Taxpayer Subsidies for Unhealthy Foods

Taxpayer Subsidies for Unhealthy Foods
5 (100%) 16 votes

What if billions in tax dollars were invested in healthier options, rather than given to corporations to subsidize the very foods that are making us sick?


Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Why do food companies sell junk? Because “[u’nhealthy commodities are highly profitable [in part] because of their low production cost,…creat[ing] perverse incentives for industries to market and sell more [junk].” Coca-Cola’s [net] profit margins, for example, are about [a] quarter of the retail price, making soft drink production, alongside tobacco production, among the most profitable industrial activities in the world.”

And, one of the reasons production costs are so low is that we taxpayers subsidize it. For more than a century, Western governments have invested heavily in [lowering the costs of] animal products and some basic cash crops,” such as sugar. “Accordingly, Western diets have shifted over the past century,” especially after World War II, to include more animal-sourced foods—meat, poultry, dairy…, seafood and eggs—as well as more sugar…and corn [syrup].”

During this same period, however, we have begun to realize that a healthy diet actually requires fewer animal products and [empty calories], and more vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.” Though “[r]edressing this balance is a complex task requiring not only a shift in agricultural investment and policy, but also changes in social preferences that have developed over decades, in part due to [dollar menu meat].”

Why do you think chicken is so cheap, for example? “In the nine years that followed the passage of the…96 Farm Bill,” corn and soy was subsidized below the cost of production to make cheap animal feed. So, U.S. taxpayers effectively handed the chicken and pork industry around $10 billion dollars each of taxpayer money.

What if we instead subsidized healthy foods? Or taxed harmful ones? Every dollar spent taxing processed foods or taxing milk would net $2 in healthcare cost savings. And every dollar spent making vegetables cheaper would net $3, and subsidizing whole grains could offer like a thousand percent return on our investment, with all the money we would save paying for, you know, Medicare and Medicaid costs.

Unfortunately, we can’t count on Big Broccoli. The produce sector lacks “the extensive funding” that went “to create…the National Dairy Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association,” the National Pork Producers Council, and the American Egg Board.

But, even if we removed “the hundreds of billions of dollars in annual subsidies for animal products,” it “might not be sufficient to tip the balance” in favor of healthier diets. “We have created societies in the West that value and consume meat, dairy, poultry, fish,…seafood. Over several generations, a particular way of life has been promoted and this has shifted expectations about diet to include large amounts of animal-sourced foods”—the concept that a meal centers around some kind of hunk of meat.

“The idea that animal products should form the basis of [our diet] has been scientifically debunked, but remains the social aspiration of billions of people” around the globe. As [we in] the West slowly come to accept that [our] diets and eating habits are not healthy, it is to be hoped that” this will change policies not only here, but “throughout the world.”

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Images thanks to canvascontent via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Why do food companies sell junk? Because “[u’nhealthy commodities are highly profitable [in part] because of their low production cost,…creat[ing] perverse incentives for industries to market and sell more [junk].” Coca-Cola’s [net] profit margins, for example, are about [a] quarter of the retail price, making soft drink production, alongside tobacco production, among the most profitable industrial activities in the world.”

And, one of the reasons production costs are so low is that we taxpayers subsidize it. For more than a century, Western governments have invested heavily in [lowering the costs of] animal products and some basic cash crops,” such as sugar. “Accordingly, Western diets have shifted over the past century,” especially after World War II, to include more animal-sourced foods—meat, poultry, dairy…, seafood and eggs—as well as more sugar…and corn [syrup].”

During this same period, however, we have begun to realize that a healthy diet actually requires fewer animal products and [empty calories], and more vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.” Though “[r]edressing this balance is a complex task requiring not only a shift in agricultural investment and policy, but also changes in social preferences that have developed over decades, in part due to [dollar menu meat].”

Why do you think chicken is so cheap, for example? “In the nine years that followed the passage of the…96 Farm Bill,” corn and soy was subsidized below the cost of production to make cheap animal feed. So, U.S. taxpayers effectively handed the chicken and pork industry around $10 billion dollars each of taxpayer money.

