The Elusive Idea: Common Sense

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A set of basic beliefs commonly held among a group of people; the baseline of knowledge an individual is expected to have within their own community; simple facts drawn from self-evident conclusions; intrinsically subjective, i.e. “You ought to have known that, it’s common sense”; the aggregate of collective knowledge (does that mean the Internet is common sense?); a mushy term that is really hard to define in any satisfactory way.

Common sense might just be inherently vague and the exercise of trying to define it inherently silly. But I hope to show that in the context of overcoming our national crisis with food, a robust and shared notion of common sense has an important place, so bear with me.

Depending on how you define common sense, its opposite could either be rash stupidity or a set of contested facts that require explanation. Lets focus on the latter for the purposes of this post and say that the opposite of common sense is confusing information that is in no way intuitive. If you’ve spent any time today skimming The Atlantic, the health section of The New York Times or the abstracts of re-posted articles on your Facebook newsfeed, you’ll have probably encountered this kind of information.

Examples:

1) The Atlantic’s The Great Salt Debate: So Bad? by Travis M. Andrews in which salt defender Gary Taubes explains that “people believe salt is bad simply because that seems logical, even if it isn’t.”

2) Foodnavigator-USA.com’s New research into exactly where Americans’ calories are coming from throws up surprising results by Elaine Watson, cites a study which found, “contrary to popular belief,” that fast food and junk food accounts for less caloric intake than previously thought.

3) The New York Times’ Don’t Take Your Vitamins by Paul A. Offit, which discusses the “antioxidant paradox,” where taking too many doses of antioxidants in the form of supplemental vitamins can be harmful to your health.

Eye-catching headlines like these introduce articles that are often as full of surprising data as they are void of measured assessment of the cited study’s structure, findings, and funders. These are the viral articles that get shared the most and satisfy our browsing curiosity by leaving us with the feeling that we learned something new, because it was unexpected and unconventional and deviated from common sense. We rush to click the share button as if it would earn us a virtual merit badge for being the first in our social circles whose worldview has been enriched with the nuance of the counterintuitive.

But here’s the thing: despite everything I just said above about these eye-catching articles, I do actually agree with one of them. The Atlantic did a terrible job of making it clear to its readers that while a handful of salt defenders being paid by the Salt Institute want salt consumption to stay the same, the American Heart Association, United States Department of Agriculture, Center for Disease Control, and even the Institute of Medicine think that for 99% of Americans (yes that means you!) consumption needs to go down. And although Foodnavigator-USA did point out at the end of their article that the National Restaurant Association funded the study cited in the headline, i.e., the organization that stands to gain the most positive PR from the findings, who is going to read that far?

The New York Times article, however, was right on. I agree completely that the vitamin and supplement industry is a total racket. Excepting specific recommendations from your doctor, eating a balanced diet (mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grains, some dairy, and fish for those EPA and DHA omega-3s) is almost always a better way of getting what you need than taking isolated vitamins and minerals in pill form. (Note, this isn’t to say the New York Times always gets it right. Earlier this year Pam Belluck’s article Study Suggests Lower Mortality Risk for People Deemed to Be Overweight forgot to mention that the study didn’t adjust for the test subjects who had lost weight because they were already sick or dying at the beginning of the study. Meaning the data didn’t prove that overweight people live longer than people whose B.M.Is were in the recommended ranges, it just confirmed the no-brainer that serious illness often comes with serious weight loss.)

What does it mean that out of these similarly formatted articles, all of which come from fairly reputable sources, only one offers useful advice? It’s a problem I am sure you’ve also encountered at some point, browsing online, flipping through the schizophrenic pages of a fashion magazine, or watching Dr. Oz at the gym: how are we supposed to navigate all the nutrition information being thrown at us and separate the good information from the bad?

