what about, uh moving from mediterranean-- any other, uh, healthy, uh, diet lifestyles? weil: well, i'm a big fan of asian cooking. uh, i spent a lot of time in japan. i think japanese food is very healthy; chinese food, if it's well prepared; vietnamese food, all of that. so you like it, even though it hasn't...? mike: i know you warned me but that tastes very, very good. weil: ok, good. mike: i'll even go in for another bite. how's that? weil: all right. mike: how often do you put this together? this isn't very complicated, is it? weil: it's easy and it's something that a home cook can do. and one of the other advantages of this is that it'll keep.
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you can keep this for several days in the refrigerator, so you make a large quantity, and it remains good. mike: so i may take it with me. weil: yes! please do. mike: let me put this back. it's been a delight. weil: a pleasure... mike: thank you so much. we really appreciate it. we'll be back in just a moment. it's good stuff. when we come back, the high-tech engineering of the perfect bite. do you know what's really in some of your favorite foods? mike: sadly, the american obesity epidemic is spreading around the globe. why? because the so-called western diet is replacing traditional meals in many emerging nations. the average american eats 33 pounds of cheese and 70 pounds of sugar annually. they also take in twice the recommended daily allowance of salt. indeed, everything is bigger in america.
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as "full frame" contributor sandra hughes found out, making healthy food choices requires consumers to decode what is really in their favorite foods. sandra: niki tehranchi started eatz l.a. cooking courses to share her love for freshly made food with people who are not always comfortable in the kitchen. niki: how do you make a scrambled egg? a lot of people are like "i don't even know how to fry an egg. oh, my god." you know, "i don't know how to do anything but open a bar or open a box of cereal." take your knife. see how i'm protecting my thumb? student: mm-hmm. niki: take your knife. when you get to the end, just lift off your hand and then do the mincing technique. all right?... sandra: she starts with the basics, but has a greater goal in mind. niki: set up.
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sandra: niki wants her students to stop eating so much processed food. niki: if i'm helping people to learn how to cook, hopefully that will translate to them buying fresh ingredients and putting something together at home. you know, i hope i'm helping them not to microwave and go to that easy fix. sandra: 70% of the american diet is made up of processed foods, often packed with sugar fat, sodium, or all three. these students, who paid $100 each to learn to cook fresh food, confess they're hooked on processed treats. larry: peanut butter chocolate, ice cream, cheese. brenda: cereal, ice cream phillip: yeah, a bunch of junk food. yeah. brenda: chips. phillip: yeah. ha ha! brenda: probably 80% processed food, 20% fresh food. we don't cook a lot. [both chuckle] sandra: but the chemical compounds that fill the ingredient list on many of those processed favorites keeps
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cindy lee away. cindy: if we don't really understand what the name of the ingredient is, uh, for me personally, i wouldn't necessarily be inclined to purchase it. sandra: instead, she tries to shop for items with simple ingredients. cindy: um, i know i'm there looking at--like, comparing labels to see, well, how many grams or exactly what kind of whole grains are in there? so, you know, i really try to look at the labels to see what i'm getting. sandra: but niki worries that too many people don't pay attention to what is really in their food. niki: i don't think people look at labels. i think they look at the front of the package and it says you know, "fat free" or it says "sugar free" or "organic" or "reduced fat," and then they don't even bother. sandra: nutritionists say the american processed food habit is a major cause of the nation's obesity epidemic. the problem is literally at the center of any given grocery store, those middle aisles packed with processed items designed for taste and convenience.
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experts say one way to steer toward a healthy diet is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, starting in the produce department where you buy a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables, hitting fresh meats, ending in the dairy aisle, leaving very little room in your cart for processed and packaged foods. but in those center aisles more and more processed food makers are marketing their products with prominent labels that boast healthy benefits. those claims leave many shoppers more confused than informed. beth: we're going to start with what's new and good. then we're going to go into some challenges, and then... sandra: holistic health consultant beth woodard works one-on-one with clients who want to make healthy eating a priority and hire her to help them cut through the confusion. beth: have you ever tried to read food labels? client: i have. beth: what's that been like for you?
