April 23, 2014

An awful lot of what seems like scientific information about nutrition deserves to be called "nutritional folklore."

According to George Johnson, who cites extensive research into cancer that has found "little evidence that fruits and vegetables are protective or that fatty foods are bad." Back in 1997, there was a big authoritative review of over 4,000 studies that pushed green vegetables to prevent lung and stomach cancer,  and broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts for thyroid and colon cancer. Onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots and citrus fruits seemed generally helpful in the fight against cancer. But 10 years later, it was all taken back.

The pro-produce advice had relied on interviewing people about what they remembered eating in the past, and the newer, more rigorous studies used "'prospective' protocols, in which the health of large populations was followed in real time." And:
With even the most rigorous studies, it is hard to adjust for what epidemiologists call confounding factors: Assiduous eaters of fruits and vegetables probably weigh less, exercise more often and are vigilant about their health in other ways...
All this badgering about eating lots of fruits and vegetables, all the cabbage and broccoli we've been pressured to buy and wash and cut up and cook and choke down! There was never good evidence for it. Obviously, it seemed good to people because it fit what we already thought was supposed to be good. But why?!

***

Let me show you this passage I've remembered for a long time, from James Joyce's "Ulysses" (scroll to line 7825):
Only weggebobbles and fruit.... They say it's healthier. Windandwatery though. Tried it. Keep you on the run all day. Bad as a bloater. Dreams all night.

ADDED: A poll:

How much vegetables would you eat if you found out, for sure, that there was no particular health benefit? (Not counting potatoes!)
  
pollcode.com free polls 

AND: What is the environmental cost to producing all these vegetables and trucking and flying them about? What of all the money families spend on vegetables, because they've heard the propaganda, money that could be spent on more satisfying, concentrated protein? What of all the torment we've caused schoolkids giving them lunches they hate that leave them hungry and running for the vending machines for junk food? Where is the science?

97 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

All they're doing is raising the cost of food,...

Ann Althouse said...

It's very expensive water, packaged unpleasantly, shipped and flown about using mass quantities of fossil fuel, ruining the climate.

Kevin said...


Sadly, it appears it's always been about power and manipulating people.

The subject matter may change, but it's always about controlling people.

Big Government Statists just cannot help themselves. When you have the eminently discredited Paul Ehrlich asserting that Global Warming© is going to be the death of us all, you've pretty much become a parody of the novel "1984", as well as yourself.

mesquito said...

Salad is the little secular penance we perform before we get to the steak and baked potato.

Bill R said...

From Woody Allen's "Sleeper". He could see the future so well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yCeFmn_e2c

Richard Dolan said...

"Only weggebobbles and fruit.... They say it's healthier. Windandwatery though. Tried it. Keep you on the run all day. Bad as a bloater. Dreams all night."

Alas, Joyce died of a bleeding ulcer two years or so after he wrote that. Perhaps more "weggebobbles and fruit" along the way, and a little less in the way of spirits, would have helped. At least they might have improved the "dreams all night."

"It's very expensive water, packaged unpleasantly, shipped and flown about using mass quantities of fossil fuel, ruining the climate." Someone should tell Michelle, then.

Danno said...

Althouse, you are starting to sound like the libs in Mexifornia who want to shut down the Central Valley vegetable/fruit farming industries for various reasons. These foods can be good for you for reasons other than cancer avoidance. Your Whole Foods wouldn't exist without some of this healthier food. Could you exist on sausage and cheese alone?

chuck said...

Current nutritional ideas are religiously based and come from India via vegetarianism. Same could be said for much of climate science, which has its roots in the Romantic hatred of modern production and social organization.

joshbraid said...

Sadly, the headline could just as easily read "An awful lot of what seems like scientific information deserves to be called "folklore". The waving of the magic wand of "science" over one's beliefs and prejudices is not new, just amplified by increased media bandwidth. I suggest science is not very popular because it is usually inconvenient and so is not often employed.

Mousebert said...