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There is another setting in which this question is sure to arise. An environment full of overwhelming and contradictory information describes a Facebook newsfeed as well it describes the uncharted aisles in the middle of the supermarket. Thanks to all those messy and misleading labels, shopping for food pretty is much the worst. You basically need a calculator to do the serving size math and work out how much fiber, sugar, fat and other ingredients are in your shopping cart. You also need to know how many of those things you are actually supposed to have a day to begin with. A PhD in longass words helps too, because how else is anyone supposed to know that Triplodextrins are refined sugars, Suchrolimaseors are useless artificial fibers, and why is there fire retardant in this energy drink? Also, you are balancing the limited resources of patience, will power, time, and money and doing it in a building without windows (this is on purpose, so you lose track of time) and large displays of junk food at the end of every aisle (this is on purpose, to grind away at your will power). And finally, you are doing all of this to keep you and whomever else you are responsible for feeding alive, preferably for the average healthy lifespan of a North American adult (ideally from your grandparents’ generation, since health stats during the last 30 years haven’t been so great). I spend a lot of time learning and reading about this stuff, and still I occasionally find myself in the aisle with the sugar-free workout energy water enhancers and olestra flavored low-fat Pringle’s.

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We try to keep our heads above water with the handful of nutrition facts we happen to remember, things like: antioxidants and flavanols are good for you, eating lots of fruits and vegetables is important, and Vitamin C helps fight colds. But these facts can sometimes run away from us, leading to conclusions like “I should eat dark chocolate because it has antioxidants and flavanols, drink V8 Fusion because the label says each serving of juice has a cup of fruits and vegetables in it, and buy Emergen-C December through February to boost my immune system.” But eating chocolate because of its purported health benefits is crazy, because chocolate isn’t healthy. Its delicious, its fun to eat, and in small amounts its fine. But that is different from healthy. Water and spinach are healthy. You would have to consume a lot of either of them before their benefits to your health were in any way compromised. You only need a little too much dark chocolate before the antioxidants in them are totally trumped by the calories and sugar and the precedent you set up in which things you want with a little qualification become things you need. As for those fruits and veggies, at 24g of sugar per serving (Coke has 27g), V8 Fusion’s pulverized, powdered, and reconstituted vegetable matter is as good as the plastic it comes in. And Vitamin C? Unless you are training for a marathon you probably don’t need more Vitamin C than you can get from an orange. Just eat an orange. Or a bell pepper or broccoli or kale or strawberries or cauliflower or kiwi or Brussels sprouts, which all have tons of naturally occurring Vitamin C.

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To summarize: we live in a chaotic food environment. Most of the time it feels like even with complete access to an endless amount of food information, we are ill-equipped to meet one of the most basic requirements for survival: feeding ourselves. No other animal manages to make itself as sick as we do by eating. Probably because no other animal is as good at creativity, productivity, and deceit.

What seems to be missing in our relationship with food is a guiding principle, some larger philosophy to organize our food knowledge around and to help us sidestep the questionable information coming out of People magazine.

And the first step to establishing that guiding principle? Recognizing that every diet decision depends on your individual context. Your weight, your health, your medical history, the time of day, your level of physical activity, the part of the world you find yourself in, the season, your income, how many other people you have to feed and a laundry list of qualifiers that only you know about yourself.

I’m guessing this is not the answer you were hoping for. It probably seems like taking all these factors—lets call it your health context—into account is going to make feeding yourself harder, not easier. But here’s the thing: your health context is not nearly as fragmented as the nutrition facts spilling out of Oprah’s empire or Special K advertisements. We are constantly being bombarded by nutritional information produced by people who have no interest in our well-being. No, none. Not even the people at Kashi. They have shareholders that they are accountable to, they need to grow every quarter, and they will do it at your expense. Food manufactures and the people they pay to advertise their products hype counterintuitive studies, label their products with patent nonsense, and trick you into wandering supermarket aisles for hours because are have a vested interest in keeping you confused and overwhelmed. That way, next time they début a useless food product with high profit margins, packed with fat, sugar, and salt, and plastered with promises (Protein! Fiber! Acai! Coconut Water!) and tell you that it will make up for all your previous food errors, you will be more likely to break down and buy their argument and their product. The longer we stay lost in the muck and details of these contradictory food facts, the longer those industries trying to sell us shit win.

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But you, you are invested in your own health. This is the underlying and unifying fact of your health context. Remember this each time you choose what food to buy or vitamins to take. Rather than complicate your purchasing decisions, it should simplify them.

Obviously, just caring about your health isn’t going to be enough. If it were, we wouldn’t be seeing the current rates of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, childhood obesity and so on.

So what else goes into a guiding principle of food?

