The Queen of Fats

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                The Queen of Fats
      An Author’s Quest to Restore Omega-3
               to the Western Diet
                      Some of the most seismic events in human history are hidden in plain sight while
                  they’re occurring. Susan Allport’s The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3s Were Removed
                  from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them is a slender book that
                  tells the story of one such event. The removal of omega-3s from the diets of the industri-
                  alized nations — Japan and Mediterranean Europe are notable exceptions — may turn
                  out to be the major factor behind the onslaught of chronic diseases afflicting the citizens
                  of those countries, especially the United States. This essential element was removed from
                  our diet thanks to ignorance and industrial expediency, yet replacing it is not a simple
                  matter of taking a supplement, as Allport explains in the interview that follows.

Susan Allport     ACRES U.S.A. What made you realize that
                  this topic deserved a whole book? What was
                                                                          then he said, “I’ve been waiting for this call
                                                                          for a long time.” I knew then that there was
                  the catalyst that really got you going?                 something in this story that had not yet been
                                                                          told. So it was doubly exciting.
                  SUSAN ALLPORT. It was very specific. It
                  was when I realized that the chloroplasts of            ACRES U.S.A. One of the striking things
                  green leaves were full of omega-3s, as are              about the subject is that omega-3s have been
                  the eyes and the brains of animals — differ-            a factor in our knowledge for quite a while,
                  ent omega-3s, but the same family — and                 at least several decades. What are the popu-
                  I thought there may be something very                   lar misconceptions about omega-3s? What
                  special about this family of fats, since chlo-          are the gaps in our knowledge of these fats?
                  roplast is where photosynthesis, the fastest
                  activity of plants, takes place. Likewise, the          ALLPORT. So many of our essential nutri-
                  brains and the eyes, visual transmission and            ents are straightforward — we simply need
                  nerve transmission, are the fastest activi-             to consume them in order for us to live. But
                  ties in animals. I kept brushing up against             with these essential nutrients, the omega-6s
                  the whole body of research on the omega-                and the omega-3s, it’s crucial to consume
                  3s when I was writing The Primal Feast:                 them in the right balance for optimal health.
                  Food, Sex, Foraging and Love, but because               That’s been a confusing thing for researchers
                  that book was really about how differences              — it’s only come out over a period of years
                  between the sexes work in terms of forag-               how that really works. The omega fats are
                  ing and omega-3s didn’t have a different                different than most nutrients where you just
                  sex basis, I put it aside. I took a look at it          need to consume adequate amounts, and it
                  again when I finished my book and found                 doesn’t hurt terribly much if you consume
                  it to be an unbelievable topic. When I first            a little more — it’s not a problem. But with
                  called Dr. Ralph Holman of the University               these, there really is an important issue
                  of Minnesota, a major researcher of essential           about the relative quantities. The relation-
                  fatty acids, it turned out to be the morning            ships between the fatty acids in the different
                  of his wife’s funeral. I told him that I wanted         families has also made it very confusing. It
                  to write this book and he sounded incredibly            wasn't until 2000 that a kind of framework
                  irritated and upset, then he told me about              was developed that accounted for the effects
                  the funeral, and I was extremely apologetic.            of the two families and actually pulled the
                  But he stopped and there was silence and                whole thing together.

                  Reprinted from                  April 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 4