When I was a medical student, one of the professors said, "Half of what we are teaching you is wrong; unfortunately we don't know which half."

Brian said...

I've never understood the aggregation of vegetables and fruits in this sort of conversation. The notion that a fresh California orange, dripping with sweet sugars and tart citrates, can be lumped in with a cruciferous horror like broccoli seems to me absurd. One of these things is "very expensive water, packaged unpleasantly" and the other is one of life's great sensual pleasures.

Bill R said...

I was raised in hard core Irish Catholicism where almost any earthly pleasure was suspect. Self inflicted privations, on the other hand, were inherently virtuous. Giving things up for Lent was a virtue, or making a pilgrimage, or a long series of prayers.

We had a phrase "offer it up" which meant that if you accepted sufferings today as penance for your sins then a larger, later punishment would be withheld. A toothache today might be offered up to gain an indulgence that might save you years in Purgatory.

In those days, with wry Irish humor, people who complained about this and that would be told to "offer it up".

People have a deeply held magical belief in this kind of thing and I'm reminded of the old days when I see them eating tasteless glop under the assumption that if it tastes good, it must be bad for you.

madAsHell said...

Remember.....
Evian is naive spelled backwards!

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

This isn't all that hard to figure out.

What did pre-Agricultural Mankind eat?

That's what our bodies work best on.

The further you vary from that, the more problems you have.

Evolution would have sorted this out for us, except that the next generation is already here before the major health problems manifest.

Anthony said...

Epidemiology is inherently a weak science. Rest assured that epidemiologists know a lot less than they think they do and a whole lot less than we think they do.

And I practice epidemiology.

Nichevo said...

For the record, broccoli and cabbage can be wonderful. If properly prepared, which many people have trouble doing. I say this as a nearly pure carnivore.

Alex said...

Brian - surprisingly broccoli tastes good if prepare it correctly.

I suggest 10 minutes steaming, season with garlic, salt with a dash of olive oil.

Ann Althouse said...

"These foods can be good for you for reasons other than cancer avoidance."

You must recognize that you are doing folklore. "Can be" … that's not science. Where's the evidence? The article I linked to goes into the other health problems beyond cancer, but there isn't evidence there either. There's more research on cancer and the research has found an absence of evidence of benefit.

"Your Whole Foods wouldn't exist without some of this healthier food."

You're still doing folklore! "This healthier food"… there's no evidence of "healthier." People would buy some produce… onions and tomatoes for the spaghetti sauce and things like that.

"Could you exist on sausage and cheese alone?"

No, but I'd like it in my spaghetti sauce. No salad needed. No pile of broccoli. It's completely unnecessary as far as I can tell.

We've been duped!

Schorsch said...

Reject the idea that there are people who know better to whom you should cede your choices, but don't assume that they are wrong and the converse is right. Stopped clocks are a good analogy.

The article questions the link between cancer and eating plants. It's a mistake to generalize from there, to suggest that there is no connection between health and plants. Yes, your diet is not a single factor determining whether you will get cancer, and there is therefore no single prescription. Life is too messy for that.

Don't assume you can ignore diet, reject nasty vegetables, and be healthy just because no one can prove the converse.

Meade said...

"ADDED: A poll:
(Not counting potatoes!)"

WIC-ed!

cokaygne said...

FWIW i am in a Weight Watchers program and have lost 20 pounds in 3 months. I could not have done it except that WW says fresh fruits and veggies are free. You may eat all you want. Halo tangerines and bananas get me throught the day. Soup made with low sodium broth and frozen vegetables is, at most, one or two points, and makes a great meal with a slice of toast covered with salsa.

MadisonMan said...

I eat vegetables in the Summer, mostly, when I can grow them or get them fresh from somewhere. Same with fruit -- although I am addicted to the Raspberries and Strawberries I find at CostCo, even though I know they are flown in from God-knows-where.

Except for peppers and carrots, I don't eat much veggie-wise in winter/Spring. I would love to eat more turnips, but somehow I can never find good ones in the store. Guess I need a root cellar.

cokaygne said...

