Food is interesting to me. It's essential, of course, but it's also a lot of cutting-edge science that people don't see. It's hard to imagine now that when I was a kid, Prof. Paul Ehrlich (and then later our current science czar, Dr. John holdren) were projecting that we would be having worldwide riots and mass starvation by now.
Instead, while I was living on a small subsistence farm, American agricultural science ignored that apocalyptic memo, and they began producing far more food on far less land.
Today, we are so optimistic about food science that an entire swath of rich American elites can discuss the benefits of growing less food, going back to techniques from the middle of the 20th century - and they think that will be okay for everyone. During the French Revolution rich elites said "let them eat cake" when they heard the poor had no bread. During the Food Revolution, the dismissive belief is "let them eat kale".
They can afford to gather together to have their confirmation biases validated at conferences. And not just once, this is happening multiple times just this year.
I ridiculed the American College of Nutrition Annual Conference
already but there is one even more crackpotty and weird happening now. The ACN only has a Yogic Flying Instructor to debunk all of biology but Food Revolution Summit 2014 goes well beyond that. It has over a dozen. It also has the naturalistic fallacy, sure, but it doesn't bother with any pretense of legitimacy, and it adds in a helpful dose of 'if you believe my nonsense, I will believe yours' common cause alliance-building, so anti-GMO, anti-vaccine and anti-energy people can all have a mid-term gathering between Democratic National Conventions.
You can go to their site and read their bios, they sound predictably cosmic, but here are a few real-world translations, so you can really see how they are all qualified to save us from science:
Dr. Dean Ornish - Swami disciple, believer in extreme vegetarianism and acupuncture fan, so at least he can claim to be right 29 percent of the time.
Alicia Silverstone - Her breast milk has "otherworldly power". She says so. I hope she means that in a good way, and not that it summons Cthulhu or whatever. She thinks diapers are pseudoscience so if her kid shits in the lobby, well, now you know why.
Woody Harrelson - He was in Cheers and is therefore a food expert, to people who pay money to go to these conferences. He likes to smoke pot and drum naked, which is nice, but he wasn't even the funniest other bartender on that TV show - that honor goes to Coach.
Dr. Mark Hyman - He thinks his Miracle Vegetables will detox you but your kidneys won't. He's good enough for Katie Couric and HuffPo, so his science must be solid. And Dean Ornish likes his 'functional' medicine Yin/Yang woo.
Dr. Jane Goodall - Plagiarist. Not sure why someone pretending to be Sigourney Weaver in that gorilla movie is at a food conference but Goodall has embraced lots of junk science recently, so that probably explains it.
Vani Hari - Can't pronounce pizza? Well, maybe she can, but she says you should not eat anything she can't pronounce and then includes pizza in that so it's unclear. And she is also against Subway sandwiches, insuring that the lunches at the conference are going to cost you substantially more than 5 dollars. Upside: she promises if you follow her diet, you will be pretty.
There are a lot more. If there is an anti-GMO believer, they are appearing at this thing. Prof. Marion Nestle will be there, for example, and she really should know better, but she is increasingly interested in trying to be the Dr. Oz of food and embraces every crazy notion that was in the New York Times last week. Michael Hansen, Ph.D., of Consumer’s Union will dutifully promote fear and doubt about science once again, while treating the audience to Rachel Carson-ish anecdotes about magical gremlins that will run amok if biologists are not stopped in their unholy quest to keep poor children from going blind.
Oh, and some guy who says if you buy his diet book you won't get a heart attack.
See you there. I'll be the person in the corner eating the gluten-free chicken with the non-GMO rock salt and cackling like Scrooge McDuck sitting on a pile of money because I now have a year's worth of material to ridicule.
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