ACRES U.S.A. What happened in 2000?             ing on the animal. At the same time, the               ALLPORT. From the vegetable oils that
                                                presence of omega-3s in seafood has                    have replaced butter and lard, from other
ALLPORT. That was when Tony Hulbert,            been getting more and more play and is                 fats in our diet, from the processed and
an Australian researcher, realized that         being talked up a lot, so if you’re the fish           packaged foods that use vegetable oils as
metabolism in different species is keyed        industry, what do you do? Encourage                    a convenient and inexpensive fat, from
to the amount of omega-3 in the mem-            people to eat polluted fish? They can’t                the process of partial hydrogenation,
branes of those different species. We           really get up on a soapbox and just yell               which specifically eliminates omega-3s,
finally began to understand that the            about the omega-3s, because at the same                turning them into 6s as well as trans-
omega-3s are predominantly concen-              time the government is telling people,                 fats, from the fact that our livestock are
trated in the green leaves of plants and        especially pregnant women, not to eat                  no longer fed grass and other greens but
the omega-6s are concentrated in the            so much of this or that seafood. The                   are fed grains, which are much richer
seeds of plants, and that basically what        seafood industry probably doesn’t want                 in the omega-6s. . . . I don’t know how
we’re talking about here is two families        to tell people to just forget about their              many ways! We wouldn’t need to eat as
of fats that allow us animals to pre-           product and take little gelcaps full of                much fish if we’d stop eating those high
pare for the changing seasons, to either        omega-3 oil.                                           omega-6 vegetable oils. We don’t have
speed up, get ready for times of activity
and reproduction when green leaves are
available and abundant — or to slow                 “We’re talking about every cell in the body —
down, hunker down, get ready for times
of survival — when the fats of seeds are
more prevalent. It’s really a cool system.
                                                and we’re talking about these fatty acids first
Plants use the changing light as the Earth
makes its orbit around the sun — they
                                                winding up in the cell membrane, every cell,
adapt to the changing light, and then
we adapt to the change in plant food. It        which is why every day you see a new disease
really is an amazing thing, but it’s not
generally understood. We just think, oh,        that’s being linked to this imbalance.”
we’ll eat this food, if we eat enough fish
we’ll be healthy. There is a much bigger
story than just how much fish we need to        ALLPORT. Right. It’s terribly confus-                  to be between that rock and hard place
eat, or which seed oils to eat.                 ing. Eating fish is one way to correct                 in terms of fish. We can protect those
                                                this imbalance of 6s and 3s in our food                resources and save them. If everybody
ACRES U.S.A. It’s an evolutionary ques-         supply. But it’s not the only way, and it              ate twice-weekly meals of fish as the gov-
tion, isn’t it? Did the omega-3s appear in      is not the best way. We have to eat 10                 ernment now recommends, there would
plants first and then in seafood?               times as much fish to get a really healthy             soon be no fish left in the ocean, and we
                                                balance of those two families of essen-                wouldn’t be having this conversation.
ALLPORT. All the omega-3s in seafood            tial fats as we would if we were eating
come originally from plants. Fish are so        healthy amounts of the omega-6s. If                    ACRES U.S.A. Except as an exercise in
important to us because they’re one of          our omega-6s were at healthy levels, we                nostalgia.
the last animals in our food supply that        would need just tiny amounts of fish
still eat greens. That is one of the reasons    or omega-3 enriched eggs or cattle that                ALLPORT. Right.
why fish have become so important.              have been raised on grass. These two
Another is that because they live in water,     families of fats compete for enzymes, for              ACRES U.S.A. What products are
they require more of those omega-3s in          positions in our cell membranes, which                 responsible for the excessive amount of
their tissues in order to move around in        don’t care whether they get loaded up                  omega-6 in the American diet?
that much colder environment, under             with omega-6s or omega-3s. They don’t
pressure. So they require omega-3s in           care for a reason — because they’re built              ALLPORT. Safflower oil, sunflower oil,
their diet, and because we now feed the         that way so that they can change with                  peanut oil, corn oil and soybean oil.
majority of our animals grains instead          the changing seasons and the chang-                    Soybean oil can be part of a healthy diet
of grasses, they’re one of the last animals     ing food supply. They’re meant to go                   if it’s not a huge part of your food supply
we’re eating in any kind of quantity that       through these seasonal changes, slight                 and if it’s not modified or processed.
eats greens.                                    seasonal changes. The reason we’ve run
                                                into problems is because we eat this high              ACRES U.S.A. Palm oil?
ACRES U.S.A. Isn’t there a caveat any-          omega-6 diet year-round.
time you talk about seafood? Everybody                                                                 ALLPORT. Palm oil is not so bad, butter
knows that seafood is dicey nowadays.           ACRES U.S.A. Where does the excessive                  is not so bad, olive oil — all of those are
There are varying amounts of mercury            omega-6 come from?                                     useful oils. Canola oil has a very good
and other pollutants in seafood, depend-                                                               ratio, a very healthy ratio — not the