Know what pisses me off? The media will call it "unbiased science" when some academic who gets all her or his funding from foundations or government agencies with an axe to grind reports favorably on this hogwash whether it be nutrition or global warming. Do they ever ask if that scientist would get more grants from the foundation or agency if she or he reported something to the contrary?

I mean just look at the UN-sponsored IPCC. Thousands of scientists on a junket flying off to some resort to stay in a posh hotel so that they can advance the "scientific consensus" about global warming and justify bureaucratic takeover of the economy. Support something contrary and see if you get invited on the next junket.

Shees!!!

traditionalguy said...

Romain lettuce is good for you.

Ribeye steaks with Caesar salads is the perfect food for every meal. Just add a good Cabernet fron Napa Valley.

cokaygne said...

I just hope I croak before they ban maccaroni and cheese. Maybe if I eat enough of it, I'll die soon and be spared living in the puritanical new regime.

Christy said...

Scurvy.

West Town said...

Who could do without asparagus? It's healthy and fun in that it makes my urine smell like garbage.

I certainly couldn't do without mirepoix either.

Big Mike said...

Where is the science?

The science is settled, ma'am, until reality intervenes.

Megaera said...

It should also be noted that the oh-so-virtuous cruciferous vegetables (not to mention others too numerous to list) like broccoli and cabbage can in fact be quite bad for large segments of the population. They are goitrogens, and prevent the body from taking up and using thyroid; anyone who needs supplemental thyroid is well-advised to limit consumption of goitrogens.

mrs.e said...

Well said, Schorsch.

And from Edward Tufte: ~No link between diet/cancer. Understanding human behavior isn't Rocket Science, it's harder.

Danno said...

Althouse replied "You must recognize that you are doing folklore. "Can be" … that's not science. Where's the evidence?

I was thinking more on the level of vegetables typically being less caloric-energy dense than many other foods and thus helpful in keeping your calorie intake reduced, unless of course one slathers their veggies in butter or cream sauce or such. In other words, I like vegetables as a way to "fill-up" without as many high calorie foods.

Brennan said...

I drink half and half; eat meat with lots of fat; consume some "healthy vegetables"; drink a "bullet proof coffee" in the morning with coconut oil; and eat two strips of bacon, two eggs, and 1/4c of oatmeal for breakfast every day.

I lost 15 pounds in three months. I also had several beers a week and several glasses of wine.

I just snicker at vegetarians or the whole foods police. A vegetarian scientist had to admit the he too snickers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eREuZEdMAVo

Birches said...

But science!

My family and I eat vegetables and fruits to give variety to all the other things we like to eat. I don't think of myself as forcing them down. Vegetables and fruit have other benefits; If I gave my kids fruit snacks for a snack, they'd be hungry again in an hour. If I cut up an apple, they're satisfied until lunch. The price is the same. Salad is good for roughage and calorie control. If we eat salad along with dinner, we're all less likely to have seconds of the meatloaf. But I've never been a prescriber of eating fruits and vegetables I didn't like because of research.

tim maguire said...

I'd be less consistent in my vegetable eating, but it wouldn't make a huge difference. The internal systems work better and I feel better when I eat "well" even if it doesn't protect me from any of the big health issues.

LarsPorsena said...

They'll have to pry the broccoli from my cold dead hands.

Drago said...

Sorry.

The science is settled and if you don't accept and embrace what your nanny state betters are telling you then you are racists and h8ters.

And probably dixiecrats as well.

Oh, and anti-science too.

Its irrelevant if what you are being told today contradicts what you were told prior to today.

The important point is to nod and obey.

tim in vermont said...

I always wondered how the Inuit managed to get by on a diet of meat and blubber with minimal vegetable supplementation.

The major blunder though was the food pyramid, which suggested that grains which hardly existed until very recently in our evolution, should make up the bulk of our diet. I am sure it had nothing to do with wheat farmers having an outsized vote in the Senate. Now they are ruining the environment forcing us to feed corn to our cars.

