Fried Food Is Tasteless: Let’s Thank The Guy From CSPI

Michael Jacobson, The Guy From CSPI

Michael Jacobson, The Guy From CSPI

Last weekend my daughter’s dance school put on their annual recital.  As reward for all the hard work, we told her we’d take her anywhere she wanted for dinner and a dessert.  She chose Denny’s, where she had fried shrimp and a chocolate sundae.  I was feeling indulgent myself and opted for the chicken-fried steak, complete with fries.  I used to love chicken-fried steak, in all its crunchy, meaty, sausage-gravy-covered glory.

I don’t love it anymore.  In fact, I don’t love anything fried in a restaurant anymore.  My chicken-fried steak and fries somehow managed to be fried and tasteless at the same time.  It’s as if Denny’s perfected a method for frying food in distilled water.

The reason, of course, is that most restaurants have finally gotten rid of trans fats, which mimicked the taste and cooking properties of natural saturated fats like lard.  As we now know, trans fats are bad news.  They get taken up by the body and packed into the walls of our cells, which is one of the places saturated fats are supposed to go.  Unfortunately, trans fats don’t mimic the biological properties of saturated fats.  Instead of strengthening our cells, trans fats weaken them.  And instead of raising HDL like saturated fats do, trans fats bring it down.

And so the restaurants have finally bowed to both public and legislative pressure and gotten rid of them.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that they’ve replaced trans fats – otherwise known as hydrogenated vegetable oils – with other vegetable oils that aren’t hydrogenated.

After my dining experience at Denny’s, I understand why the restaurants resisted switching to non-hydrogenated oils:  the taste (what little taste there is) pretty much sucks.  The restaurants weren’t trying to kill us with trans fats; they were trying to keep our business.  Killing us was merely collateral damage.

What’s annoying is that none of this was necessary.  Remember how irresistible McDonald’s fries were back when you were a wee tyke or tykess?  That’s because they were fried in tallow, a form of beef fat.  My grandmother used to fry chicken in lard.  I’ve never eaten chicken since that tasted so good.  Most people love the taste of natural animal fats, and with good reason:  Mother Nature wanted us to eat them.

But of course, McDonald’s dumped the beef fat years ago.  And good luck finding lard in any of your local stores, unless your town is blessed with a large immigrant population.  Frying in natural animal fats is a thing of the past – and the man we can thank for this dubious development is none other than that great consumer advocate, Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  (If you’ve seen Fat Head, you know we immortalized him as an action hero, The Guy From CSPI.)

Jacobson is, always has been, and always will be convinced that saturated fat is a killer.  Any dish that contains saturated fat is guaranteed to send him scurrying off to hyperventilate in front the nearest camera, shortly after his worker bees blitz the media with press releases screaming, “Contains as much saturated fat as an entire stick of butter!”

(When I need a chuckle, I picture Jacobson being transported back in time to a buffalo hunt on the Great Plains, shaking his spindly arms at some Sioux warriors about to skin a fresh kill and screaming, “Don’t eat that!  It’s full of saturated fat!”  If they didn’t spear him, they’d probably mistake him for a scarecrow and worry that the corn fields were soon to follow.)

Aside from the manipulated studies produced by people like Ancel Keys, there is no scientific basis for Jacobson’s paranoia about saturated fat.  There have been several major studies in which researchers tried to reduce heart-disease rates by having the subjects restrict saturated fats.  Those studies were colossal failures.  In the Framingham study, people who ate the most saturated fat were leaner and had lower cholesterol, not higher. 

Without saturated fat in the diet, your body has a difficult time absorbing the vitamins and other nutrients from your food.  Your brain is made mostly of saturated fat and cholesterol, and without these essential fats, you are more likely to experience brain malfunctions, such as depression, or attention deficit disorder, or epilepsy.  Kids who suffer from epilepsy have reduced or even eliminated seizures entirely by going on ketogenic diets that include plenty of natural saturated fats.  Those are the scientific facts.

But of course, the Center for Science in the Public Interest isn’t interested in real science; they’re interested in pushing a vegetarian agenda.  The “Science” in their title is there purely for marketing purposes.  It’s designed to convince the media that their never-ending warnings are based on something resembling actual facts.  And unfortunately, many in the media fall for it. 