                                         Reprinted from                  April 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 4

modified canola oils that they’re com-          ble bonds in them, and that produces a                 and migration of cancer cells — and
ing up with now that are reducing the           different flexibility of the membrane.                 cell death, too. There’s a great deal of
Omega-3s, but the original ratio was                                                                   evidence that the omega-6 rich diet pre-
about one to five. All of the oils are con-     ACRES U.S.A. How are they different?                   disposes us to certain forms of cancers,
stantly being modified.                                                                                including breast and colon and prostate
                                                ALLPORT. Let’s say that omega-6s are                   cancer. It’s a very large topic. It’s easy
ACRES U.S.A. Why are they being modi-           a little stiffer, and omega-3s are a little            to dismiss it because there are so many
fied, to manufacture them?                      looser. That looseness enables all those               diseases involved, you might think, oh,
                                                enzymes in the membrane — and that’s                   this can’t possibly be, but when you’re
ALLPORT. Yes, for manufacturing pur-            where most enzymes live, in cell mem-                  talking about every cell in the body, there
poses and to meet the current demand            branes — it enables them to go about                   are reasons for the fact that there are so
for oils that are healthier. Currently peo-     their business that much faster. You can               many diseases involved.
ple are looking for monounsaturated             imagine it is kind of a WD-40 for the
oils, which are monounsaturated fats            entire body, or you can think about doing              ACRES U.S.A. Are the public health
like olive oil, so they’re modifying these      jumping jacks in the air versus doing                  authorities fully aware of these things, or
other oils to make them closer to that          them in a thicker medium like water —                  is it still just catching on?
profile, and in the process they can be         that’s what the difference is. You have this
increasing the omega-6s or decreasing           slowing-down effect when the omega-6s                  ALLPORT. I think it is still catching on,
the omega-3s. They can do a variety of          have replaced the omega-3s, and that fits              slowly catching on. There is a new study
different things.                               in with that hunkering down for times of               every day on this, so I think my book
                                                leanness and survival. You’re putting on               was probably helpful in giving them this
ACRES U.S.A. What does an excess of             weight, and you’re slowing down. These                 historical overview that puts the research
omega-6 or an out-of-balance ratio 6 to         two families have different overarching                in context. Also, the overview of Tony
3 do to the human body?                         effects. They are also snipped out of the              Hulbert’s work probably helped. There
                                                membrane and used to make important                    is a lot of biological research you have to
ALLPORT. Remember, we’re talking                cell messengers called prostaglandins.                 understand and apply to this. You can’t
about every cell in the body — and we’re        The first thing that we knew about these               get to these connections one epidemio-
talking about these fatty acids first wind-     two families of fats was the fact that they            logical study at a time.
ing up in the cell membrane, every cell,        made very different cell messengers. The
which is why every day you see a new            ones made from the omega-6s are highly                 ACRES U.S.A. What are the pitfalls of
disease that’s being linked to this imbal-      inflammatory, highly likely to promote                 researching these fats?
ance. The last one I saw was Parkinson’s        blood clotting or increased blood pres-
disease. I’ve seen recent reports on            sure — they affect all kinds of bodily                 ALLPORT. In order to see clear and con-
autism, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, macular       processes linked to diseases such as heart             sistent findings of the differing effects of
degeneration, all of those. OK, so you’re       disease, obesity and diabetes. The omega-              the omega-3s and the omega-6s in any
picturing every cell, and every cell likes a    3 messengers are far less likely to promote            subject group, you really have to careful-
certain amount of polyunsaturate in it,         inflammation. I talk about the omega-6                 ly control for omega-6 consumption as
and that’s what keeps it moving optimal-        messengers as being a kind of SWAT                     well as looking at omega-3 consumption.
ly, right? But that amount can be made          team coming in to fight infection. They’re             In studies that have looked, for example,
up either of omega-3 or omega-6 fats, so        actually necessary for a healthy immune                only at fish consumption and trying to
it’s got that discretion, which is meant to     response, but too many SWAT teams                      link fish consumption to a decrease in
work with the changing seasons. The rest        coming in, or SWAT teams bursting in at                cancer risk or a decrease in heart disease,
of the fats in those cell membranes will        a family dinner, so to speak, aren’t going             some say yes, there is such a thing, and
be fats of the saturated and the mono-          to do you any good. There’s hardly a                   then you see the next one and it says
unsaturated families. Those are fats that       chronic disease that Western nations suf-              no. That’s probably because they haven’t
we make ourselves, depending on what            fer from that is not linked in very specific           controlled for the omega-6 consump-
we need. So, given anything that we eat,        ways to the double effects of these two                tion, because, as we were discussing
we can make whatever saturated and              families of fatty acids.                               earlier, those two families compete with
monounsaturated fats those membranes                                                                   each other for those same spots in the
need, but the polyunsaturated fats have         ACRES U.S.A. Have these linkages been                  cell membranes. Unless you understand
to come from the diet, and each different       established recently, or have they been                that a person’s diet is extremely rich in
cell type is going to want a slightly dif-      known for a long time?                                 omega-6s, it doesn’t really matter how
ferent ratio of polyunsaturated than the                                                               much fish they’re eating. Unless they’re
others, but the family that it comes from       ALLPORT. For a long time — in fact,                    really eating a lot of fish, they’re not
depends upon what you’re eating. We             they keep being established. For instance,             going to show the positive effects of the
know from Tony Hulbert’s work and the           now people know that the two differ-                   high omega-3 diet. They need to reduce
work of many others that the different          ent families of essential fats have pro-               that omega-6, or at least the investiga-
families have different numbers of dou-         foundly different effects on the growth                tor needs to understand that in this

