No post last night because I got back from Chicago much later than I’d planned.  I left Chareva’s parents’ house in the morning and made good time all day … then hit a dead-standstill traffic jam in southern Kentucky that lasted for hours.  Chareva told me later there had been an accident involving a semi.  Good thing I had the trusty audiobook player.  I don’t like being parked for hours on an interstate highway, but I treated it as extra reading time.

The original motivation for my trip north was a reunion of “The Schmat Guys,” a.k.a. the four of us who have been in the same football pool for 25 years.  (One of the Schmat Guys is Dave Jaffe, whose very amusing Write Good! blog I’ve quoted here a few times.  I’m the current holder of the Mista Schmat Guy trophy, but not doing so well this season.)

Back when we all lived in Chicago, we met every Sunday at the Red Lion pub to watch the games, drink pints, and insult each other’s bad picks.  Now we’re all old married men (one divorced), and only two of the old married men still live in the Chicago area.  It had been at least 15 years since we were all in the same room at the same time.  We fixed that with a gathering at the Red Lion on Sunday.  The owner remembered us by name, so I guess we probably spent more time there than we should have.

Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, it occurred to me that Dr. William “Wheat Belly” Davis lives near Milwaukee, so I checked to see if he might perhaps be in town and available for an on-camera interview.  He was.  So I spent pretty much all of Saturday with him.  Interview first, then we went out for an early dinner and a long conversation at a restaurant in Milwaukee.

I got to know Dr. Davis a bit during the 2012 cruise (we were at the same dinner table), but this was the first chance I had to talk with him one-on-one for an all-day stretch.  It turns out he’s as fascinated with the whole Wisdom of Crowds effect as I am.  Given what’s happened with the national dietary guidelines, bad advice from organizations like the American Heart Association, all the drug-pushing doctors out there, etc., etc., Dr. Davis believes seeking advice from the crowd is a necessary form of self-defense.

When I opened my menu at the restaurant, I saw the Wisdom of Crowds effect right there in front of me.  I’m paraphrasing from memory, but printed above the list of burger combinations was something like this:

All our hamburgers are freshly ground from 100% grass-fed beef!

Was anybody demanding grass-fed beef five years ago?  If so, I wasn’t aware of it.  But I’m seeing more and more restaurants meeting what is obviously a growing demand.

At the BMI office where I work, there’s something called Food Truck Wednesday, which means employees can patronize a food truck in the parking lot during lunch hour.  I recently noticed that one of the vendors, Hoss Burgers, also brags on their menus that the burgers are made from 100% grass-fed beef.

A lot of us have very legitimate complaints about the food supply, with all its processed garbage and meats that come from grain-fed animals raised in what amount to meat factories.  A question I’m asked now and then is How do we change this horrible system?

We don’t have to change the system.  All we have to do is buy foods that enhance health and help spread the word to the crowd.  You can complain all you want about the evils of capitalism, but even the greediest capitalist can only sell you what you’re willing to buy  — the exception being when government takes your money and does your buying for you.

Remember when every damned thing on the grocery shelves was labeled low-fat or zero cholesterol?  That was the market responding to consumer demand.  Yes, the federal government helped create that demand with lousy dietary advice, but it was nonetheless consumer purchases driving what was produced.

That’s still how it works.  But now the Wisdom of Crowds effect is kicking in and changing what people demand.  When food trucks are offering grass-fed burgers, it means somebody in management noticed a change in consumer preference.  When restaurants add a new Gluten Free section to their menus, it means somebody in management noticed a change in consumer preference.  As more and more people choose grass-fed meats and other healthier foods, that’s what the producers will produce.

The burger I had in Milwaukee (a half-pounder with Havarti cheese, onions and mushrooms) was excellent, by the way.  So was the dinner conversation with a brilliant doctor I believe is responsible for making the crowd a bit wiser – and probably for some of those Gluten Free sections on menus.

78 Responses to “The Wisdom Of Crowds Is On The Menu”
  1. Be says:

    There is no stronger vote than the pocketbook.

  2. Buffalo Wild Wings cooks their fried food… in LARD. Yes.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Never been to one, but that makes it a bit more tempting.

    • Kristin says:

      Oh my. I have one of those close to my house. I never eat wings out due to the oils they use. I oven roast mine in lard or chicken fat and of course use grass-fed butter in the sauce for an absolutely guilt free treat.