So do many people who view the media reports prompted by one of Jacobson’s hyperventilations.  At the Fat Head premiere party, a friend of mine – a well-read, thoughtful friend – told me he had no idea CSPI was a vegetarian group.  He assumed they were exactly what they claim to be:  a group of scientists and consumer advocates who are looking out for the best interests of the public.

So let’s review how Jacobson and CSPI looked out the public interest when it comes to fried food.

In the 1980s, CSPI went after restaurants like McDonald’s for frying in beef fat.  They sent out the usual press releases, and they held protests in front of restaurants.  The media bought it and dutifully showed up with their cameras and microphones.

Faced with the perception that they were serving the public deep-fried heart disease, the restaurants caved.  And what did they switch to after giving up beef fat and lard?  Why, trans fats, of course.  Jacobson and CSPI said they were perfectly safe.  After all, how could bunch of vegetarian nutcases not like the idea of chemically-altered soybean oil?  The soy industry also liked the idea, and they expressed their gratitude with generous donations to CSPI.

Dr. Mary Enig, a biochemist and one of the foremost experts on fats and oils, tried to warn CSPI they were making a huge mistake.  She sent them letters explaining that trans fats were unnatural and would displace saturated fats in the body, which needs them.

But CSPI would have none of it.  In their newsletters, they declared trans fats to be a safe alternative to “artery-clogging saturated fat!”  Then they launched similar campaigns to scare movie theaters into giving up popping popcorn in coconut oil, and to pressure companies like Keebler into giving up tropical oils for baking cookies and other desserts.  Once again, the natural saturated fats were replaced with hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Later, of course, reams of research concluded that trans fats could cause all the problems I mentioned earlier.  So CSPI promptly announced they’d made a grave mistake, took full responsibility for the countless heart attacks they’d caused, and disbanded.

Kidding!  Of course that didn’t happen.  After remaining quiet on the issue long enough for most reporters to forget CSPI’s role in promoting trans fats (roughly 15 minutes), CSPI jumped on the anti-trans-fat bandwagon.  They pushed for laws to ban them.  They sued restaurants for using them.  That’s right … they sued restaurants for doing exactly what CSPI had demanded some years earlier.  Even the IRS would be embarrassed by that kind of behavior. 

The result of CSPI’s campaign against saturated fat is the kind of tasteless fried food I ate at Denny’s. 

Vegetable oils that aren’t hydrogenated may not be as bad for you as the hydrogenated variety, but they’re not exactly good for you, either.  They’re certainly not part of your natural diet; early humans didn’t have the technology or the desire to squeeze a jug of oil out of rapeseeds and soybeans.  (They did squeeze the oil out of olives, and yes, olive oil is good for you.)  Many vegetable oils become rancid at room temperature, and they’re high in Omega-6 fats, which can cause inflammation.  If inflammation isn’t the actual cause of heart disease, it’s certainly an aggravating factor.

Meanwhile, tallow and lard – which are delicious, full of essential fatty acids, and raise your HDL – are still tagged with the “artery-clogging saturated fat!” label, perhaps for good.  Unless Gary Taubes is appointed head of the FDA, I don’t think the restaurants could ever switch back without raising a firestorm among the nutrition “experts.”

I realize that most fried foods aren’t good for you anyway, but not for the reason the experts think.  French fries are deep-fried potato starch.  Fried chicken (or chicken-fried steak) is coated with corn starch or flour.  I’m better off without the stuff.

And thanks to Michael Jacobson and CSPI, I won’t be tempted to order fried food again anytime soon.  Maybe I should send the guy a thank-you letter. 

But I want to smack him first.

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27 thoughts on “Fried Food Is Tasteless: Let’s Thank The Guy From CSPI

  1. Brian

    I’ve noticed two things. First, tequila and scotch taste better while beer tastes worse. Second, snack foods have way too much salt. We went to a party a couple of Saturdays ago and someone brought some kind of an avocado dip. Not one to pass up avocado, I tried some. The only problem, the person who made it brought Fritos along with it. I couldn’t believe how salty the Fritos were. I chomped a couple down and finished the dip with my fork.

    I don’t know if you noticed but CSPI came out with their Xtreme eating awards for 2009. I didn’t bother looking at the list but put up a post which included links to some of your videos. You can check it out here:



    Great post, Brian. I perused some others as well. You’re going on the blogroll.

