The Meat Wars: JAMA Stirs the Pot

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen — 20 January 2020



Rita Rubin, Senior Writer, JAMA Medical News & Perspectives,  has stirred the pot on the controversy surrounding a series of studies published last Fall in the Annals of Internal Medicine, “one of the most widely cited and influential specialty medical journals in the world.”  Her  latest piece,  titled “Backlash Over Meat Dietary Recommendations Raises Questions About Corporate Ties to Nutrition Scientists”,  appeared in JAMA online  on 15 January 2020.   It begins with this:

“It’s almost unheard of for medical journals to get blowback for studies before the data are published. But that’s what happened to the Annals of Internal Medicine last fall as editors were about to post several studies showing that the evidence linking red meat consumption with cardiovascular disease and cancer is too weak to recommend that adults eat less of it.

Annals Editor-in-Chief Christine Laine, MD, MPH, saw her inbox flooded with roughly 2000 emails—most bore the same message, apparently generated by a bot—in a half hour. Laine’s inbox had to be shut down, she said. Not only was the volume unprecedented in her decade at the helm of the respected journal, the tone of the emails was particularly caustic.

“We’ve published a lot on firearm injury prevention,” Laine said. “The response from the NRA (National Rifle Association) was less vitriolic than the response from the True Health Initiative.”

Welcome to The Meat Wars.  Yet another Modern Scientific Controversy playing out in the mass media. I covered the story originally here at WUWT in “Modern Scientific Controversies Part 7: The Meat War”  last October.  Read this earlier essay to get a feel for what has happened so far.


A group of independent researchers, from several countries, have formed a group called NutriRECS, “an independent group with clinical, nutritional and public health content expertise, skilled in the methodology of systematic reviews and practice guidelines who are unencumbered by institutional constraints and conflicts of interest, aiming to produce trustworthy nutritional guideline recommendations based on the values, attitudes and preferences of patients and community members”.  They have covered a wide range of issues since 2010.

NutriRECS authors published six papers simultaneously in  Annals of Internal Medicine. 19 November 2019 Vol: 171, Issue 10, the papers in combination reviewed the evidence used to make public health recommendations for amounts of red and processed meat in the human diet.   [ While the official publication date, issue, and volume of the journal show 19 November, the controversy breaks as early as September 2019 — with pre-publication copies of the papers sent out to the press, as evidenced by coverage in the NY Times on 30 September 2019. I was able to access all six papers online in early October 2019.  — kh ]

Gina Kolata, of the NY Times Health section, characterized the furor over the papers  last September this way:

“Public health officials for years have urged Americans to limit consumption of red meat and processed meats because of concerns that these foods are linked to heart disease, cancer and other ills.

But on Monday, in a remarkable turnabout, an international collaboration of researchers produced a series of analyses concluding that the advice, a bedrock of almost all dietary guidelines, is not backed by good scientific evidence.

If there are health benefits from eating less beef and pork, they are small, the researchers concluded. Indeed, the advantages are so faint that they can be discerned only when looking at large populations, the scientists said, and are not sufficient to tell individuals to change their meat-eating habits.”

Kolata characterized the reaction to the papers as:

Already they have been met with fierce criticism by public health researchers. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published them.”

If you’ve followed some of the links, to my earlier essay or to the NY Times article by Koltata, you’ll be pretty well informed as to the immediate reactions to the papers.

Rita Rubin’s JAMA article really digs in, pointing out that “Subsequent news coverage criticized the methodology used in the meat papers and raised the specter that some of the authors had financial ties to the beef industry, representing previously undisclosed conflicts of interest.”  There was, in fact, no specter, not even a suggestion that some or any of the authors had financial ties to the beef industry — except in ad hominem attacks from a certain small group of researchers and public health policy advocates.

In an article in The BJM (previously, the British Medical Journal), also published before the official publication of the meat guideline papers, Owen Dryer repeats the attack  “from critics who note that the lead author of the principal  paper also helped to write a 2016 paper questioning the benefits  of limiting sugar intake, which was funded by an industry  group.”   Let’s look at this claim:  The lead author of one of the six papers, out of the 14 authors involved in the six papers in the series, “also helped to write a 2016 paper questioning the benefits of limiting sugar intake” which paper was reportedly “funded by an industry  group.”  Any truth to this?  Yes,  Brad Johnston, lead author of this one paper in the NurtiRECS meat series, “Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium”, was one of five authors of a 2016 paper “The Scientific Basis of Guideline Recommendations on Sugar Intake: A Systematic Review”.  The sugar intake paper was funded by the nonprofit International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), which is primarily supported by the food and agriculture industry.  ILSI supports private/public collaborations in nutrition science.  Note that the NY Times has recently published an article attacking ILSI,  which contained false information about ILSI, to which ILSI responded.  (The NY Times did not print ILSI’s response.)

The JAMA article by Rita Rubin is a great deal more even handed.  She states bluntly:

“But what has for the most part been overlooked is that Katz and THI and many of its council members [which includes Frank Hu and Walter Willett]  have numerous industry ties themselves. The difference is that their ties are primarily with companies and organizations that stand to profit if people eat less red meat and a more plant-based diet. Unlike the beef industry, these entities are surrounded by an aura of health and wellness, although that isn’t necessarily evidence-based.

So the attacks on the NurtiRECS papers come from researchers whose primary focus — and source of fame and wealth — is advocacy for “lifestyle medicine” and “plant-based diets” — researchers with ties to for-profit companies and organizations that will profit from their views.

The primary, and most vitriolic, of these players?   David Katz, Frank Hu, Walter Willett, all council members of the True Health Initiative.   What have they done? First, they attempted to preemptively prevent the publication of the NutriRECS papers:

“Katz, Willett, and Hu took the rare step of contacting Laine [editor of Annals] about retracting the studies prior to their publication, she recalled in an interview with JAMA. Perhaps that’s not surprising. “Some of the researchers have built their careers on nutrition epidemiology,” Laine said. “I can understand it’s upsetting when the limitations of your work are uncovered and discussed in the open.””

Another member of the THI council, Neil Barnard, MD, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM):

“Hours before the meat articles were posted and the embargo lifted, Barnard’s PCRM went so far as to petition the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “to correct false statements regarding consumption of red and processed meat released by the Annals of Internal Medicine.” But the FTC describes its role as protecting consumers and promoting competition in the marketplace, so it’s unclear what authority or interest it would have in this case.

Despite PCRM’s name, less than 10% of its 175 000 members are physicians, according to its website, which describes the organization’s mission as “saving and improving human and animal lives through plant-based diets and ethical and effective scientific research.” [Rubin in source]

The plant-based diet advocates didn’t stop there: (all from Rubin’s  JAMA article)

“Information Terrorism”

The rebukes continued for weeks after publication of the meat articles, but Katz didn’t comment via the typical routes of posting comments on the journal’s website or writing a letter to the editor. He said he did neither because he’s “able to react much more immediately and generate a much wider awareness with my own blog platforms.”

In his October 6 column for the New Haven Register, Katz compared the articles, which he called “a great debacle of public health” to “information terrorism” that “can blow to smithereens…the life’s work of innumerable careful scientists.”

About 3 weeks later, [Neil Barnard ‘s] PCRM asked the district attorney for the City of Philadelphia, where the Annals editorial office is located, “to investigate potential reckless endangerment” resulting from the publication of the meat papers and recommendations.”

“Another salvo came during a recent 1-day preventive cardiology conference, where half the presentations were on plant-based diets. During his keynote address, Willett showed a slide entitled “Disinformation” that faulted several organizations and individuals: the “sensationalist media,” specifically the Annals and longtime New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata, who wrote the newspaper’s first story about the meat papers; “Big Beef,” specifically Texas A&M and nutrition scientist Patrick Stover, PhD, vice chancellor at the school and a coauthor of the NutriRECS meat consumption guideline; and “evidence-based academics,” namely NutriRECS and Gordon Guyatt, MD, MSc, chair of the panel that wrote the meat consumption guidelines.

“It was part of my talk addressing the confusion that the public gets from the media about diet and health,” Willett said in an email to JAMA. “Some of this relates to the triangle of disinformation that is…feeding into this. The same strategy is being used to discredit science on sugar and soda consumption, climate change, air pollution, and other environmental hazards.”

If any of this reminds readers of the attack tactics of  The Climate Team and the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, it is no surprise.  And while it is David Katz that slings the accusation of “information terrorism”  — I am of the opinion  that he has reversed the arrow of cause — it is THI and its cohorts that are engaging in “information terrorism” .

