More evidence the Wisdom of Crowds is crowding out the nonsense

Well, it was certainly fun to point out all the processed carbage sporting health claims like 100% WHOLE GRAINS on the package.  But now let’s turn to the flipside:  more evidence that people are ignoring the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! and healthywholegrains! nonsense promoted by The Anointed at the USDA, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, etc.

First, let’s take a trip to the grocery store … not a Whole Foods, but a local Kroger.  As I’ve mentioned before, Kroger introduced a line of minimally processed foods under the brand name Simple Truth.  Here’s what Fortune magazine had to say about the brand’s success:

Shoppers are still shopping, but they’re often turning to brands they believe can give them less of the ingredients they don’t want—and for the first time, they can find them in their local Safeway, Wegmans, or Wal-Mart. Kroger’s Simple Truth line of natural food grew to an astonishing $1.2 billion in annual sales in just two years.

Our local Kroger also proudly displays big posters telling us where they get their produce:

I’ve mentioned the Boulder Canyon line of chips, which contains just three ingredients:  potatoes, sea salt, and a natural oil:

A reader emailed some pictures of other foods he found at his local grocery store.  I went and found the same foods at Kroger:

Who the heck would have bought riced or mashed cauliflower 20 years ago?  Now Kroger is obviously catering to people who want convenience, but also want to reduce their starch intake.

I also found several flavors of stevia-sweetened soft drinks at Kroger:

The folks who make Zevia sodas don’t use any artificial ingredients, so those colas are clear as water.  I guess the color of Coca-Cola isn’t natural.

So the food choices I’m seeing at grocery stores are evidence enough that the times, they are a-changing.  But a couple of recent media articles also drive home the point.  Here are some quotes from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle titled Fats find favor on U.S. tables again:

In recent years, many prominent scientists, journalists and diet gurus have been sounding the alarm that our decades-long obsession with choosing carbs over fat is only making America more unhealthy, and that the government has overplayed the role of dietary fat in heart disease and obesity, among other chronic illnesses. Like almost everything in nutrition science, the issues are far from settled, but the new ideas about fat are taking root in grocery shopping.

Petaluma dairy producer Clover Stornetta Farms saw that trend play out in sales of organic full-fat milk, yogurt and other dairy products, which saw double-digit increases in 2015 and 2016. Because organic products are typically bought by more health-conscious shoppers, the attraction to these products is probably due to the fact that they are less processed, director of marketing Kristel Corson says.

Yeah, maybe.  But I think it’s also because health-conscious shoppers have gotten the message that arterycloggingsaturatedfat! and other pearls of dietary wisdom from The Anointed in government are nonsense.  To underscore that point, here are some quotes from a article on consumer attitudes about food quality and health:

Today’s health-conscious consumers are staying away from products containing high-fructose corn syrup (50 percent), sugar (47 percent), trans fat (45 percent) and saturated fat (43 percent). What’s more, over one quarter (28 percent) believe a food is unhealthy if it has artificial ingredients, with consumers actively avoiding products with elements described as “artificial,” such as artificial sweeteners (43 percent), artificial preservatives (38 percent) and artificial flavors (35 percent).

Okay, you probably noticed the bad news within the good news: 43 percent of health-conscious consumers still believe saturated fat is bad for them.  But that’s less than half.  I’d bet dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) that 30 years ago, closer to 90 percent of health-conscious consumers would say they avoid saturated fats.

And now for the really good news.  As I’ve been saying ever since Fat Head was released, my goal isn’t to convince the USDA to change its advice. My goal is to convince people to stop listening to them.  So check out this quote:

What’s more, a mere one quarter (23 percent) of consumers agree that the US Dietary Guidelines are good for them.

I’m not religious, but that quote makes me want to jump up and down and shout HALLELUJHA!!

We’re winning.  Better yet, The Anointed are losing.


49 thoughts on “More evidence the Wisdom of Crowds is crowding out the nonsense

  1. Daci

    You know they must be having full fledged tantrums over this turn of events.
    The butter isle in the market I favor is just glorious and the fancy butters,like Kerry Gold are at eye level. The nasty margarine is still there,but the lion’s share of what’s being sold are various butters.
    I just love this!

      1. Justin

        Oddly enough, last weekend I saw a TV commercial for one of the margarine brands, I think it was Country Crock, and the entire commercial was about how “It comes from plants!”. That statement means even less than “natural flavors” on an ingredient list. Where do people think trans fats come from?!

          1. Dianne

            I saw that ad too, and had to chuckle. If that’s the best enticement they can dangle in front of potential customers, you know they’re getting desperate!

  2. Howard

    I also avoid things which list “natural flavors” without saying what those “natural flavors” are. Another thing to avoid is “vegetable broth”. Both of those terms are commonly used to hide the inclusion of wheat (used as an appetite stimulant).

