Dr-Roxanne-Sukol-X3-2

Cleveland Clinic Preventative Medicine Physician Roxanne Sukol (photos by Donna). I injured my knee this spring during my travels and, home for just two days in April, was able to make an appointment; my usual doctor was out, but another internist had an opening. She entered and I introduced myself. She said, “I know who you are.” Why? She is medical director of the Wellness Enterprise at The Cleveland Clinic and has her own well-trafficked food blog, Your Health Is on Your Plate, which addresses how to eat well. I, a Fat-Is-Good-For-You-Eat-More-Pork-Well-Salted proselytizer, well aware that the august Cleveland Clinic hews to the old-school fat-and-salt-are-evil party line, went on guard. Yet within moments Dr. Sukol was rattling away excitedly about stripped and intact carbs and fiber matrixes, riveting me. With what seemed near despair, she said, “We Read On »

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Michael's-whole-grain-bread

I was thrilled by Kim Severson’s piece on the gluten-free trend because it points a light, yet again, on … but god, aren’t there enough klieg lights on American’s stupidity, gullibility, and laziness already? And yet even Severson herself quotes a chef, thereby giving the piece its own kind of reporter’s credibility, saying that the gluten-free fad is here to stay. This, despite noting that only 1% of the population is actually badly affected by gluten, and that there is scant evidence that there’s anything wrong with this wonderful protein combination. A grocer I know said he didn’t know if it was a good or a bad thing, the gluten-free fad, but he was loving the hell out of it. If Americans’ lack of self-awareness, or even awareness generally, weren’t already on painful display almost everywhere, Read On »

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Barber-Moca-@1020

I had the great good fortune to interview Dan Barber before a sold-out crowd at Cleveland’s MOCA last night, talking to him about his fine book, The Third Plate (NYTimes review here). Barber, chef and owner of New York’s Blue Hill restaurant and maestro of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, is the most vocal and articulate chef soap-boxing for a sustainable food future. The problem has long been that, while he’s been very good at articulating the problems, he’s never had a realistic solution. Americans can’t completely opt out of the industrial food system by relying exclusively on CSAs and farmers’ markets (much as we cherish them). And chefs must cherry-pick the best ingredients if they are to keep their restaurants filled. Until this book, that is. Barber, through excellent reporting (how many chefs record interviews Read On »

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Veg-Stand-@1020

I want to call attention today to Dan Barber’s New York Times opinion piece from a week and a half ago, “What Farm-to-Table Got Wrong,” and his new book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. Both address the “odd duality” of our country’s embrace of sustainable agriculture, local food, organic food, farmers’ markets, and the farm-to-table movement with the fact that Big Food is getting bigger. Corn and soy account for 50% of the farmed land in this country (mainly a variety of corn that’s not edible until processed, I’m guessing). The current agricultural situation seems untenable in the long haul. In the short term, it’s created a population so sick we currently rack up a billion dollars a day in health care costs. On the other hand, do I really Read On »

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Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

You’d think a health news piece in the venerable NYTimes questioning a NYTimes op-ed linking illness and salt would make me happy, but it only makes me angry. What is the media’s problem? Nobody knows anything for certain—that is the only possible story. Nobody really knows anything for certain. Not your doctor, not your nutritionist, not ABC News, not the Times, and, for sure, not me. Today’s op-ed by Nicholas Bakalar questions an earlier op-ed by Dr. Thomas A. Farley, former commissioner of health for New York City (both articles linked above), who wrote that excess salt is killing 40,000 to 90,000 people a year (according to “best estimates”—what exactly does this mean?). Think about this number. It accounts for more deaths than breast cancer. If he is right, shouldn’t we all be wearing little Read On »

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