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client: like reading a foreign language. there's so many... sandra: a foreign language that beth can translate. beth: "tripotassium phosphate." do you even know what that is? sandra: couldn't pronounce it, no. beth: right. so a general rule of thumb that i stick to is if you can't understand it, your body can't understand it. sandra: beth advises her clients to stock their shelves with greens and lean proteins, drink a lemon water in the morning to give their system a shower, and stay away from genetically modified food. she doesn't shop in the processed food aisle, but we took her there. sandra: i know as a mom, cereal is a staple in pretty much every pantry. but can it be deceiving overall, cereal? beth: yes, it is. it's very brightly deceiving. you would think because of all of these vitamins it says that you're getting like vitamin a, vitamin c--i mean, you don't even need a multivitamin it has in your cheerios. however, um, you can see it's all synthetic vitamins, meaning it's--what you call enriched flour. sandra: so they add that later?
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it's not part of the cereal? beth: exactly. sandra: and what about the frozen low-fat dinners that advertise a healthy meal for under 400 calories? sandra: so this is another diet product. um they're saying 26 grams of protein, no sugar added, 330 calories, 5 carbs. ok, i'm saying, "i'm putting this in my cart. this sounds good." beth: right. so let's turn this around and look at the sodium. that's 1,070 milligrams... sandra: wow! beth: of sodium in just your dinner. sandra: how many teaspoons do you think that would be, like, of salt? beth: i mean, i'm sure we can put that in jars. like, i'm sure we can put that in... sandra: it's just eating salt basically. beth: it's just eating salt. like, you might as well just eat salt with a little bit of your chicken. sandra: professor michael roberts studies international food labeling practices at ucla law school. roberts: i always, uh, joke a bit by saying that a consumer needs to take to the grocery store with him a food scientist, a nutritionist, and a lawyer
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just to get through the label. sandra: professor roberts travels the world talking about food and the implications of eating processed and fast food. roberts: uh, so the western diet for better or for worse is being exported into other countries, uh, generally in the form of fast-food restaurants, oftentimes in, uh, mom and pop corner shops that now carry western-style soda, potato chips uh, a lot of sugar products. and these food products are becoming, unfortunately, staples, or increasingly important parts, of people's diets. niki: and then what you're going to do with the bread is just cut it into one-inch cubes... sandra: but niki is still working at reversing that trend by offering one simple solution to solve the processed food puzzle. niki: so i think a processed food is a processed food is a processed food. at the end of the day, it's still processed, which means it's not as good for you as going and getting a real onion a real tomato, and brown rice and real chicken and cooking it yourself.
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sandra: it may seem like more work, but filling your diet with simple, healthy foods will make it worth cleaning your plate. for "full frame," this is sandra hughes in los angeles. mike: michel moss is a "new york times" best-selling author, investigative journalist and pulitzer prize winner. his book, "sugar, fat, salt: how the food giants hooked us," takes readers inside the food industry to reveal how we've become addicted to and affected by processed food. michael moss claims that food manufacturers are complicit in creating a catastrophic health crisis. how? well, they spend billions to engineer the perfect balance of salt, sugar, and fat in every bite of our favorite foods, ensuring that we'll keep coming back for more and more...and more. i recently sat down with michael moss in new york city to discuss his findings and get his thoughts about the future of food.
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michael, let's start by just talking about the family jewels. how did you find the family jewels, because the industry certainly knows about them? how did you get kind of on to this story and then what did you find that surprised you the most? moss: well, the whole book came about because i was lucky to come across a trove of documents that put me inside the largest food companies as they're formulating, marketing, selling their products. and it was in those documents that i came across this meeting, 1999, the heads of the largest food companies in north america getting together for a very rare and private meeting. normally, these guys are at each other's throats for space in the grocery store, but they get together to talk about none other than the emerging obesity problem in this country-- the world. and they're brought together by none other than these cabals of insiders in these companies who are growing alarmed and concerned about their
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culpability in that emerging epidemic. and it's just a fascinating meeting because up before them stands not some white-coated researcher or a public health advocate, but one of their own a senior official at the largest company of all, kraft, who stands up and he's armed with dozens of slides. and he lays at their feet responsibility in large part not just for obesity, not just for diabetes. he starts linking highly processed foods to several types of cancer, and he pleads with them to start turning the corner and make some attempts to make their products healthier. he sits down, and up stands one of the most powerful people in the room. he was the head of general mills at the time, and he makes a couple of points. he says, "look. we're already working to make our products healthier. we're adding grains.
