Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Palatability, Satiety and Calorie Intake

WHS reader Paul Hagerty recently sent me a very interesting paper titled "A Satiety Index of Common Foods", by Dr. SHA Holt and colleagues (1).  This paper quantified how full we feel after eating specific foods.  I've been aware of it for a while, but hadn't read it until recently.  They fed volunteers a variety of commonly eaten foods, each in a 240 calorie portion, and measured how full each food made them feel, and how much they ate at a subsequent meal.  Using the results, they calculated a "satiety index", which represents the fullness per calorie of each food, normalized to white bread (white bread arbitrarily set to SI = 100).  So for example, popcorn has a satiety index of 154, meaning it's more filling than white bread per calorie. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the paper is that the investigators measured a variety of food properties (energy density, fat, starch, sugar, fiber, water content, palatability), and then determined which of them explained the SI values most completely.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Soda-Free Sunday

Last Thursday, I received a message from a gentleman named Dorsol Plants about a public health campaign here in King County called Soda Free Sunday.  They're asking people to visit www.sodafreesundays.com and make a pledge to go soda-free for one day per week. 

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), including soda, is one of the worst things you can do for your health.  SSB consumption is probably one of the major contributors to the modern epidemics of obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

I imagine that most WHS readers don't drink SSBs very often if at all, but I'm sure some do.  Whether you want to try drinking fewer SSBs, or just re-affirm an ongoing commitment to avoid them, I encourage you to visit www.sodafreesundays.com and make the pledge.  You can do so even if you're not a resident of King county.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Five Myths About Medicare"

I recommend you read John Rother's recent op-ed in the Washington Post, "Five Myths About Medicare."John argues that each of these statements is a myth:Medicare is inefficient and fails to control costs--the CBO has projected that per capita spending will grow only 1% more than inflation over the next decade.The well-off don't pay enough for their Medicare benefits--working age premiums as well

Overuse of Cardiac Stents

One of my patients is in the hospital in another city (where he lives
part of the year) after suffering a GI bleed. He had a black stool, had
lost blood, was quite anemic and experienced weakness and chest
tightening before he came to the ER. In the emergency room his
Cardiologist was called and admitted him under the cardiology service.
When I called the Cardiologist to identify myself as

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is Sugar Fattening?

Buckle your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen-- we're going on a long ride through the scientific literature on sugar and body fatness.  Some of the evidence will be surprising and challenging for many of you, as it was for me, but ultimately it paints a coherent and actionable picture.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

By 2606, the US Diet will be 100 Percent Sugar

The US diet has changed dramatically in the last 200 years.  Many of these changes stem from a single factor: the industrialization and commercialization of the American food system.  We've outsourced most of our food preparation, placing it into the hands of professionals whose interests aren't always well aligned with ours.

It's hard to appreciate just how much things have changed, because none of us were alive 200 years ago.  To help illustrate some of these changes, I've been collecting statistics on US diet trends.  Since sugar is the most refined food we eat in quantity, and it's a good marker of processed food consumption, naturally I wanted to get my hands on sugar intake statistics-- but solid numbers going back to the early 19th century are hard to come by!  Of all the diet-related books I've read, I've never seen a graph of year-by-year sugar intake going back more than 100 years.

A gentleman by the name of Jeremy Landen and I eventually tracked down some outstanding statistics from old US Department of Commerce reports and the USDA: continuous yearly sweetener sales from 1822 to 2005, which have appeared in two of my talks but I have never seen graphed anywhere else*.  These numbers represent added sweeteners such as cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and maple syrup, but not naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetables.  Behold:

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blogger Break

EverythingHealth will be taking our own advice and renewing the spirit
and soul for the next week. Check out the links on the right side for
great blog reading and be sure to check back for more exciting health
news in a week. Aloha!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Avoid Obesity and Let Babies Eat With Their Hands

Babies who feed themselves with their fingers chose less sugar and were
less likely to become obese than spoon fed babies, according to a study
in the British Medical Journal Open. It was a small study based on
recollection, but the findings were still interesting and give us clues
about how children self regulate food. When babies start eating solid
food, parents often offer sweetened baby

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cigarette Smoking-- Another Factor in the Obesity Epidemic

Obesity rates in the US have more than doubled in the last 30 years, and rates of childhood obesity and extreme adult obesity have tripled.  One third of US adults are considered obese, and another third overweight.  This is the "obesity epidemic".