      I checked their web site. It says they use beef ‘shortening.’ Probably trying to avoid the dreaded word tallow. But that is even more stable than lard. Can’t decide if I’m glad i saw this or not. 😉

    • Bret says:

      Randal, you just made my day. I know where I am eating for dinner tomorrow.

      On Kristin’s point, I had previously assumed that BWW, like most restaurants serving fried food, used processed omega-6 PUFA oils for their wings. I am delighted to learn otherwise.

    • Bryan Harris says:

      It sounds as though it may be a small amount of partially hydrogenated (the trans fats). I don’t want to jump to conclusions, though. And even if it is I’d still eat it as I hardly eat at restaraunts very often.

  3. Lynda says:

    The wisdom of the crowds is alive and well here in New Zealand! We have several “paleo” restaurants now, a LCHF one and nearly everywhere you go there is a choice of wheat free, low carb food. There are so many great people out there now getting the message out. Pete Evans in Australia has over 350,000 likes on his Facebook page – that’s a massive audience reading about real food.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Outstanding. If it works out, I’ll be meeting Pete Evans soon. He’ll be in the States and we’re looking to schedule an interview.

    • Unfortunately it may be a little delayed in this little New Zealand town. I got a leaflet in my letterbox last week from the Fish and Chip shop across the road proudly proclaiming they are now cooking in Canola oil! I am about to write up a return leaflet setting out some of the potential harm that Canola oil may cause…

  4. Adam says:

    You’ve done your fair share too, Mr. Naughton. Keep on preachin’!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I won’t quit until the Lipid Hypothesis is in a casket with a wooden spike in its heart and people laugh out loud at the term “healthy whole grains.”

      • Dr. Laura says:

        And I won’t quit until the term “gluten free” does not exist. How could you spend an entire afternoon/evening with William Davis and not know that he hates that term? LOL…I’m sure he explained the huge difference between GRAIN FREE and gluten free, but I do enjoy your humor.

      • Jillm says:

        My last cholesterol test came back “very high”. My LDL was way above the limit. I said to the doctor my LDL might be the big fluffy kind. He said “what is the big fluffy kind?”

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not. I had to explain to a doctor that I wasn’t concerned about my high (203) cholesterol since my triglycerides were in the 70s and my HDL in the 60s. He’d never heard of the Trig/HDL ratio.

  5. Ash Simmonds says:

    Had my first full burger for the first time in years recently, and they too were promulgating the grass-feddyness and other such health aspects of their burgers – but also how the meat was super lean and the bacon was trimmed of fat and the new #SuperBun is ultra low carb. Leaves me wondering if people actually think we can run our bodies on protein? All that’s left if there’s no fat or carbs is booze, which I’m fine with BTW. :p

    My review of “Australia’s first low carb burger” or whatever they’re calling it:


    TL;DR – great burger *despite* being “lean”, but we’re still not at the point where a non-grain bun is a worthwhile substitute.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Well, I guess it’s a start. Someday they’ll get over that low-fat thing.

    • Onlooker says:

      “Leaves me wondering if people actually think we can run our bodies on protein?”

      The problem, of course, is there’s not much (critical) thinking going on out there. It doesn’t serve the purposes of the powers that be (govt, religion) for people to be able to think.

      Oh it’s given lip service a lot these days, but most don’t even know what it means to think critically. (I know, I was there once) People almost never ask “why?”, they just want to know “what should I do?” It’s very sad.

      • Becky says:

        Your last sentence stopped me in my tracks. I see that all the time. Instead of “why?” we see a lemming-like flood toward whatever “They” say one should eat. The real, critical corollary for paleo template/PHD/etc. folks is to KEEP THINKING and KEEP QUESTIONING. Because “They” still do not have the last word … even the Jaminets, Kressers, Naughtons … With appreciation to you all, I still question you! Love, Becky 🙂

    • Kristin says:

      Yeah, its a start. A couple who are dear friends of mine are back at it on a lowfat calorie restriction diet to lose the weight again they lost a few years back. In the interim I went low carb and lost weight (hopefully) for good. They both let me know in no uncertain terms that they thought a LCHF diet was nuts.

      The last few months the woman has let me know through hints that she is trying low carb. But I notice she is eating low fat also. I’ve said nothing. They will have to work out their own path.