We see these same approaches taken to any research results which might weaken the advocacy case of the IPCC policy demands.  In this venue, I don’t have to name names of those who engage in these nefarious, unscientific practices.  But,  in fact, we see the same response in every Modern Science Controversy that I have covered here at WUWT.  The advocacy-science practitioners — those who depend on weak scientific results — vague, correlational, inferential, small effects, based on withheld data and methods, unreplicable — are terrified and outraged when the weaknesses in their findings, policy positions and opinions are challenged and made public.

Willett attacks every source of contrary science — even though the contrary science is evidence-based, transparent and extremely rigorous.  He lets the cat out of the bag when he states:  ”Some of this relates to the triangle of disinformation that is…feeding into this. The same strategy is being used to discredit science on sugar and soda consumption, climate change, air pollution, and other environmental hazards.”

What is this “same strategy” that is being used?  Good, evidence-based science.


When the focus of solid evidence-based science turns its attention on advocacy-science, surprising results turn up.  We saw this recently in Ocean Acidification Science in Clark et al.’s “Ocean acidification does not impair the behaviour of coral reef fishes” which was reported widely (and favorably), examples  here and here.  Science Magazine reported:

“In a major, 3-year effort that studied six fish species, they could not replicate three widely reported behavioral effects of ocean acidification. The replication team notes that many of the original studies came from the same relatively small group of researchers and involved small sample sizes. That and other “methodological or analytical weaknesses” may have led the original studies astray, they argue.”

Most of the papers that failed to have their findings supported were co-authored by Philip Munday of James Cook University.  And although Munday has issued statements quibbling with the Clark paper and plans to publicly defend his findings, Science Magazine quotes Tim Parker, a biologist and an advocate for replication studies:

Replication studies often cause quibbles about methods, Parker says. But, he argues, “If the original finding is reasonably robust,” then researchers using even somewhat different methods should be able to replicate it. And he notes that the replication team went to great lengths to be transparent. Unlike the original authors, the team released video of each experiment, for example, as well as the bootstrap analysis code. “That level of transparency certainly increases my confidence in this replication,” Parker says.


The Bottom Line:  It is solid, robust, transparent evidence-based science versus weak, secret, correlational advocacy-science.

This is, then, the crux of the Secret Science Battle that has been building in Washington, D.C. .  The advocacy-scientists fear exposure of the weak science behind public policy recommendations and regulations on such topics as on sugar and soda consumption, climate change, air pollution, and other environmental hazards.”

Advocacy-scientists fear that if strict scientific standards were applied to the foundational research supporting their advocacy views and policy recommendations, which underpin many governmental policies and regulations, the results would be the same as for public health meat recommendations and Ocean Acidificaton fish behavior studies — they might  be discredited.

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Author’s Comment:

This essay ends at the beginning of another more serious essay on the Secret Science Battle unfolding in the US and elsewhere.  The topic is important to the overall health and success of scientific advances.

Readers can prep themselves for the coming discussion of the Secret Science Rule by reading a few teasers:  here, here and here.  My personal opinion? : The hysterical voices blasting the new rule openly state that they are trying to prevent reanalysis of the weak, correlational, inferential, small effect, non-transparent and just plain “iffy” science that has been used in the past to create volumes of possibly unnecessary, un-scientifically-founded regulations and policies, upon which their personal careers have been based.  In many cases, it is specific studies that are of major concern — studies known to be questionable.

Address your comment to “Kip…” if speaking to me.

# # # # #

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Mike Smith
January 20, 2020 10:20 am

How inconvenient. Obviously, we need to adjust the data.

Reply to  Mike Smith
January 20, 2020 11:43 am


Bryan A
Reply to  Mike Smith
January 21, 2020 10:31 am

Give the data to Thom Karl, he’ll tease a Climate Signal into it

January 20, 2020 10:24 am

A time-tested strategy: Accuse your opponent of what you are doing.

Phils Dad
Reply to  Curious George
January 20, 2020 10:50 am

I see what you did there

January 20, 2020 10:41 am

I like kale. It is what my food eats.

Reply to  Rob_Dawg
January 20, 2020 11:35 am

Do you realize how many dead microorganisms, and small dead animal parts went into making the soil that grew your kale? Such senseless murder to produce vegetables must be stopped! We humans MUST stop eating altogether and die out — it’s the only course for environmental justice. [cue grandiose symphonic music]

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
January 20, 2020 2:32 pm

We humans MUST stop eating altogether and die out

It’s what the Club of Rome and Population Matters want.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Redge
January 20, 2020 11:48 pm

Err, not quite! What these esteemed & august (allegedly by themselves of course) organisations actually want is mass population reduction, so that sufficient food is available for their unlimited consumption, with the cast-offs/disgarded scraps fed to the remaining peasants who will exist in servitude to their neo-elitist masters (& mistresses – don’t want to upset the feministas, I want to keep mine attached!)! It’s all so wonderfully Orweallian & V for Vendetta-ish it’s almost unbelievable, almost! However, as we all or at least should know, most heinous crimes against people & Humanity in general, is carried out underneath our very noses under the auspecies of some “noble” cause or other! The banning of DDT based on no scientific reasoning whatsoever, other than millions of Africans & Asians will needlessly die from preventable diseases was a prime example!

Bill Powers
Reply to  Alan the Brit
January 22, 2020 4:17 am

Its a Brave New World.

Reply to  Rob_Dawg
January 20, 2020 12:51 pm

if God wanted us to eat broccoli he would have made it more fun to shoot.

Reply to  taz1999
January 20, 2020 1:32 pm

Stalking it is half the fun.

Reply to  Scissor
January 20, 2020 5:17 pm

“Stalking”, I see what you did there.

Reply to  MarkW
January 21, 2020 4:13 am

It’s far more healthy for people to eat …… than to graze.

Reply to  Scissor
January 21, 2020 2:16 pm

Celery stalks.

Reply to  taz1999
January 20, 2020 1:33 pm

Once you hit a head of broccoli with a 12 gauge, there’s not much left to eat !!

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  fred250
January 20, 2020 2:36 pm

Really, for such small game, a 410 is perfectly adequate.

nw sage
Reply to  fred250
January 20, 2020 6:24 pm

re: 12 gauge – It stays dead though!

Reply to  taz1999
January 20, 2020 7:18 pm

If you listen really carefully, you can hear the produce scream when it’s shot…

JRF in Pensacola
Reply to  taz1999
January 21, 2020 3:53 am

All of you responding to taz have permission to post more! Love it!

Reply to  Rob_Dawg
January 20, 2020 1:28 pm

Hey, I like grass.

Reply to  Scissor
January 20, 2020 1:45 pm

Scissor ==> We are talking diet here…things you eat….

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 3:59 pm

Nebuchadnezzar, an ancient king, ate grass for 7 years according to the Bible. The general belief is he went “mad” & then foraged; until one day he became “sane” & resumed kinging.

What may just as well be said is that it was eating grass which cured Nebuchadnezzar in time. Not only this, but if the tale is true, then his curative survival on a grass diet may also be attesting that consuming meat is not necessarily better for well being.

Reply to  gringojay
January 21, 2020 7:46 am

Walter Willett, like Ancel Keys before him, has held the nutrition establishment hostage to his ideas for a generation–the imprimatur of Harvard backed by infinite funding from Big Processed Food. Observational epidemiology is capable of proving little except possibly the biases of its authors, which are much in evidence. To wit, maybe it isn’t the BURGER patty causing the problems, but the large fries soaked in reheated soybean oil, 3 white-bread buns and Big Gulp followed by a cigarette? Self-reported food “data” taken up to 20 years after the fact isn’t “science,” and the confounders are about 98% socio-economic and cultural class markers; but of course that isn’t PC to discuss, now, is it?

There are reams upon reams of evidence, beginning with examinations of indigenous peoples in the throes of “nutrition transition” from their ancestral diets to the “trade foods” of white flour, sugar, molasses, and white rice in the 1920’s of what the deleterious dietary elements really are–those items, exactly which can be summed up as refined carbohydrates. Get THOSE out of your diet, you’ll be an order of magnitude healthier (get rid of all industrial seed oils, too–corn, soybean, canola, etc.). You can indeed eat veggies, meat, fish, GRASS like Nebuchadnezzar for that matter and have better health than if you kept on with the industrial unnatural carbs and oils.

Of course, those 3 items just happen to be the the 3 most produced, most profitable parts of nearly every highly processed food. So to “clean up” your diet for real, you have to buy real, whole, fresh ingredients and cook them at home; not live out of bodegas, eating in the car, and bouncing from one sugar rush to the next. The numbers of people addicted to glucose are legion; most are either ignorant or in denial. Nearly ALL the chronic diseases for which lifetime medical maintenance is now the norm can be prevented or greatly mitigated by getting off the sugar/starch/oil train.