    As you’d expect, most of CSPI’s targets in the latest press release are high-fat foods, and they’re bucking for laws requiring menus to list calories, etc. Here’s an interesting quote:

    CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G Wootan said, “Ultimately, Americans bear personal responsibility for their dining choices. But you can’t exercise personal responsibility if you don’t have nutrition information when you order. Who would expect 2,800 calories in a dessert?”

    Sure you can exercise personal responsibility without nutrition information … just skip the sugar and starch, and your body will tell you when you’ve had enough. Otherwise, you can have all the information shoved right in your face, and you’ll still end up over-eating because the carbohydrates will spike your insulin and tell your body to store calories as fat, making you hungry again.

    These menu laws will turn out be just as effective in battling obesity as the Food Pyramid and all the previous labeling laws. Boy, we sure got lean after those came along, eh?

    I heard on Nora Gedgaudas’ show that domestic beers are often sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. No wonder I don’t like them.

  2. gallier2

    Since I fry in beef tallow (easy to find here) I cannot eat french fries in restaurants anymore. The difference is big, and it isn’t really the taste that makes the difference (it does but not as much as I would think). The difference is in the satisfaction factor. You can eat restaurant fries and have the impression of blandness and emptiness, even if they are salty and all. The beef tallow fries instead fill you, giving a sensation of fullness.

    Excellent point. The goofs at CSPI complain about those extra-large servings of fries, but they’re the ones who ensured that a small order wouldn’t be satisfying. Saturated fats are satisfying.

  3. TonyNZ

    Maybe this is why (in New Zealand and Australia at least) the popularity of Indian and Thai food has increased so much over the last few years. The fast food joints switched to canola and whatnot years ago, but Indian and Thai still use copious amounts of cream and coconut cream respectively (though they tend to be percieved as healthy). You can order a green curry sans rice here with near zero carbs and lots of saturated fat and vegetables and meat for about the same as a Big Mac combo.

    Health food nuts haven’t targeted them as yet, maybe its because the average consumer there doesnt get fries and coke and rolls with the meal, so not fat, so people just believe it doesn’t have much saturated fat. Perhaps its because Thai and Indian people aren’t fat. It could also be that if they attack “ethnic” food they could be charged as being racists. In New Zealand politics you would be surprised how often the R-word is pulled out when people don’t like something, and only about 2% of the time it is actually justified.

    Makes sense about the ethnic foods. There’s a diner in Arizona somewhere that still cooks with lard, sells giant burgers, etc., but they’re called the Heart Attack Grill, the idea being that they sell foods that are soo good, they’ll you. The waitresses are dressed as nurses. Good marketing, but of course they’re buying into the idea that lard is dangerous.

    Ah … found a link to the news story about the place.

  4. TonyNZ

    I should add that I was still a tween when the whole vegetable oils thing really came in, so I don’t remember the “good ol” McDonalds.

    You missed the good stuff. I remember my parents occasionally picking up buckets of fried chicken in the lard-frying days. Good stuff. Now I’m never tempted to go out for chicken. It’s just not the same.

  5. Deborah M

    today i just made a big container of schmaltz and gribenes, from chicken skin and fat i’ve been collecting in the freezer for weeks. i’ve never had it before, but gribenes turn out to be delicious, and they’re going in our salad tonight, and all the other dishes i’m making for dinner (mainly various roast veggies, along with chicken) are being tossed in schmaltz rather than the usual olive oil.

    i was looking for online recipes to make sure i did it right, and found one with five reviews. all of the reviews were exclaiming over how wonderful schmaltz and gribenes were, and how they brought back memories of their grandmothers – and how just sometimes it was worth the heart attacks it was going to give them.

    it made me sad, really, to see how much misinformation there is out there, and how totally pervasive it is. i was even almost surprised, even though i believed the low-fat dogma myself for years. (why wouldn’t i; it’s what almost everyone teaches).

    anyway, i’ll be using and enjoying the schmaltz and gribenes guilt and worry free!

    No wonder we all remember grandma’s cooking so fondly. Lard, tallow, schmaltz — what’s not to like?