  6. Nads says:

    Do you think fries will ever be cooked in tallow or lard again? I’m thinking the vegan/vegetarian contingent might prevent it. Someone has put together a list for Australian fish and chip shops that cook in the good stuff. They are pitifully few.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yeah, I think that will happen. Perhaps not in all restaurants, but as more people learn that lard is way better for your heart than those crappy vegetable oils — and tastes better to boot — I expect demand to move the market.

    • Onlooker says:

      Yeah, I tend to agree with Tom. The wild card, of course, is that if the vegan/vegetarian contingent gets a firm hold of the govt gun, all bets are off.

    • Bret says:

      I have my fingers crossed for tallow. Nothing wrong with lard per se, but the highly saturated fatty acids of tallow make it a superior fat for frying.

      In other good news, I am starting to see Kerrygold butter blocks almost everywhere now. Looks like the wisdom of crowds is working its magic in the butter department as well.

    • Josh says:

      FWIW, there is a small chain of English pubs (well Americanized versions of English pubs) in my area that sell fish and chips. The menu states that the friends are cooked lard and beef fat.

  7. Ulfric Douglas says:

    If there was even a single chip shop in my area that cooked in beef fat I’d be ’round there like a shot!
    But as far as I know … there isn’t.
    There is a problem with all the new “real food” trend : everyone adds it to the “low fat” and it just ends up as high-protein food 🙁
    I’d love to cut down on my own protein intake …

  8. Dave Jaffe says:

    Healthy choices, grass-fed beef, Wisdom of Crowds…yeah, yeah, yeah, sure! But let’s talk about “The Schmat Guys” football pool.

    As Tom mentioned, I’m one of those who has battled against him in that pool for a quarter century, which dates back to a time when professional football players wore no pads and the game was played with mallets.

    Followers of Tom, don’t trust a word this man says! Every week he claims that he’s “not doing so well this season.” Every week I chortle over his picks – and believe me, I have a very disturbing chortle. Grown men have moved out of the county and left no forwarding address once I’ve chortled at them. And don’t get me started on my guffaw!

    Week after week I chortle. Yet week after week Tom’s standing rises in the Mistah Schmat Guy pool while I tend to hit rock bottom around midseason, then begin to dig.

    When it comes to making football picks, I can’t accept that Tom is smarter than me. Yet he stays ahead of me in the standings despite that I’ve been cheating for years.

    So I can only attribute his spectacular prowess to his healthy choices, grass-fed beef, and the Wisdom of Crowds.

    But next week, Naughton! Next week….

    • Tom Naughton says:

      If it’s any consolation, I ate pizza (wheat and all) as my birthday treat. So my picks this week will likely set a record for stupidity.

  9. Mark says:

    I did paleo before it was cool *hipster pose*.

  10. tony says:

    A friend was telling me that if a majority of the population went low carb many industries (big pharma, ama, ada, agriculture, processed/snack food industries, mc donalds’s and other fast foods) would go belly up, creating massive unemployment and riots that would destroy our society. What do you think?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      No more than switching to a low-fat diet caused massive unemployment and riots. Food producers would adapt.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        The switch to low fat opened up a lot of jobs in the medical industry partially offsetting the shock. And the profits from real food are orders of magnitude lower than from chocolate covered sugar bombs, pop tarts, screaming yellow bonkers and other proprietary foodlike substances. Remember these companies are selling at multiples of ten times profits which real food does not. Boom right in the stock price and when the pseudo value vanishes in a wave of reality people will discover that the money they thought they had no longer exists, like at the end of a boom.

        Bye the way there is apparently a boom in auto loans to people who can’t afford the loan. Eventually just like housing that is going to go bust.

        Yes and the medical economic effect will phase in slowly slowly. Besides people are reluctant to change their diet even when they believe what they are eating is unhealthy.

        But what of all the cardiologists with the crushing student loans? Detail women from the ethical?? drug industries? Just imagine if you just bought a mortuary and paid big bucks for training. Everybody dies, but you can go broke waiting. Wheel chair manufactures — that might have a more sudden decline.