What if we instead subsidized healthy foods? Or taxed harmful ones? Every dollar spent taxing processed foods or taxing milk would net $2 in healthcare cost savings. And every dollar spent making vegetables cheaper would net $3, and subsidizing whole grains could offer like a thousand percent return on our investment, with all the money we would save paying for, you know, Medicare and Medicaid costs.

Unfortunately, we can’t count on Big Broccoli. The produce sector lacks “the extensive funding” that went “to create…the National Dairy Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association,” the National Pork Producers Council, and the American Egg Board.

But, even if we removed “the hundreds of billions of dollars in annual subsidies for animal products,” it “might not be sufficient to tip the balance” in favor of healthier diets. “We have created societies in the West that value and consume meat, dairy, poultry, fish,…seafood. Over several generations, a particular way of life has been promoted and this has shifted expectations about diet to include large amounts of animal-sourced foods”—the concept that a meal centers around some kind of hunk of meat.

“The idea that animal products should form the basis of [our diet] has been scientifically debunked, but remains the social aspiration of billions of people” around the globe. As [we in] the West slowly come to accept that [our] diets and eating habits are not healthy, it is to be hoped that” this will change policies not only here, but “throughout the world.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to canvascontent via flickr

136 responses to “Taxpayer Subsidies for Unhealthy Foods

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  1. Are there no nutrition-savvy senators or other legislators who are out of the veggie closet? Anyone at Big Gov at all who read TCStudy? Are you totally without representation? Hmm, now what was it that USA citizens do when they get taxed without representation…it is a revolting thought init?

    Gosh, just think how powerful if Nancy Ray somehow got the idea. How much blockage does she have by now? If we could get her to do a cardio cath test…you know? She seemed a bit low the last time I saw her. Just think if she switched. Or Hillary? Or BILL! What say? Frank Underwood?! Perish the thought.

      1. Why, I couldn’t possibly comment :)
        At least Clinton outed himself. Joining the zipper club does that to you.
        Can’t you just see Billary doing a WFPB cooking show? “Its time for the “Great Seitan and Sax show” I know, seiten is not whole foods but it seems to fit the occasion.

          1. Hi! You know, there is always room for improvement but I’m happy with my health. Chems are good, putting in full days, the angina is long gone, no more migraines…and best of all, the darkness has lifted…thanks in large part to Dr G, the NF Team and the brilliant commenters here. I always find something new each visit. My guess is that this site is doing more to improve peoples general health than all the gov pyramid schemes and dogma combined.

      1. Yes thanks for noting that. Not just vegan mind you…whole foods vegan. I have a high regard for his public stance on that: “I did not have butter with that dish…the Melba…”

      2. Except when he’s not. I don’t think his veganism is all-encompassing, but certainly a step in the right direction. I’m not a vegan either, so I’m not casting aspersions, just facts. :) “In a September 2013 AARP Magazine profile, Clinton revealed that he eats fish and eggs “once a week or so” in order “to maintain iron, zinc and muscle mass.”

        1. He and Hillary have been hanging out with Mark Hyman who is now claiming credit for Clinton’s post-bypass weight loss and recovery. Hyman’s got Hillary munching on cocoa butter as a between meal snack (’cause he thinks it’s only sugar/carbs instead of saturated fat that causes heart disease)…

          …and it shows.

  2. We pay for animal suffering (tax) to get cheap disease promoting meat/eggs/dairy, which our culture tell us to eat, and then we get sick and go to a doctor, who does not address the problem, but prescribes 3 or 4 different expensive drugs with a lot of side effects, and if you are really lucky, you will undergo dangerous and often unnecessary bypass surgery, leaving you with minor braindamage, you lose your job because of your poor memory, you lose your home and wife…….hope you enjoyed the cheap steak….:-)

    1. From one perspective it seems natural that a successful species would satisfy its most basic desires to the maximum extent possible ala Doug Lysle’s “Pleasure Trap”. Now add politics to the mix, oh what a pervasive mess we’ve created or perhaps acquiesced to is a better turn.

      “This is no dream. This is really happening” -Rosemary in “Rosemary’s Baby”

      1. Yes – the problem is that we live in a time of abundance. We have to control our desires if we are not going to become extinct within the next centuries. A species dying out from overeating is pathetic……

  3. It is intriguing how our built world can influence public health. I read a book called “Urban Sprawl and Public Health” recently that focused on how many American cities have become unwalkable, unbikeable, congested, polluted, and disconnected.