  6. Brian

    Thanks Tom. I think the Sioux Indians on the Great Plains exercised great personal responsibility. How much does a buffalo weight, half-ton or more? I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a caloric break-down sign nearby. How in the world were they not obese?

    Jacobson and his type are convinced — erroneously — that hunter-gatherers were frequently on the brink of starvation.

  7. Eric

    Great post. I was wondering what kind of frankenoil they would replace the transfat stuff with. I recently started cooking with tallow from U.S. Wellness ( I’d never cooked with it before, but the first time I did, I said out loud, “Oh wow. This is what McDonalds used to smell like!”

    We use it on everything now, as I often get an insatiable tallow craving at the end of the day.

    I’ll have to check that out. Isn’t this ironic? Thanks to Jacobson’s attempt to manage our health for us, you now have to go to health stores to find tallow or coconut oil.

  8. Josh Goguen

    This reminds me of the Ronald Reagan quote:

    Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

    It’s interesting how after “Freedom” you can easily tack on “to eat what ever you want” and it’s clearly coming true. I can picture one day sitting down and telling the kids and grandkids how delicious food used to be.

    “Why, way back then, we’d eat what ever we wanted, and people considered it none of their business if someone wanted a bucket of fries. Yes, a whole bucket.”

    “Let me tell you, sometimes we’d go see a movie we didn’t really care to see just for the popcorn!”

    “Sit down and swallow your formulated complete nutrition pills! Don’t you know there’s kids in other countries who don’t get pills? They have to eat food…delicious satisfying food.”

    Someday, there will be groups of underground rebels, sneaking off into the woods to eat bacon and chicken fried in lard. Then they’ll smoke, tell politically incorrect jokes, and take a joyride in big-ass car that isn’t a hybrid.

  9. Vin - NaturalBias

    I agree that restaurant food doesn’t have the same appeal once you get on a healthy diet consisting of REAL food. In addition, I think most fried foods are breaded, and most of the appeal for these foods is based on dipping the breading in a sauce that’s often high in sugar and other undesirable ingredients.

    Thanks for the info on CSPI. Although I think vegetarianism and veganism are invented diets and that there’s no such thing as a primitive culture that successfully followed them long term, I still respect people’s choice to follow them. However, I despise the idea of organizations that push this type of diet on everyone.

    That’s the real point. It’s about freedom. I’m against many of the anti-smoking laws for the same reason. Yes, we all know smoking cigarettes is stupid and can kill you, but that’s your choice. Even Dr. Dean Edell made that argument on his radio show: you want to use legislation to take away people’s cigarettes? Fine, don’t be surprised when the government comes after your booze, or your favorite junk food.

  10. Dave Dixon

    “Who would expect 2800 calories in a dessert?”

    Just about anybody with a functioning brain, I’d think. I guess if you eat fat-free tofu “ice cream” all the time that this might come as a surprise, but I think the rest of us have pretty realistic expectations about a six-inch thick slab of cake topped with the real thing.

    Yup. Same point I made in the film: the food evangelists think most people are stupid. (Imagine my surprise when one of the reviewers concluded that I think people are dumb. I don’t think it could’ve been more clear that I believe most people are blessed with common sense.)

  11. Ryan Robitaille

    The Guy From CSPI – thanklessly saving us from ourselves time and time again… (rolls eyes) more like evangelical “Food Terrorists”.

    Wonder what he’s going to put a nutritional jihad on next. Stay tuned!

    Loved the movie, by the way – “Spurlockian” is a great adjective for ridiculously over-inflated and biased.

    I’m hoping ‘Spurlockian’ becomes part of the lexicon.

  12. Gita

    Hi, I just finished watching Fat Head again – even better the second time.

    This article made me think about how, while still in the US (before I moved to Europe a couple of years ago), I thought I was losing my sense of taste for a number of years because nothing tasted like it used to. As a matter of fact, everything tasted dull. I even quit going to restaurants, because I am all about flavor, and there was none, so why bother. The use of vegetable oil explains the problem.

    The food is better here, you can buy meat with lots of fat still on it and lard is sold everywhere, but sadly the low-fat message is also being promoted, as it vegetable oil use. You can really tell the difference between food cooked with veg oil and lard.

    Keep up the good work, I love this blog.

