Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Nutrition Debate #93: Is the Washington Post Biased?

This is not a column about political bias. In my book that question has already been answered with a resounding “yes.” For any readers still reading, I commend you for having an open mind, or at least being curious about what a blog called “The Nutrition Debate” has to do with bias at the Washington Post. The answer is: Their food editor, Joe Yonan, has just “come out” with the announcement that he has become a vegetarian. Now, I ask you, how can he not be biased? Okay, that’s a rhetorical question. Of more interest to me – I being omnivorous – is this: How long can he survive?

Let me be clear. I don’t mean how long can Joe Yonan live (although that is a legitimate question); I mean how long can he keep his job. The National Public Radio aired a piece on this on Weekend Edition on March 9, 2013, and in the text version asked this same question in a more provocative way, “Career Suicide or Lifesaver.” Written by Lydia Zuraw, the story here is largely based on the Scott Simon interview with Yonan, the Washington Post’s food and travel editor.

Zuraw’s piece is also notable for pointing out that the New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman is about to publish a book, “VB6,” subtitle “Eat Vegan before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…for Good.” Is this then just a case of “copycat journalism”? Or is it the #2 liberal rag trying to get the jump on the Old Grey Lady? To me, it just proves that both of these mainstream vehicles are just as irrelevant in matters of food and health as they are in almost every other aspect of our culture and politics. Sorry to rant off-topic, but news of these two developments has been upsetting to me.

Together, these “conversions” by influential writers in the mainstream print media will no doubt have an effect. I hope it “stirs the pot” and the “Alternative Hypothesis” (low-carb, high-fat) rises to the top. I have been encouraged recently by many developments, not least of which was my wife coming home recently to tell me excitedly about “The People’s Pharmacy” radio show on NPR, hosted by Joe and Terry Graedon. They quoted Walter Willett, MD, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University’s School of Public Health “, saying “It’s Not About the Fat.” Willett, lead researcher on the hugely important Nurses’ Health Study, said on Harvard’s World Health News, “We have found virtually no relationship between the percentage of calories from fat and any important health outcomes.” He has also said that dietary fat is not a major determinant of body fat and plays virtually no role in obesity. Is anybody listening to this man, arguably the world’s most respected epidemiological nutritionist?

That same week the Graedons announced they would interview Jonny Bowden, PhD, and Stephen Sinatra, M.D. about their 2012 book “The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease – And the Statin-Free Plan That Will.” Bowden also released in 2013 his new edition of “Living Low Carb.” Subtitle: “Controlled Carbohydrate Eating for Long-Term Weight Loss.” I’ve recently read both and recommend them, respectively, to people who aren’t yet convinced of the saturated fat—cholesterol scam and those who want to learn about low-carb nutrition and low-carb diet options. So, understandably I think, I was encouraged by these forays into the mainstream media by the Alternative Hypothesis to healthy eating that I and others of my ilk ascribe to and advocate.

I understand, I guess, “the hook” that vegetarianism and even veganism has for some people. Their doctors tell them they are starting to get “sick” (ironically on the Standard American Diet, prophetically abbreviated SAD). And they don’t get it yet that eating a low fat diet, that is very high in carbohydrates, including wheat, fructose and Omega 6 vegetable oils, is what is making them sick. This is the unhealthy diet that our government(s) and “quasi-public” public health establishments, and the entire “medical establishment” (associations that sound like they are independent but were long ago co-opted by Big Ag and Big Pharma, espouse. If you doubt that – if that sounds crazy to you – check out their funding sources and constituent advisory board members. They are rife with corruption and revolving door appointees.

“The hook” works when they realize that they are getting “sick.” They know that they need to do something but not something too radical. They can’t reject everything they have been told by their doctors (and their doctors can’t disavow everything they’ve been taught for 50 years and we all still get from the media). So, they are induced to try a change that has lots of “feel good” ancillary benefits: “Easy, sustainable weight loss that not only improves your health but can help the planet” with “wide-ranging benefits—to the environment, the economy, and global health—of reducing our consumption of meat and animal products….” This moral high ground is how his publisher hopes to sell Bittman’s book.
Personally, I would rather make a decision about what to eat based on my own personal health. Alright, call me a selfish individualist. But remember, Darwin: “Natural selection” and “Survival of the fittest.” Science rules in my book, and I’m going by what’s been shown to be best for my own health. Besides, it’s hard for me to accept that bovine flatulence is responsible for 51% of the greenhouse gasses on the planet, and that that is responsible for global warming (“climate change”), the rising oceans, Sandy, and 53 inches of snow in Boston this winter.  Is there any cataclysm on this planet for which Americans are not blamed? Hugo Chavez’s cancer? Well, maybe that, if Chavez ate the Standard American Diet.

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