                                         Reprinted from                  April 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 4

population it is really about what’s hap-      that needs to be omega-6s. We store the                and that’s why they’re showing us many
pening in your tissues. Our tissues will       omega-6s in our body fats. We don’t                    of these problems. I can’t remember how
show whether we’ve had a consistently          store many omega-3s in body fats, we                   many months it took her to develop the
high omega-3 intake or consistently high       store them in our cell membranes, but                  deficiency, but it was maybe six months
omega-6 intake. If we just look at what        somebody has to be on these fat-free                   or so, and that’s with a little girl. You can
they’re consuming in terms of fish, we’re      diets for months and years to actually                 imagine. The part to remember is that
not necessarily going to see that.             observe the deficiencies, so it’s a hard               it’s not so much a question of a defi-
                                               deficiency to observe. And what are we                 ciency of omega-3s as it is an imbalance
ACRES U.S.A. Is our thinking about             even calling this imbalance? The imbal-                of omega-3s and omega-6s.
these things affected by an emphasis on        ance itself is hard to observe, too — it
singular causes, while we need to look at      comes out in these chronic diseases.                   ACRES U.S.A. Has there ever been a
the interrelationship of several things,                                                              population or a cluster of people with an
like looking at one actor in the drama         ACRES U.S.A. How long does it take to                  extreme excess of omega-3s, an imbal-
instead of the whole ensemble?                 emerge that way?                                       ance in the other direction?