Big Food is perfectly aware that if you eat meat and fat, you won’t need or want as much of the packaged stuff–hence the pushback. Big Pharma has a dog in the fight, too– their most profitable and ubiquitous products become completely unnecessary for humans on their natural diet. And that ain’t all plants, honey; we lack a cecum and can’t ferment the stuff which is why it comes out as waste, er, “fiber.”

shortie of greenbank
Reply to  gringojay
January 21, 2020 3:03 pm

Usually what happens in an extreme depravation diet like veganism is that some adherents wake up feeling great with what looks like surrounded by the scatter remains of animal products like roast chicken etc. they were not drunk or anything of the sorts. I would hazard a guess that Nebuchadnezzar may have had a similar event and resumed a more animal based diet after that rather than hiding the fact and remaining dogmatic.

Also from the bible:

(Paul’s letter to the Romans (14:2–3):

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.)

Now onto Willet. A piece of work to say the least, we get the thanks the various interests ‘donating’ to various dietary organisations for leaving a trace in their links to him and also their fingerprints on organisations such as dieticians organisations. Their attacks on doctors like Gary Fettke stirred up his wife Belinda Fettke to deep dive into their histories and ultimately create lists of conflicts of interest for people like Willet, who in the end had a small book sized list of conflicts of interest including herbicide and pharmaceutical companies depsite his interest supposedly only dietary epidemiology (I believe the page count of conflicts in the document was over 20 by now created by Belinda).

Reply to  gringojay
January 21, 2020 6:13 pm

Hi shortie of greenbank – “Weak” in your quote does not refer to physical condition; it is a reference to faith in regards to Old Testament dietary rules (clean vs. unclean categories). New Testament is alot about there being new paradigms, with the “good” news creation is all good.

And furthermore “vegetables” is a poor translation for the word “herbs” The reference to “herbs” is in the context that since no plants are restricted (ie: unclean) eating only them assures conformity with traditional dietary rules dating back to Moses.

The quote’s injunction to not judge what another eats is not about tolerance for health advice. Rather moral instruction that faithful interpretations should be tolerated & not devolve into disputes.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 7:58 pm

My dog likes to eat some grass. I like to eat the bottom of the leaflet when you pull it off the plant-juicy, slightly sweet, easy to chew.

Reply to  Philo
January 21, 2020 3:47 am

wheat grass and barley grass arent bad especially as powders mixed with juice, when grass isnt available for my dogs in hot summers I add some powder to their tucker.
dogs that can hunt and eat prey tend to eat less grass Ive noted they get what they need in the guts of the prey

Reply to  Philo
January 21, 2020 4:17 am

If a dog eats grass, …… it has a problem its trying cure.

Mr Reynard
Reply to  Philo
January 21, 2020 8:53 pm

What about the Vegan Tiger ??
Eats two Vegans a day & feel marvelous ??

Mark Broderick
January 20, 2020 10:49 am


“In an article in The BJM (previously, the British Medical Journal), also published before the official publication
OF the meat guideline papers, Owen Dryer repeats the attack “from critics who note that the lead author of the principal paper also helped to write a 2016 paper questioning the benefits of limiting sugar intake, which was funded by an industry group.”

Mark Broderick
January 20, 2020 11:01 am


“This essay ends at the beginning of another more serious essay on the Secret Science Battle unfolding in the US and elsewhere. The topic is important to the overall health and success OF scientific advances.

Reply to  Mark Broderick
January 20, 2020 1:37 pm

Mark ==> I seem to be having a repeated problem with the “of”s. Thanks for reading carefully… appreciated.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 1:56 pm

Having an ‘of’ day?

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 20, 2020 2:08 pm

Zig ==> LOL….thanks for that.

January 20, 2020 11:06 am

I’d been recently hearing commercials w/fake-stream doctors saying “it’s been determined, red meat causes cancer!” and thinking “Whaaaa? Since when has that been proven?”

Fake-stream media is now just blatantly putting out obvious lies & distortion about everything and anything.

Reply to  beng135
January 20, 2020 1:44 pm

beng ==> That is correct — there is no evidence whatever that eating red meat (beef) causes cancer of any kind.

There is some very weak correlational, inferential, associational evidence that consuming too much animal fat might contribute in some minor way to heart related problems.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 3:08 pm


Humans have been eating meat for tens of thousands of years, we are very well adapted to it. Processed meat, perhaps not so much though.

And if one thinks about it, the concept of ‘meat and two veg’ on our plate may be doing us harm also.

If we think about it, pre agricultural mankind probably survived day to day largely on foraged berries, fruits, vegetables etc. When a hunter returned with a catch, the likelihood of the ‘tribe’ then arranging it with a nice selection of said veggies is probably quite low. Assuming the catch was big enough, they would have feasted exclusively on the meat until it was consumed. Then they would return to their foraging to see them through to the next catch.

With no agricultural ‘anchor’ it was a nomadic life, going where the weather and food sources were most favourable.

Coastal communities may well have done something similar except the consumption of fish may have been higher, and communities more settled as fishing techniques improved. Weather may well have played a part but they would likely have stuck to the coast as their skills were likely specific to fishing.

I have absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever but often wonder if our diet may be the answer to a number of health problems; maybe we shouldn’t be mixing meat and veg on one plate. Perhaps we should be gorging on meat once a week and eating veg/fruit/nuts for the rest of the week.

Reply to  HotScot
January 20, 2020 3:10 pm


It would really help us all if we knew what trigger words or phrases to avoid so we don’t get moderated.


Clyde Spencer
Reply to  HotScot
January 20, 2020 5:34 pm

It is all very mysterious! Sometimes what I post is immediately displayed, albeit rarely. Sometimes I get a notice that it is being held for review. Most of the time, it just evaporates, to be displayed at some later time. I generally try to avoid any obvious ‘trigger’ words. I have seen no relationship to the length of the post and the delay in posting. The one thing I have noticed is that it seems more probable that what I write will see the light of day immediately if I’m responding to a post that is several days old.

Reply to  HotScot
January 21, 2020 12:25 am


My understanding is posts are batch posted at a certain time, maybe every 15 minutes or so, hence the delay, and sometimes no delay if you happen to hit the post button at a certain time.

When Anthony updated the site to include ‘likes’ for comments etc. it seems it suffered attacks so I guess he had to strip all the niceties out it and impose the delay.

I find the same as you with older posts.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 4:47 pm


Wouldn’t the incredible range of diets be specific to location, as in, coastal or inland for example?

Varying by country as well perhaps?

The Inuit by way of another example, lived almost solely on fatty meats from the ocean, at least during winter. From memory I also believe they have one of the lowest incidents of heart disease and their cholesterol is ‘remarkably’ low.

Dr. Malcolm Kendrick runs a blog where he examines the issue of cholesterol and statins; the most profitable drug ever produced, no wonder it’s pushed by ‘big pharma’.

I also believe there has been some research been done on ‘custom’ diets, determined by ones DNA to establish where ones ancestral roots are and what we would likely have eaten for perhaps thousands of years.

So yes, I agree there is no such thing as a perfect diet, but their might be better diets than the one size fits all meat and two veg.

And I note that the editor of the UK’s most successful Vegan magazine was forced to eat meat because her vegan diet was making her so ill. Which might suggest that whilst some people thrive on a veganism, perhaps others just can’t survive without meat.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 5:41 pm

You said, “…, mankind has shown itself to be able to survive as omnivores with an incredibly wide range of diets.” And to that end, I try to follow the dictum, “Moderation in all things.” Although, that does raise the philosophical question “Is one being too rigid and extreme if they are always moderate?”

I remember once attending a guest lecture by a physician who claimed that anyone who ate an exclusive meat diet would die (don’t we all?). I asked him about Eskimos and how they had managed to survive so long. He didn’t have a good come back.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 8:21 am

Yep, in spite of what TV and movies show people can be fairly hard to kill.

Jay Willis
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 1:34 am


Inuit have a lide expectancy of about 10 years less than other Canadians…

“In fact, data collected over many decades showed that coronary artery disease is common in Greenland’s Inuit population. Heart disease is as frequent — or even more so — among native northern populations as it is for other populations. Strokes are particularly common, and life expectancy overall was found to be about a decade shorter among native populations”

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 7:40 am

HotScot ==> With the caveat that I am neither a doctor or a nutritionist,I can safely say that humans have survived on diets that run a very very wide spectrum — and thrived in many areas of the world eating only what they could find and catch — no vitamin supplements, no energy drinks, no modern preserved foods to see them through the lean season.

It is true that most strict vegan diets lead to illness and even death as they naturally lack some essential elements to keep human bodies alive.
..My essay last year on a Meatless Diet has soime insight.
This piece discusses how difficult it would be.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 7:52 am

Kip nails it again! An incredibly wide range of human diets are indeed possible, but the common denominator of them all is what they DO NOT INCLUDE: Refined grains, sugar in more than the quantity found in seasonally-available berries, and industrial seed oils.