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we have versions that are low-fat, low-sugar. if people want those, they are in the store. we're offering choice. but we're also--you have to remember--beholden to our shareholders. and there is no way we are going to put products out there unless they are designed to be sold and purchased and loved." and he referred to, according to people in the room, sort of "there's no way we're going to mess around with the company jewels," referring to that unholy trinity of salt, sugar, fat on which the processed food industry relies so much to make their products powerfully attractive. mike: as you were working on this, how did it change your diet and how did it change you as a shopper going to the store? moss: you know, i actually believe it or not, felt empowered by what i was learning from the food engineers. just kind of
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listening to them describe their efforts to maximize, you know, using salt and talking about the flavor burst of salt and fat they described as the "mouth feel," which it's not even a taste. it's a sensation you get when you bite into, like a warm, toasted, melted cheese sandwich. you can tell i'm kind of a salt and fat guy because the pleasure center of my brain is lighting up just thinking about that. or sugar, of course. just listening to them talk about their efforts, i felt, was empowering because i can now walk into the grocery store, and it's not this la-la land of soft music or bright neon colors. i see battles going on in every one of these products on the shelf--how they're perfectly designed and shaped and built to get us to buy them and put them in the cart. and, hey, if we can't resist overeating, so be it. so for me, the book--and i hope it is for readers, is empowering in that sense.
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because ultimately, we're the ones making the decision about what to buy, how much to eat. and that's a position of power that i hope we can-- we can use more often. mike: well, you mentioned perfectly designed. i mean it's engineered in such a scientific, uh, degree. i mean, you were talking about sugar. "too much sugar, ew." moss: yeah.... mike: but they hit the right note every time, don't they? moss: one of my favorite characters in the book is howard moskowitz, a legend in the industry, trained in experimental psychology at harvard. invented many of the biggest icons in the grocery store. he walked me through his recent creation of a new soda flavor for dr pepper. and howard was the person who coined the term the "bliss point" for the perfect amount of sweetness in the product that would send us over the moon-- not too little, not too much. he started out with some 52 different versions of sweetness of the flavor, subjected those to his 3,000 consumer taste tests, took the data, threw it in his computer, did his high
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math regression analysis thing. and out comes these bell-shaped curves where at the top of the curve is the optimum amount of sweetness. again, not too little, not too much. and the bliss point is just such a perfect encapsulation of that feeling you get when you eat these products. mike: addiction--uh, what does it do to our brain? is it-- how would you compare it to cocaine? moss: you know, there is no word that the food industry hates more than the a-word. i mean, they will argue left and right and up and down that you can't compare even the junkiest food to cocaine or heroin, but.. and in some ways, you don't have to use the a-word because, you know, when they talk about maximizing the allure of their products, they use this great lingo like "craveability," "snackability." one of my favorite words is moreishness as in building in moreishness. but i was able to spend time with experts on addiction who've studied both drugs and food, and they're
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convinced that for many of us, the sweetest, fattest, most palatable foods will cause what they call "patterns of overconsumption, indulgence." the food--especially the salt, sugar, fat--it interacts with your saliva. it sends an electrical signal to the reward center of your brain, which sends back this feeling of pleasure which is basically saying "michael, i love that. eat more. go for it." and when you think about it, there's nothing nefarious about that because we need pleasure from food in order to eat. otherwise, we wouldn't eat, we'd get bored and that would be the end of us, right? so... but it's their ability to sort of max out that reward system for their products that makes them so powerful. or if you're trying to lose weight or maintain weight, so potentially
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treacherous. mike: transparency labels. uh, what needs to be in the labels now that's missing? and how would that change the landscape, do you think? moss: i mean, i feel that consumers should know what's in the product, starting with the amounts of the biggest things--salt sugar, fat--the good stuff as well. but even, sort of, some of these lesser ingredients that people don't know about. and, you know, it boggles me that the industry would be scared of putting some of their things on the label. if they're proud of their work put it on the label and let people choose. mike: a couple of quick final questions. um... the exporting of the western diet. i mean, we know about all the issues in this country, you know with diabetes, hypertension, and obesity...but we're seeing-- if anything, we're seeing it spread elsewhere and perhaps in cultures where people ate pretty healthy. they ate a lot of vegetables and that sort of thing. is that another thing that we can look at say, "jeez, this