    We’ve made zoning laws that enforce unhealthy lifestyles as the norm.

    And now I see that similarly we have subsidy laws that prioritize unhealthy diets!

    It would be awesome if the public health implications of these laws were considered, instead of the bottom lines of big corporations.

    But hey! On the consumer end there do exist nutritional programs like Women Infants and Children (WIC), which is incredibly successful!

    So it seems like Public Health advocates are using things like the controversial Soda Tax to enforce healthier diets, but maybe they should be focusing on big agricultural subsidies.

  4. For more information on this topic, check out the report Apples to Twinkies published by the US Public Interest Research Group. I’ll summarize the main points.

    While the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars subsidizing corn and soy, very little money went to subsidize fresh produce. One of the few fruits or vegetables that does get subsidized is apples.

    Only about 1% of corn grown in the US is sweet corn used for human consumption. The rest goes to livestock feed or is processed into food additives (corn syrup, corn starch, HFCS etc).

    If subsidies for junk foods ingredients went directly to taxpayers to allow them to purchase food, each taxpayer would receive $7.58 to spend on junk food and $0.27 to spend on apples. This equates to about 21 Twinkies and 1/2 of an apple.

    Of the 37 ingredients in Twinkies, at least 14 of them are made with federal subsidies including corn syrup, HFCS, corn starch and vegetable shortening.

    Most of the agricultural subsidies have gone to a small number of large operations. About 75% of the subsidies go to about 4% of US farmers. Those large producers often buy out the smaller farms, so subsidies actually help destroy the small family farming tradition.

    Reference: Etherton L. et al. Apples to Twinkes 2012: Comparing Taxpayer Subsidies for Fresh Produce and Junk Food. US. PIRG Education Fund. July 2012.

    1. Don’t you know…? If broccoli were subsidized, the food manufacturers would just fractionate it to individual components and find a way to turn it into junk food…then market it as healthy!!

      $7.58 per person? That’ll buy how much produce? ;-(

      1. My CSA comes to about $15 a week and it’s enough produce for 2 people. So $7.58 would be enough organic fruits and veggies for one person for a week.

        1. That’s around 2% of your annual produce, though. A subsidy at that level isn’t going to much affect anyone’s choices. The subsidies may be wasteful, but I don’t quite see the reason why they are all that harmful in their effects when compared with other aspects of food policy and dietary culture.

          1. The original post never said anything about $7.58 per person per year. It was only using that figure to illustrate the ratio between junk food and apple subsidies… no time period was specified. It could be per day for all we know.

      2. That could never happen. I mean, could you imagine the packaged food industry taking something great, like say, kale, baking it into chips that are loaded down with oil, salt, artificial flavors and preservatives and then people buying it, thinking that it’s healthy? I mean, come on, that’s just too ridiculous.

        1. Kale Chips are already on the market. ;-)

          Don’t forget the part where I said “fractionate it to individual components”.

          Even 100% whole wheat products are “reconstituted” from white flour, bran, and wheat germ that had previously been separated and recombined. The US gov sets the standards on the percentage of those components which constitute “whole wheat”.

          1. MacSmiley, you’re too trusting, I knew it was on the market, which is how I came up with the ingredients. But I didn’t know the part about wheat. I only occasionally buy bread or wheat tortillas, and that’s from an organic brand that I trust. So I’m hoping I’m clear of that situation.

  5. Hi Dr. Greger, awesome video, this is so crucial to raise awareness on the subject of U.S. food subsidies!

    Technical note: when I share this post on FB it says 404 Page Not Found

  6. The only chance to undo influence-paid laws and practices is with public knowledge, but even that is an uphill battle. I’ve been vegan for over 20 years and I’ve yet to see any co-workers, friends or family try it. A few did for half a day but then said they felt sick and concluded that their bodies “just need” meat. And even the way people refer to harmful food as “comfort food” makes it sound benign (who coined that term anyway?). I have a 42 year old friend right now, who is two years into suffering from what is believed to be an auto-immune related disease. She won’t even try a vegan diet for a few weeks just to see if it helps. She says she can’t live without all the animal products she eats on her standard american diet. The same has been true for friends with heart attacks, heart disease, or any other condition. They think how I eat is quaint, possibly healthy, but lacking protein, a hassle and not worth it. So I think universally and act individually.