This is where I see common sense coming back into the picture. What do I mean by common sense? It’s a story from your grandma’s farm, it’s something you learned about another country, it’s what makes up the bedrock of a culture’s cuisine, it’s what feels right all the time, it’s what worked for you after years of doing it wrong, it’s what you wouldn’t be embarrassed to explain to someone on the other side of the world, it’s what’s different for everyone but also the same, it isn’t going to change with the next fad diet, it’s going to keep you and your kids healthy and alive, it’s sustainable and affordable and simple, it’s elusive but it isn’t a unicorn, it’s yours.

I can’t tell you exactly what your common sense is, but I believe that by talking about a common sense vision of food and sharing individual food knowledge we make our communal consumer identity stronger and more resilient against the exhausting and endless misinformation that comes out of the processed-food-industrial-complex. I think more and more people are looking for and returning to this kind of food knowledge and when I hear people talk about a new ‘food movement,’ I feel optimistic for this reason.

OK, that’s nice and fuzzy, I hear you thinking, but what about some examples?

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Well the poster above, put out by the US Food Administration during World War I, is a good start. These rules are flexible enough to mesh with the idiosyncrasies of each family’s dinner table. When I first saw this poster, I was struck by how straightforward and useful the advice seemed. Just good common sense.

Another is Michael Pollan’s oft quoted “Eat food. Not too much. Mainly fruits and veggies.”

Why are these suggestions different from what is on the back of a box of breakfast cereal? Maybe because Michael Pollan doesn’t make money every time you hear those three sentences and the Federal government, while it did have an agenda to limit food waste during a war, also had a duty to maintain the health and wellness of its citizens. That seems to be another common quality in common sense—it tends to come from people who aren’t trying to sell you something.

I believe in common sense. I think that the most compelling food movement advocates—Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, Michelle Obama—also believe in common sense. Yes, they sometimes say controversial things and everyone won’t always agree on the details. But we have forever to quibble over facts, like which fats are good and which are bad, what is a responsible serving size, how much red meat should you eat, is corn syrup a natural ingredient and seriously, what is the deal with women taking calcium supplements. But these details shouldn’t get in the way of overall balance, moderation, and a less manic relationship with our food.

We kept ourselves alive with way fewer resources for thousands of years and while you would be right to point out that quality of life and length of life were shorter then, common sense would dictate that somewhere between starving with no access to modern medical care and eating whatever you want whenever you want, no matter the fat, sugar and salt content or season and being totally dependent on modern medical care because of it—somewhere between those two poles is a healthy human who lives a good life and finds joy in food without really having to think about it.

I recognize that the constraints of income and access to fresh produce pretty much make the common sense point moot for some families. I wrote this post with the intention of empowering consumers and encouraging healthier choices where and when possible, knowing that it wouldn’t even begin to cover all of the obstacles consumers face getting healthy food on the table.

I also hope that, in the context of my other posts, this will not be construed as blaming consumers for lacking common sense as they continue to struggle with food purchases, meal preparation and their health. I take it as a given that the food landscape we currently inhabit is in no way set up in favor of consumers. Ultimately, while the responsibility shouldn’t be on us to outwit the multimillion dollar ad campaigns of large food companies and make up for the relaxed regulation of the agencies mandated with keeping our food supply safe, if we wait on industry and government action, we will miss out on the chance to take back our shopping carts and our health and live with the blissful privilege of not having to think so much about food anymore.

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“I know I can act today. Three times.”

Last week I went to see Michael Pollan speak about his new book, Cooked.

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I was happy to spend the evening in the choir, getting preached to by everyone’s favorite liberal foodie Berkeley professor in hipster shoes. Redundant, I know.

While The Omnivore’s Dilemma focused on the four ways human societies have acquired food (current industrial, big organic, self-sufficient farm, and hunter-gatherer), Cooked focuses on the four ways we manipulate that food once it reaches our kitchens (grill, bake, boil and ferment).

I haven’t gotten to the book yet (I am embarrassed to say I am still making my way though Salt, Sugar, Fat and, um, 9 months worth of New Yorker magazines), but from the articles and interviews I have seen so far, I am really looking forward to some advice, sass and optimism. Especially optimism. This policy area can be a real bummer sometimes. Between the quarter’s most egregious food labeling violations and the newest ad campaign by one of the 10 corporate behemoths hell-bent on filling the airwaves with misleading messaging, selling junk and lobbying Washington to protect their right to do so, sometimes I just want to cherry-pick my information and listen to a charismatic speaker tell me everything is going to be OK.

