(Health) & You
all images (c) Jason Silverstein unless noted;
find this presentation at jasonsilverstein.com/ignite
How familiar are you with what you eat? When my sister was
diagnosed with breast cancer this year, that pushed me to a
check-up I’d been delaying. I got bad results related to food,
and my life changed forever. I am up here to share what I’ve
learned... for my girls.
Technology, Food & You
2.Sugar, salt & fat (Food)
3.Symptoms vs. prevention (Tech)
4.Uh, now what? (Future)
Why Technology and Food? There are several revolutions
responsible for the diet changes we’ve seen over the last fifty
or so years, and there’s definitely time and money involved.
We’ll review those and a few future solutions in the next five
First, let’s remember the Industrial revolution, one about as
old as our country. Automation and process changed
everything. Before, we used our bodies much more; now
many of us get in our cars, sit at desks, get back in our cars,
drive-thru, then... sit on sofas.
Just as impacting, today we’re experiencing what I call an
“internet revolution.” We have access to almost all the
world’s information, and we have it at our disposal at any
moment... just ask any husband or wife about the other’s
Before this ability to connect so effortlessly, many of our
relationships fizzled over time. Now we use social media
technology to link to our past, our like interests, companies,
causes... it’s the real promise of technology, and it’s all
(cc) image: http://ﬂickr.com/photos/scandic-hotels/4327863806/
Finally, he’s not really a revolution except on TV, but Jamie
Oliver has made popular his desire to remove processed food
from schools. His work showed me that in 2005 more than
5,000 schools in US had contracts with fast-food
companies. That’s only part of the problem... let’s begin.
Food industry consultants and scientists are quoted stating
three key ingredients to increase sales are: sugar, salt & fat.
You’re surrounded by these additives....Chicken waffles with
bacon & syrup. Bloomin' Onions cut for maximum surface area
AND fat adhesion. Look at menus next time you eat out!
Foods just don’t get this way... they’re engineered. Sugar is a
key ingredient in salad dressings. Milk. Soda. I grew up with
only a handful of ice cream flavors, now there hundreds. It’s no
surprise then that Americans eat 53 teaspoons of sugar a
Food scientists KNOW exactly the right amount of salt and
fat to add to increase your satisfaction and dopamine
levels. An industry trick? Make food “lighter” and easier to
break down -- 98 percent of the flour eaten in America is
refined, white and worthless health-wise.
40 to 5
Another food trick? Deep frying. That crunch we love comes
from taking water content from 40 percent down to five,
replacing with easily-swallowed fat. An average of twenty
bites to eat is now 10, while our portions have gotten much
larger. We eat more in less time.
marketing > regulation
Engineered modifications are often hard to spot, too;
marketing dollars usually outweigh regulation. Even a “100%
Natural Flavors” mention is possible bullshit... artificial flavors,
dyes and chemicals exist.. but in fine print.
(cc) image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caese/2323293757/
I’m not even including what gets into our food via pesticides,
feed and poor meat practices. Tests show some burgers end
up having hundreds of cows in a single patty... and that’s not
just mud these cows are standing in. So what the hell are we to
We can use aggregated data PLUS social technology, using
network effects and prevention as protection. Constant
tracking of health data started in Framingham,
Massachusetts... much of our health knowledge started here
with citizens logging what they eat... and having this data is
how many cures originated.
(cc) image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/selva/7637352
Yet it’s treatments where the big corporate money is.
Pharmaceutical companies spend $8B annually on just
cancer research, and marketing and product development can
not be separated in such a high stakes game... Prevention
versus treatment has to happen outside of food and drug
We -- as individuals -- need to change our own perception of
health. Did you know only five to 10 percent of cancers have
been linked to genetics? By contrast, 70 to 80 percent have
been linked to diet and behavioral factors! We’ve had the
revolutions, and now you can avoid engineered foods and
understand when you’re marketed to.
Web and phone applications help by tracking health details...
We can check ingredients or restaurants on the go. We can
learn about dyes. Using the technology basis again... if we
were inherently opposed to hard work, now it’s just not hard.
And... by linking our data to closed or open social networks,
just like fax machines the effects tend to magnify.
MyFitnessPal helps you log food and exercise daily.
PatientsLikeMe.com tracks illness symptoms by location and
disease. Both are as connected as you want them to be.
Don’t think this works? I suppose it does depends on individual
will to some extent, but take a look at how I’ve been affected in
six months... keep in mind I was considered “normal” before.
Yet I am only one person. The power of these revolutions lies
in more people.
(cc) image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/121436128/
As consumers, when we make choices the big brands do
notice. McDonald’s is now the largest buyer of apples in the
U.S... put aside that influence for a second and think, where’d
that come from? Demand. A healthier alternative to fries that
come with kids meals. This generation of change is changing,
one family or person at a time.
Today’s slides available here:
• See sources, including End of
Overeating (book), The Decision
Tree (book), The Food Revolution
(book), and multiple blogs
Want to know more? Use the revolutions! The internet, books,
blogs, apps... there are more voices screaming now more than
ever. I’m also posting information at the above address, or talk
to me personally after the show. Thank you.