    1. This is crude to say but about half who have heart attacks die at the first one. Of those remaining most rely on the drugs, stents and splice to support their habit. but as they continue to die off there does remain a small group who “get it”. Like me who came to whole foods out of desperation to survive. Combine them with folks like you and there must emerge a core of healthy people living and teaching. I send Dr. G’s urls to people just about daily. The horror will pass slowly but I believe it must and will pass away from living memory. Imagine

    2. “Comfort” in comfort foods seems to refer to the comfort for the psyche, not the body. Sure, eating that crap will definitely get your body to release all those feel good chems but the long-term affects are surely not comforting.

  7. Never forget that in addition to the farm subsidies, food stamps are solely and exclusively grocery store subsidies. Again, big corp vs individual health needs of the poor. To qualify, you have to have water available in your house. But guidelines allow participants to buy bottled water by the case which is MORE expensive than gasoline by the gallon.

    1. The SNAP program did actually make some changes that allows participants to shop at farmers markets. The CSA that I belong to accepts SNAP. Unfortunately, very few people are taking advantage of it. As you pointed out, the majority of the money is going to junk food. Another great report on this subject is “Food Stamps: Follow the Money” published by EatDrinkPolitics.

      1. masobel, thanks for this reference to Michele Simon’s blog. She is definitely getting down and dirty with the ‘powers that be.’ I had lost sight of her after her book tour for ‘Appetite for Profit.’ Here’s a minor fix to your link:

        Ms. Simon’s KEY RECOMMENDATIONS make perfect sense. I won’t be holding my breath…

        One should also check out her home page to see the range of issues she is taking on. I am glad it is not me tangling with the ‘tasseled loafers’ haunting the halls of Congress.

        Finally, readers may be interested in seeing Ms. Simon’s talk before the enlightened folks of the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii, a group Dr. Greger knows very well:

  8. Dr. Greger,
    Your astute comments on the politics of food are well warranted, however, plant-based foods are no better than ‘demonized’ animal foods, especially when plant-based foods are genetically modified to include animal genes [transgenic GMOs] or those that have pesticide-production capabilities, e.g., Bt gmos as in Bt-corn and others listed on the EPA’s website
    Personally, I think everyone who is concerned about health ought to come down on eating GMO plant-based foods that, before their incorporation into the diet, crops did not possess unknown potentialities such as possibly growing Bacillus thurengiensis in the human gut after eating fresh Bt corn-on-the-cob.
    No studies have been done to assure that cannot happen, which is something feasible and needs to be addressed for its abilities to drastically affect gastrointestinal health where nutrition begins its biochemical reactions in the human body.
    May I suggest that you address GMO crops apparent insufficiencies as part of your excellent work.

    1. Since only 1% of corn grown in this country is sweet corn for human consumption, GMO not my biggest worry. Americans eating junk is. Get rid of the junk and you get rid of most of the GMO in your diet.

    2. “possibly growing Bacillus thurengiensis in the human gut after eating fresh Bt corn-on-the-cob.”

      Heh. Some basic understanding of GE, and specifically what the Bt- GMOs consist of and what they do, might help in evaluating this “possibility.”

      A theory explaining how B. thuringiensis could possibly spring forth, in the gut or anywhere else, from Bt corn, would be fascinating to see.

      1. Widespread ignorance about biology or the specificity of enzymes common in the anti-GMO movement says a great deal about our failings in science education, as well as the emotional outlet provided by internet echo chambers.

        The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society and the European Food Safety Authority have all concluded that current transgenic crops pose no greater health risks than non-transgenic crops.

        Nutritionally, I believe current concerns about transgenic crops are a distraction. There are no doubt many people ignoring very real concerns about food content due to limited exposure to anti-GMO arguments.

          1. My understanding is the AMA is funded mostly by membership dues, the AAAS by a mix of membership dues and government grants, the USNAS and BRS are honorary membership organisations largely funded by their home countries, and the EFSA and WHO by member nations.

            The key thing about their statements is not that GMO agriculture is health risk free, its that its doesn’t appear any riskier than conventional non-GMO agriculture. This is accord with the reviews I’ve read and my intuition as a former biochemistry student.

