Friday, March 20, 2009

Marion Nestle featured

Greetings fellow AFJ members. Anyone who attended the AFJ conference in Houston probably remembers NYU nutrition and public health professor Marion Nestle and her well-reasoned unpacking of the issues facing the production of food and its industrialization. Nestle appeared on WNYC, the NPR station serving New York City and environs during a segment of the "Brian Lehrer Show" on a bill in the Connecticut legislature restricting raw milk sales in that state. I've linked to the show's page here. The segment will be available as a podcast later.

The people who called in or commented on the show page about the topic were particularly revealing. One woman had two children diagnosed with ADD and she moved out of NY, bought a farm and feeds her kids raw milk, which she stated has more Omega-3s than pasteurized milk, and foods from the farm. Others asked about the e. Coli risk form raw milk (virtually none). One thread that's been running through my mind lately is the number of people who have cornered the market on some cure-all theory involving nutrition and health. In recent months I have been told bread is the root of all evil (this from a personal trainer who couldn't spell "laziness" correctly), dairy products are all wrong for everyone (this from my acupuncturist, who is thoughtful and smart in just about every other way) and that food allergies, especially to gluten, are rampant. I define a food allergy as foods that cause violent, potentially life threatening reactions such as anaphalactic shock or vomiting. Getting indigestion after eating stuffed peppers or half a basket of warm bread at a restauarnt do not count.

Our jobs in food journalism are under threat from so many directions these days it's often difficult to concentrate on best educating readers. With each new diet fad and more nutrition information being delivered by people who don't know the field, it's especially important for our members to debunk the myths of "leaky gut syndrome," "the glycemic index" and "metabolic typing," to name a few. Your work, if you still have work, is cut out for you.