Friday, April 23


"The American habit of eating large amounts of meat is a major threat to human health, the environment, small communities and farmers," according to experts at Johns Hopkins University. A conference at the Bloomberg School of Public Health covered "the tremendous public health ramifications of the American addiction to meat, which results mainly from meat's high saturated fat content" as well as "an anthropological account of America's obsession with meat. Dr. Sidney Mintz, a professor emeritus of Hopkins' anthropology department, showed that "meat eating is not an instinctive behavior, but a learned one. The increase in meat consumption in America may be explained by the fact that military personnel in World War II were served meat three times a day." Dr. Benjamin Caballero, professor and director for the university's Center for Human Nutrition, "dealt with the question of whether or not humans need animal protein in their diet. Caballero said that animal protein isn't specifically required by the body." Well, what do these people know? I mean, they're only the top academic experts in their fields, not the National Cattlemen's Department of Agriculture or anything.

Wednesday, April 21


As you'll recall, the USDA rejected the Creekstone Farms testing plan on the grounds it was scientifically unsound. USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison told UPI the agency's rationale for prohibiting Creekstone from testing younger animals is "the scientific evidence is there that you can't find it (mad cow disease) in animals under 30 months." But Steve Mitchell has found a funny detail - "In 2002, the agency tested 999 animals under 30 months old, including one as young as 3 months. The bulk, 841, were 24 months old, but 40 were 20 months, 31 were 18 months, 52 were 12 months and there were single cases of cows as young as 9, 8, 6 and 3 months old. In addition, in 2002, of the approximately 20,000 cows tested, 111 animals have no age listed at all and more than 11,000 are classified only as adults with no specific age given." In other words, the USDA's own testing policy includes thousands upon thousands of tests that it says are a waste of time. One ranchers advocate remarked that "To test that many young animals does not appear to reflect an agency that is actually after the high-risk population." Asked why the agency tested thousands of animals under that age, Alisa Harrison replied, "I don't know."

See, that's why she gets the big bucks: Grace under pressure.

Tuesday, April 20


Some will see this and say, this is news? Well, it is on this blog, where I've largely ignored the preliminary tests, because they only showed that lifespan could be increased in organism such as mice and fruit flies. But the longer-life phenomenon has now been confirmed in humans: A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found "profound and sustained beneficial effects" in 18 people from the United States and Canada who had been eating very low calorie diets for three to 15 years. Those on low-calorie diets had much lower levels of "bad" cholesterol, much higher levels of "good" cholesterol, lower levels of triglycerides and very low blood pressure. Tests of their arteries showed they looked more like those of children than middle-age adults. In addition, their blood sugar levels were very low and their body's response to insulin was extremely high, indicating they were at very low risk for diabetes. So what's this got to do with meat vs. vegetables? Well, if you're going to go lo-cal, you still need vital nutrients, so you want to get the best nutritional bang for your calorie buck. And guess what that means.


Let's remember what Gary Taubes so snidely said about junk-food junkiedom:

    The orthodox and ubiquitous explanation is that we live in what Kelly Brownell, a Yale psychologist, has called a "toxic food environment" of cheap fatty food, large portions, pervasive food advertising and sedentary lives. By this theory, we are at the Pavlovian mercy of the food industry, which spends nearly $10 billion a year advertising unwholesome junk food and fast food. And because these foods, especially fast food, are so filled with fat, they are both irresistible and uniquely fattening. [But] to buy this logic is to accept that the copious negative reinforcement that accompanies obesity—both socially and physically—is easily overcome by the constant bombardment of food advertising and the lure of a supersize bargain meal.
Well, Gary? Can you accept that now? Because more data has come in suggesting that Neal Barnard was right and you were - on this point like so many of your others - dead wrong:
    People who say they are addicted to chocolate or pizza may not be exaggerating, U.S.-based scientists said on Tuesday. A brain scan study of normal, hungry people showed their brains lit up when they saw and smelled their favorite foods in much the same way as the brains of cocaine addicts when they think about their next snort." Food presentation significantly increased metabolism in the whole brain (by 24 percent) and these changes were largest in superior temporal, anterior insula, and orbitofrontal cortices," they wrote. These areas are associated with addiction.

    The study, published in the April issue of the journal NeuroImage, may support the argument that food advertising is helping drive the U.S. obesity epidemic.
And please remember, Gary, that although the headlines love to focus on chocolate, the vast majority of the items specified as addictive (even counting "hamburger with cheese" or "bacon-egg-cheese sandwich" as one item) are animal products: "The favorite food items most frequently selected by the subjects were bacon-egg-cheese sandwich, cinnamon bun, pizza, hamburger with cheese, fried chicken, lasagna, Bar-Be-Que rib, ice cream, brownie, and chocolate cake."

Monday, April 19


Jim Cantalupo, chairman and CEO of McDonald's, died "suddenly and unexpectedly" of a heart attack today at an restaurant owners convention in Orlando, Fla. I think that's all that needs to be said about that right now.


I've ignored a lot of the stories declaring the low-carb boom to have peaked, since they always seem to be attached to, or promoted by, bread, pasta or snack manufacturers. But a lot of cute little pieces piled up today. Contrary to a while ago when it looked like some reputable scientific studies might emerge confirming some health advantage to the high-protein lifestyle, those never materialized (as of yet!) while other studies continue to show that low-carb is a pointless fad. "Wisdom of low-carb, other fad programs questioned," proclaims this pairing of two studies, one which found that "men and women who ate three or more daily servings of whole grain foods were the least likely to be overweight or obese," and in the second, "people who ate a variety of foods were more likely to get the recommended levels of vitamins and other nutrients than people who stuck to a few favorite foods." In case that "variety of foods" is too ambiguous, they spell it out: "People who meet nutritional guidelines through food - mostly by eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains - have lower rates of cancer and heart disease."

More to the point for Atkinites, a report last Wednesday from Morgan Stanley said low-carb dieting has reached its peak and begun a slow decline, so the company is de-emphasizing the garbagy fare that attracted people to it in the first place - steaks, bacon, burgers. "They are pressed to reinvent the public perception that the Atkins Diet is not synonymous with bacon cheeseburgers," said Dean Rotbart, editor of the online industry newsletter LowCarbiz. Gosh, how would the public have arrived at that "perception?" Let's ask Gary Taubes, in the third paragraph of his "Big Fat Lie," still prominently displayed on Atkins' own site: 'Atkins allowed his readers to eat "truly luxurious foods without limit," as he put it, "lobster with butter sauce, steak with béarnaise sauce...bacon cheeseburgers"' [his ellipsis] I think it's safe to say that not a lot of low-carbers are subsiting on lobster with butter sauce, nor steak with béarnaise sauce, so what is it they're gonna think Atkins is synonymous with? It was true of the dieters, of Atkins himself, and soon, of the company: Live by the bacon cheeseburger, die by the bacon cheeseburger.