              1. In general, yes.

                The problem with the study applying the Monsanto Roundup product directly to placental cells is that that’s never the way our cells encounter it. There’s some degradation as the glyphosate or the soapy tallow surfactant encounter UV rays, plant exudates, or rain, and after harvest some degradation with time, transport, and processing/meal preparation. Then it has to pass through the gauntlet of our digestion with stomach acid, bile enzyme, and microbial digestion and very selective absorption through the enterocytes of our gut lining. There’s lots of nasty stuff that passes through us without ever being absorbed.

                I’ve worked in biochemistry labs. Sodium dodecyl sulfate, a major surfactant in shampoos, is used daily to disrupt cell membranes. Its toxic in vitro. As most people don’t drink shampoo and SDS degrades rapidly in our sewers, we accept this as the price of shiny hair. I’ve no doubt that the surfactant used to enhance glyphosate absorption by weeds (Polyethoxylated tallow amine) is toxic too if it comes directly into contact with cell membranes, but I’m not sure this is meaningful for human health.

                There are definitely some industrial products I want nowhere near my food. Heavy metals and hormonally disrupting persistant organic pollutants top the list. However, I doubt we can support 7 billion without some crop protection chemicals, and hence the question is what is the least dangerous option. I’m not in love with glyphosate, but atrazine and 2,4-D, used extensively on non-GMO fields, are clearly worse. Some of the wealthier classes in the developed world can opt out of this dilemma, but I follow the science, and eat undoubtedly GMO corn tortillas daily, from the same corn eaten by hundreds of millions for whom a Whole Foods isn’t an option. I’d love to live in a world of 2-3 billion where more sustainable pest/weed control practices like crop rotation or intercropping were widespread. And one of my hopes is that more plant based diets will reduce the human footprint enough to allow a smoother transition to that sustainable civilization.

                1. Darryl: Thanks for taking the time for that explanation. I can see where you are coming from and it makes a lot of sense and is a very nice, (short term?) compassionate approach.

                  Not that you asked, but I thought I would share my different and more ruthless perspective: I’m not interested in feeding 7 billion people. My understanding is that when animals have enough food, they reproduce more. It sounds like you and I are both in agreement that humans have reproduced beyond what is sustainable. I would argue that a big part of that is because we have made these short term cheats in producing unsustainably large amounts of food, such as the GMO foods.

                  My solution is not to compromised in any way on production of healthy and sustainable food, but instead to just have less food. Without that, I don’t see how we will ever get our population under control and the long term consequences of our population problem is in my opinion, even more suffering by all long term. My opinion is that humans are not capable of limiting our population using our will power. We are so like bunnies in that way. So, maybe lack of food is the only way. And anyway, I’m personally swayed by a lot of the anti-GMO arguments, especially in regards to the health of the planet, something that Dr. Greger choose (wisely in this context) not to address.

    1. wow, they list fish in the proven healthy category, and they list chicken and eggs in the benign category, not good for you but not bad for you either. So much for that article. Completely discredited. Can’t take anything in that article seriously.

      1. Completely discredited! How can they have the audacity to base their recommendations on the best available scientific evidence instead of ideology and wild extrapolations from laboratory studies or fearmongering about toxins? ;)

        1. See links below for a good sampling of the best available scientific evidence on chicken, eggs, and fish. Looks to me like Ben got it correct. I have to wonder if those authors did any actual research to find the best scientific evidence or if they went with their own ideology and wild extrapolations.

          Though I do appreciate LegallyGreen for posting the link. The dollar amounts piece of the article is interesting. One has to wonder what the how the dollar amounts would work out in their analysis if they had started with a good definition of healthy eating.

          1. Sorry, but as much as I apreciate and Dr. Greger’s work, his videos hardly represent “the best scientific evidence” but a highly(!) selective account of evidence given through the lens of vegan ideology with some, to quote myself, “wild extrapolations from laboratory studies” and “fearmongering about toxins” thrown in for a good measure.

            There’s no need to discuss fish. The epidemiological evidence doesn’t leave room for any controversity here: fish consumption is consistently associated with a reduced risk of CVD and other diseases. In a recent review[1], 20 of 21 included studies found a reduction in CVD risk with increased fish consumption.