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is--" in a continuation of pushing that envelope, trying to gain market share, get more money... moss: you know, ironically as americans have become more concerned about their diet and have--been looking at processed foods and-- been trying to find ways to sort of control them in their own lives, these companies have moved overseas, sending american style processed foods into developing countries like brazil where there's emerging middle class, into the heart of europe. i gave a talk recently in vienna to the health ministers of a few dozen countries. and they're all sitting there with grim faces because not only do they now have lots of american style processed foods, they have huge amounts of obesity and diabetes that are just killing the finances of their health care budgets. so it's becoming not just a health issue but a financial problem for other countries, not to mention the loss of the culture of their own sort of
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native foods. and that's the real tragedy there. mike: michael moss, we'll leave it there. thanks so much. this has been great fun. moss: like-- likewise for me. thank you. mike: when we come back, the grammar of cuisine and how language influences what and how we eat. no matter the culture or country there's no denying that food plays a pivotal role in shaping a region's history and traditions. but we rarely have an opportunity to truly delve into a dish and to explore its origin and evolution. that is, until right now. in his new book, "the language of food: a linguist reads the menu," stanford university linguistics department chairman and professor dan jurafsky explores the complex relationship between food and language. from ancient recipes to
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contemporary cuisine, he looks beyond ingredients and dissects the language that describes the food and influences how and what we eat. and we want to welcome him to the broadcast. thank you, dan, for coming in. dan: mike, it's a pleasure to be here. mike: how did you get interested in doing this book and what was the spark? dan: well, the original, uh, story--i was living in hong kong. i was a, you know, linguists like to learn languages. and i was in hong kong learning cantonese. and everybody in hong kong knew that the word "ketchup" was a chinese word. it was just obvious to them. and, of course, i'm the american living in china, and it's, you know, i just couldn't believe this could possibly be true. so i set out to do the research to show that "ketchup" is, of course, american, and i was wrong. ketchup is, in fact, from china. the word ke-tsiap was the original word. it originally meant a fish sauce. and the story of how it became our tomato sauce, it's a fascinating story. mike: it is a fascinating story. and what i liked most about your book is that--it went here. they added some sugar. it went here. they added more sugar. i mean, how you tell it is very, very funny. but there's a lot of funny stories like that in there. so how about if i just throw
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a couple of words, and you can start--you can just kind of take off and tell us some stories about it? dan: sounds good. mike: we all do this. a toast, right? and then there's toast, breakfast toast. tell us about that because you write about that as well. dan: yeah, you might imagine those are just coincidences that it's the same pronunciation, but no. in fact, uh, they come from the same word. "toast" originally meant the grilled bread. and in the middle ages, we drank wine with grilled bread in it. so they'd grill the bread and add spices--so these great medieval spices--so ginger and galangal. it was quite tasty-sounding. and they'd put them in the wine. and wine was drank--uh, wine was drunk? see, now, the linguistics of that! wine was drunk spiced. um...and... so this was very common. shakespeare talks about it. so falstaff used to have toast in his sack. a very common thing. and then right around the 17th century, this habit began to die out. people began to... were less likely to put the toast in the wine but right at the same time, they began to drink to health of people at parties very commonly.
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so they would drink the health of the lady of the evening and they called her the toast of the evening because she flavored the party like the spice toast flavored the wine. and so the idea of calling a person a toast, and then that developed into the verb toasting. mike: it's also interesting as i was reading your book uh, you know, it's not just-- i'd say it's not even just linguistics. it's almost the psychology of menus. and you talk about the different kinds of menus that you might find in a high-end and perhaps a restaurant where maybe you shouldn't be going to eat and how things are described. talk to us about that. dan: yeah, so we looked with some collaborators at carnegie mellon university. we looked at 6,500 online menus. that's a lot of menus. and we looked at how inexpensive restaurants describe their dishes differently than expensive restaurants. so, for example, the cheaper the restaurant, the more likely they are to use the pronoun "you." so they'll say "your way," "any way you like it," "your choice." it's all about you whereas the expensive restaurants, it's all about the chef. it's the "chef's choice," "the chef's selection."