Joel said...

I can't access the article because I'm over my monthly limit at the NYT, but I wish you would clarify the scope of the claim in view here. Is it that there is no measurable difference between a diet that consists entirely of meat and one that includes a variety of what they used to call food groups? Or is it merely that people who eat a lot broccoli get sick too - that a vegetable/fruit heavy diet won't necessarily protect you?

SJ said...

Isn't this a rehash of the pro-margarine/no-margarine swing?

I'm getting the impression (mostly due to Dr. Gary Taubes) that the low-fat-diet-for-heart-health will soon suffer the same problem.

Which I guess makes me wonder about all the "gluten/no-gluten" stuff. How well-documented is the correlation? Does the reverse correlation exist? Is there a discoverable cause?

sydney said...

I will continue to eat vegetables because they are low in calories. When I eat bread and noodles I get fat.

William said...

There's that old New Yorker cartoon about the little devil asking Satan what to do with the sinners who ate meat on Friday.......We have removed sin fom sexuality, and soon we will remove it from food. Rib eye steaks are just another life style choice......I have, on occasion, chosen salmon over the rib eye. So much of my life has been lived in vain.

Big Mike said...

BTW, Professor, you needed a fifth alternative:

I eat a lot of vegetables now, and I will continue to eat a lot of vegetables because my spouse does the cooking and I don't wish to sleep in the guest bedroom.

bandmeeting said...

No, but I'd like it in my spaghetti sauce. No salad needed. No pile of broccoli. It's completely unnecessary as far as I can tell.

We've been duped!


So, you've found a way to grow wheat without that costly land and shipping expense? Or, your spaghetti sauce does not go on spaghetti? And that sauce, tomatoes, right? Perhaps you always grow the tomatoes in your sauce, if so, good for you but I thought you were against fruits and vegetables.

You are right though, we have been duped, but mostly about cholesterol.

annk said...

How is he refuting the China Study, which seems definitive?

David said...

My fave is brussels sprouts.

Most people hate them, and for good reason. Only 267 people in the entire United States know how to prepare brussels sprouts properly.

I am one of them.

Corn on the cob in August in Wisconsin is pretty wonderful too. The rest of the year a good substitute for that is melted butter with salt and pepper.

Birches said...

I guess my food philosophy is that I'm cheap, rather than I care about a "healthy" diet.

Case in point. We're having cobb salad for dinner. Not because I thought we needed more vegetables, but because we have leftover ham and hard boiled eggs from easter, and a lot of lettuce because I misjudged how much we'd eat when I had family in town. I'm too cheap to throw out food I've already made and/or paid for.

These days, we are going "vegetarian" a little more often, but that too is not for health reasons. The price of beef and pork has gone through the roof and we've run out of the side of beef we purchased last year. But I doubt any nutrition nazi would count homemade fettuccine alfredo as a "healthy" vegetarian meal, even if served with a side of steamed broccoli.

Unknown said...

Your poll asks "How much vegetables would you eat ... there was no particular health benefit?" The article you cite discusses the role of vegetable consumption in preventing cancer, period. A rather limited aspect of health (unless, of course, you have it, I realize.) Science may not support the notion that vegetables prevent cancer, but what about, say, heart disease? Diabetes? Obesity?

Brian said...

"surprisingly broccoli tastes good if prepare it correctly."

Well, this is an aesthetic argument and the Eye of the Beholder is the ultimate trump. But I have had crucifers prepared by colossally skiled cooks --- my own wife, aye, and also several Beard Award-winning chefs. Some of them were tasty enough, in their own way. But on my palate none were a match for a ripe strawberry "correctly prepared" by brushing the dust off of it.

Crimso said...

So as of this writing, about 2% of your poll respondents evidently eat vegetables solely for their purported anticancer effects.

And one does not choke down cabbage and broccoli. They are to be enjoyed. Much better than those creepy nasty mushrooms.