During the question and answer part of the reading, I was able to put the question to Professor Pollan directly. Here is what I asked him, more or less:

So by way of asking my question, let me explain the demographic that I come from. Its relevant, because it’s a demographic that is currently bucking trends in terms of the foods we are buying and the ways we are engaging with the food chain. I am a millennial, I work in food and nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, my friends and I brew beer and bake bread, we work at farmers markets and on farms on the weekends, I think my housemate is brewing a barrel of whiskey in my kitchen right now* and when we have kids we will probably feed them kimchi. But here is my concern: is this just a sourdough-starter-owning-weekend-butcher-whiskey-brewing-hipster-bubble that is going to burst because it isn’t relevant to the meat and potato Americans who represent a huge buying power in this country, or is this the beginning of a trend this is going to keep growing?

In response, generous in his optimism, Pollan said that while there would always be fanatics with any movement (he knows, he has met them), he believes that this movement will resonate with the bulk of Americans who will find genuine joy in buying real food, preparing it together and sharing it around the kitchen table. While the movement has difficult and justified ties to elitism at the moment, between SNAP programs that offer double the dollar at farmers markets, a new-found support of artisanal and local mom and pop shops, and the sheer sense of empowerment that comes from reclaiming your family’s meals from an industrialized food system that doesn’t care about your well-being, there is room in this bubble for everyone. He also noted that our current agricultural policies subsidize the frozen meal, making crappy food artificially cheaper, and disincentivize farm diversification. If we were to level the playing field, real food wouldn’t be cost-prohibitive for so many Americans.

Being the supremely talented author that he is, I will leave it to him to explain this optimism in more detail. The passage below is excerpted from a solid interview from The Atlantic, titled “The Wendell Berry Sentence That Inspired Michael Pollan’s Food Obsession.”

“When a blogger in Texas last year wrote about “pink slime,” there was an overwhelming public response and the company that produced the stuff nearly collapsed. This was terrifying to the food industry—who realized that, as strong as they are, they become vulnerable when people look up from their burgers and say “What the hell is in this?” And then: “You know what? I don’t want that stuff.” When that happens, an industry can be brought low overnight. There is great power in this. There is power, too, in growing and cooking your own food. …That’s the great thing about food as a way into the world—what we learn gives us so much influence. When people are more conscious about their food choices, they can change the food chain. They can change what happens on the farm. I think it’s one reason that so many people are finding their way to food as an interest and as a focus of their political energies. Food issues have a tremendous bearing on everything from the environment to public health to monopolization of the economy, and food activism is producing results that you can see. At a discouraging time, it’s a very empowering issue. We don’t have to wait for the government to figure it out—not that we don’t need to press on that front also—but long before Congress comes up with a good farm bill, people are creating new agricultural policies locally all over the country. You can do it in your own backyard.

We stand to gain so much by connecting these dots. We stand to regain our health. We stand to change the landscape of our agriculture: all the feedlots, the factory farms, closed. We stand to see a revival of farming, real farming, as they empty the feedlots and put animals back on real farms. Because people who see that world don’t want to support it—in the same way that people who saw “pink slime” don’t want to support it. It would be a complicated transition; it would not be easy. We’d need tens of millions more people working on farms to grow food the way I think most people would like to see it grown. We’d also see ourselves spending more money on food, and that’s very challenging for a lot of people. So it will take a revolution—not just in how we eat but how we live. But it offers us so much. A lot beyond a good conscience: a more beautiful landscape. Farms where you’d feel comfortable taking your kids. And healthier bodies, too.

When [Wendell] Berry says “eating is an agricultural act,” that’s a very empowering statement. He’s saying you have political power in your every day actions. When you decide what you’re going to eat, what you’re going to buy, you have real influence. That’s why this idea this idea has the potential to resonate with so many people. It’s certainly one of the reasons it’s resonated with me: I know can act today. Three times.”

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*At this point, Michael Pollan laughed and shushed me, pointing to Jill Biden, who was also in the audience. To any Feds reading this, the barrel is pretty small and the whiskey isn’t very good anyway, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

Food Fight

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Today I came across a bunch of interesting articles on food and food related issues, full of new findings and measured analysis, but let’s kick things off with this train wreck of an article from the Wall St. Journal instead. “Our Inalienable Right to Snarf Junk Food” by Joe Queenan is a response to a study that was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and has since gotten a fair amount of media attention.  Basically, the study concluded that a Mediterranean diet of nuts, fish, legumes, fruits, vegetables and wine will reduce the likelihood of heart disease and stroke.