    General rule of thumb: If it comes in a can, bag, or box, and does NOT say that there is no wheat in it, there is wheat in it.

    If the label on the can, box, or bag has any health claim, direct or indirect, it is unlikely to be fit for human consumption.

    Looking forward to seeing you on the 2017 LCC, Tom!

  3. Stealth

    “Okay, you probably noticed the bad news within the good news: 43 percent of health-conscious consumers still believe saturated fat is bad for them. But that’s less than half. I’d better dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) that 30 years ago, closer to 90 percent of health-conscious consumers would say they avoid saturated fats.”

    I bet that 90 percent of health conscious consumers would have said that 10 or even 5 years ago. I’m amazed at the rapid change. But then I still have friends who are fat phobic, whole grain vegans and vegetarians, too.

  4. JimB

    There’s a grocery chain in Illinois called Jewel Osco, looks like they are owned by Albertsons, and I’ve noticed several items they’ve recently begun to carry. Items like jars of Beef Tallow, Pork Lard, and Avocado Oil Mayo. They also have some of the pre-packaged grass fed beef products, at super high prices, of course! They have yet to carry the coconut oil chips, but I can tell they are starting to listen!

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I agree with him that there’s no reason to load up on saturated fat as if it’s a health food and therefore more is better. But I also didn’t see anything in the article that would convince me saturated fats are harmful to our cardiovascular systems.

      1. j

        Maybe the awareness should focus on whether the fats are high in omega 6.
        I.e dark chicken meat with skin is high in both saturated fat and omega 6; whereas salmon is high in both saturated fat and omega 3.

        Of course, this is maybe less of a needed awareness if a diet is based on real foods.

        Personally, I wouldn’t eat coconut oil by the spoonful, just like I wouldn’t eat butter by the spoonful. Certainly don’t mind cooking with it. But would rather get its benefits by eating whole coconut meat.

        1. BobM

          I still add butter to things, such as chicken and steak and cooked veggies. I also eat the fattiest meat I can, but that’s a mixture of MUFA and SFA mainly. I’m now looking into eating more offal, which is “high” in saturated fat.

          I also find fat to be filling. I had some sausage to which I added butter for lunch and literally could NOT eat until 9pm or so. Physically could not eat. I don’t get that with protien.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Sure, I saw it. Like I said, I don’t advocate swallowing as much saturated fat as possible as if it’s a health food. But in the context of a balanced whole-food diet, I don’t believe saturated fat is a problem. If it were a problem, we wouldn’t see example after example of populations where people who consume more saturated fat have the same or lower rates of heart disease.

          The real disaster was convincing people that industrial “vegetable” oils extracted from seeds are a healthy replacement for saturated fats — keeping in mind that natural sources of saturated fat, such as lard, contain rather a large percentage of monounsaturated fat as well.

    2. egocyte

      Interresting article. Nutrition is a complex science and it’s difficult to draw clear conclusions. In France we have the ANSES (scientific agency on food safety) that raised the lipid recommandations from 35 to 40% of the calories, and at the same time they started to detail the different fatty acids, and not the big categories: some SFA being OK, others not so much. It’s not because we decided to class fatty acids in 3 categories according to their saturation level that our body does the same, and recommandations based on this classification could be misleading. Here is the link, you might understand the tables even if you don’t read French, the name of the fatty acids are quite similar…

  5. Firebird7478

    For everyone in the Northeast, Hanover Foods also sells mashed Cauliflower. I’ve seen it in Shoprite. The only ingredient in one of the flavors I bought (Chipotle) contained malto-dextrin. Other than that there is no wheat, broth, or anything of the sort. For the most part these are “clean” foods and I for one have gladly paid for the riced cauliflower (Wegman’s shreds it fresh daily). It beats raking my knuckles doing it myself!

  6. Dianne

    “I’m not religious, but that quote makes me want to jump up and down and shout HALLELUJHA!!”

    Well, I AM religious, and HALLELUJAH, PRAISE THE LORD! And praise and blessings upon Tom Naughton, Jimmy Moore, Jason Fung, Richard K. Bernstein, Mark Sisson, Gary Taubes, Dana Carpender, and all the others in this small army of heroes who have hung in there hammering away at, and reducing to rubble, the monumental heap of dietary nonsense our government, the ADA, and other Anointed promoters of conventional “wisdom” have been dishing out and defending for decades. Thank you, thank you, thank you. For me, at least, you’ve been an answer to prayer.

  7. Jeffrey

    At my local Krogers (Smiths), the heavy whipping cream is Always in short supply. For the last 2 trips, the salted Kerrygold butter was sold out and only 2 blocks of the unsalted left. They also have a section in the meat aisle of just grass-fed beef products. The coconut oils have grown from just 2 brands to now Seven!! They are now also carrying chicken and beef bone broth. I am so glad to be alive to see this happening!