Crimso said...

"Alas, Joyce died of a bleeding ulcer two years or so after he wrote that. Perhaps more "weggebobbles and fruit" along the way, and a little less in the way of spirits, would have helped."

An antibiotic would have been even better. Doubly so if it was cabbage-flavored.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

annk said...
How is he refuting the China Study, which seems definitive?


Oh dear.

t-man said...

I expect that we will find out that diet should be far more individualized than government nannies or the diet/industrial complex will admit. People have evolved in different climates and regions with different food available to them. Why would we think that people whose ancestors lived in the steppes of Russia should follow the same diet as people whose ancestors came from Japan? "Averaging" studies across a diverse population provides little benefit, and I would think that cross-cultural comparisons are almost useless.

John Scott said...

Cancer seems so random. Because of that, I lose interest when told what to eat or not to eat to avoid it. I care more about my waste line. Vain, I know. From the snippets of the article posted here, with all the sugar, it would seem that, other than taste, there is no reason to eat fruit at all. I think I remember reading some where that even the benefits of vitamin C has been overstated.

Howard said...

This is only news to the ignorant. I I bet there is no scientific evidence for the benefits of "superfoods" either. That said, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

I prefer my Granny's folklore: Eat a mix of different colored foods. My own folklore is that grains like wheat and rice are essentially weeds. If you eat lots of "weeds", it signals the body that you are desperate and will eat anything to avoid starvation by slowing the metabolism.

Eating cheap, fatty cuts of meat (eggs/shoulders/thighs/chunk light tuna), crunchy and juicy vegetables, all manner of roots, and seasonal fruits is a good bet to keep up energy and fuel fitness. Fermented veggies and other stuff is also good.

Caveman wasn't eating prime rib and baked potatoes with sour creme/butter every day. He was eating what the tribe could kill, pluck and preserve.

Paul Brinkley said...

Other commenters have touched on this: dietary science as reported in the news contributes to the general skepticism the public has for science, since so much of science is reported the same way. Dietary science and some medical science adds further to the problem: a lot of the state of the art is in the form of statistical studies (X% of this crowd did P, and Y% of them got sick), which is very hard to draw inferences from without a fair bit of statistics background (that average people don't have), plus a great deal of discipline. It's not that the people in this field are simply all quacks and alchemists; it's that the object of their study is naturally hard to measure as rigorously as mechanical physics. That's why you can see one study suggest a higher chance of cancer from doing something, and then another study contradicting it. It's an industrious search for correlations, in order to find ways to search for causations.

Journalism does it little favor. It draws publicity, but it overstates the findings so often that it, in my opinion, erodes the credibility of science in general. Next thing you know, people are skeptical of one scientific claim or another, not because they're Luddites, but because of honest experience with what they see.

I think the public would benefit in general from an updating of education in science in general. Not the usual physics / chemistry / biology pallet, but the deeper stuff - math, logic, critical thinking, plus practical lab work and demonstrations of how to apply the scientific method.

whswhs said...

You don't offer the option of "moderate amounts." Some of us are neither intensive herbivores nor vegetable-averse. There are some vegetables I really like, some I tolerate, and some I can't endure or can't eat without internal distress (I'm remembering the time I tried parsnips). Same for fruits, though I average more favorable about fruits than about vegetables.

Paul Brinkley said...

I should add that with the type of education I expect, would necessarily come a lowering of expectations for a lot of the studies that hit the press, and for science journalism, unless it's supplemented by education on how to skim science reports as well.

A lot of headline science journalism is about very weak claims - one study not even definitively showing something, but only suggesting it. People ought to take these with a grain of salt. Thing is, people also should appreciate how hard certain fields are, and learn to pace their tolerance for research that turns up scant positive results. Plenty of good science is accomplished by setting up several different experiments for tackling multiple approaches to a difficult problem, and learning that most, or even all, of those approaches failed.