Here are a few choice quotes from Queenan’s piece:

“The Mediterranean Diet might just as well be called the Monastic Diet or the Joy of Joylessness Diet. For those of us who loathe fish and celery and lima beans and walnuts, the Mediterranean Diet is a nutritional death sentence. Sure, we might live longer, sure we might end up being less of a burden on society, but at what price? No more bacon double cheeseburgers. No more banana splits. No more dining at Hooters… Welcome to Polyunsaturated Alcatraz.”

“The settlers at Jamestown did not come here dreaming of a steady diet of walnuts and olive oil… America was built by men and women who never ate arugula. If the Mediterranean Diet is so effective, then how come none of the countries that line the Mediterranean has a functioning economy? Spain? Italy? France? Don’t make me laugh.”

I know, I know, it’s satire. The comment section, however, is painfully earnest. One poster writes:

“As a nation, [we] have come a long way in starting to wake people up to understanding the importance of choosing what they put into their mouths. We have a VERY long way to go. You, Mr. Queenan, stop the education process dead in its tracks when you write an article like this. Of course people enjoy junk foods. I know I do! But by expressing your all or nothing approach to food choices, you are not only perpetuating ignorance, but disrespecting the millions in this country and around the world that can’t even get their hands on the foods that you so despise.”

Another poster brings us on a detour through Crazy Town, describing our First Lady as:

“A shrewish MicHELLe to nag, nag, nag – nothing like having a two-bit false eyelash nitwit fashion award winner JLO wanna be as first whatever…what a disgrace for the USA – a sociopath for prez and an Evita who despises our flag and our country and spending every tax-payer dollar she can on herself and her vacations for his wife – well done, ILLITERATE BOZO VOTERS!”

Yikes.

I posted this article and these polarizing comments because I have been thinking a lot recently about what is the right tone to take when it comes to talking about food and health, and I thought that these quotes presented the problem nicely.

When talking about this stuff, it’s so easy to be preachy, stubborn, and overly serious.  Labels like health nut, arugula eater and nanny get thrown around quickly. It doesn’t take much to get someone worked up and defensive about food, whether it’s a conversation about eating meat, buying locally, eating healthy, juicing, fasting or the soda ban…Eating habits are intimate and personal and they are closely tied to individual and cultural identity.

On the other hand, the Joe Queenan’s of the world aren’t going to move us forward in the conversation about our national obesity epidemic, over-consumption of resources, and reliance on problematic industrial food systems.  Inciting conflict in that small and weird subset of Americans who comment on Wall St. Journal articles doesn’t seem like its going to get much done. (Seriously, who are these people who talk trash on WSJ.com? NPR commenters are also strange, but way more fun:

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Ok, so it’s easy to be a smartass and it’s really easy to make people angry, but what about being sincere without getting tuned out? How can we talk about these issues honestly and productively?

This question makes me think about the TV show The Biggest Loser, which, for better or for worse, should probably be included in any conversation about the American discourse around healthy eating. Full disclosure, I think about The Biggest Loser a lot. Fuller disclosure: I have an embarrassing and inexplicable fondness for this show, and I won’t tell you how many seasons of it I have under my belt or how extensively I have mapped out what I would say to Bob Harper if I ever ran into him at a farmers market buying wheat-grass, or whatever.

There are a million things wrong with The Biggest Loser (one of which was covered in today’s Weighty Matter’s post). But putting aside all problems with the show, one thing it does have is serious reach. Whatever tone they are using, people aren’t tuning out, they are tuning in, to the tune of 1.5 million viewers a week.  While those numbers aren’t surprising by network standards, the show’s longevity is impressive. You might be able to buy that kind of audience starting out, but you have to be doing something right to keep it for 14 years.

The Biggest Loser’s tone sensationalizes weight loss, exaggerates emotional growth, and pedals that loser to winner make-over narrative that reality TV watchers love so much. While I don’t believe the show is effective in getting Americans to think critically about food and health, I do think The Biggest Loser accomplishes something beyond being fun to watch. By engaging its viewers emotionally, the show has somehow opened up a space for an intimate, albeit simple, conversation about eating habits and health while sidestepping the problem of eliciting defensive responses from its contestants and viewers about their own relationships with food. Through the paradox of reality TV, The Biggest Loser can talk to Americans about this deeply personal connection to food by totally exploiting that very intimacy through carefully chronicled breakdowns, glimpses into hometowns and back-stories, and inspirational workout montages.

