Comments Off on Reading newspapers will kill you
Mar 26, 2009 by Lee Hart

Reading newspapers will kill you

Did anyone else see the research
that proved reading a daily paper (a daily paper, not Grainews), but reading a
newspaper every day could cause premature blindness, and in 95 percent of
cases, leads to death.

Yes, it is fact proven by a
research team from the University of Manyberries, Alberta that those people who
regularly read a daily newspaper will die. In the same study they found people
who also eat carrots will die, and anyone raised on mother’s milk will die. I
was a bit alarmed until I went online, and found a few more details near the
end of the report, which showed the average age at mortality was 90.

The point of this is to
emphasize how thoroughly disappointed I get at times with the daily media – not
just newspapers, but radio and TV as well. Their shallow and often sensational
treatment of news causes me to shake my head. And I use to work for some of
those organizations.

Case in point this week was a
major headline in the Calgary Herald, and likely the story appeared in other
daily papers as well “Eating red meat raises risk of death: study”. The subhead
“limit of 500 grams per week urged by cancer society”.

The study findings
themselves, may be valid and even some of it you wonder about, but the main
point is the presentation and treatment of the story. The words you remember
are “eating red meat” and “death”.

Fortunately many consumers
will see that headline, say, ‘oh, ya, I’ll bet there will be another study next
week, that says eating three burgers a day will add years to your life’, and
then turn the page and move on. But there will be some who will remember ‘red
meat and death’ and buy more chicken (not that there is anything wrong with
chicken or pork, I enjoy that too).

But the problem for me is
that with this story, or in the days following, the newspaper didn’t bother to
look at the other side of the issue. What is the health risk of eating beef?

Accepting the fact that if we
eat or drink too much of anything it can harm or even kill us, the fact is in
the average Canadian diet there is no health risk. Ron Glaser with the Beef
Information Centre in Calgary points out that the highest level of meat
consumption, which prompted the health concerns in this U.S. study is at least
twice what the average Canadian consumer is eating.

“Beef is a tremendously
nutritious food source,” says Glaser. “It contains 14 essential nutrients the
human body needs, it fits all guidelines set out in the Canada Food Guide, and
eight cuts of beef including lean ground beef, qualify for the Canadian Heart
and Stroke Foundation Health Check program. So beef does fit into a healthy
diet.”

Glaser notes the Canada Food
Guide recommends one to three servings per day of meat or meat alternatives,
with one serving equaling 75 grams of meat (total for a day for adults is 75 to
225 grams per day per person). On average Canadian consumers eat about 78 grams
of meat per day, which is just over one serving.

But the facts of the
situation get glazed over in favor of reporting “red meat and death”.

Yes, I am bit biased because
I work in the agriculture industry, but I am disappointed because I also work
in the media. And this reporting and headline writing to me is just lazy and
sensational. Comments in a column or an editorial are one thing, but the
journalism school I went to which was just next to the dining hall on The Ark,
drilled home the point there are two sides to every story. (Or maybe it was my
mother who told me that, but regardless, it is a point all journalists need to
remember).

 

 

Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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