In other words, we should be interested in the news that Edison tried a hundred different candidate fibers for his "electric bulb" last week, and they all ran into various shortcomings, and here's a list of what he tried. Now we all know what won't work, and why.

whswhs said...

Richard Dolan: Ulysses was published in 1921. James Joyce died in 1941, of a perforated ulcer, not long after finishing Finnegans Wake. He was 59, which was young by our current standards but not extraordinarily so then, and I imagine his health was impacted more by his chronic drunkenness than by his avoidance of vegetables, though that too is folk medicine.

St. George said...

Where was that article published just last week about the Mommy Mafia urging schools to ban non-organic vegetables and frowning on other mothers who serve their kids non-organic fruit and vegetables?

In the 17th century it was witch hunts. We haven't evolved much.

SGT Ted said...

This isn't all that hard to figure out.

What did pre-Agricultural Mankind eat?


That isn't science based either as it ignores tens of thousand of years of evolution under agriculture societies.

NEXT!

bandmeeting said...

annk said...
How is he refuting the China Study, which seems definitive?

Oh dear.


Better read Denise Minger, annk.

n.n said...

It is valid to infer proper nutrition from generic guidelines. However, the human body is a dynamic system with chaotic processes, which requires individuals to observe and respond to changing conditions in order to optimize its performance. There are a number of tell-tale signs which reveal the state of our system. Each person needs to be a scientist in their own right.

Julie C said...

On the blessedly rare occasions when I am gone for a night, my husband will "treat" the kids with his idea of vegetable heaven, which is a can of green beans, those god-awful limp, dark khaki green beans that have had all the life processed out of them. Bleh!

Brussels sprouts tossed in olive oil and salt & pepper and roasted in a hot oven, that's heaven.

I thought one of the benefits of being an adult was that I get to decide what I'm going to eat.

MB said...

One food 'fact' that has strong statistical support is that fiber lowers the risk of diverticular disease of the colon.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I grow vegetables for a living. You over-estimate their importance in the diet. Roughly 80% of the population already eat no more than one 100 gram "serving" per day.

Of the vegetables actually consumed approximately 80% are processed in one form or another. And the largest use of energy in the food system is not transportation, but cooking.

MB said...

And, of course, as soon as I post that I find an article that contradicts that statement.

A High-Fiber Diet Does Not Protect Against Asymptomatic Diverticulosis

http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(11)01509-5/abstract

I will continue to take psyllium for its other benefits, like using less toilet paper.

Illuninati said...

Has anyone informed Michelle Obama of these results?

Trying to impose the same health standards on everyone is similar to asking everyone to wear the same sized clothes. Someday we will understand the body metabolism well enough to devise an individual program suitable to each individual and his/her individual genetic makeup and metabolism. Until then general suggestions such as to get vegetables, lose weight, exercise etc. are good so long as we don't try to force them on people.

tim in vermont said...

" Why would we think that people whose ancestors lived in the steppes of Russia should follow the same diet as people whose ancestors came from Japan? "

Racist.

Danno said...

Continuing on this veggie thing, one of my contract position employers is working to become/is a "Blue Zone" employer, which is based on the studies of author, Dan Buettner and his book titled, "Blue Zones" where he detailed the common traits of regions where people that have the highest life expectancies worldwide, and guess what, eating more plant-based foods than meat was a common denominator in these areas. (I like my steak on the bar-b as much as anyone, but thought I'd share this perspective, which makes a lot of sense.)

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Ann, I can give you some non-fokloric "evidence" about the value of veggies. Several decades ago I worked as an analytical chemist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture as we were studying the bio-availability of mineral nutrients -- especially calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc.

Delicately put, we discovered that when supplied as "chemicals" (dicalcium phosphate, zinc sulphate, and so on) about 80-85% of minerals going in the top end ... come out the bottom. 15 to 20 retention, if you will.

When supplied in the form of vegetables, however, retention of those same minerals was in the 40 to 50% range. Unfortunately it was never published in the journals -- they thought it was irrelevant -- or I'd give you a citation.