    • Galina L. says:

      There are many professions and occupations disappeared, it is a normal process in a human history, but due to the usually slow speed of global changes it was not perceived as industry collapses. There are occupations around now which will be extinct in 10 years . May be supermarket cashiers wouldn’t have trouble to find another occupation, but I feel sorry for others who invested a lot into their professional skills like the people who work in newspapers and magazines, studied in a college how to work as a good travel agent. I remember reading about the legendary Pullman Car company – where is it now?

    • Josh says:

      Not to worry. Big Food will adapt very well. Look at all the gluten free Frankenfoods being sold today. I am sure we will soon see other types of low-carb digestible products being sold to us in the name of better health. My advice? Be a JERF! Just Eat Real Food. Don’t try to make foods into to something they are not (like the soy versions of meat, YUK!).

    • Joe says:

      People that say things like that don’t understand economics. If somehow the majority of the population started restricting carbs (unlikely as it would probably take decades) those industries that are affected will adapt, some will go belly up and others will find new ways to market their products towards new shifts in consumer preference. Also, if people got healthy and stopped spending money on medical care and low rate snack foods, that money would still be there. They would start spending it on something else, which in turn would create new jobs to satisfy increasing consumer demand in other areas. Until to robot revolution, I don’t think any development like that could change the fundamental laws of economics. We’ll be fine.

  11. Bret says:

    You can complain all you want about the evils of capitalism, but even the greediest capitalist can only sell you what you’re willing to buy — the exception being when government takes your money and does your buying for you.

    Poetry, Tom. Love it. I am sick of the public’s seeming hostility toward capitalism. Many people appear to have no idea what capitalism means, probably because they have never seen it. Instead, they think the big business/big government crony capitalism they have witnessed, thanks to Democrats and Republicans, is capitalism. We’ve got a long process of national education to see through.

    On a related note, I am currently listening to The Vision of the Anointed on audiobook, and it is fantastic. Thomas Sowell is a talented, articulate author. I am sure he is a giant, painful thorn in the sides of modern loud-mouthed leftists. Thanks for inspiring me to get that book.

  12. Tammy says:

    Tom – This is so true – I’ve seen the change in my area:

    Smashburger – offers locally sourced burgers that they happily serve on a plate with the fixins – no bun – fries cooked in olive oil and sweet potato fries too – yum

    Elevation Burger – 100% grassfed beef served no bun with fixins and fries cooked in olive oil

    Just got back from Vegas – had In n Out Burger three times – double double burger “protein style” lettuce wrapped with fixins

    Also – the Heart Attack Grill in Vegas cooks their fries in lard – had a great burger and fries there – no bun.

    And there’s always Chipotle !! 🙂

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Nice. Our local Five Guys restaurant (very much like In N Out) will wrap burgers in lettuce and serve them in a bowl instead of on a bun.

      • Chareva says:

        But their lettuce is shredded… which makes it a burger salad 🙁

        • Tom Naughton says:

          A sad face? What’s wrong with a burger salad?

          • Edward says:

            I might have to try one of these burger salads. I haven’t been to the 5 Guys by me for a while because I’m cutting back on carbs and foods high in iron (due to hereditary hemochromatosis), but an iron-rich burger once in a while is fine.

            • Tom Naughton says:

              The downside of visiting Five Guys is that their fries (fresh-sliced from potatoes in the store, then fried in peanut oil) are so good, it’s difficult to say no.

        • Firebird says:

          A restaurant outside of Philadelphia called Ruby’s (not sure if it is a chain) serves a hamburger salad. It’s pretty good, too.

          Like I tell people around here, a hoagie without the roll is just a Chef’s Salad. 😉

        • Michele says:

          Our 5 Guys wraps it in lettuce leaves, not shredded lettuce. Looks very much like a clam!

          I don’t even miss the bun when I have the burgers with all of the yummy toppings.

    • Anne says:

      I believe Chipotle still uses soy and soy oil throughout their menu. Among other things, that wreaks havoc on the thyroid.

      • Bob Niland says:

        re: I believe Chipotle still uses soy and soy oil throughout their menu. Among other things, that wreaks havoc on the thyroid.

        It appears that they’ve switched to rice bran oil (RBO) across the board.

        The Omega 6 linoleic acid content of RBO, at 33.4%, is still above my personal threshold (of 15%) for an acceptable vegetable oil, but it’s a net improvement over soy on that and other issues.

