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Imperfect knowledge

Via Wikipedia, one of three known photographs of bloodletting. So nice of them to add that dash of color. It really makes the picture pop.

Remember when bleeding people used to be considered a good cure for all sorts of ailments? Or when doctors thought it was a good idea to knock women unconscious when having babies? Ah, those silly rubes.

Hey, remember 30 years ago when we intentionally and aggressively replaced huge portions of the natural dietary fats with man-made partially-hydrogenated oils? And then remember how less than 10 years later we found out that was a really, really bad idea, and it’s taken 20 years to reverse that first decision? Yeah, we’re silly rubes, too, sometimes.

This week in Between Errands, I write about the history of trans fats, including some interesting information on the advocacy organization largely responsible for both promoting and banning them. Same guys.

To me, the tale of trans fats is a cautionary story of the limits of our knowledge and the need to be careful and not so knee-jerk “We’re all gonna die if we don’t change; I don’t care what we don’t know; pass laws NOW” about things. It’s also a blow to “better living through chemistry.” Calm down, Dr. Frankenstein.

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For a more complete history of how trans fats came and went, check out “The Perfect Solution: How Trans Fats Became the Healthy Replacement for Saturated Fats.”

I also talk a little bit about our limited knowledge of dietary fats and cite Gary Taubes, whose book Why We Get Fat: And What We Can Do About It (af) was very informative and helpful.

Always be learning, and remember the science is never settled.

Read more at Between Errands at The Washington Times Community Pages.

One response to “Imperfect knowledge”

  1. Wayne Avatar

    I think all of this is driven by the corporation’s desire for extended shelf life. Margarine will sit on a shelf indefinitely. Homemade mayonaise lasts 2 or 3 days. Store-bought mayo will last 2 or 3 years. Canned veggies are loaded with salt, but somehow they’ve found a way to make it not taste salty. The only safe way to eat is to stay away from ALL processed food, but that is nearly impossible in modern America. My mom never weighed more than 103 and she refused to eat anything that said “low -cal” or “fat-free.”

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