Aug 032010

While my columns are typically a journey through some form of hatred for government, Democrats, Raider fans and alien robots ­­–– one of those has not previously been mentioned –– this week’s column is more focused on the concept of questioning institutions and commonly held beliefs.

Most of you are aware of the obesity crisis in America, which even the elected leaders of the federal government believe is problematic and needs their ever-astute razor-sharp oversight. Are you aware, however, that CSU employs a professor in the College of Health and Exercise Science who may very well have come up with a sure-fire cure for obesity?

Probably not. Sadly one of the lessons many of us fail to receive in life is how complicated institutional life can get. The cure for obesity –– shockingly, I know –– is diet. But this diet does not require a fanatic elimination of carbohydrates like the Atkins Diet, nor does it rely on counting points as you would with Weight Watchers.

The Paleo Diet –– short for Paleolithic –– simply requires oversimplifying diet into the basics: lean meats, seafood, fruit, vegetables and nuts.

I’ve spoken with the professor who created the concept of the Paleo Diet –– known simply as Paleo –– several times. He’s no quack trying to make a million on a fad. He has the scientific proof of the effectiveness of Paleo.

The diet and lifestyle revolve around one difficult to deny fact; our bodies are not well-designed to process grains, sugars and processed foods. Simple, yet effective.

Eliminate the foods we have introduced en masse since roughly the Great Depression and viola, health.

Therein lies the rub; institutions such as CSU exist largely to preserve their own perpetuation. CSU gets an awful lot of money from federal grants and depends on political support. So if one of your professors comes out with information that says essentially, “government subsidized foods are poisoning the population,” there’s a problem.

The Food and Drug Administration and United States Department of Agriculture have zero interest in making the U.S. population healthier; this is a fact, they exist to enforce federal legislation as part of the executive branch’s bureaucracy.

When a group of citizens wants meat packing plants to have stricter standards, the meat lobby buys off a congressional representative or two and –– wham –– new legislation requiring burgers at McDonalds to be cooked to a higher temperature to render the fecal matter contained within, harmless. What a country.

This summer I read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal. The book highlights the sport of running, several entertaining stories about ultramarathons around the country, some of the science behind running and a revelation that probably made Nike wet their collective pants.

You know those expensive running shoes you bought last summer? The more you pay for those shoes, the higher your odds of injury. Weird, right? Not so much, two negative events happened to running in the country in the 20th century, Nike and the U.S. government.

As Nike grew in popularity the running injuries increased in America while the times of our elite distance runners likewise increased to the point we are now mostly a laughing stock at the Olympics in any of the significant distance running sports while in the 1970s we also dominated those.

As has happened with most of their attempts, when the government got involved in our diet, we got fatter; much, much fatter. I know: I’m fat. But from the time we are school children –– schools overseen by state and federal government, I might add –– we are provided foods to which we become addicted.

Imagine how difficult it would be to change your habits if the schools had started you on the path to smoking as a child. This is an extreme example, yes, but the reality is the foods we are provided as children form an addiction to insulin response. Dairy, grains, sugars, processed foods. Sound familiar?

My point CSU and readers around my house, is to question institutions. Nike, the U.S. government, your professors at CSU and our institution of CSU itself.

Question everything.

Seth Stern is a senior journalism and sociology major. His column will appear periodically throughout the summer. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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