    Interesting to hear that lard and full-fat meat are still widely available in Europe. The health nannies in America are constantly comparing fat Americans to leaner Europeans. You’d think they would take a hint.

  13. Phyllis Mueller

    I remember going in a health food store in Paris and seeing jars of duck fat for sale.

    Somebody alert Michael Jacobson! Maybe he’ll scurry off to Paris and leave Americans alone for awhile.

  14. Holly

    I was wondering why french fries from McDonalds taste so bland to me now. I guess I don’t taste what other people do. I can actually taste food again after decidedly going low-carb. Do they not realize that it’s bland or are they really that good at imagining that it tastes good? I wish my imagination was that powerful.

    While I was reading this post I decided to tell you about the pork dinner we had in honor of the swine flu. It was pork chops, rolled in ground pork rinds (and a few spices because I was feeling fancy) and it was fried in lard. I think we had green beans or asparagus sautéed with butter too. The vegetable was decent because I don’t remember it well other than to say it was good… but the meat?! It was GOOOOOD! Mmmm…..

    I’m guessing people have either forgotten or are too young to remember the good fries. The fries ain’t what they used to be, that’s for sure.

    Love the swine flu dinner idea. Wait, I just sneezed … better get cooking.

  15. TonyNZ

    Holly, another thing Tom has said on more that one occasion to the blandness of non-saturated fat, that there is an almost puritan belief that nothing good for you can taste good. “The fries are crap, but they are healthier… thats the price we pay. I’m not worried because this canola oil has no cholesterol”

  16. Laurie

    The Guy from CSPI is as bad as the nutritionist in ‘My Big Fat Diet’. She’s listed as having a PhD. You’ve heard the description of the degrees? -BS, bull sh !t, MS, more sh !t, and Piled higher and Deeper. I have my Master’s in chemistry and I’m clearly NOT anti-intellectual, but I would have assumed a PhD/RD could at least think and reason- but apparently not in her case. When I saw those morbidly obese young women, the daughters of one of the low-carb dieters, I wanted to SCREAM. I felt so bad for them. One woman, Joy, could not participate and the other, Tina, had to quit . And the nutritionist is cautioning that low-carb might kill them! WTF??? Wake up woman. Humans have been eating meat and fat for ALL of our evolutionary history. HFCS, table sugar, and margarine are all brand spankin’ NEW.
    In my own little fiefdom, I’ve converted my husband and his sister. I have apologized to my daughters who are 18 and 22. I told them I would have never fed them bread and cereal and carbs when they were growing up if I’d only known. They are coming around. They both recently watched FATHEAD and loved it and the older one watched MBFD and is now reading my much annotated copy of GCBC. I just snagged a copy of “Trick AND Treat” by Barry Groves. It’s awesome and I only took a break to read your blog and comment. Back to reading Groves.

    I think the Guy From CSPI takes the prize, since in addition to being wrong, he agitates for legistation and files lawsuits to impose his dietary choices on others.

    The woman in Big Fat Diet who really summed it up for me was the one who’d tried and failed to lose weight on Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, etc., but then dropped 60+ pounds on Wortman’s diet. All that frustration and failure with the “expert” advice, then stunning success while eating a rich, fatty, satisfying diet.

    Since your daughters had their eyes opened at 18 and 22, I’d say they’re pretty fortunate. They can spend their entire adult lives feeling healthy.

    You can imagine how I feel when someone offers my daughter a cookie and she replies, “No thank you. I don’t need all that sugar.” Or now and then she’ll take the cookie, which is fine too. I don’t want to turn the stuff into forbidden fruit, and she mostly follows our example.

  17. Kassie

    Hi Tom,

    I loved your movie and love the website also. I’m embarassed to admit that I subscribed to the CSPI newsletter for 20 years–a major part of my youth was spent trying to lose weight–eating the skim milk and rice cakes and skinless chicken breasts they recommended–and feeling always hungry & depressed, and never losing the weight! I feel so much better now on low-carb–I was able to stop the antidepressants I took for 20 years, and the weight is slowing coming off (I don’t think it works as quickly for us post-menopausal women as it does for you guys :). Gary Taubes is one of my heros, too–I got to speak to him when he gave a talk at a medical worshop in my area, and I stuttered like a schoolgirl with a crush. 🙂

    I’m an RN, and I teach diabetes education. I’m constantly at odds with the registered dieticians I work with, who sit down with each patient and cheerily say “let’s go over your diet and make sure you’re getting your carbs in!” I try to impress on the patients how it’s the sugars & starches that raise their blood sugar, and hope they remember that. But you know, if I tried to teach them the real low-carb way, and contradicted all the dieticians (and the doctors who send in their patients), I’d get fired. Gary Taubes is right in trying to change the whole paradigm with the medical professionals–until it changes from the top down, even we believers lower down the ladder can’t do much.