ALLPORT. The balance thing is a hard           ALLPORT. It doesn’t come out immedi-                   ALLPORT. You might say that the Inuit
one for many people to accept. It’s a lot      ately. If we could see the impact imme-                had that. When researchers went up to
easier to say this food wears the white
hat and that one wears the black hat and
stay away from that one, so that probably          “It’s a complicated story. It’s even complicated
plays a role in it.
                                               for scientists to wrap their head around this and
ACRES U.S.A. You mean it plays a role in
the popular mind?                              the fact that we’ve known about these essential
ALLPORT. Yes — but it’s a complicated          fats since the 1930s, so why are we still struggling
story. It’s even complicated for scientists
to wrap their head around this and             with them?”
the fact that we’ve known about these
essential fats since the 1930s, so why are
we still struggling with them? But we          diately we would have understood this                  Greenland to study them they realized
really didn’t know that omega-3s were          a long time ago. But the first little girl             these people had a very, very low rate
essential until the 1980s. So in that time     who was observed with an omega-3                       of heart disease and no diabetes, no
that we knew about essential fats and we       deficiency, she had a gunshot wound in                 obesity. Even though they might look
really knew that omega-6s were essen-          her stomach, so a lot of her intestines                fat, it’s just the cheeks, they actually are
tial, but not omega-3s, we promoted the        had to be replaced, and she had to be on               quite lean people and they lived on a
consumption of those omega-6s and              intravenous feeding for the rest of her                very high-fat diet. But they had chronic
you know the 1960s and 1970s were rife         life. At first she was fed food based on               nosebleeds, and they also had a higher
with promotion of margarines and all           safflower oil, and she was a little girl, so           rate of hemorrhagic stroke, some bleed-
those high omega-6 butter substitutes.         it wasn’t long — it was months not years               ing strokes. So they might have had too
Now we’ve really got egg on our face,          — before she developed the omega-3                     much omega-3 in their diet. We tend to
and we have to turn back all that. It’s a      deficiency and bizarre symptoms that                   die of clotting, but they had much more
little embarrassing that we made such a        the doctors had never seen before began                tendency towards bleeding, heavy bleed-
big deal about switching from butter to        to appear.                                             ing. There were battle accounts in which
those high omega-6 fats.                                                                              the Inuit would talk about how, when
                                               ACRES U.S.A. When did this occur?                      they were pierced, if they were wounded,
ACRES U.S.A. Did the long gap in the                                                                  they just didn’t stop bleeding. Their diet
understanding occur because scientists         ALLPORT. That was in 1981 or 1982.                     has changed now, so they don’t have that
were structuring their studies around                                                                 same high bleeding tendency.
single factors?                                ACRES U.S.A. So the little girl’s misfor-
                                               tune removed the need for a multi-year                 ACRES U.S.A. What kind of ratio is
ALLPORT. No — for one thing, we only           study and gave researchers a shortcut?                 ideal?
need tiny amounts of these fats in our
diets, so it’s incredibly hard to deplete      ALLPORT. Right, and they knew how to                   ALLPORT. The Japanese have about
research animals of these fats that are        use it. They just changed the fats in those            a 50:50 ratio of the omega-3s and the
everywhere in the food supply. It’s 0.5        intravenous feedings — she was just                    omega-6s in their membranes, maybe
percent of our diet that needs to be           on that single food. Nobody else is on                 even a little higher towards the omega-3s
omega-3s and one percent of our diet           a single food, except for rats in the lab,             but let’s say it’s a 50:50 ratio, while our

                                        Reprinted from                  April 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 4

ratio is about 80 percent omega-6s and           extra “n” in it, and it also has one more             in linoleic acid, you’re not going to get
20 percent omega-3s. We need to get it           double-bond in the molecule. That’s                   that conversion of alpha-linolenic acid
down. In the Mediterranean it’s about            what gives the omega-3s their kinkier                 to EPA and DHA. But if your diet is
60 percent omega-6s and 40 percent               nature and allows them to loosen up                   balanced between the two and is not
omega-3s. We need to get down to at              those membranes. All the omega-3s, the                too rich in the linoleic acid, your body
least that level, and a lot of these diseases    parent and then the offspring, all have an            is going to be fine. You still need to eat
will just disappear.                             extra double bond. In the omega-6s the                small quantities of the pre-elongated
                                                 parent is the linoleic, and through enzy-             fats. You don’t need to base your omega-
ACRES U.S.A. Does the health profile of          matic elongation and desaturation that                3 intake on the long-chain fats — what’s
Mediterranean populations reflect that?          adds double bonds and elongates the                   most important is that by reducing your
                                                 molecule, it turns into arachidonic acid.             omega-6 intake and keeping those two
ALLPORT. Yes! The heart disease rate             Likewise, the parent omega-3, linolenic               parents in balance, you’re preventing
definitely reflects it, and the cancers, too.    acid, through enzymatic desaturation                  the linoleic acid from being turned into
                                                                                                       arachidonic acid. If you are consuming
                                                                                                       lots of fish oil and don’t understand that
   “We don’t store many omega-3s in body fats, we                                                      you also need to eat greens and the flax
                                                                                                       seed and all those other plant sources
store them in our membranes, but somebody has                                                          of omega-3s, your body is just going to
                                                                                                       take its linoleic, which it is getting from
to be on these fat-free diets for months and years                                                     the vegetable oils, and turn it into tons
                                                                                                       of arachidonic acid — because there’s no
to actually observe the deficiencies, so it’s a hard                                                   competition for it. Then you’re going to
                                                                                                       have those highly inflammatory, slightly
deficiency to observe.”                                                                                stiffer fats in your membranes.