The obesity epidemic has coincided with significant changes in the US diet, which are clearly involved.  However, there's another probable contributor that's often overlooked: declining smoking rates.  

Here's a graph of cigarette consumption over the last century in the US (1):
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Friday, February 10, 2012

There is No Free Lunch and There is No Free Contraception

The otherworldy Obama Administration solution to the contraception firestorm might work politically but it makes no sense in the real world.The President, hoping to quell a growing political firestorm, today announced a new policy that no longer requires religiously affiliated organizations to provide employees with contraception coverage in health-insurance plans.Under the new policy, insurance

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alternatives to Komen Foundation

Sometimes my fellow health bloggers get it so right...the best thing I
can do for my readers is steer them to another blog. And that is what I
am doing. The Blog That Ate Manhattan is written by Dr. P. and she did
a great job of pointing out that we can still donate to the fight
against breast cancer, now that the Komen Foundation has shown their
true political leanings. That debacle will

Dismantling the Affordable Care Act: The Obama Supreme Court Argument + 51 Republican Senators

I have no idea which way the Supreme Court will rule this year on the Affordable Care Act. Let me go out on a limb and predict a 5-4 vote on the question of whether the individual mandate is Constitutional. Just don’t ask me which way the vote goes.I found the recent Obama administration brief submitted to the Court on the mandate question somewhat ironic. Not surprisingly, the Obama Justice

Monday, February 6, 2012

My TEDx Talk, "The American Diet: a Historical Perspective"

On October 21st, I spoke at the Harvard Food Law Society's TEDx conference, Forum on Food Policy.  The conference kicked off with three talks on nutrition, by Drs. Walter Willett, David Ludwig and myself.  My talk is only 17 minutes long as per TED format, but it's packed with research on both quantitative and qualitative changes in the US diet over the last two centuries.  It contains surprises for almost anyone, and I can guarantee you've never learned this much about the history of the US diet in 17 minutes.  The talk was titled "The American Diet: a Historical Perspective"; you can access it by following that link.

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Medicare Advantage Premiums Drop an Average of 7% and Enrollment up 10%—That Must Make Republicans Just Want to Cry

Medicare Advantage would appear to be a fantastic success—senior premiums are dropping and enrollment is increasing.Listening to Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius last week, you would think private Medicare plans were a Democratic idea and this is their success. Many industry observers, including me, have worried that Medicare Advantage benefits would shrink and premiums would rise

Saturday, February 4, 2012

An Interview with Dr. C. Vicky Beer, Paleo-friendly MD

As I was preparing my recent article on the Paleo diet (1), I interviewed a local Paleo-friendly MD named C. Vicky Beer.  I was only able to include a snippet of the interview in the article, but I thought WHS readers would be interested to read the rest of the interview with Dr. Beer:

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Polio Survivors

Poliomyelitis is a contagious viral disease that affects nerves and can
lead to paralysis. Most people under the age of 50 don't know that
polio was once an epidemic that killed and paralyzed millions of people
between 1840 and the 1950's. It was one of the most feared infections
world wide. Modern polio vaccination has almost wiped out the disease.
It is rare for physicians in the

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Concussion Management

It's football, soccer and ice-hockey season and that means concussions.
Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that is the result of a
blow to the head. It is so common that over 1 million visits annually
to emergency rooms are for concussions. And most people don't even go
to the emergency room so it is estimated that 3 times as many occur as
are reported. Sports related activities

Animal Theory, Going Feral in 2012

Since the late 1970s, scholarship in the field of human and nonhuman animal relations--a development of animal, environmental, and social liberation movements--has significantly developed, testing the limits of the humanism and liberalism that gave birth to it. In the 1980s and 90s, philosophers, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, feminists, socialists, and literary theorists have contributed to this academic and cultural project. Research in human and non-human animal relations has particularly come into vogue in the last decade. This new literature developed out of increasing interdisciplinary as well a younger generation with more radical political ambitions, those who were dissatisfied with the presuppositions and/or simplicity of earlier theory.