The phenomenon was confirmed some years later when I was raising both vegetables and cattle. The cows had free access to trace-mineralized salt, and fifty cows would finish a 25 kg block in about three weeks.

During vegetable harvest the cows got all the culls, and for three months they'd never even look at the mineral salt block. Again, bio-availability.

I could give you plenty more examples, since the soil-plant-nutrition chain is my primary field of professional expertise. Still, you're correct that a lot of what's out there is unsupported drivel.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

David -- for spruitjes (brussels sprouts), trim them and cut an X in the bottom. Parboil for 2 to 4 minutes depending on size. Remove, drain, and drop into sizzling butter for two minutes. Add enough Belgian beer to cover the bottom and cook until it evaporates. Add fresh-ground black pepper to taste, along with a dash or two of nutmeg.

Finish the beer, and then open another one to have with the spruitjes.

Jane the Actuary said...

I'm still waiting for the twin liberal impulses of "sustainable eating" and "fresh fruits and vegetables for all" to crash into each other -- especially given that, in all the Food Desert propaganda, it's always about fresh produce, and frozen isn't good enough.

My 2 cents? http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-californian-drought-and-localvorism.html and, if you're interested in food desert politics, http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2013/07/new-topic-food-deserts.html

The Crack Emcee said...

Paul Brinkley,

"I think the public would benefit in general from an updating of education in science in general. Not the usual physics / chemistry / biology pallet, but the deeper stuff - math, logic, critical thinking, plus practical lab work and demonstrations of how to apply the scientific method."

In this country, where most people I encountered treated the "Blood Moon" as a quasi-mysitical event, good luck with THAT. We're about 2,000 years behind, thanks to religion, and trying to steer the ship back on course is only done in the face of obstruction.

I've tempered my idealism. Considering the force of ignorance - especially as it applies to the 350 years of slavery's horror vs. 50 years of not that, so let's forget about it, equation - only blunt objects are applicable. Benevolently boxing us in.

That's the conclusion being reached after a recent study on anti-vaccine types. No amount of evidence can make them stop endangering their kids, and the rest of us, so vaccines are on their way to becoming mandatory. It'll happen in other areas of life as well. Under close inspection, recycling will be outlawed eventually, and Whole Foods will be seen for the joke it is. Society, restructured for creative productivity, would have to eat a lot of crow to get there, but it will.

Religious types of all stripes will scream, but, I - for another - welcome a few facts being, finally, nailed down for a change.

But, especially, as pertains to slavery,...

Gahrie said...

Only 267 people in the entire United States know how to prepare brussels sprouts properly.

Fry them in butter with garlic and bacon.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

"Nutritution," Ann?

jr565 said...

The funny thing about this is that I get a bunch of so called alternative health newsletters. And they have been saying that fat isn't bad, and that fruit needs to be taken in moderation because of the sugar.

jr565 said...

This by the way is true of much science, including global warming science, and even evolutionary science.

jr565 said...

"You're still doing folklore! "This healthier food"… there's no evidence of "healthier."

Even if there's no evidence of one health benefit doesn't mean there isn't health benefits of another kind. And similarly, just as we should take the scientific information, so too should we take the refutations of the scientific information with a grain of salt.
It too could be based on shoddy science and asserting things not based on the full record.

West Texas Intermediate Crude said...

An epidemiologist is a scientist who studies people broken down by age or sex.

What are you broken down by?

Ann Althouse said...

"Even if there's no evidence of one health benefit doesn't mean there isn't health benefits of another kind. And similarly, just as we should take the scientific information, so too should we take the refutations of the scientific information with a grain of salt. It too could be based on shoddy science and asserting things not based on the full record."

This is the way people talk when they are not being scientific. It's the bullshit one hears about alternative medicine, aliens, ghosts, etc. etc.

Now, it's true we must eat, and there's a question what should we eat. I don't think there are any real nutrition deficiency problems in the United States, so the main problem seems to weight control.