If your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as “food,” (animal or vegetable), don’t eat it. It’s really that simple. Most people are gobsmacked when informed there is NO SUCH THING as an “essential” carbohydrate!

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 8:04 am

“Inuit have a lide expectancy of about 10 years less than other”

Jay, is that with a strictly traditional diet? Or does it include the introduction of processed foods? No, I’m not going to give Huff and Puff Post any clicks.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 21, 2020 8:23 am

And how much of the difference can be laid at the feet of the environment they live in? I have spent time in Arctic, got back south as fast as I could, and that was summer time!

Federico Bär
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 6:54 pm

Kip: I found it amusing to compare …mankind’s survival on different diets… with —our Planet’s ability to pull through climate crises—.

Reply to  HotScot
January 20, 2020 8:37 pm

“Humans have been eating meat for tens of thousands of years, we are very well adapted to it.”

Indeed. One wonders what people believe we ate between the invention of fire and cooking, and the invention of agriculture…
Also explains why a high protein/high fat diet leaves you feeling full, while a veggie diet leaves you perpetually hungry – when a fruit/veggie is in season, there’s a lot of it, so eat as much as you can and get as fat as you can so you can survive when the season is over and food is scarce. That means the survivors are those who can gorge on high carbs – ie, those who can keep eating plenty of carbs. Meat though, is scarce – better that everyone in the tribe gets some, so getting full up on it is easier.
Just a theory…

Reply to  Kneel
January 21, 2020 12:38 am


Not a theory at all. High protein foods like meat are more difficult for the body to digest so keep you feeling full for longer.

I’m sticking to a high protein diet right now as I need to lose weight before a hip replacement, bacon and eggs for breakfast, steak and lots of green veg for dinner every night if I want and perhaps some fish for lunch. No sugar or carbs whatsoever (well, for the first 5 days, thereafter a limited amount).

I was losing around 0.5lb a day and I can’t even walk the dog at the moment so no exercise at all. Christmas didn’t help at all, but I’m back on the wagon again!

And as the designer of the diet Professor Zoe Harcombe explains, it’s just a change of eating habits, not a diet. There’s no benefit in feeling hungry all the time, losing weight, then returning to an eating regime that got you fat in the first place.

Reply to  HotScot
January 20, 2020 8:41 pm

Sounds about right.
But also consider different hunter gatherers – ecosystems
All would have shaped diet and culture differently.

Reply to  HotScot
January 21, 2020 7:12 am

HotScot – January 20, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Humans have been eating meat for tens of thousands of years, we are very well adapted to it.

Coastal communities may well have done something similar except the consumption of fish may have been higher, and communities more settled as fishing techniques improved.

HotScot, …… shur nuff, the consumption of fish (seafoods) was a lot higher, …….because early human “fishing techniques improved” hundreds-of-thousands of years earlier than “hunter-gather” techniques for acquiring land-based meat and vegetables. The shallow waters off the shore line of rivers, lakes, inland seas and/or tidal zones provided copious amounts of easily harvested high protein foods (fish, crabs, lobsters, oysters, clams, etc.)

In other words, …… “nothing makes sense in the evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens other than a close association with an aquatic environment”. If interested, …… read this WUWT posting.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
January 21, 2020 8:40 am

Samuel Cogar — interesting ideas on your comment/link. My opinion about bipedalism is simple, that because humans started setting up temporary “camps”, they needed to carry food back to it instead of eating on the spot. That carrying (upright) behavior can be seen in gorillas and chimps occasionally. The theory that it’s because of adapting to the savannah instead of a forest doesn’t make sense because there are all sorts of animal types on the savannah, and none of them adapted to it by becoming bipedal (birds don’t count).

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
January 22, 2020 4:06 am

beng135, I thank you for your response.

And I agree with you about the “driver” of bipedalism, …. “adapting to the savannah instead of a forest doesn’t make sense because”, …… its absolutely silly to claim that early hominoids evolved on the savannahs to stand bipedally as a means to “look out for & evade predators” … simply because most 4-legged predators hunt with their noses. While you are standing-up looking for them, they will sneak up behind you and take a bite out of your butt.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
January 22, 2020 8:16 am

Samuel, to be more clear, when the early humans were transitioning to bipedalism, I don’t think they were at fire-discovery level — not even close yet. So my reference to “camps” was figurative. Better description would be an area where they commonly gathered/slept for protection, socializing, warmth — under a ledge, a cave, etc. Then, they starting carrying food — meat, roots, plants & so forth (upright & awkwardly at first) back to the “area”. This would also start the development of more dexterous hands.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
January 23, 2020 4:20 am

when the early humans were transitioning to bipedalism, …… Then, they starting carrying food — meat, roots, plants & so forth

beng135, me thinks you are “pushing” human evolution way, way too fast. The “hunter-gather” era of “carrying food — meat, roots, plants & so forth back to the “area” …… was far distant in their future because they had not acquired “tool making” skills that were required for killing/butchering “red” meat and/or digging roots and tubers out of the ground.

No tools required for killing/butchering aquatic foods (fish, shrimp, lobster, clams, oysters, etc.)

And the great quantities of fish bones, lobster claws, clams and oyster shells were ”naturally” occurring tools that one can easily learn how to use. Learn to use a “natural” occurring tool, then you can learn to improve it, invent new tools.

Reply to  HotScot
January 21, 2020 8:27 am

My experience that if there is a “trigger” word, my post immediately shows up w/the comment “your post is awaiting moderation” (I assume that only shows up on my browser & not publicly). Otherwise, IIRC moderation/approval occurs roughly every hr or so and if you post right before that occurs, it can show up immediately or might otherwise take anywhere up to an hr to appear.

Reply to  beng135
January 21, 2020 8:32 am

I see that a lot! I do have a tendency to color outside the lines from time to time.(sorry, Anthony)

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 2:26 am

Could this also be coupled with the fact that whilst cancer may appear to be becoming more prevalent in some circumstance, cancer is, with a fw tragic exceptions, a disease of old age, so the longer we live, the more risk we present of suffering from cancer of some form?

Reply to  Alan the Brit
January 21, 2020 7:30 am

CHICAGO – About two thirds of cancers are caused by random typos in DNA that occur as normal cells make copies of themselves, a finding that helps explain why healthy individuals who do everything they can to avoid cancer are still stricken with the disease, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

“We’ve known for many years now that all cancers are due to abnormalities of DNA…that occur in every single cell of the body over the course of a lifetime,” said Stratton. “But although we’ve known that, it’s remarkable how rudimentary our knowledge is about what the processes are that cause these abnormalities, these mutations in our DNA.”
Read more here

Reply to  Alan the Brit
January 21, 2020 8:02 am

Cancer is one of the bundle of metabolic diseases (including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune dieases and Alzheimer’s) thought to be the result of long-term damage from excessive insulin and insulin-like growth hormone caused by eating up to 65% of one’s diet as refined carbohydrates (the US supposed average).

Carbs cause blood glucose to rise; insulin is secreted to remove it; eventually its power to do that gets overwhelmed (insulin resistance) and obesity etc. will be the result. There is even a working theory being explored at Sloan-Kettering (ref: Taubes) hypothesizing that cancer is the body’s last-ditch attempt to sequester sugar; there’s a reason a PET scan lights up those tumors–they’re absorbing the injected glucose at many times the rate of normal cells.

It’s also extremely well documented that cancer in ALL indigenous peoples eating their ancestral foods (Inuit, Masai, Aboriginals, Plains Indians, etc.) had virtually NO cancer detectable before transitioning to a Western industrial diet.

How big does the elephant in the room have to BE, folks??? Kills me to see people scaring themselves witless over some chemical that might be 3ppb., while they slug down 160 lbs a year of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup not counting hundreds of lbs. more of starch!
Like, DUH?!

Reply to  Goldrider
January 21, 2020 7:44 pm

Hi Goldrider, – “Sugar” (glucose) is not the only dietary component cancer cells load up on.

For example cancer cells take up inordinate amounts of copper. And so, following your thinking only of a dietary item then eating too much liver (copper rich) contributes to cancer.
Another cancer favorite is choline & high grade cancers have greater choline than low grade. Cancer ramps up the enzyme that converts choline in a cell membrane component. And so, again following your thinking only of a dietary compound then eating too much eggs (choline rich) contributes to cancer.

As for insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) despite it’s having the word insulin in it the blood levels of IGF-1 are also considerably driven by protein consumption. In general adult western population what raises IGF-1 is consumption of 80 – 104 grams of protein daily. What lowers, or sustains low IGF-1 is 56.5 – 64.6 grams protein per day. In terms of the levels of “free” IGF-1 circulating this form of IGF-1 is reduced during low carbohydrate intake.