Below are a few lists of books published between 2010 and 2012 that I would love to read by the end of the year; books such as Zoopolis which re-conceptualizes interspecies ethics as interspecies justice, Critical Theory and Animal Liberation which organizes the most sophisticated collection of critical animal studies theory to date, Creaturely Poetics which articulates a movement in animal ethics away from reason and power toward vulnerability, and Social Lives with Other Animals which investigates the social formation of species identity within the particular intersections of oppression. Animalkind, Beyond Animal Rights, and Animal Ethics in Context further challenge the traditional and universal morality espoused by animal advocates for more nuanced considerations that are far from self-certain. And if these books aren't tricky enough, the first philosophy book entirely dedicated to the moral considerability of plants, Plants as Persons, is bound to give the zoocentrist a run for her money.

Tim Tyler's book CIFERAE and Dominic Pittman's Human Error, and Boddice's Anthropocentrism add further complexity to our understanding of our humanity and the hegemony of anthropocentrism while Pat Shippman and Hal Herzog explore the myths of human-animal relationships with the latest empirical research in anthropology and psychology. Then there is Meat, Animals and Public Health, and Animals as Biotechnology which offer meditations on the relationship between our treatment of animals and the intersections of human, animal, and ecological health. Last but not least, I'm majorly anticipating Kari Weil's Thinking Animals, which seems like it will provide the greatest synthesis of human-animal studies yet published.



If you are interested in contributing a book summary and review to be posted on this blog, please send me an email or comment below.

NEW DIRECTIONS IN ANIMAL ETHICS / JUSTICE:
Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (Sue Donaldson, Will Kymlicka, 2012)
Zoopolis offers a new agenda for the theory and practice of animal rights. Most animal rights theory focuses on the intrinsic capacities or interests of animals, and the moral status and moral rights that these intrinsic characteristics give rise to. Zoopolis shifts the debate from the realm of moral theory and applied ethics to the realm of political theory, focusing on the relational obligations that arise from the varied ways that animals relate to human societies and institutions. Building on recent developments in the political theory of group-differentiated citizenship, Zoopolis introduces us to the genuine "political animal". It argues that different types of animals stand in different relationships to human political communities. Domesticated animals should be seen as full members of human-animal mixed communities, participating in the cooperative project of shared citizenship. Wilderness animals, by contrast, form their own sovereign communities entitled to protection against colonization, invasion, domination and other threats to self-determination. `Liminal' animals who are wild but live in the midst of human settlement (such as crows or raccoons) should be seen as "denizens", resident of our societies, but not fully included in rights and responsibilities of citizenship. To all of these animals we owe respect for their basic inviolable rights. But we inevitably and appropriately have very different relations with them, with different types of obligations. Humans and animals are inextricably bound in a complex web of relationships, and Zoopolis offers an original and profoundly affirmative vision of how to ground this complex web of relations on principles of justice and compassion.



Critical Theory and Animal Liberation (John Sabonmatsu, 2011)
Critical Theory and Animal Liberation is the first collection to approach our relationship with other animals from the critical or 'left' tradition in political and social thought. Breaking with past treatments that have framed the problem as one of 'animal rights,' the authors instead depict the exploitation and killing of other animals as a political question of the first order. The contributions highlight connections between our everyday treatment of animals and other forms of social power, mass violence, and domination, from capitalism and patriarchy to genocide, fascism, and ecocide. Contributors include well-known writers in the field as well as scholars in other areas writing on animals for the first time. Among other things, the authors apply Freud's theory of repression to our relationship to the animal, debunk the 'Locavore' movement, expose the sexism of the animal defense movement, and point the way toward a new transformative politics that would encompass the human and animal alike.


Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film (Anat Pick, 2011)
Simone Weil once wrote that “the vulnerability of precious things is beautiful because vulnerability is a mark of existence,” establishing a relationship between vulnerability, beauty, and existence transcending the separation of species. Her conception of a radical ethics and aesthetics could be characterized as a new poetics of species, forcing a rethinking of the body’s significance, both human and animal. Exploring the “logic of flesh” and the use of the body to mark species identity, Anat Pick reimagines a poetics that begins with the vulnerability of bodies, not the omnipotence of thought. Pick proposes a “creaturely” approach based on the shared embodiedness of humans and animals and a postsecular perspective on human-animal relations. She turns to literature, film, and other cultural texts, challenging the familiar inventory of the human: consciousness, language, morality, and dignity. Reintroducing Weil’s elaboration of such themes as witnessing, commemoration, and collective memory, Pick identifies the animal within all humans, emphasizing the corporeal and its issues of power and freedom. In her poetics of the creaturely, powerlessness is the point at which aesthetic and ethical thinking must begin.


Social Lives with Animals: Tales of Sex, Death and Love (Erika Cudworth 2011)
The conventional trilogy of social domination, of class, 'race' and gender has been challenged by new concerns around other distinctions – of place and location, age and generation, sexuality and forms of embodied difference. Despite these important developments, sociology has mostly stopped short at the difference of species. Erika Cudworth draws on various traditions of critical theorizing in sociology and animal studies in arguing that the social is not exclusively human and that species should be understood as a complex system of social domination which is co-constituted with intra-human social dominations. This understanding of species as a social system of relations is exemplified through three case studies: the eating of animals as food, the rearing of animals in industrial agriculture and the keeping of animals as companions. These sites reveal ways in which relations of species domination shape the lives both of humans, and of domesticated animals. Social Lives with Other Animals is a critical sociology of species which takes us beyond theories of speciesism or anthropocentricity and presents a necessary challenge to the power relations in the social formations of species.


Animalkind: What We Owe to Animals (Jean Kazez, 2010)
By exploring the ethical differences between humans and animals, Animalkind establishes a middle ground between egalitarianism and outright dismissal of animal rights. A thought-provoking foray into our complex and contradictory relationship with animals. Advocates that we owe each animal due respect. Offers readers a sensible alternative to extremism by speaking of respect and compassion for animals, not rights. Balances philosophical analysis with intriguing facts and engaging tales


Beyond Animal Rights: Food, Pets, and Ethics (Tony Milligan, 2010)
Issues to do with animal ethics remain at the heart of public debate. In "Beyond Animal Rights," Tony Milligan goes beyond standard discussions of animal ethics to explore the ways in which we personally relate to other creatures through our diet, as pet owners and as beneficiaries of experimentation. The book connects with our duty to act and considers why previous discussions have failed to result in a change in the way that we live our lives. The author asks a crucial question: what sort of people do we have to become if we are to sufficiently improve the ways in which we relate to the non-human? Appealing to both consequences and character, he argues that no improvement will be sufficient if it fails to set humans on a path towards a tolerable and sustainable future. Focusing on our direct relations to the animals we connect with the book offers guidance on all the relevant issues, including veganism and vegetarianism, the organic movement, pet ownership, and animal experimentation


