What I'm Reading (May 5)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — May 05, 2022
A non-profit seeks to disrupt the way we finance scientific research Before it was the Big Apple, it was the Big Oyster Eating monkey brains, what could go wrong? There is no such thing as junk food.
Image courtesy of 2081671 on Pixabay

“The Good Science Project’s funding, Buck said, comes almost entirely from Patrick Collison, a tech billionaire best known for founding Stripe, a payment-processing company.

He’s dabbled for years, however, in science and research policy, most notably by co-founding Fast Grants, a project launched in April 2020. The organization’s aim was explicitly to break down bureaucratic barriers for researchers scrambling to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic: Within a year, the organization said, it had awarded roughly 250 grants of up to $500,000, making all funding decisions within an astonishing two-week timetable. (NIH takes months to award most research grants.)

“Clearly, you have to have some level of bureaucracy to ensure that we’re spending the money correctly, that it’s not being wasted or embezzled,” Buck said. “But it doesn’t have to be 44% of scientists’ time.””

The goal is to nudge the research funders to get more agile and reduce the bureaucracy. That includes more transparency in the data and holding them accountable for picking up the pace to find something more than incremental outcomes. From Stat, A new nonprofit wants to rewrite the playbook for how the U.S. government funds science.

Oysters are just like the trees in a forest. You don’t think of them that way, but it’s the same with coral reef systems—without the coral, there’s no coral reef. There’s no biodiversity. Oysters used to be the landscape of New York Harbor, which stretched over hundreds of thousands of acres in a three-dimensional habitat.”

Long before it was known as the Big Apple, New York was, in reality, the Big Oyster. Not only did they serve as plentiful food, but their shells served as a way to release the powerful energy of storm surges reducing the damage of flooding waters. From Nautil.us, The Return of New York Harbor’s Oysters

“In March, a diet coach named Anthony Gustin, founder of an online food store called Perfect Keto (“Empowering your health journey in a food system that doesn’t care”), went viral on social media. The “clinician” and “food and fitness skeptic,” as he refers to himself on Twitter, tweeted that he had recently traveled to Africa to spend time with the Hadza, a group of foragers in Tanzania, to learn more about living a healthy lifestyle. In a hunting trip set up for tourists, Gustin followed the Hadza as they went about their day, observing how they hunt, socialize, and make their living. …“I hunted, killed, and ate a wild baboon (brains and all) with the indigenous Hadza tribe in Africa,” he tweeted. “Here are 13 things I learned about human health along the way.”

What could go wrong with that? As a physician, eating a brain is high on the list. But according to an anthropologist, Gustin got nearly everything wrong. “But rarely had I seen such a harmful combination of tropes, inaccuracies, and stereotypes—at least, not from the 21st century.”

From Nautil.us, A Viral Twitter Thread Reawakens the Dark History of Anthropology

“But all of those beautiful peculiarities of bodily need and preference get erased by food hierarchies dividing junk from everything else—which are, in truth, sorting mechanisms. They’re a way of categorizing people by class, education, race, and size without saying you’re categorizing them by class, education, race, and size. And they are almost entirely maintained by those with the privileges and preferences that place them at the top of the hierarchy itself. In practice, that means the privileged foods cost the most, take the most time to produce, and have the least calories—regardless of those foods’ taste, actual nutritional value, or cultural significance. And those cheap, convenient snacks labeled “junk” foods are often the only food available for immediate purchase in food deserts, which are largely populated by Black and brown communities.

Contrary to what those worksheets might tell us, food does not have moral character, and consuming it does not influence or infect our own character. Food is delightful, and food is fuel, and food is culture. It becomes shadowed with shame—often, the sort that can distort our eating habits for years to come—not when we eat it, but when we restrict it, and attempt to spread that shame to others who do not.”

From Bon Appetit, There Is No Such Thing as “Junk” Food

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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