    Thanks again for you very entertaining, and very informative, movie and website.

    It’s a shame when you have to ignore your doctor’s advice in order to stay healthy. Mine (not the doctor in the film) recommended a lowfat diet because my cholesterol was “elevated” at 203, with an HDL of 61. I of course ignored him.

    It breaks my heart to think of all those diabetics out there, getting worse by following the advice they’re given. But congrats for fighting your own little rear-guard action, and for getting off the anti-depressants. Like Mike Eades told me, after the lowfat diet became the rage, a whole lot more people started seeking treatment for depression.

  18. Ellen

    Good post. I made the mistake of not bringing my lunch to work on Friday, and ended up at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I do my best to avoid fast food, but I figured I’d get a small order of chicken strips and it would hold me until dinner. But to my amazement, they were so BAD, I could not eat them. The texture and taste reminded me of rubber. I don’t believe I’ve ever had worse food. Now that you mention it, I’m sure part of the problem was some kind of vegetable oil. YUK.

    Yup. Vegetable oils are lousy for frying. No taste, no good crunch, no satisfying feeling afterwards.

  19. Matt R.

    Once you start eating better, it’s hard to even find comparable food in most restaurants these days. I find the few times my family and I eat out nowadays is because someone forgot to go to the store and the refrigerator is empty.

    I’ve found a few decent restaurants around here. I’ll order a steak, pork chops, salmon, etc., along with a salad and extra vegetables instead of potatoes. But it’s easier to stick to the good stuff at home, and my wife has become quite the steak chef.

  20. Ben P

    I’m kicking myself for not buying a bucket of lard while I was on vacation a month ago. It seemed cheap too. There were even a couple different brands of the stuff in the grocery store I was at. We have lard locally, but it’s hydrogenated. Such a waste. I need go look in an ethnic grocery store I guess.

    Speaking of the CSPI, I think most of their energy is directed at abolishing eating pleasure in general. It’s a “puritanical” mission against good tasting food. It’s not just saturated fat that they’re after, but also salt and artificial sweeteners. They can’t have salt in food to make it taste good, and god forbid one can have a sweet treat without any calories. It strikes me much like Taubes describing the obesity epidemic in sinful terms, where obesity is a problem of gluttony and sloth, not of hormone disregulation. For the CSPI, getting pleasure from eating food and not having negative consequences (and as the low-carb diet writers have shown, very likely positive consequences) is heresy (not sure that’s the right word…). The guy from CSPI would probably get along real well with Sylvester Graham or John Harvey Kellogg, who seemed to advocate high-carb vegetarian diets to curb sexual appetite. Seems like another possible reason to stay away from such a diet.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. In “Fat Politics,” Dr. Eric Oliver writes that health issues, especially weight issues, involve a lot of Puritan thinking: being thin and healthy is a sign of virtue, and virtue is a matter of denying yourself bodily pleasures. I remember, after reading CSPI’s long list of sinful foods, saying to my wife, “Gee, it must a real blast to go on a dinner date with one of these people.”

    And yet we fully expect animals living the wild to thrive on the foods they prefer to eat.

    Somebody better warn Spurlock’s wife about the vegetarian diets and sexual appetites. As you’ll recall, in Super Size Me she blamed saturated fat for their diminishing sex life. I guess that explains why hunter-gatherers never produced any children.