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so really, you know, the expensive restaurants, it's kind of like theater. you're going to see the chef what the chef's coming up with. the cheap restaurants, it's really your day-to-day desires are really what matters. we also found, like, a huge difference in adjectives. so you could imagine, oh, the expensive restaurants, they'd be talking about how crispy and delicious and golden brown everything is. not true. it's the cheap restaurants. so the cheaper the restaurant, the more likely they are to talk about something as fluffy. you know, your pancakes are "fluffy." the fancy restaurants, they want you to assume it's going to be fluffy. so they're not going to say the word "fluffy." mike: and sex and drugs, there's a correlation there, too, right? dan: oh, yeah, this was in reviews. so we looked at yelp reviews. so the reviewers were reviewing these same 6,500 restaurants. how do everyday people talk about the food? so the more expensive the restaurant the more likely the reviewer is to talk about sex. so they'll say, "oh, a seductively seared foie gras" or "a very naughty deep-fried pork belly." so it sounds kind of delicious. but the cheap restaurants, they'll say things like "oh, i lust after
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those french fries" or "the chocolate donuts are like crack." so, you know, by talking about these cheap foods as drugs it's like saying, "well, it's not really my fault that i ate that." you know, "i'm addicted to it. the drug really forced me to do it." so it makes us feel a little less guilty for eating these unhealthy foods. mike: uh, one of the funniest parts in the book, i found, was potato chips, which are incredibly healthy for you-- which obviously they're not! but you were writing about how they're portrayed to the buyer. dan: oh, this is a great story. and i should say it came about in a great way. so i teach this freshman seminar called the language of food. and in universities in general, you know, students have these huge lecture classes. you know, hundreds of kids in a class. so all the universities are trying to find ways to let kids bond more, get more one-on-one attention from professors. so we have these freshman seminars: 12 kids and a professor. and i was teaching the language of food. and one of my freshman, josh freedman, had this idea of looking at the language on the back of potato chips. so being a college freshman, he
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has no money. he goes to the safeway, and he just takes pictures of the back of the potato chip bags. and he brings on his phone--and he brings the pictures into class. so all of us analyze the language on the back of the potato chips. and then later, he and i continued this research for a couple of years and ended up writing it up. so here's what we found: the more--first of all, as you say all potato chips are covered with health food language, you know. it turns out, you know secretly, potato chips are a health food. everything's about, you know, no trans fats and no msg and "healthier than" lots of healthier thans. um, everything's healthy. but it turns out, the more expensive the chip is, just if you measure price per ounce, the more they talk about health. so they also--the healthier the chip is, the more they talk about what's not in it. so the really expensive chips, then, they talk about, um, no: no this, no greasy not fluorescent, never fried. all these nots.