Calorie restriction stress activates a sensing enzyme (AMPK). The up-regulation of AMPK lessens the insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) & insulin signaling pathways. I think it may be posited that traditional people’s diets were somewhat calorie restricted (at least seasonally).

Cancer cells, unlike normal cells, specifically thrive when AMPK (activated mono-phosphate protein kinase) is depressed; since
AMPK is an enzyme that gets working downstream of a tumor suppressor (LKB1). When a human cell is healing the dynamic normally includes greater AMPK activity.

I am not inclined to say ancestral populations had “NO” cancer. This seems difficult to ascertain since it was not until 1740 the 1st cancer hospital opened (in Rheims, France). And, for that matter, the earliest medical records still known to exist on a cancer patient date from 1805.

Furthermore, cancer is not a single pathology & survival rates can be such the individual dies of something else. For example, data compiled by the Chester Beatty Research Institute covering 1851 to 1960 indicates that 41% of women with untreated breast cancer still lived another 20 years after diagnosis. Meaning, by extrapolation, ancestral people may have had cancers while they died of something else.

One last thing is that you mention high fructose corn syrup. Actually high fructose intake is associated with lower risk for prostate cancer; I’ll refrain from generalizing for all cancers.

Reply to  Goldrider
January 22, 2020 4:16 am

Thank you, Goldrider, ..… good info

Reply to  Goldrider
January 22, 2020 8:40 am

Goldrider, this youtube presentation (titled How to stop diabetes naturally) is interesting — treatment w/diet alone is able to eventually take many patients off insulin:

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 10:18 am

And I see now that Kookafornia is going to label Tylenol as carcinogenic.

Reply to  beng135
January 21, 2020 3:32 pm

I only use Goodies powders, so no worries

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  beng135
January 21, 2020 8:53 am

I am a physician and I could make an argument that meat causes cancer if I can showed that eating meat extends life. The longer people live the more cancers they will get. Same is true for arthritis, dementia, organ failure or any degenerative disease that takes time to occur. Taken even further one can show that screening programs for cancer cause cancer as invariably they find far more “cancers” than are found without screening, however the added cancers are often tumors that don’t do any harm to the patient and are therefor of no significance and perhaps don’t deserve the title of cancer. These are statistical artifacts, not findings of causation.

Medical guidance on diet, especially the recommendations to reduce saturated fats from meat and dietary salt are not based on robust experimental evidence but on very poorly constructed observational studies where quite a bit of cherry-picking took place because the authors appeared to already know what outcome they wanted.

We in the medical community let the public down by not following the best practices of science. The same is true of the various advocates for catastrophic global warming who knew they wanted certain policy outcomes and cobbled together very poor and often fraudulent evidence to make the case.

It is far past time to enforce strong standards of scientific publication and take responsibility for making policy only based on hard evidence, not emotional preference. These articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are a courageous step in the right direction against political correctness and in favor of the improvement of human knowledge.

J Mac
January 20, 2020 11:19 am

A revelatory article! Thanks a bunch. I’ll get to the embedded links later, as the rain and clouds are dissipating a bit here in the Great NorthWet, beckoning me to get ‘out the door’ before it all rolls in yet again!

Reply to  J Mac
January 20, 2020 1:47 pm

J Mac ==> Yes, enjoy being out of doors before the next rain hits….at least you aren’t suffering drought!

J Mac
Reply to  J Mac
January 21, 2020 12:59 pm

The EPA’s response to the New York Times attack piece had this key comment on NYT’s various assertions the EPA ruling would ‘weaken science’:
Science transparency does not weaken science, quite the contrary. By requiring transparency, scientists will be required to publish hypothesis and experimental data for other scientists to review and discuss, requiring the science to withstand skepticism and peer review. ….. and reanalysis, and experimental repeatability tests, and criticism of weakly supported assertions, etc.

The EPA proposal is truly a horrific weakening of ‘science’, isn’t it? (eye roll) “Oh, the humanity!”

Reply to  J Mac
January 21, 2020 3:18 pm

Really? EPA has blocked “transparency” since the 1980s, only accepting the conclusions of their handpicked “scientists” and blocking all outside agencies from accessing the data they use to make regulations. Remember “secret science”? That was the EPA’s operating status for over 35 years, bub.

Reply to  2hotel9
January 22, 2020 1:09 pm

2H9 ==> See my upcoming essay (maybe tomorrow) on Secret Science.

Martin Howard Keith Brumby
January 20, 2020 11:20 am

Exactly the same tactic as our chums the Social Justice Warriors, who go into full kamikaze attack mode, accusing anyone who doesn’t share their extremist views, with precisely THEIR OWN sins.

Reply to  Martin Howard Keith Brumby
January 20, 2020 1:35 pm

“Liberals seem to assume that, if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t really care about the people that they claim to want to help.” Thomas Sowell

Same goes for their scientific opinions and anything else with which they disagree with others. The Left can’t be wrong so, if you disagree, you must be evil, greedy, want people to die blah, blah, blah.

“The great ideological divide is between those who believe that theories should be adjusted to reality and those who believe that reality must be adjusted to fit their theories. Many of the horrors of the 20th century were created by the latter.” Thomas Sowell

Reply to  KcTaz
January 20, 2020 1:51 pm

KcTaz ==> Yes — Sowell has that right — and my next piece on Secret Science will dig in to that view a bit more.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 2:06 pm

Kip, hat should be a fascinating article. I am looking forward to it. Sowell is a National Treasure.

Paul Penrose
January 20, 2020 11:29 am

Katz compared the articles, which he called “a great debacle of public health” to “information terrorism” that “can blow to smithereens…the life’s work of innumerable careful scientists.”

This is what it is really all about. People like Katz have “carefully” created and milked this fear of certain foods in order to build a lucrative career and they don’t want the gravy train to end. “Gentlemen! Our phony baloney jobs are on the line!”

ray boorman
Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 20, 2020 12:47 pm

You have hit the bullseye, Paul.

Vested interests protecting their turf all the way down the chain.

It is always “interesting” that the experts & scientists who back claims by mobs like Greenpeace & the World Wildlife Fund, never have their credentials questioned by the msm. Meanwhile, any scientist whose research produces contrary results is investigated for even a single dollar they might have received from an arm of the “evil empire” sometime last century.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 20, 2020 1:58 pm

Paul ==> It may seem hard to accept, but people like Katz may actually believe what they are preaching — despite the thin evidence for their beliefs. The fault is not that he thinks it is true — but that he attacks those who don’t agree and denigrates research that doesn’t support his view instead of trying to understand why their results differ.

I have a dear friend, a medical doctor, who has spent his whole career pushing “integrative medicine” – which to me is a hodge-podge of imaginary ills and cures — but, after 30 years of friendship, I have come to realize that he really believes all that what-I-call-nonsense — despite all the failures of his patients to improve in any greater degree than those receiving no such treatment.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 5:44 pm

Yes, most people get well in spite of what the doctors do to them! 🙂

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
January 21, 2020 8:10 am

Every veterinarian on a farm knows this. There’s even a saying about it, the “80-15-5” rule.
80% of the time the critter will get better no matter what you do, even if that is nothing. That’s because the ailment was inherently self-limiting. 5% of the time death is imminent or something is broken beyond our ability to repair, and nothing you can try will avail. That leaves 15% of the time what you do, when, and how well actually changes the outcome. Pays therefore not to get too excited . . . 😉

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 9:43 am

I don’t disagree with you, but it seems to me you almost have to be willfully blind/ignorant to continue to believe in something that is so obviously wrong. Maybe it’s a case of just having so much time and ego invested in something that the brain refuses to accept the contrary evidence; it’s just too big of a shock to handle. I’ve found many different kinds of bias in my life, some more subtle than others, but in the end they all lead us away from the truth.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 22, 2020 5:03 am

Kip – I will refrain from making a George Costanza comment here, because most likely we all have friends who believe things that can’t be true, and whatever form religion takes, it should be respected. But doctors who push integrative medicine, acupuncture, herbal remedies (although at least some of these may work), etc. seem, well, I don’t know. My local GP recently retired and I was switched to a migrant from Belgium who suggested homeopathy for my allergies. Sorry, but no. Medicine should be based on hard data, not feelings. I suppose the good news is she wasn’t much into cut first and ask questions later, as the replacement I chose was, but at least the latter had a hypothesis he could test (re a BCC that may or may not have been completely excised: the biopsy was inconclusive) and another hole in my head was better than a festering sarcoma.