                                                                                                       ACRES U.S.A. It makes perfect sense,
I don’t think people have looked at every        and elongation turns into DHA and EPA                 although it’s difficult to hold in mind all
one of the diseases linked to these fats,        — docosahexaenoic acid and eicosa-                    at once.
because there’s no point in looking —            pentaenoic acid. DHA is particularly
they’re not there! We need to look at the        concentrated in the brain and the eyes,               ALLPORT. It’s a difficult and complex
question of why are they here for us?            and EPA has been linked to all kinds of               story. But there’s proof in the pudding
                                                 mood disorders. What’s also interesting               when you look at the intake of vegetable
ACRES U.S.A. On the Amazon page for              is that EPA and arachidonic acid are the              oils in the United States and then at the
your book, one of the citizen reviewers          two members of the two families that are              estimates for how much EPA and DHA
takes issue with your mocking the Atkins         snipped out and turned into those cell                and how much arachidonic acid we’re
diet, although it seems that unless you          messengers — just those two. They’re                  consuming. Our intake of both is about
eat an Atkins diet with grass-fed meat,          both 20-carbon molecules, but one has                 the same, but our tissues are already full
you’re on solid ground there.                    one more double bond than the other.                  of the arachidonic acid. There’s only one
                                                                                                       way that can happen — it’s from the
ALLPORT. Yes, and the Atkins diet in the         ACRES U.S.A. They’re obviously impor-                 excess parent, the excess linoleic acid.
Arctic is a perfectly healthy diet.              tant — where does the controversy come
                                                 in?                                                   ACRES U.S.A. An excess of the omega-
ACRES U.S.A. Leaving that to one side,                                                                 6?
another reader took issue with you on            ALLPORT. People will tell you that it’s
the question of linolenic acid breaking          no good basing our omega-3 intake                     ALLPORT. There’s no other way for that
down into EPA and DHA. Could you                 on greens and flax seed, which are full               to happen, so looking at the conversion
address that and explain along the way           of this alpha-linolenic acid, the par-                rate in an animal that has a high omega-
what EPA and DHA have to do with all             ent, because the body is so inefficient               6 intake is not the same as looking at it
this?                                            at turning it into EPA and DHA. They                  under healthy conditions. You have to
                                                 say that what we need to do is eat more               look at it under balanced conditions.
ALLPORT. Remember that these two                 fish, more foods that already have the                It’s healthy to consume a little long-
essential fats come in families. Let’s call      EPA and DHA. Now, the enzymes that                    chain, but not anything like what we
them the parent fatty acids — they each          turn the parent acid into the longer-                 need without that high omega-6 intake.
have a parent because they’re two dif-           chain fatty-acids are the same for the                People have done numerous studies on
ferent families. The omega-3 parent is           two families. The parents compete with                this. There was a very recent one show-
alpha-linolenic acid. The omega-6 par-           each other for those enzymes that add                 ing how little fish we needed to consume
ent is linoleic acid. The way I can keep         the double bonds and add length — so                  if we would just reduce the omega-6
them straight is that the linolenic has the      much so that if your diet is very rich                intake, thereby getting us beyond that

                                          Reprinted from                 April 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 4