Animal Ethics in Context (Clare Palmer, 2011)
It is widely agreed that because animals feel pain we should not make them suffer gratuitously. Some ethical theories go even further: because of the capacities that they possess, animals have the right not to be harmed or killed. These views concern what not to do to animals, but we also face questions about when we should, and should not, assist animals that are hungry or distressed. Should we feed a starving stray kitten? And if so, does this commit us, if we are to be consistent, to feeding wild animals during a hard winter? In this controversial book, Clare Palmer advances a theory that claims, with respect to assisting animals, that what is owed to one is not necessarily owed to all, even if animals share similar psychological capacities. Context, history, and relation can be critical ethical factors. If animals live independently in the wild, their fate is not any of our moral business. Yet if humans create dependent animals, or destroy their habitats, we may have a responsibility to assist them. Such arguments are familiar in human casesùwe think that parents have special obligations to their children, for example, or that some groups owe reparations to others. Palmer develops such relational concerns in- the context of wild animals, domesticated animals, and urban scavengers, arguing that different contexts can create different moral relationships.


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN:
CIFERAE: A Bestiary in Five Fingers (Tim Tyler, 2012)
In this bold and creative new investigation into the philosophical and intellectual parameters of the question of the animal, Tom Tyler explores a curious fact: in arguing or assuming that knowledge is characteristically human, thinkers have time and again employed animals as examples, metaphors, and fables. From Heidegger’s lizard and Popper’s bees to Saussure’s ox and Freud’s wolves, Tyler points out, “we find a multitude of brutes and beasts crowding into the texts to which they are supposedly unwelcome.” Inspired by the medieval bestiaries, Tyler’s book features an assortment of “wild animals” (ferae)—both real and imaginary—who appear in the works of philosophy as mere ciferae, or ciphers; each is there deployed as a placeholder, of no importance or worth in their own right. Examining the work of such figures as Bataille, Moore, Nietzsche, Kant, Whorf, Darwin, and Derrida, among others, Tyler identifies four ways in which these animals have been used and abused: as interchangeable ciphers; as instances of generalized animality; as anthropomorphic caricatures; and as repetitive stereotypes. Looking closer, however, he finds that these unruly beasts persistently and mischievously question the humanist assumptions of their would-be employers. Tyler ultimately challenges claims of human distinctiveness and superiority, which are so often represented by the supposedly unique and perfect human hand. Contrary to these claims, he contends that the hand is, in fact, a primitive organ, and one shared by many different creatures, thereby undercutting one of the foundations of anthropocentricism and opening up the possibility of nonhuman, or more-than-human, knowledge.


Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now? (Kari Weil, 2012)
Animal studies has emerged as a major field within the humanities, despite its challenge to the very notion of the “human” that shapes humanities scholarship. Kari Weil investigates the rise of animal studies and its singular reading of literature and philosophy through the lens of human-animal relations and difference, providing not only a critical introduction to the field but also an appreciation of its thrilling acts of destabilization. Weil explores the mechanisms we use to build knowledge of other animals, to understand ourselves in relation to other animals, and to represent animals in literature, philosophy, theory, art, and cultural practice. Examining real and imagined confrontations between human and nonhuman animals, she charts the presumed lines of difference between human beings and other species and the personal, ethical, and political implications of those boundaries. Her considerations recast the work of such authors as Kafka, Mann, Woolf, and Coetzee, and such philosophers as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Deleuze, Agamben, Cixous, and Hearne, while incorporating the aesthetic perspectives of such visual artists as Bill Viola, Frank Noelker, and Sam Taylor-Wood and the “visual thinking” of the autistic animal scientist Temple Grandin. Weil addresses theories of pet keeping and domestication; the importance of animal agency; the intersection of animal studies, disability studies, and ethics; and the role of gender, shame, love, and grief in shaping our attitudes toward animals. Exposing humanism’s conception of the human as a biased illusion, and embracing posthumanism’s acceptance of human and animal entanglement, Weil unseats the comfortable assumptions of humanist thought and its species-specific distinctions.


Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why it's so Hard to Think Straight about Animals (Hal Herzog, 2010)
Drawing on more than two decades of research in the emerging field of anthrozoology, the science of human–animal relations, Hal Herzog offers surprising answers to these and other questions related to the moral conundrums we face day in and day out regarding the creatures with whom we share our world... Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat is a highly entertaining and illuminating journey through the full spectrum of human–animal relations, based on Dr. Herzog’s groundbreaking research on animal rights activists, cockfighters, professional dog-show handlers, veterinary students, and biomedical researchers. Blending anthropology, behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy, Herzog carefully crafts a seamless narrative enriched with real-life anecdotes, scientific research, and his own sense of moral ambivalence... Alternately poignant, challenging, and laugh-out-loud funny, this enlightening and provocative book will forever change the way we look at our relationships with other creatures and, ultimately, how we see ourselves.


Human Error: Species-Being and Media Machines (Dominic Pettman, 2011)
What exactly is the human element separating humans from animals and machines? The common answers that immediately come to mind—like art, empathy, or technology—fall apart under close inspection. Dominic Pettman argues that it is a mistake to define such rigid distinctions in the first place, and the most decisive “human error” may be the ingrained impulse to understand ourselves primarily in contrast to our other worldly companions. In Human Error, Pettman describes the three sides of the cybernetic triangle—human, animal, and machine—as a rubric for understanding key figures, texts, and sites where our species-being is either reinforced or challenged by our relationship to our own narcissistic technologies. Consequently, species-being has become a matter of specious-being, in which the idea of humanity is not only a case of mistaken identity but indeed the mistake of identity. Human Error boldly insists on the necessity of relinquishing our anthropomorphism but also on the extreme difficulty of doing so, given how deeply this attitude is bound with all our other most cherished beliefs about forms of life.


The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human (Pat Shipman, 2011)
Why do humans all over the world take in and nurture other animals? This behavior might seem maladaptive--after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat--but in this heartening new study, acclaimed anthropologist Pat Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species' greatest strengths. For the last 2.6 million years, Shipman explains, humans who coexisted with animals enjoyed definite adaptive and cultural advantages. To illustrate this point, Shipman gives us a tour of the milestones in human civilization--from agriculture to art and even language--and describes how we reached each stage through our unique relationship with other animals. The Animal Connection reaffirms our love of animals as something both innate and distinctly human, revealing that the process of domestication not only changed animals but had a resounding impact on us as well.--From publisher description.


What it Means to be Human: Historical Reflections from the 1800s to the Present (Joanna Bourke, 2011)
In this fascinating account, Joanna Bourke addresses the profound question of what it means to be “human” rather than “animal.” How are people excluded from political personhood? How does one become entitled to rights? The distinction between the two concepts is a blurred line, permanently under construction. If the Earnest Englishwoman had been capable of looking 100 years into the future, she might have wondered about the human status of chimeras, or the ethics of stem cell research. Political disclosures and scientific advances have been re-locating the human-animal border at an alarming speed. In this meticulously researched, illuminating book, Bourke explores the legacy of more than two centuries, and looks forward into what the future might hold for humans, women, and animals.


Anthropocentrism: Humans, Animals, Environments (Rob Boddice, 2011)
Anthropocentrism is a charge of human chauvinism and an acknowledgement of human ontological boundaries. Anthropocentrism has provided order and structure to humans' understanding of the world, while unavoidably expressing the limits of that understanding. This collection explores the assumptions behind the label ‘anthropocentrism', critically enquiring into the meaning of ‘human'. It addresses the epistemological and ontological problems of charges of anthropocentrism, questioning whether all human views are inherently anthropocentric. In addition, it examines the potential scope for objective, empathetic, relational, or ‘other' views that trump anthropocentrism. With a principal focus on ethical questions concerning animals, the environment and the social, the essays ultimately cohere around the question of the non-human, be it animal, ecosystem, god, or machine.