  21. Laurie

    My family and I all have our favorite epiphany moments from Fathead. The visual docu impact is powerful. I was already singing with the low-carb choir but the shot of the ‘AHA Seal of Approval’ on ‘Cocoa Puffs’ hit me hard. I also never agreed with the BMI tune and your graphic of Mr. Muscles with the same BMI as Mr. Tubby zinged me too. My kids were laughing and then stunned at the scrolling list of banned foods superimposed over Michael Jacobson of CSPI.
    On Amazon in the review section of Dean Ornish’s books is this:
    “The list of deadly, and forbidden foods is endless. No almonds, no avocadoes, no cabernet wine, no shrimp. Stay away from walnuts, salmon, clams, coconut, flaxseed, pecans, and calamari. Eat no roquefort, no cashews, no sushi, no flounder, no cod, no olives, no california roll. You are not permitted olive oil or canola oil or sesame oil. (Sesame seeds are even frowned upon.) You are allowed no pecans, no mustard, no sunflower seeds, no pumpkin seeds, no Dover sole, no brook trout, no chocolate. . .You are left to a spartan regime of leaves and stems, sugary fruits, and piles and piles of sticky starches. Rice beans potatoes rice beans potatoes rice beans. . . You may dress it up with saffron and exotic spices. But it is still potatoes rice beans.”
    Please keep up the spectacular work you’re doing. The message is slowly but powerfully getting through. I don’t expect changes overnight and I have always been suspicious of testimonials, but now I testify about low-carb, high-fat eating to anybody who will listen. One last uber-minor thing. I’ve noticed, since going low-carb, that mosquitoes are completely uninterested in me!

    I’m willing to give up foods I used to love — chips, pizza, sourdough bread– to go low-carb, which still allows for a lot of tasty food. But if I had to live on something like the Ornish diet to stay healthy, I think I’d choose to live a shorter life and enjoy it.

    Veeerrrry interesting about the mosquitoes. I grew up in the Midwest, and I’m personally responsible for billions of mosquitoes being born, thanks to the nourishment I provided their parents. (Under a microscope, many of the little @#$%ers probably looked like me.)

    We’re currently in the Los Angeles area, where mosquitoes are the second-rarest species, after Republicans. But soon we’re moving to Tennessee, and as I told my wife, we’ll have to re-acquaint ourselves with humidity and mosquitoes. I expected to be treated like a 24-hour diner on my evening walks. Perhaps not.

  22. ethyl d

    Now that I almost never eat fast food (only when I’m with others who want that and I can’t really impose my own preferences) I can’t believe how bad it tastes. How sad it is that most Americans actually like it and will even seek it out in large cities abroad when they travel.

    I think you’ve solved the mystery of why French fries in Turkey tasted so much better than anything here. About fifteen years ago when I was there (and not eating low-carb then) meals often came with a garnish of a few French fries (maybe 6-8 fries, not the mountain of them you get in the States), and they were delicious. I bet they were fried in a real, natural fat. Turkey offered the best cuisine I ever had, by the way (and I lived in France for a while). It would be worth living there just for the way the oranges tasted. Even truck stop food was sublime!

    I recall the meals in Italy and Spain being exceptional as well when I was on my honeymoon. That was way before “Fat Head,” so I didn’t think about what kind of fats they were using, but I bet I was tasting real food cooked in real fats.

  23. Tracy Bradley

    Chicken wings used to be one of my go-to foods when I didn’t feel like cooking, or was at a restaurant, until they started to taste like…well, like vegetable oil (I never eat veg. oil at home, so I assumed I’m just sensitive to the taste now) So, I started buying big packs of chicken wings and frying them myself – in chicken fat I render from broiling thighs. Best chicken wings EVAH, and they don’t need much more than a touch of salt. Plus, they fill me up – I eat about 8 of them, as opposed to eating 4lbs of restaurant wings + sauce.

    That’s what is so frustrating about the anti-saturated-fat hysteria: we’ve made food so unsatisfying, people end up eating way more of it. Then we blame them for over-eating.

  24. Dana

    I love your blog and I think you’re a funny and brilliant guy. So please take the following in the best spirit possible because I mean no offense. Anyway you’ve heard me say this before.

    People are equating freedom with smoking again in the comments. You’re one of them. I have a problem with this. See, the person who is doing the smoking is not the only one affected.

    I grew up in a smokers’ household. That’s right, plural. Both parents. Chain. My brother had constant ear infections, and both he and I had to have tubes in our ears the year I turned eleven. It’s possible the cigarettes weren’t to blame, but it’s also possible they were.