            When it comes to meat, there is conflicting evidence of course. The most recent, largest, international and methodologically most advanced study published on the relation between meat consumption and mortality[2], having 37 authors and encompassing a cohort of nearly a half a million(!) people, followed for an avarage of 12.7 years found no incrased risk associated with any type of unprocessed meat, including red meat with any type of mortality risk. There was a slight, statistically non-significant increase only for the highest sextile of red meat consumption (more than 160 g/day!) and no association with poultry at all.

            No, of course you won’t ever hear about such studies from Dr. Greger or any other vegan physician or diet guru. This is what I mean by “giving a selective account of the evidence”.

            You actually summarized the fundamental flaw that is at work here quite nicely yourself: “if they had started with a good definition of healthy eating.” This is not how science is supposed to work. You don’t start with a “definition of healthy eating” (be it vegan, paleo or whatever you fancy) and twist and bend the evidence to fit it into that definition. It ought to be exactly the other way around: you start with the evidence and infer a definition of healthy eating from the evidence.

            Actually creationism works the very same way: you start with a definition of creation… this is why creationism is not science.


            1. Your right on. The vegan “natzie” group only talk about anything that supports their one sided view. For ever “study” they site, there are five that say ti a lot of BS. Everyome is different and moderation is the answer.

          2. “I have to wonder if those authors did any actual research to find the best scientific evidence or if they went with their own ideology and wild extrapolations.”

            You must be joking, right? Anyone who has even remotely come in contact with the literature on nutritional epidemiology recognizes the name Dariush Mozaffarian (the nutritionist from this article) or of his collegue at HSPH, Walter Willet. Willet and Mozaffarian are among (if not the) leading nutritional epidemiologists in the world. They have conducted hundreds of studies and published thousands of paper, as you can easily find out by searching their names on Pubmed.

            If anyone is making “wild extrapolations”, it is the like of Campbel, Esselstyn, Greger and other doctors firmly commited to vegan ideology and not those impartial, down-to-earth epidemiologists.

            Here are two relatively recent papers by Mozaffarian, adding to those I mentioned below:

            Fish, mercury, selenium and cardiovascular risk: current evidence and unanswered questions.[1] – In this paper evidence has been reviewed considering risk and benefits of fish consumption, concluding that the benefits by far outweight any risks due to toxins.

            Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. [2] – In this paper Mozaffarian et al. have analysed the evidence from 17 prospective cohort and 3 case-control studies with a total of more than 1.200.000(!) participants and found that while processed meat was associated with a slighty increased risk of CHD and diabetes, no such association exist for unprocessed red meat.


            1. Nutrition debates always seem to devolve into the “No True Scotsman” logical fallacy.

              “Any scientist who disagrees with my conclusions could never be an impartial researcher, and here are the studies to prove it!”

              1. Huh? I did nothing but to give an account of the most recent, large-scale epidemiological evidence on fish and meat consumption, because Thea brought up that topic. I didn’t draw any further conclusion from that evidence. However, I agree that anyone who chooses to simply ignore such factual evidence for ideological reasons is certainly not an “impartial researcher” but has more in common with the creationists I mentioned below.

            2. Two comments Timar. 1. Have a look at the World Cancer Reserch
              Fund/AICR report on diet and cancer – most recent full report 2007 – analysed the evidence from thousands of studies, not just the couple you
              mention here, and concluded that processed meat caused cancer and should be avoided altogether, and that red meat was a likely cause of colon cancer and should be limited. You have to look at the totality of evidence, not rely on single studies that find no association and think
              meat is off the hook – there are so many factors that bias associations towards the null in epidemiological studies: absence of
              evidence is not evidence of absence.
              2. Almost all of these studies are done on western populations who consume a lot of animal products, and mounting evidence suggests that it is protein in general and animal protein in particular that causes cancer (even in moderate amounts) – see first two articles in last issue of Cell Metabolism, one of them is pasted below. If this is so, then we would not expect to see great
              differences in disease outcomes associated with specific types of animal proteins in populations consuming an overall high amount of animal