AGRO-ECOLOGY:
Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany (Matthew Hall, 2011)
Matthew Hall challenges readers to reconsider the moral standing of plants, arguing that they are other-than-human persons. Plants constitute the bulk of our visible biomass, underpin all natural ecosystems, and make life on Earth possible. Yet plants are considered passive and insensitive beings rightly placed outside moral consideration. As the human assault on nature continues, more ethical behavior toward plants is needed. Hall surveys Western, Eastern, Pagan, and Indigenous thought, as well as modern science and botanical history, for attitudes toward plants, noting the particular resources for plant personhood and those modes of thought which most exclude plants. The most hierarchical systems typically put plants at the bottom, but Hall finds much to support a more positive view of plants. Indeed, some Indigenous animisms actually recognize plants as relational, intelligent beings who are the appropriate recipients of care and respect. New scientific findings encourage this perspective, revealing that plants possess many of the capacities of sentience and mentality traditionally denied them.
 

Meat: A Benign Extravagance (Simon Fairlie, 2010)
Meat is a groundbreaking exploration of the difficult environmental, ethical and health issues surrounding the human consumption of animals. Garnering huge praise in the UK, this is a book that answers the question: should we be farming animals, or not? Not a simple answer, but one that takes all views on meat eating into account. It lays out in detail the reasons why we must indeed decrease the amount of meat we eat, both for the planet and for ourselves, and yet explores how different forms of agriculture--including livestock--shape our landscape and culture.At the heart of this book, Simon Fairlie argues that society needs to re-orient itself back to the land, both physically and spiritually, and explains why an agriculture that can most readily achieve this is one that includes a measure of livestock farming. It is a well-researched look at agricultural and environmental theory from a fabulous writer and a farmer, and is sure to take off where other books on vegetarianism and veganism have fallen short in their global scope.


Animals and Public Health: Why Treating Animals Better is Critical to Human Welfare (Aysha Akhtar, 2012)
It is often assumed, particularly by those in the health fields, that the welfare of animals is in opposition to that of humans. Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., dispels that notion by presenting scientific evidence that demonstrates just how intricately related human and animal health and welfare are. In a lively and engaging manner, this highly accessible text takes the reader through a diverse array of health topics and explores the link between the way we treat animals and how it affects human health. Dr. Akhtar explores the lives of animals in violent homes, factory farms, experimental laboratories, the entertainment industry and the wildlife trade. She reveals how their poor treatment is both directly and indirectly related to some of the most significant and urgent health issues we face today. This ground-breaking and timely book draws from examples as diverse as domestic violence, Michael Vick's dog-fighting ring, the world's most ominous infectious diseases, animal attacks, high-profile drug failures and global warming. The result is a powerful and compelling argument on the critical need to improve our treatment of animals not only to alleviate their suffering but also to alleviate our own.

Animals as Biotechnology: Ethics, Sustainability, and Critical Animal Studies (Richard Twine, 2010)
In Animals as Biotechnology: Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies sociologist Richard Twine places the questioning of human/animal relations at the heart of sustainability and climate change debates. This book is shaped by the incongruous parallel emergence of two approaches to nonhuman animals. The animal sciences concerned with the efficient and profitable production of animals into meat and dairy products now embrace molecular knowledge as a means to extract new sources of biocapital from farmed animal bodies. However the emergence of animal studies and critical animal studies ”mostly in the humanities and social sciences ”work to question the dominant instrumental character of our relations with other animals. Twine considers the emergence of these approaches to bring into relief the paradox of a novel biotechnological power to breed new forms of animals at the very time when critical animal studies and threats such as climate change pose serious questions of anthropocentrism and hubris... This book concludes by considering whether growing counter calls to reduce our consumption of meat/dairy products in the face of climate change threats are in fact complicit with an anthropocentric discourse that would marginalize from its understanding of sustainability a more thorough ethical questioning of normative human/animal relations.

The Wyden-Ryan Plan Will Be the Foundation for Serious Medicare Reform—and Maybe More

In two companion articles in January’s New England Journal of Medicine, Henry Aaron with Austin Frakt, and Joe Antos critique the Wyden-Ryan Medicare reform proposal.Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) are proposing a hybrid Medicare reform proposal combing both Republican defined contribution free market principles—a premium support scheme—with Democratic defined