Many people in this thread are talking about how salad fills you up. So does a big glass of water (and that's free and palatable without adding 200 calories of dressing).

Birches said...

Many people in this thread are talking about how salad fills you up. So does a big glass of water (and that's free and palatable without adding 200 calories of dressing).

You're right, and I often drink a glass of water before I eat a meal as a way to control overeating as well. But drinking water doesn't satisfy the physical desire to eat something, to use your teeth to crunch something down.

ken in sc said...

Veggies are OK as long as you put enough salt, lard, or butter on them. Use real butter, or lard, or bacon grease. Otherwise you just making yourself miserable for no reason.

When I was a kid, my parents put mayonnaise on veggies to get me to eat them.

Freeman Hunt said...

As of this moment about 419 are lying in this online poll.

Freeman Hunt said...

This was already covered in Woody Allen's Sleeper.

RecChief said...

All this badgering about eating lots of fruits and vegetables, all the cabbage and broccoli we've been pressured to buy and wash and cut up and cook and choke down!

Don 't forget Arugula and Peas

Freeman Hunt said...

But drinking water doesn't satisfy the physical desire to eat something, to use your teeth to crunch something down.

"What do you mean there's nothing you can eat? Why, you can eat as many bowls of crunchy leaves as you'd like! ... What's wrong? Where are you going? Was it something I said?"

RecChief said...

broccoli - a little bit of olive oil, some kosher salt, and a hot grill. turn over when a little bit charred.

Heaven on earth

Freeman Hunt said...

Oops, Bill beat me to it.

Freeman Hunt said...

From Genesis 4:

Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.

God created vegetables, and even He doesn't like them.

Alex said...

Ann - you claim there are no real nutritional deficiencies in the US, but I got diagnosed with a severe Vit-D deficiency(dangerously low) a few months ago without me even realizing it. In fact I suspect most Americans are Vit-D deficient because they don't get tested.

margit said...

Ann said: "I don't think there are any real nutrition deficiency problems in the United States, so the main problem seems to weight control."

The two are somewhat related. The body seeks first to meet caloric needs related to body mass, basic metabolic rate, and activity level. The body also seeks to meet its mineral needs and will trigger a hunger response even when caloric needs have been met.

I call them "starving fatties" and the condition is a function of poor mineral content in many of the foods people choose to eat. Remember, only 20% of the population consumes more than 100 grams of vegetables and fruits (combined) on a daily basis.

The same problem exists with cattle, horses and other livestock. I kept my hogs lean and growing well by offering them all the vegetables and alfalfa they'd eat, along with their regular grain.

Horses will "crib" (gnaw on wood) if they're phosphorus-deficient, even if they're fat. The soil on this farm is phosphorus-rich and in the old horse barn (built in 1866) there's not a trace of cribbing, even though it housed six horses for over 80 years.

Again, I could offer a lot more examples.

stan said...

I didn't realize that the only reason to eat fruits and vegetables was to stop cancer.

Jonathan Silber said...

dietary science as reported in the news contributes to the general skepticism the public has for science, since so much of science is reported the same way.

It speaks well of the members of the public who are skeptical of the claims of science--all science, not just nutritional science; in this respect, at least, they're acting as real, competent scientists do.



Jonathan Silber said...

Regular fruits and vegetables may not have any special benefits for health and nutrition, but thank God for the "organic" variety with its superior benefits, all of which are documented by extensive and incontrovertible evidence. When it comes to organic produce--not to mention all the other "natural" foods--the science is settled.

el polacko said...

"water is free" ?? here in california, we pay a fairly hefty price for it. (not to mention all of the taxes, sewer fees, etc. that are tacked onto the bill.)

Freeman Hunt said...

I enjoy making no one likes vegetables jokes. I will admit, however, that when I went grocery shopping tonight I bought green beans, Brussels sprouts, mixed greens, carrot juice, kale, corn, and broccoli.

Freeman Hunt said...

I've been brainwashed by Big Vegetable.