Anyway, thanks for the continuing series of serious and interesting posts. I’ve become far too cynical about publications in medical science to offer a useful comment. I think Eisenhower had it right: government funding results in cabals. I’d prefer NIH used a lottery to distribute grant funds, but it would probably end up as honest as most lotteries. Cheers from Queensland where the drought may or may not have broken but at least there has been rain. Monarchs may soon have food, and as I haven’t seen one for months, that would be interesting.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 20, 2020 2:39 pm

“Harumph, harumph, harumph.”

michael hart
Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 20, 2020 2:59 pm

It’s time gravy was banned anyway, or shown to cause cancer. I’ve never been fond of gravy since childhood exposure to school dinners.

HD Hoese
January 20, 2020 11:30 am

How can this be so secret when many authors, journals, and organizations now announce their papers (even preprints) publically? Sigma Xi’s Smart Briefs (Your World of Science News) mostly uses second hand sources. As a recent example, they used CNN [3], NYT [1], New Scientist [1], Scientific American [1], Bio Techniques (UK) [1], HealthDay News [1], Universe Today [1], NBC News [1], and mHealth Intelligence [1]. News organizations appear much more often than science journals, not a good indication of scholarship.

Can we improve analysis of the science by requiring reading the original, or at least not just relying on (single) secondary sources? The rarely correct long ago prediction was that we would be swamped by information.

Reply to  HD Hoese
January 20, 2020 12:42 pm

traditional thinking is that the more information a person has, the more understanding they will have, but this does not hold true. the most important thing is critical thinking, without it more information has the opposite effect.

schools, uni etc should have a primary focus of teaching critical thinking of every subject matter regardless. maths and logic/engineering etc are the base. all other subjects need to be taught with traditional knowledge as the shortest part of the course, then focus should be on alternative views that even the teacher might not agree with. it would be difficult for teachers not to comment on a personal level, but it would encourage critical thinking.

Reply to  mobihci
January 20, 2020 1:36 pm

It’s challenging because about half of publications are wrong and we don’t know which ones.

Dr Deanster
Reply to  mobihci
January 20, 2020 7:36 pm

The reality is, the more I learn, the more stupid I become.

Reply to  HD Hoese
January 20, 2020 2:07 pm

HD Hoese ==> What you seem to be talking about is the “news brief echo chamber”. This is where a media outlet receives a press release about a scientific study — then they either echo the contents of the release (often adding something to sex it up) or they attack the research by calling around to viewpoint-opponents. In either of these cases, other media outlets pick up these initial responses and repeat them, often not even going back to read the initial press release (almost never to any read the actual research papers — even when copies are made available.)

It is a serious fault of what is called of Science Journalism today — very little science and almost no real journalism. Most science writing today is really editorial and opinion in nature, even when printed/posted on the Science News page.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 8:12 am

“It is a serious fault of what is called of Science Journalism today ”

Bitten again, Kip. 🙂

Reply to  HD Hoese
January 20, 2020 2:14 pm

Aren’t many of the originals behind paywalls? I keep running into them when I want to go to the original study even when it’s decades old. Not having money to throw away just to read a study, it’s almost like the scientific community doesn’t want journalists or lay people reading original studies.

Reply to  KcTaz
January 20, 2020 2:38 pm

Kc ==> In today’s world there is a solution to most pay-wall problems for those individuals who wish to read original studies when a free-access copy cannot be found elsewhere on the net or requested from one of the original authors (an appraoch which I have found successful).

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 12:53 am


Thank you for the link. That’ll save a lot of frustration.

Federico Bär
Reply to  HotScot
January 21, 2020 6:29 pm

I don’t spend much time in reading scientific papers, but how nice for other readers to know that such a website exists!

Bill Treuren
January 20, 2020 11:46 am

They need a Gretel to lift this from a fact based process to the emotional status that the stolen from generation demand.

January 20, 2020 11:54 am

Surely it won’t be long before someone rolls out the 97% consensus.

Reply to  harry
January 20, 2020 2:12 pm

harry ==> Most of the press refers to the “eat less meat mandate” as “a bedrock of almost all dietary guidelines”.

Only the JAMA author states clearly that it “is not backed by good scientific evidence. “

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 12:58 am


Professor Zoe Harcombe has built a career out of telling people there is no scientific evidence that eating meat is bad for us.

John F. Hultquist
January 20, 2020 11:59 am

As a small child my mother would have me sit at the kitchen table and she would hand me a plastic pouch that contained off-white margarine and a yellow ‘pill’ of dye. I would press hard on that yellow thing and message the package until we had something that looked like butter.
Scroll down to see the image at this link: Color-Kwik bags

Now we only eat real butter. Imagine that.
There is lots more, but the bottom line is –
I never trust “food folks” to tell the truth.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 20, 2020 12:48 pm

As a child I would stand on a chair along a tall narrow wooden tub and beat the hell out of a half a gallon of milk to make real butter. Spreading it on a slice of warm freshly baked bread, she would tell me it was well earned breakfast and off you go.

Reply to  Vuk
January 20, 2020 1:34 pm

my grandmother that is.

Reply to  Vuk
January 20, 2020 2:32 pm

Vuk ==> An interesting article in Smithsonian on food colors.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 20, 2020 1:49 pm

“Liberals seem to assume that, if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t really care about the people that they claim to want to help.” Thomas Sowell

Same goes for their scientific opinions and anything else with which they disagree with others. The Left can’t be wrong so, if you disagree, you must be evil, greedy, want people to die blah, blah, blah.

“The great ideological divide is between those who believe that theories should be adjusted to reality and those who believe that reality must be adjusted to fit their theories. Many of the horrors of the 20th century were created by the latter.” Thomas Sowell

Reply to  KcTaz
January 20, 2020 2:09 pm

Sorry, I posted the same thing above. Problem with the copy and paste function, I think. I meant to post a different response to you.

Clarky of Oz
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 20, 2020 2:02 pm

Oh John, you bring back memories.

For a brief period of time as a small child, we lived on a small farm near Gympie in SE Queensland. I remember helping Mum (getting in the way more likely) make butter in a wooden churn. The milk came from our single Jersey Cow “Daisy”, and was hand separated. it tasted awful until, horror upon horror, an evil chemical, NaCl, was added. Magic! Now they tell me salt is bad.

The house is still occupied some 60 years later, unpainted as is the tradition in that area. I drive past for a look if I am ever in the region. We had electricity, no TV. Cold water to the kitchen and bathroom from a rainwater tank, Hot water was from a “copper” downstairs and carried up in buckets. A long drop dunny, 30 meters down toward the chook house. Giant spiders.

Yes life was tough compared to now but we learned things of which the current generation have no idea.

I think we learned reality.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 20, 2020 2:02 pm

My grandmother became a LPN after grandpa died in the 40s and she needed to support the family.
Back in the 50s, she said don’t eat margarine, eat butter, margarine is bad for you. One might think, OK, she got one right but she also said,
Don’t smoke, its’ bad for you at a time when Doctors were advertising cigs on TV.
Don’t remove the tonsils, they are there to catch infection. If you take them out, they infection will go into the body. All of her grandchildren still have their tonsils, unheard of in those days when they removed them as a matter of routine. Now they don’t because they are there to catch infection.
Don’t use anesthetic for childbirth, ether, at the time. I was my mom’s last child of four and she had me by natural childbirth simply by not telling the nurse she was ready to deliver until it was too late to give the ether. She said it was her easiest childbirth by far.

I have always been amazed at her record for giving accurate health advice. She was far and away ahead of the medical profession. I don’t know how she knew all this but she did.

Reply to  KcTaz
January 22, 2020 8:15 am

It is called common sense.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 20, 2020 2:30 pm

John F. Hultquist ==> Nutritional Epidemiology is a science field that is, and has been, in serious trouble. Having had early success at identifying nutritional deficiencies that caused such things as rickets, spring fever, scurvy, beriberi, pellagra and the like, nutritional epidemiology has wandered away from rigorous science seeking nutritional causes for disease conditions — causes which may not exist at all, finding smaller and smaller, correlational effects and calling them causes.

See Ioannidis on The Challenge of Reforming NutritionalEpidemiologic Research.

Writing Observer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 8:03 pm

Kip ==> Human behavior, for the win, every time.

They solved the BIG problems; the ones that, if you are human (NOT getting into recent speculations about disguised Silurians here…), you absolutely will contract a disease with improper nutrition.