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the cheaper chips sort of tell you what's there. the expensive chips, you know, what it is to be an expensive chip is, "we're not like those cheap chips." you know, "we're different." mike: but we all know that they're not healthy. but is it-- does it seduce us? i mean, are people buying it because of that? i mean, what are--how do the words influence us, the consumers, would you say? dan: now, that's a great question. i mean that's really a question for madison avenue. you know presumably, i just-- as a linguist, i'm assuming you know, language is logical and people are logical. so if advertisers are using this language, it must work at least somewhat. or at least they think it works. so i guess so. but as a consumer, you know, my advice is, just like on the menus, you know it's the cheap restaurants that have to say it's fluffy, so that should make you suspicious. if they have to tell you it's fluffy, maybe it's because you assume it might not be fluffy. and the same with the potato chips. if they have to talk about how healthy it is, well, it's probably not healthy. mike: what does, uh, the linguistics tell us about a society, do you think? dan: oh, that's a good question. um, you know, linguists tend to
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believe that most cultures are pretty similar, um linguistically, that language-- that although languages differ in lots of individual details, they also have a lot in common. so it's very hard to see, um big cultural differences in the languages people use, but it's certainly the case that different languages do focus on different things. so, for example, lots of languages don't have lots of words for smells of things. so, um, it's very common in a language to have lots of words for colors. i mean, think of all the different words we have for colors. but of all the sensations, there's just less words for smell. and this is true across lots of languages. but, for example, cantonese has lots of different words for smell. there's words like "hong" that mean a particularly kind of rancid smell. um... so languages do differ in sort of what they focus on. mike: you mentioned cantonese. um, i have colleagues who've come over from china. and one of the first nights i went out. and we were kind of celebrating the start of the organization here
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in washington, d.c. and, you know, there were liquid refreshment and then some food. and then, of course, people started to order dessert, and i had a dessert. and a couple of my colleagues pointed and they, "are you really going to eat that? it's too sweet." uh, dessert is a concept that's pretty much universal in the west, and yet to china that and salad and you also talk about water. i mean, there's huge differences. dan: there are cultural differences. like, i like to call this the grammar of cuisine. cuisines have a grammar just like a language has a grammar. so, for example, you know, dessert is such a natural concept, uh, to america or to western europe. you know a meal has a sequence of courses, and you end with the sweet one. but we didn't used to eat that way. this is-- you know, in the middle ages you might have, uh, all sorts of sweet dishes. you might have rabbits with sugar or mutton with lemon and sugar as a normal main course. so this idea that sweet things come at the end, actually-- you know, england borrowed it from france, who borrowed it from spain, who got it from the moors, who got it all the way back to baghdad. i like to tell the story about herodotus, the greek historian 500 b.c. he talks about how the
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persians really loved desserts and how interesting it was that persians had all these different desserts. so this idea that sweet things belong at the end as a special course, really, we sort of borrowed it, and it's really a new concept for the west. china just doesn't have that. there's words that mean "sweet thing," so "tian dian" in mandarin means a sweet thing but you could eat that anytime. it could be a snack with tea. it doesn't necessarily mean the last course of a meal. that idea just doesn't exist there. mike: let me ask was there anything as you compiled this, because the books can always be this big or this big. and obviously they need it to be more like this--was there anything that you really wanted to put in there, one little aside story, anecdote that you didn't get to put in there? dan: i never--i didn't get the history of tea into there. tea is a good one. so--so--so just in one sentence: languages of the world are split in whether the word for tea starts with a "t" or it starts with a "ch." so chai, which we think of as masala chai, this indian drink, chai is the word for tea in russian and in
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mongolian and in hindi and all these languages. but lots of languages like english and french and dutch have a word starting with a "t." and it turns out, languages that traded with china by sea, their languages start with a "t." languages that traded with china by land, they got the word, uh, from the dialects that have a "ch" at the beginning and their words for tea start with a "ch." so you can tell the history of how countries interacted with china just by the first letter of their word for tea. mike: fascinating. well, dan, thanks for sharing that. and we'll look for that in the sequel. dan: great. thanks so much for having me. mike: thank you. coming up next, this week's "full frame" close-up on one man's mission to turn trash into a socially-conscious gourmet feast. yes, i did just say "trash." mike: these are sad and startling statistics. according to the "washington post," 40% of all food
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in the u.s. goes uneaten. and households grocery stores, and restaurants discard $165 billion worth of food annually. those numbers become even more alarming when you consider that about 50 million americans are food insecure, meaning they don't have a reliable source of nutritious and affordable food. activist rob greenfield is determined to change those numbers and to help create a world that's happier and healthier. rob knows first-hand the sustenance that discarded food provides. in 2013, he consumed some 280 pounds of food from grocery store dumpsters, and he continues to rescue wasted food day in and day out. determined to lead by his own sustainable lifestyle, we joined greenfield as he "took a dive" in the name of ending hunger and food waste.
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[sea gulls calling] rob: 99% of all consumer goods that are produced are in the landfill after 6 months, if you can believe that. so what that means is we're filling our landfills, we're filling holes in the ground. a lot of it ends up in the ocean and the environments. animals eat it. it pollutes our oceans. um... so the bottom line solution is create only what needs to be created and use what the earth can provide that's naturally produced.