    And the fact remains that the smoke coming out of the end of the cigarette is completely unfiltered and contains not only nicotine, a drug, but also all manner of nasty stuff that’s not good for anyone to inhale–that is mitigated by the filter somewhat for a smoker, but not at all for anyone not doing the smoking.

    You want freedom? Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. I have the right to not be forced to inhale a drug against my will. If I can’t even go out in public without some yo-yo blowing smoke my way at the bus stop or in a restaurant (and I promise you, the “non-smoking section” is a joke–smoke travels on air, and air goes everywhere!), how is that freedom? I’m supposed to live under house arrest because you were dumb enough to cave in to peer pressure when you were [insert age here]? I don’t think so.

    This is one of those things I *will* harp about, here or anywhere, especially now that I live with an asthmatic in the house. I was willing to put up with this before he came along and especially before I had kids. Having kids and dating the asthmatic (when we were dating) really opened my eyes.

    Damn… If you don’t care about the folks with healthy lungs, you might keep in mind that asthmatics don’t have I CAN’T EFFING BREATHE tattooed across their foreheads in neon pink ink. You don’t know who’s standing (or seated) near you when you light up. I’ve known an asthmatic smoker in my lifetime, but most of them aren’t that suicidal.

    And the thing about driving around wasting gasoline just for fun… after the Gulf disaster, that’s just tacky. I love driving too, but I don’t love it more than marine life, sorry, especially since if that all dies out I’m gonna die out too. I would love to be able to afford a hybrid or an electric car (I know, they have their issues too), and it pains me to see people who can afford them blow them off. (If you can’t, ignore that part.)

    It also pains me to see this lack of civic consciousness which, legend has it, far more of us used to have. I guess the standard libertarian excuse for its decline is that since the government started trying to be everything to everybody, nobody has any reason to be civic-minded anymore. Whatever. I thought we were all our own people and capable of thinking for ourselves. Then again, I see just as much begging for government handouts from the right as I do from the left–it may mostly be for propping up the military and the church, but it’s still there.

    OK, enough ramble.

    But your post about saturated fat, that I like. Like it matters, but there you go. Everybody has their blind spots, I guess. No big.

    I have no problem limiting smoking in situations where people can’t avoid it. But I very much object to governments telling bar owners they can’t allow smoking on their own property. If you don’t like smoke, don’t go into that bar.

    Here’s an analogy: I hate loud music, and it’s an established fact that loud music can damage ears. But I would never, ever try to pass a law prohibiting dance clubs, concert halls, bars that feature live music or DJs, etc., from playing loud music. Let ’em blast away. I just won’t go to those places. That’s how freedom is supposed to work. To demand that they lower the volume so I can go there without experiencing ear pain is nothing more than me assuming it’s okay to restrict their freedom for the sake of my desires and convenience. I don’t think I’m that important. But freedom is.

    As for the right begging for just as many handouts as the left, I oppose most handouts — the kind of corporate welfare that goes to companies like ADM is an outrage. I want a smaller military dedicated to protecting America, not Japan or South Korea or Saudi Arabia. But even at its current size, the military doesn’t suck up nearly as many tax dollars as so-called “entitlement” programs. (Love that term … yes, we’re all “entitled” to live off our neighbors.) I’m not sure what you mean by asking for money for churches, so you’ll have to explain that one.

  25. Dana

    I should add that none of my objections about smoking apply to smokeless tobacco. Want to give yourself a raging case of mouth cancer? Knock yourself out. I don’t have to inhale it too.

    That’s the thing for me… When it directly affects other people, then I tend to have a problem with it if it’s damaging behavior. If it just affects you, have fun, you’re a big boy/girl and you can take the consequences.

    Smoking and driving affect other people, lots and lots. Thus.

  26. Vida Outten

    Great blog! Sorry to change the subject, but, since Nashville is getting a lot of press lately, I’d like to find a great sushi restaurant or Japanese restaurant in Nashville TN. Have you heard of any good ones? There’s a new one called Nomzilla Sushi Et Cetera, but I’ve only seen a few reviews. Here’s the address of this new Nashville Sushi Restaurant , 1201 Villa Place, Suite 101 Nashville, TN 37212 – (615) 268-1424. Thoughts? Thanks!

    I don’t eat sushi, so I don’t have any idea.

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