              1. Hi Kate,

                I certainly agree with most of what is stated in the AICR report, particularly that processed meat should be avoided and red meat should be limited. However, the negative impact of red meat has probably been overestimated in the past due to methodological limitations which been partly overcome in the more recent, large-scale epidemiological studies (particularly the EPIC study) I have referenced and which will serve as the evidence base for the next AICR report. It’s better to err on the side of caution though, so yes, one should definitely limit the intake of red meat.
                I know the Cell Metabolism study (I read it over and over actually ;) and I think that while it has severe limitations (particularly that it doesn’t fit in very well with the totality of evidence, which shows little harm even with high intakes of animal protein, so this is a point where I totally agree with you), I think that it brings up a compelling thesis. I have long recommended to limit the the intake of animal protein to no more than one ounce a day (in order to limit the intake of methionine) and this study confirms this admittedly somewhat speculative recommendation. One ounce a day would equal, for example, a cup of yogurt plus a three ounce serving of fish or meat. However, there is no evidence base to recommend avoiding animal protein alltogether. Many studies actually suggest that consuming small amounts of animal foods may provide health benefits. The EPIC as well as the Asian study have both shown suggestive trends of reduced mortality for a low- to moderate intake of meat (particularly poultry) compared to total avoidance. The reason for those trends are hard to tell, though (it may be to due the nutrients in meat or due to confounding because of malnutrition or both) – quite in contrast to fish consumption for which we have overwhelmingly convincing evidence for health benefits (as I said, 20 of 21 major studies found significant benefits).

            3. It would be in your best interest to view the links Thea has shared, as there is a huge abundance of evidence showing how animal product consumption is not healthful. Your hypocritical claims of NF not keeping up with the research, and you yourself not having any curiosity in the available research is confounding. The studies presented within the countless videos are vast, expansive, and go beyond contaminants.

              In regards to fish, to consume fish solely for omega 3 is a silly reason, when you can get dietary omega 3’s in a far healthier form from flax which does have ALA, this processes to DHA and EPA if omega 3 ratios are adequate. Algae derived DHA is also toxin free.

              1. Sorry, I’m not interested in nutritional ideology but in nutritional science. often provides valueable information when it comes to the health benefits of plant foods (in stark contrast to the ideology-driven fearmongering regarding animal foods) and I appreciate the work Dr. Greger is doing but I would never consider it a reliable and authoritative source. Drs Greger, Esselstyn & co are no impartial researchers but men on an ideological misson. They are certainly not in the same legaue as interationally renowned nutritional scientist and epidemiologist like Willet or Mozzafarian.

                Btw., you as ill-informed about long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids as you are on other topics we have discussed. Even Dr. Greger acknowledes the need to consume preformed LCPUFAs and reommends vegans to supplement DHA from agae oil. We have evolved as omnivores for millions of years and some poeple, presumable those whose ancestors consistently consumed a diet rich in animal foods, carry genetic polymorphisms in the involved desaturase and elongase enzymes which make them virtually unable to synthesize their own DHA from alpha-linolenic acid (men are generally much less efficient in doing so then woman, who to supply the growing fetus brain with DHA), regardless of the dietary n-3/n-6 ratio.

                I agree, however, that it would be silly to eat fish just because of the LCPUFAs, as it you can get those more economically and conveniently from fish oil or algae oil. I eat fish because of the extremely compelling epidemiological evidence for the health benefits of fish consumption (the evidence for fish oil or algea oil DHA supplementation is much less consistent) and, most importantly, because I just love to eat fish – it is a delicious and healthy food :)

                1. Hi Timar. I am a bit confused, so i would ask you – how is that you “can appreciate Dr. Greger’s work as valuable information but never consider it a reliable and authoritative source”? What part do you find valuable? How does something not reliable bring value to you? Do you like to check the Sources Cited as the valuable part, does the value come from sparking deeper research for you? Dr. Greger doesn’t claim to be a researcher.

                  1. Well, as I said – whenever Dr. Greger discusses the health benefits of plant foods (for example, the recent excellent series on curcuma), the videos are usually well researched and informative. It is only when he tries to scare people away from eating animal foods when he tends to indulge in fearmongering by exaggerating and presenting the results of single studies out of context. As I am educated in nutritional science and know about the big picture, it doesn’t bother me to discern the valuable information from the propaganda.

                    1. I certainly agree HSPH is a stellar resource but it is not totally neutral either as you believe. “If we were truly basing this only on science, we would, but it is a bit extreme.”