  8. JR62

    “My goal is to convince people to stop listening to them.”

    That is just the right way to do it. Time and effort to trying change quidelines or “experts” mind is wasted investment. Let’s leave them behind and alone.

  9. Justin

    “Because organic products are typically bought by more health-conscious shoppers, the attraction to these products is probably due to the fact that they are less processed”

    This kind of stuff always annoys me. I know consciously that any step in the right direction is a good one, no matter what the reason is, but it still irks me. Every time I hear something like “we all know the saturated fat from beef is unhealthy, but the fat from grass-fed beef is completely different!”, I get aggravated. I know that its easier to convince people of new information if you make them feel comfortable that what they think they already know is true, but I think it could end up doing some unintended harm, in this case for people without much expendable income, but for the “processed” argument, for people with hectic lives who need convenience. They’re going to think that somehow the process of chopping something up or buying something pre-chopped is inherently unhealthy, and maybe give up on the whole thing.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I hope they interpret “processed food” as the stuff with an ingredient list that requires a degree in chemistry to interpret. I’m seeing more and more foods labeled “minimally processed” with a small list of recognizable ingredients. The minimal processing is the chopping and mixing.

  10. Robert

    I just recently got to tour a new R&D facility at a major cheese processor. They are working on what the food industry is calling “Clear Label” where they are trying to minimize the number of ingredients in their products. They are starting to see the writing on the wall. However, it is a little scary as to what they will concoct in their labs.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      As long as they’re honest about the ingredients, we can decide if we want to eat the concoctions.

  11. Jeanne

    An aside: I was at a conference yesterday on immunity, inflammation and the gut microbiota. Good info about pro and prebiotics. but the instructor made some outrageous statements about saturated fat, and stated the the only use of the ketogenic diet was for extreme epilepsy. I spoke up to suggest she look at the info on DM2, and the neuroprotective features of the ketogenic diet. She was not very receptive.
    I felt a little odd as there were more than 100 people in the group, but I simply couldn’t just sit there and listen to that.

  12. Firebird7478

    I sent this blog to Aldi’s in the hopes that they will either start carrying these items or begin selling them through their own store brand. That’s the one inconvenience — having to run around to 2-3 stores to get the product you want.

  13. Michele

    Dannon has a commercial now advertising whole milk yogurt. I don’t think we would have seen that even a short time ago!

  14. Nick S

    The pre-riced nukable cauliflower is SUCH a handy thing. It wasn’t exactly onerous to make riced cauliflower before, but being able to toss a bag in the microwave is really nice.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m eating it more often because I don’t have to spend any time to rice the cauliflower. I’ve also found it’s more rice-like if I nuke it with the bag open, even though the instructions say to nuke it with bag closed. I like it drier, which makes it better at soaking up a sauce.

      1. bill

        Why not boil or steam the head or flowers until tender, add butter and cream, season and puree with a stick blender to the consistency you like? You can also add cheese and bacon then heat and grill. Not sure what the ‘ricing’ thing is all about…..

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Ricing turns the cauliflower into shreds, which then serve as a nice substitute for rice. Good with a stir-fry, to name one example.

  15. JillOz

    You know,this just shows that normal people are not lazy or disobedient etc, they follow the good information when it’s available and act accordingly.

    I saw an article today noting that soft drinks sales had fallen dramatically because people are aware of their detrimental effect on health.

    This is the result of good, real information reaching the people and them acting on it. People always cared about their health but got awful info.
    Now things are being remedied.

    (I don’t refer here to people who take substances /food to deal with depression or trauma etc.)

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That’s one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of plans to regulate sugar consumption. You change behavior by persuasion. And if some people know that sugar is bad for them and choose to keep sucking it down, that’s their choice.

  16. Laura

    About a year ago at Aldi, I noticed they started carrying gallons of whole milk (before that they had only had half gallons of whole milk, whereas the lower fat ones did come in gallon size), so I thanked them, and they said, “Oh, yeah, everyone’s buying whole milk these days!”

  17. Nancy P.

    My 5th grade son had to write a persuasive paper either for or against serving chocolate milk at lunch and he chose not serving it, too much sugar. As a bonus he added to the argument that only Whole milk should be served! Kids listen- Tom, can’t wait for your book.

  18. Deb

    Actually, we need the USDA to change its advice, for the sake of the children in schools and the seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, who use their advice to create their menus. It’s hard to get these facilities to change their food choices when they are ‘serving what the government documents as good nutrition’.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      There is that problem. But I hope as more and more parents realize how lousy the advice is, they’ll do what we do — send lunch from home.


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