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i've decided that i just really want to simplify my life so that i can dedicate my time to being of benefit to the earth and benefit to myself, really, not bogging myself down with all this stuff i don't need. so i canceled most of my bills. it took some time. and now, the only bill i have is my cell phone, which is $60 a month, and the only possessions i have are my bike. i have some solar panels, a water purifier some clothes, enough that fit into a box. um, i've just found that the more simply i live, the more freely i live. well, last year i was biking across america to raise awareness about sustainability, and i had rules for the resources i could use. and my rule was for food i
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could eat local, organic unpackaged food. so basically food straight from the farms, but as many people know, there's food deserts all across america, which means there's not good quality healthy food. so my exception was i could eat out of dumpsters. so i started to look into america's dumpsters. and what i found after a short amount of time was that dumpster after dumpster after dumpster, they're all full of perfectly good food. hunt's pasta sauce, unopened. there's stuff down here. that one's fine. so i've been in over 800 dumpsters across america, and i've probably eaten out of 300 to 500 of them myself. and i've never been sick
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off of dumpster food once. milk. cold. let's find out. that's perfectly good milk. wow. and i think a big part of that is that i take care of myself with healthy food and with proper sleep and diet. and by doing that, my immune system is very strong. whoa. well, i personally stick to a plant-based diet. so lots of fruits, vegetables, grains nuts and seeds. and i avoid all animal products, so meat, dairy, eggs. so in the dumpster, i personally just mostly eat fruits and vegetables and grains. one squished one. the rest are good. organically grown.
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you can tell when something's bad when it's bulgy. uh, visually if something's bloated, if a package is bloated, then there's been fermentation so stay away from that. good-looking cheese... if it's looking off-colored, stay away from that. "november 19th." the dates on packages, they mean nothing. it's whether the food is still good and you can look at it and you can see that. these are perfectly good apples. halfway into my first trip across the country, i learned, "oh, wow! there's the good samaritan food act," which was signed in 1996, which actually protects grocery stores and caterers and restaurants if they donate the food to, uh a nonprofit. they're actually encouraged to donate the food to nonprofits. giant bags of bread. then i found a study by the university of arkansas which shows that not a single
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grocery store or distributor of food has ever been sued after donating food to a nonprofit. it's pretty much a no-brainer to donate the food as long as it's still good and that is if you care about more than profit. my goal isn't to empty one dumpster at a time here and there. my goal is to prevent millions of pounds of food from ever ending up in the dumpsters. so, of course, this is way more food than i can eat. the reason i'm collecting it is because i'm hosting a public demonstration for the people to come see how much perfectly good food is going to waste. for example, i can rattle off the numbers. $165 billion worth of food is thrown away per year. but for most people, those mean very little. seeing a trunk full of bread or seeing a park full of food that's how people understand it and that's what i'm showing america.
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so a food waste fiasco is where i collect a huge bounty of perfectly good food and then i set it up at a public place where anybody can come and see it. and i invite the media so that they can spread the word even more. after leaving it out on display for a little while, if people want to take it home and eat it, they can. >> do you have maybe a couple of tomatoes? rob: oh, yeah. sure. tomatoes, apples. i'd be a little sad if my work comes to the point where there's no food left in the dumpsters. i'd be sad for the dumpster divers, putting them out of business, but i'd be extremely happy because that would mean we wouldn't be wasting all the water, the energy, the transportation the time, the love that's going into this food and then ending
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up in the dumpsters. so what i want to see is i want to see no food in the dumpsters, and i really believe that's going to happen in my youth. obviously, i do a lot of really crazy stuff. i've biked across america on a bamboo bike twice; i've gone a year with taking a shower; got a vasectomy at the age of 25 uh... have eaten out of 800 dumpsters across america. i've done a lot of pretty extreme things. but my message isn't be extreme and do extreme things. it's take what you can out of this. take the little things that you can out of this to adapt into your own life as you see fit. so i'm--i'm eating out of dumpsters so that you can simply learn to not waste food or to shop at your local farmers market. so my message is simple.
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i'm the crazy guy. you don't have to be. ha ha! mike: that's it for this week. join the conversation with us on social media. we are cctv america on twitter facebook, and youtube. all of tonight's interviews can be found online at and let us know where you'd like us to take "full frame" next. e-mail us at until then, i'm mike walter in los angeles. we'll see you next time.
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