point of advising people to consume            but some of these farmers I’ve been talk-              to put together. The involvement of the
more and more fish when so much of             ing to — just a few — really understand                food industry promoting the one and
that fish is either not caught sustainably     that there is a big chemical change in the             eliminating the other is confusing too.
or is possibly polluted.                       animals with grain feeding versus grass                All these different threads have made
                                               feeding. Once you understand that, then                this a difficult story to put together. I feel
ACRES U.S.A. How did the omega-3s              there is a big incentive for making that               very fortunate to have come along at a
come to be removed from our diet, the          change, that transition back to the grass              time when that theoretical framework
Western industrial diet?                       feeding.                                               was available from Tony Hulbert. I’m a
                                                                                                      forager by nature, so I appreciate the role
ALLPORT. They are more highly oxidiz-          ACRES U.S.A. Was the rise of grain-fed                 of greens in the human diet. I came to it
able than omega-6s, which is one of the        beef the tipping point for the wholesale               with that, and I loved chemistry in gradu-
reasons why we got sent along this path.       disappearance of the omega-3s?                         ate school, so I came to it with that too!
The other one is that we didn’t realize                                                               Those affinities put me in position to be
they were essential, so why not eliminate      ALLPORT. No, it was the vegetable oils                 able to really look into this story and not
them? They were so oxidizable, why not         replacing the other fats after World War               shy away from the chemistry. If you shy
remove them from our foods?                    II, basically. That played the bigger role,            away from it, you’re not going to get to
                                               because in most people’s diets that’s a                the end of the story. You have to appreci-
ACRES U.S.A. And oxidizable translates         larger percentage of their diet.                       ate that there are these two fats with only
into shorter shelf life.                                                                              small differences in chemical structure,
                                               ACRES U.S.A. You’ve described your                     but very large differences in function.
ALLPORT. Right, they are not consistent        book as a detective story. Could you
with a long shelf life in the way that we      elaborate on that aspect of it?                           For more information on Susan Allport, visit
have them now. I think there are new                                                                  her website, The Queen Of
technologies for putting omega-3s into         ALLPORT. It’s a detective story in that                Fats (ISBN 0-520242-82-3) is available from
packaged foods that prevent them from          this is an important biological truth                  retail and online booksellers.
being oxidized, but they’re not com-           connecting plants and animals. It’s just
mon in the United States at this point         a beautiful thing on its own terms. It
— although I have been seeing it on            doesn’t seem so beautiful to us now
some new packaging, so they’re mov-            because we have all these diseases, but
ing in that direction. People took them        we’re not seeing it for what it is, which is
to task for the partial hydrogenation          that these fats are messengers from plants
because of the trans-fat, so they’re going     to tell us how to get ready for the future!
to have to move away from that technol-        The seasonal shifts in the availability of
ogy anyway. As long as the public is not       these fats have given animals this won-
demanding it, the food companies are           derful way of predicting the future. We’ve
not necessarily going to go to the next        disrupted that process by giving our-
step of implementing those technologies.       selves this high omega-6 diet year-round.
Once the public does demand it, however,       The detective story is that every aspect
                                                                                                           Acres U.S.A. is the national journal of
the food supply can turn on a dime. It         of this tale has been so complicated and                 sustainable agriculture, standing virtually
did with the Atkins diet. Once somebody        difficult to unwind. Once you get to the                 alone with a real track record — over 35
puts this in a way that the public under-      end of it and see this picture about the                   years of continuous publication. Eash
stands, there won’t be any problem for         seeds and the leaves, it becomes simple,                  issue is packed full of information eco-
them. It’s probably good for us to stay        but you have to get all the way to the end                 consultants regularly charge top dollar
away from packaged foods, anyway, but I        to see the simple part.                                    for. You’ll be kept up-to-date on all of
                                                                                                        the news that affects agriculture — regu-
think that they will have a technology for                                                                lations, discoveries, research updates,
putting them in packaged foods.                ACRES U.S.A. And getting there involved                    organic certification issues, and more.
                                               many people on many continents.
ACRES U.S.A. Would you agree that                                                                                 To subscribe, call
                                               ALLPORT. And many chance findings
the thing they’ll dig in their heels the
hardest on is changing beef to grass-fed?      between them. People who really under-                        1-800-355-5313
The price of beef would go up, people          stood that there’s something profoundly                   (toll-free in the U.S. & Canada)
would eat less of it, which is probably a      different between an essential fat, some-                 512-892-4400 / fax 512-892-4448
good thing for the planet, but the beef        thing that you have to eat in your diet,                  P.O. Box 91299 / Austin, TX 78709
industry would shrink. And they don’t          and all this fat that all of us consume                
want to shrink.                                everyday. They’re not the same things at                       Or subscribe online at:
                                               all. Because of this competitive interac-
ALLPORT. A farmer said to me, “There           tion between the two families of fats,
isn’t enough grass to raise our beef on,”      the story has taken that much longer

                                        Reprinted from                  April 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 4

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