Once you spend enough time following the show and getting to know the contestants (again, I’m not telling you how many hours I have watched, but trust me on this), you may find yourself embracing The Biggest Loser’s optimistic message and actually believing in the idea that a fitter, more food-savvy America is possible. You forget about the drama in the house, the trainer-driven conflict, or that the contestants are the kind of people who think being on a reality TV show is a good idea, and you just see a country of people fed up with being sick and unhappy and ready to do something about it. I think it is significant that Michelle Obama has teamed up with the show. That woman has her finger on the pulse of popular culture, even if she is just a “JLO wanna be,” and at the very least, her endorsement signals that when it comes to improving health in this country, The Biggest Loser’s sphere of influence is too big to ignore.

But at the end of the day, the reality of The Biggest Loser is that it is a reality TV show and it has little to do with reality. TV, the invention that made inactivity our national pastime, and its sponsors, the food companies that helped make obesity a national epidemic, are not going to save us.  That optimistic glow we fall into when watching any makeover show remains contrived, even when it has Michelle Obama’s blessing.

So where does that leave us? Looking for a space between sensationalist story telling, rabid comment sections, and Joe Queenan, where a steady, engaging and sincere dialogue about diet and health in this country can take place. I have no clue what that might look like, but I do have some thoughts about the role of common sense in all of this, which I hope to get into in my next blog post. I hope you’ll tune in, and we can keep this conversation going!

A few words on the philosophy behind Sustaining Starter:

My first batch of sourdough

My first batch of sourdough

When you leave water and flour undisturbed and loosely covered somewhere warm for a few days, with some luck and the right conditions, you end up with sourdough starter. Sourdough starter, which brings flavor and rise to our bread, begins by drawing from the wild yeast and bacteria naturally present on the grain, on your fingers, and possibly in the air. Once started, it grows exponentially, providing an unending source of fresh bread–as long as you sustain an interest in baking it. Starter connects us to one of humanity’s oldest cooking traditions as well as to each other; breaking bread with family and friends is one of life’s simple and enduring blessings.

I’m not sure what the tone of this blog will be as time goes by, but if I can dabble in the flowery for just a moment, I have a few points to make about sourdough starter as a symbol. For starters, the analogy helps me think about what a successful food movement in this country might look like. Because we need one. The health of the consumers, workers, animals, farms, and landscapes implicated in our food system are in bad shape.  We need something unifying and robust, something that doesn’t just exist at the periphery, in small non-profits and universities.

Here is what I think sourdough starter and a healthy food movement have in common:

Built from simple components, both start by drawing from what already exists locally. They grow when nurtured, and connect us to the cultures and traditions that have kept humans alive and well nourished for thousands of years. As long as we are able to sustain interest, they will continue to produce. The fruits of that labor? Nourishing and easily shared.

For me, starter as symbol resides where food, tradition, sustainability, health, and community intersect, that is to say, the place where good food is no longer a burden or a privilege, but a basic right and an unstudied joy.

Levain is the French word for starter, from the Latin levamen “alleviation, mitigation,” but used in vulgar Latin in its literal sense of “a means of lifting, something that raises,” from levare “to raise.” I assume the English “starter” refers simply to the stage in the baking process, as it is the first ingredient needed to make bread.

As a French-American, to me the word means at once the start and the rise. You need both to make change happen. The question, then, that I have set out to answer through this blog is what that start and rise would look like for a successful food movement. How do we get it going, and how will we sustain it? Hopefully, Sustaining Starter will be a place to learn from, and despite, the current chaos around eating and cooking as we move a little closer towards that answer.

In addition to finding solutions to alleviate our troubled relationship with food, I also wanted to find a way to alleviate my Facebook profile of what has recently grown into a constant stream of food-related posts. Those posts, questions, articles, and studies of interest will now be housed here, at Sustaining Starter, so that I can go back to exclusively posting Buzzfeed articles on Facebook. So I hope you will take a break from reading about 28 Cats Who Have No Idea How They Ended Up Here and stop by from time to time.