        Presumably they are screening sources for inorganic arsenic uptake in the rice (which is a per-field issue, and an “organic” cert doesn’t ensure low As). The adverse lectin in rice (WGA: wheat germ agglutinin) they can’t do much about.

        So if you’re getting a salad, any meat in it will have been sauteed in RBO, which won’t amount to much exposure. But they also routinely hand you a serving of salad dressing now, which is primarily RBO. They need to be told that it’s going directly into the trash.

  13. Ulfric Douglas says:

    If housewives weren’t so stupid none of this would’ve happened.
    Awful, I understand.
    I’ll get me coat …

  14. David says:

    Congratulations, I just saw a mention of Fat Head on-

    Are you familiar with the new movie “THAT SUGAR FILM” coming in 2015? He consumes a high sugar diet, but the sugar comes from perceived healthy low-fat foods: yogurts, muesli bars, cereals, fruit juices, sports drinks, etc

  15. Jim Butler says:

    And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…this comes out:

    We’ll now have policies that specify a “more plant-based diet” because:
    1. It will reduce green house gas emissions (No…it won’t, and who cares?…that house of cards is tumbling as we speak)
    2. It will reduce species extinction (Huh? 99% of species that ever lived are now extinct.)
    3. It will make us happier (I’m pretty darned happy now, and I don’t see how the government mandating what I can and can’t eat will make me any more so?)
    4. It will make us healthier and help eliminate Type II Diabetes. (How long will THIS nonsense continue?…Seriously.)

    My guess is there’ll be more and more of this garbage spit out in the coming 24mos, in an attempt to get as much of it in place as possible.

  16. Thomas Johnson says:

    Imagine two slices of beef.. one from a grass fed cow and another fed entirely from grain. Is there a way to distinguish between the two? I’ve never been given a satisfactory answer to that question. IMHO, both are the same. The cows have converted what they eat into what we call beef. It’s simply the same thing.

  17. Jean says:

    I think we are a little ahead of you in the UK. There are a growing number of fish and chip shops that advertise chips cooked in dripping (that’s tallow to you) and we can now buy ‘Gorgeous Chips from McCain – chunky chips basted in beef dripping’. There’s still some sunflower oil in there (poor souls have to make a profit) but they wouldn’t be offering them at all if they didn’t think we would buy them.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I’m waiting for the first large restaurant chain in the U.S. to start advertising “Fried in real beef tallow!” Give it time, it’ll happen.

      • James Gegner says:

        If this does happen, you can bet The Guy from CSPI will most certainly have a problem with it, but then again, who cares what that idiot thinks? I don’t.

        As I see it, Tom, I wish McDonald’s and the other fast food restaurant chains had ignored The Guy from CSPI and never stopped cooking their fried foods in beef tallow. We’d still have great tasting fried foods today. The reason I hardly ever eat fast food anymore is because it tastes like crap because of the horrible processed vegetable oils that the chains use now.

        It looks like the so-called “experts” scared us all into saving our health at the expense of giving up flavor in the food we eat.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          That’s why I almost never order fried foods in restaurants anymore. The vegetable oils are bad for you, and they don’t taste good either.

        • Bret says:


          I wish the fast food industry had ignored CSPI as well — and that is easy to say now in hindsight — but this was not a realistic option for them. CSPI made a passionate case based on federal government propaganda with the enthusiastic help of the anti-corporate media in front of a gullible lay public. A public that did not appear to resist the smear campaign. I don’t recall earing about any counter protests demanding the continued use of tallow. We consumers bought the nonsense, and that forced McDonald’s hand.

          All things considered, if McDonald’s had continued to ignore the state religion at that point, I do not doubt they would have suffered further media abuse, loss of market share, possible law suits, and so on.

  18. Bret says:

    Speaking of the wisdom of crowds, I can’t help but share this:

    A friend of mine shared the following link on Facebook tonight —

    The reason this is significant for me is that most of the links I see published outside the paleo/ancestral health orbit emphasize whole grains and other US government-approved propaganda nonsense. The fact that I am seeing a legit article saying 100% useful things outside of the aforementioned blog community brings me great joy.

    I am convinced it is the product of the wisdom of the crowd working its magic.

  19. Gilana says:

    Yay! I can read your blog again! I don’t know what the issue was for a couple of months. Chrome, maybe.

    Recently purchased The Vision of the Anointed for Kindle. About to read.

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