Most people that start out in the real sciences (or engineering, or other “hard” fields) are challenge-thriving, not challenge-averse. Solve one BIG problem, they must find another BIG problem to tackle. This is sometimes (hypothetically) a good thing; the people that broke the sound barrier immediately went on to figuring out ways to increase that Mach number. Epidemiologists (of all kinds, actually) had a problem with not having BIG problems. So the natural tendency is to inflate small problems into BIG problems that allow them to happily tilt at – even when they are poor innocent windmills.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 20, 2020 5:49 pm

I can remember doing the same thing. It was after the end of WWII, but I suspect that it may have had something to do with the food rationing that was in place during the war.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
January 20, 2020 5:58 pm

Wow, I am a bit younger than you guys and I remember those. We got them in Civil Defense food after hurricanes, along with rock-like blocks of cheese and flour sack sized packages of powdered eggs. I loved those powdered eggs. Stuff you buy today is not the same.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 21, 2020 8:14 am

” message the package”

Did it answer?

January 20, 2020 12:12 pm

The Meat Market Global Warming Extinction. One new coal power station every week and excessive CO2 emissions. 98% indisputable correlation with mysterious SARS like lethal virus from Wuhan fish and poultry market coming soon to your local mas media. The end is nigh !

Flavio Capelli
January 20, 2020 12:22 pm

” The response from the NRA (National Rifle Association) was less vitriolic than the response from the True Health Initiative. ”

No surprise there. Despite being painted as bloodthirsty gun nuts, NRA are for the most part civilized people.

It’s not the same case for health and enviro-nuts.

Reply to  Flavio Capelli
January 21, 2020 8:15 am

The “bloodthirsty gun nuts” don’t try to subsist on kale and lentils. That’s why they have better self-control.
Seriously. I’m convinced the unprecedented levels of crazy we’re seeing is caused by a brain inflammation from the inadequate but oh-so-virtuous diet the lefties favor.

Reply to  Goldrider
January 21, 2020 8:18 am

Estrogen content in soy based foods ain’t helping, either.

January 20, 2020 12:36 pm

Plant-based eaters are binary. It is their way or the abyss to all who disagree.

Reply to  Wharfplank
January 20, 2020 1:20 pm


I am a vegetarian, and couldn’t care less what you eat.

John Dilks
Reply to  Jit
January 20, 2020 5:48 pm

You are the exception that proves the rule. /sarc

John Tillman
January 20, 2020 1:06 pm

Animal fat is what made us human. We can thank African Pleistocene megafauna for our big brains:

Their stone tools gave our ancestors access to animal fat, which allowed the human neocortex to balloon alarmingly.

Reply to  John Tillman
January 20, 2020 1:42 pm

And access to marrow, also much important.

John Tillman
Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 20, 2020 4:53 pm

Yup, marrow being, with brains, the main source of animal fat. Subcutaneous fat, less so, although still not trivial, taken in with meat.

Reply to  John Tillman
January 20, 2020 4:59 pm

Hi John Tillman, – Link states the those researchers “… believe, may have …”. It is another “hypothesis” as of it’s cited paper’s publication date (2017, Oct.). Link just touted it to the general public when research went free on-line (2019, March).

John Tillman
Reply to  gringojay
January 29, 2020 12:12 pm


That kind of language is how findings are always couched in scientific papers.

Now it seems that a vegan diet lowers one’s IQ:

January 20, 2020 1:19 pm

If the author has any ties whatsoever or received any money whatsoever from the government, they are automatically thrown out due to conflict of interest. That should shut down the whole mess. If association or money are cause to toss out studies, there go the journals. Science might actually survive if we followed these rules.

Reply to  Sheri
January 20, 2020 2:54 pm

Sheri ==> The question of research funding is complicated — someone has to pay the costs — and “it ain’t cheap”. In the 18th and 19th Century — the rich educated elite either did the research themselves, or were patrons to those who did. (There were a few exceptions, as to all rules).

Today, academics are expected to seek grants to raise the money to pay for their research — from industry, non-profits and government.

If all the strict rules of transparent science are followed — pre-registration of studies, open access to all data, all results made public, etc etc. we would have to fear “funder bias” so much.

“Funding Bias” is a much bigger issue — who is willing to pay for studies about what — offers of funding often imply — even with such bodies as the NIH — what results are expected.

January 20, 2020 1:24 pm

History does repeat and the Dark Ages keep coming to my mind. I chose the Dark Ages as the Middle Age, for its time and the knowledge available, was far more honest and intent on finding the truth of God’s creations, which was the goal of the religious scientists in the past, than way too many scientists are now. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment put the modern day “religious” charlatans to shame for their scientific honesty and integrity.
One exception for those days, among others, was Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, partly because he was Jewish and he was lousy at politicking and was, in fact, extremely obnoxious and brutally honest which caused the medical establishment to reject his carefully researched study into the cause of puerile fever which killed many women in childbirth. Einstein had the same issue regarding the Jewish part and, because he challenged the orthodoxy–See “100 Scientists Against Einstein”.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In 1850, Ignaz Semmelweis saved lives with three words: wash your hands

“…Dr. Semmelweis was brilliant but had two strikes against him when applying for a position at the Vienna General Hospital in 1846: he was Hungarian and Jewish.”

The Semmelweis reflex or “Semmelweis effect” is a metaphor for the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms.

Ignaz Semmelweis, Persecuted Medical Pioneer
Last updated Jun 30, 2017

I would say these grifters suffer from the Semmelweis reflex except they know full well that they can’t support their opinions with scientific proof and seek to reject real science in order to support their beliefs and for money and political considerations the same as they do with AGW/CC alarmism.

Reply to  KcTaz
January 20, 2020 3:02 pm

Kc ==> Semmelweis is a good example of a field rejecting totally new ideas. In these Modern Scientific Controversies we have a slightly different problem of an entrenched idea that researchers and organizations become so vested in that they cannot abide any new evidence, no matter how sound, that contradicts their entrenched view.

The Salt Wars is a terrific example of this (along with this new development in the Meat Wars). See Gina Kolata’s take on the Salt Wars.

Old-time centre-left Horticulturist and Beef-farmer
January 20, 2020 2:01 pm

Conflicts of interest are not entirely uncommon in scientific research concerning human nutrition. However, livestock agriculture does not seem to be particularly responsible*. What seems to be much more responsible for such conflicts of interest is the holding of a zealous political view, coupled with a career tied to proving that view to be correct, no matter what the evidence may be to the contrary. Add on financial links with companies producing food of solely non-animal origin or with organisations promoting such diets and we have the perfect conditions for politics masquerading as nutrition science.

* I’d go as far as saying that here, in Australia, our livestock farming industry and the food companies that rely on such primary industry, on the whole, are woefully inadequate in their responses to aggressive anti-livestock-agriculture activism. Any suggestion that they taint nutrition science to any significant degree is laughable, from what I’ve seen.

Reply to  Old-time centre-left Horticulturist and Beef-farmer
January 20, 2020 3:07 pm

Old-time ==> All industries seem to have organizations whose job it is to promote the industry or the local segment of it (The California Fruit Growers, the US Beef Industry, Australian Sheep Farmers, etc). This is how it should be, and they should react strongly to attacks that are not scientifically based. The problem is, when they do so, their attackers say the industry groups are “biased” and should be discounted.

Old-time centre-left Horticulturist and Beef-farmer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 4:05 pm

True, but the response here has been woeful. Partly, the media is at fault for favouring activism and pseudo-science. However, there appears to be a genuine lack of concerted response from industry bodies and from primary producers which, although understandable (particularly in the latter case), points toward a naive trust in the old political structures here to deal effectively with what is a very real threat. Thus far, that hasn’t worked.

Michael Carter
January 20, 2020 2:08 pm

After the birth of our second child my 5’1″ wife ballooned out to 70 kg. She stopped eating all carbs and sugar, living on meat, fish, and green vegetables. 2.5 months later she was back to her normal 55 kg.

I rest my case

January 20, 2020 2:48 pm

Already they have been met with fierce criticism by public health researchers. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published them.

Ah yes, the AHA. They supported Ancel Keys’ bogus science. link You could argue that his distortions are responsible for the obesity epidemic.

… Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic. link

How does that relate to Keys and the AHA, you ask.

In 1972, (Yudkin) a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined.

Ancel Keys established the orthodoxy and it was enforced with an iron fist.

Most people need to remove the rose colored glasses and realize that science is capable of the most heinous corruption imaginable.

January 20, 2020 2:54 pm

I eat what tastes good and what I like, and I’m not interested in and don’t listen to what people tells what is good or bad. As I’m not a calf. I don’t drink milk, but I like yoghurt I use to make 1 kg every 2. day for us, prefer hard cheese, not prepared one, but fresh goat cheese, most vegs, meat, muffon if possible, sugar as fructose only in fresh fruits. From time to time we eat fish, prefering tuna. And spicery off course, for a good taste.

