food

I am a prophet.

Last year, I wrote an article titled, "Panera Bread Takes A Page From 'Food Babe's' Playbook." The Food Babe is the unscientific guru who says that we shouldn't eat food that contains ingredients that we can't pronounce.

The bogus "clean food" movement has seized upon that idea, and soon after joining the bandwagon, Panera Bread launched an advertising campaign mocking chemistry.

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Several years ago, during a layover in Copenhagen's airport, I struck up a conversation with an elderly British couple. The husband told me about growing up in the United Kingdom during World War II, when the British had implemented food rationing.

He recalls complaining to his mother that he didn't like the food they had to eat. She responded, in that "keep calm and carry on" manner that is so very British, "You don't have to like it. You just have to eat it."

Things have changed since then, not just in Britain but throughout Europe and in the United States. We now have so much food that we have the luxury of condemning most of it as impure or unhealthy. People can afford to pay a hefty premium at fancy outlets like Whole Foods (...

The ability to provide enough nutritious food for ourselves, rests upon three pillars, sustainable agriculture, providing nutritious meals and reducing food loss and waste. The Economist’s Food Sustainability Index provides metrics for elements of these components. France, home of the fry, croissant and Burgundy was number one; for the U.S. it was a mixed report.

One measures food loss or waste in multiple ways. As a % of our total food production – the US waste only 0.8% (France wasted 1.8%). Or you might consider food waste per capita, 278 kg/person annually for the U.S., France checks in at 106kg/person/annually. What could account for the...

For some reason, humans enjoy making predictions of death and destruction. From politicians to fanatical religious leaders, there is a lot of money to be made telling people that Earth is toast.

Of course, the predictions never come true, but that doesn't prevent doomsayers from making more of them. "One of these days, it will be true," they warn, as they wag their wrinkly finger in our faces.

The most famous finger-wagger was Thomas Malthus, who said that the world population would grow so large that we couldn't feed ourselves anymore. He was wrong, but that didn't stop Paul Ehrlich from resuscitating his argument 170 years later in The Population Bomb. He was wrong, too, but that didn't stop Quartz from reanimating this ideological corpse once again.

The...

Living in Seattle, food phobias are everywhere. If you're afraid of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, GMOs, hormones in meat, pesticides, gluten, or anything that requires a PhD scientist to produce, then Seattle is your organic Mecca. Despite that Seattle's economy is partially built on the biotech sector (not to mention that the much-loved University of Washington has an enormous biomedical science program -- of which yours truly is a graduate), Seattle is a global headquarters of kooky food fads and alternative medicine.

Why? The entire "natural is better" movement is predicated upon fear. Scaring people is a time-tested tactic employed by politicians. If a politician wants elderly people to vote for him, he will tell them that his opponent will take away their...

Given modern medical advances extending survival rates for chronic diseases like cancer along with the population aging at an exponential rate, companies are seeing opportunities for niche markets. Hormel —of Dinty Moore stews and Spam canned meat fame—has designed its Vital Cuisine meal line specifically to target cancer patients, for example. 

This veil of social responsibility manages to obscure what is likely at its core an economic decision. Patients are more and more frequently being managed as outpatients for cancers, so hospitals and long-term care facilities are no longer the only avenue to access them. Enduring chronic illness while living at home and still going to work is very much a...

Vani Hari, the infamous "Food Babe" who says that we shouldn't eat anything that we can't pronounce, has a new emulator: Panera Bread.

It pains me to write this article because I love Panera Bread. They know me by my name at the restaurant at which I typically eat. However, their management and marketing team have decided that mocking science is the best way to sell food, and this loyal customer is going to fight back.

A few years ago, Panera launched a "clean food" campaign. That sounds innocent, but the implication is clear: Our food is clean, and their food is dirty. Scaring people about the safety of our food supply is a dishonest tactic...

Imagine going to the doctor's office. Noticeably absent are any modern tools -- laptops, DNA tests, X-ray scanners. He likes to do things the old-fashioned way. Medicine was better 100 years ago. How long would it take before you ran screaming out the door?

Yet, that's precisely the attitude the organic food and "back to nature" movements embrace.

In most things in life, we desire cutting-edge technology: Faster computers, self-driving cars, virtual reality, high-definition TV1. From telecommunications and transportation to healthcare and entertainment, we demand the very best that money can buy.

But not food. We don't want technology anywhere near that. Neanderthal know-how is perfectly fine, thanks. What is going on?

Organic Is the...

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines were born of good intentions. They were created to make Americans healthier.

The guidelines, however, were not inscribed on stone tablets and handed to mankind. Instead, they are the result of a bureaucratic process and, as such, are susceptible to dubious conclusions and adverse influence by activist groups.

In 2015, journalist Nina Teicholz conducted an investigation, published in BMJ, that criticized the dietary guidelines for being based on "weak scientific standards" and "vulnerable to internal bias as well as outside agendas." 

For instance, the guidelines recommend against saturated fat, which is commonly believed to cause cardiovascular disease. But...

Food choice should be left as a choice for consumers, but that is not how Michael Pollan, contributing writer at The New York Times, sees it.

Farming and stewardship of the land have always been a part of my life. Growing up in rural Oregon, we lamented that people in cities knew little about agriculture or where their food came from. Despite that, many city dwellers view farmers as enemies of the environment without bothering to drive a few miles to see the careful stewardship of the land that farmers practice every day. 

So, in some ways I am glad the "foodie" movement encouraged people to learn more about agriculture and how farmers provide the food we enjoy.

Anti-Farming Foodies

Unfortunately, that movement, which began as an...