January 20, 2020 3:01 pm

“who are unencumbered by institutional constraints and conflicts of interest,”


January 20, 2020 3:13 pm

Clearly this woman, and many, many others, need some help. I’ll help them! Humans evolved to eat meats, grains, fruits and vegetables, including eggs, milk, seaweeds, fish, well, intelligent people can figure it out. These morons clearly need to be forcibly institutionalized and medicated, along side their greenunist allies. The human race has the right to defend itself against these enemies, long past time we acted with speed, strength, surprise, and aggression to defeat these anti-human threats.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 20, 2020 5:47 pm

No, just the general “they”. Step back for a moment, sip your whiskey sour, check your fly and casually survey the room, you’ll spot’em.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 21, 2020 8:53 am

Got my crash course in the subject in US Army.

January 20, 2020 3:16 pm

anytime you let anyone make a decision for you, they will use it to their advantage. and you get upset? “how dare you!”

January 20, 2020 3:49 pm

Everyone knows that wheat has been ‘selected’ by humans over the history of agriculture from the original grass
Everyone knows that sheep live on grass

So it must be clear that a lamb sandwich is , in fact a ‘grass grass’

so stop whining greenies and have a grass squared

January 20, 2020 4:29 pm

Kip, thanks very much for this. You have nicely defined the battle lines between science and nonsense. The real existential battle isn’t over AGW (or eating meat, or fat or salt, etc. ) but over the hijacking of the trappings of science by the sellers of fairy dust.

January 20, 2020 4:53 pm

I am surprised to learn of Walter Willett’s role in this story. It was about 10 years ago that I learned directly from Dr. Willett that the evidence against red meat was almost entirely based on *processed* meat, and that the evidence against minimally processed meat was weak to non-existent.

Reply to  UnfrozenCavemanMD
January 20, 2020 5:09 pm

Good point! Too many studies have combined the investigation of red meat and processed meat to smear the positive nutritional value of red meat.

Reply to  UnfrozenCavemanMD
January 21, 2020 8:25 am

The “evidence” against processed meat is just as non-existent. Same cultural and socio-economically biased “food questionnaires” that ask unanswerable questions like “How many cups of salami have you eaten in the last 6 months?”

Rich, college-educated white people are FAR more likely to follow “health” guidelines, not smoke or drink to excess, exercise and be compliant with medical protocols than the less advantaged. Full stop.
Confounders and biases all over the place render nearly ALL observational nutrition studies nonsense.

All this is now is an attempt to generate headlines for “thought-leading” the masses for the greater glory of emerging companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods–products as “processed” as it GETS!

January 20, 2020 5:23 pm

Kip – the only aspect absent in your excellent report concerns the reason red meat is red. The red color of muscle is due to the presence of the chemical compound myoglobin, a protein which stores oxygen in the muscles, so that whenever the involved muscles require an immediate supply of energy for strength, the oxygen is there.

White meat, however, is mainly composed of fast switch muscle fibers and thus lack myoglobin, because those muscles are not involved in any heavy lifting – they just utilized to get the hell out of the way of a predator as quickly as possible. The same can be said for fowl.

Understanding those issues will easily convince an open-minded person that the red meat scare is hogwash.

Michael Carter
January 20, 2020 5:30 pm

My traditional culture is sheep and cattle farming NZ. When we ran out of butter we would spread cold dripping (mutton fat rendered out from roasted or fried mutton – our staple) on the bread then sprinkle over with salt. It can be very tasty. We ate mutton ( always the best in the paddock) 5 days/week and never grew sick of it.

All frying was done in dripping. There were few fat farmers in my neck of the woods and many reached their 80’s

Reply to  Michael Carter
January 20, 2020 6:27 pm

Hi Michael Carter, – Sheep (mutton) gut microflora were found to be worth taking & put in a cleaned animal skin type of bladder with fresh milk. After a few days most of the milk is replaced & the fresh milk quantity replenished.

This cycling was done for a while & then the growth inside is ready to be culled. The mixed microbial culture mass(es) that established itself growing on the container skin’s inner surface itself is then used as inoculant of fresh milk; from then on the microbial consortia quickly (~24 hours) ferments new milk into a desirable edible.

This is the origin of what is popularly called “kefir” cultured milk; the mixed microbial masses themselves are called kefir “grains”. Strains of these inoculants are now readily found worldwide & adherents perpetually propagate existing kefir grains in milk; but few know how kefir grains actually started out (or how country folk generate the culture anew).

Clarky of Oz
Reply to  Michael Carter
January 21, 2020 5:55 am

“When we ran out of butter we would spread cold dripping (mutton fat rendered out from roasted or fried mutton – our staple) on the bread then sprinkle over with salt. It can be very tasty.”

Yes, we had that too from time to time on our side of the ditch. Add some pepper and wow. Strewth it must be nearly 40 years since I had some of that.

January 20, 2020 5:37 pm

The spear was invented before the plough.

January 20, 2020 5:59 pm

Kip – One of biggest beef I have with a great deal of epidemiology is leaving out adjustments for social class / income / education if it suits the conclusion.

I was going to go to grad school in nutrition, but got passed by the ‘old boy network’ into neuroscience. I am eternally grateful.

Clyde Spencer
January 20, 2020 6:08 pm

It strikes me that the issue with diet is similar to the acrimony in ozone and global warming debates. The side attempting to make changes believe they hold some kind of moral high ground and feel justified in making poorly supported claims because it is in our best interest — in their minds. Would it were that they could just report their findings and leave it up to everyone to decide if the evidence was compelling, and if it was, to be allowed to make the choice whether the benefits of a change outweighed the loss of pleasurable activities, such as eating a rack of BBQ’d spare ribs. What I object to is those who are absolutely convinced that they are right (without considering the possibility of being wrong) and wish to use the force of government to change people’s behavior.

January 20, 2020 8:37 pm

Anyone for roast koala as it’s in vogue in certain places-
Outrageous! Fancy those ancestors interfering in nature like that? They should have known they’d be stealing their koala-hood.

Reply to  observa
January 21, 2020 12:04 am

I love koalas – but I couldn’t eat a whole one

January 21, 2020 12:22 am

Here in Australia an animal rights group have created a list of farms

Why are you allowed to list farms with no evidence of wrong doing let alone farms with actual investigation and conviction being carried out.
Yet here in Victoria, Australia you can’t legally list address of convicted pedophiles

Reply to  Waza
January 21, 2020 3:56 am

yeah and the morons trespassing risk serious biohazard risks TO those farms and yet?
very few have been busted for trespass OR the damage they caused, stressing chickens out at night removing lambs etc
neither their heads or their supposed caring hearts are “in the right place”
right place would be jail for a while

Mike McHenry
January 21, 2020 12:57 pm

In New Jersey we have a diet doctor who advocates a strict plant based diet. Such a diet is dominated by 2 sugars glucose and fructose that make up the carbohydrates. I call it the “sugar diet”. Yet the same doctor strongly warns against added sugar. Which after all is plant based and composed of fructose and glucose. Bizarre! Either he is ignorant of food science or is lying.

Reply to  Mike McHenry
January 21, 2020 10:20 pm

Hi Mike McH. – If it interests you edible plants contain protein & fat, as well as carbohydrates. Here’s data from 2 categories of some Nigeria, Africa plant foods:

Leafy vegetables can be on average 24.6 to 51.4 % carbohydrates, plus 10.6 to 22.6 % fat & 15.9 to 35.7% protein.

Nuts & fruits can be on average 11.9 to 76. 1% carbohydrate, plus 10.6 to 72.6% fat & 3.2 to 43.1% protein.

A diet that cautions about added sugar is probably accounting for the carbohydrate content of recommended food items. Carbohydrates by themselves are not insidious. For example back in 1975 the Japanese diet was 62% carbohydrate (rice) & there was no food scarcity, yet the people were not considered over weight or unhealthy.

January 23, 2020 12:44 pm

Plant eaters make up the vast bulk of ‘prey’ – I think that is what the Ivory Tower Know-Nothings see as further human “evolution”.

Johann Wundersamer
February 2, 2020 1:43 am

Kip, correct me where I’m wrong:

“The hysterical voices blasting the new rule openly state that they are trying to prevent reanalysis of the weak, correlational, inferential, small effect, non-transparent and just plain “iffy” science that has been used in the past to create volumes of possibly unnecessary, un-scientifically-founded regulations and policies, upon which their personal careers have been based. In many cases, it is specific studies that are of major concern — studies known to be questionable.”


What do we see here:

During the Obama administration, “environmental studies” that were completely unsecured, even unfounded, were raised to environmental laws: EPA Regulations.

The study authors received their entry as “significant climate warners / protectors”. The affected industry had to buy their way out, at best, and was constantly exposed to new hostilities.

Scarce possibility to begin to dismantle that.

A complete disaster.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
February 2, 2020 11:16 am

Kip, “a contagion spreading in much of Science for decades”.

In fact: a mess. Thx!

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