                      Trans Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease
                      Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., M.P.H., Martijn B. Katan, Ph.D., Alberto Ascherio, M.D., Dr.P.H., Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., and Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H.


                      Dr. Willet: “There’s no sharp cutoff. But when you get down to maybe one serving of meat or less per week the risk gets pretty low. If you really want to go for the lowest possible, it does look like not consuming red meat at all, or a couple times a year, is where you’d want to be.”

                      Willet…”A better goal would be to cut out red meat entirely.”

                      “Because trans fats are unavoidable on ordinary, non-vegan diets, getting down to zero percent trans fats would require significant changes in patterns of dietary intake.” One of the authors of the report, the Director of Harvard’s Cardiovascular Epidemiology Program explained why—despite this—they didn’t recommend a vegan diet: “We can’t tell people to stop eating all meat and all dairy products,” he said. “Well, we could tell people to, become vegetarians,” he added. “If we were truly basing this only on science, we would, but it is a bit extreme.” The report concluded: “it is recommended that trans fatty acid consumption be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.”


                    2. Nice quote – it shows that, if anything, they are actually biased towards vegetarianism! If you look at the RR tables from large-scale epidemiological studies on meat consumption (like those I have referenced below) you see that the curve for red meat consumption follows a U-shape – with increased risk at high and very low intakes. You have to interpret the lower part of the curve in some way and this is where your personal bias comes into play. Is the risk increase with very low intakes or abstinence from red meat due to certain nutrients exclusive to meat, or is it due to unresolved confounding? We don’t know. The only thing we know for sure from the most recent evidence is that low intakes of red meat (less than one ounce a day) don’t seem to have any significant negative effects.

                    3. I agree that what we know is that low intakes of red meat = 1 oz/day doesn’t seem to have significant negative effects and is the best we have so far. How many “meat” eaters only eat 1 oz/day or less (one bite for many)? This is the conundrum that can’t be taken in isolation.

                    4. Well, that is about red meat, not meat in general.
                      There are many people I know of who eat red meat on avarage once a week (Europeans are not quite as “beefed up” as Americans, with their fondness for steaks and burgers). A six ounce serving once a week is less than one ounce a day. I eat even less than that – maybe three ounces a week, which conforms pretty well with the traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern.

                      There is no increase in mortality risk at all for poultry, which I think is surprising given the gross practices in industrial poultry farming. Unfortunately, there are no studies yet comparing the health outcomes of eating organic, humanely farmed animal foods vs. industrially “produced” ones. I guess it would be hard to do such a study because sadly 95% falls in the latter category.

                2. Timar, because you disagree with me does not mean I am ill informed. New information you havent seen before does not equal bad information. If you are to study nutrition then do so without getting frazzled..

                  Firstly, the omega 6:3 ratio is not an invention. To convert ALA and omega 6 to DHA/EPA and arachidonic acid respectively involves competitive enzymes. If you have too much of one or the other, then inadequate conversion occurs. This is a fact. Most foods, especially most nuts with the exception of walnuts and flaxseeds, are very high in omega 6. Whole plant foods on the other hand generally have great ratios. So yes, the ratio does matter, which is another reason why liquid fat calories from olive oil is not helpful.

                  Secondly, those consuming a plant based diet with good ratios do not need to consume preformed DHA and EPA.

                  “Interest in the cardiovascular protective effects of n–3 (omega-3) fatty acids has continued to evolve during the past 35 y since the original research describing the low cardiovascular event rate in Greenland Inuit was published by Dyerberg et al. Numerous in vitro experiments have shown that n–3 fatty acids may confer this benefit by several mechanisms: they are antiinflammatory, antithrombotic, and antiarrhythmic. The n–3 fatty acids that have received the most attention are those that are derived from a fish source; namely the longer-chain n–3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n–3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n–3). More limited data are available on the cardiovascular effects of n–3 fatty acids derived from plants such as a-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n–3). Observational data suggest that diets rich in EPA, DHA, or ALA do reduce cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death; however, randomized controlled trial data are somewhat less clear. Several recent meta-analyses have suggested that dietary supplementation with EPA and DHA does not provide additive cardiovascular protection beyond standard care, but the heterogeneity of included studies may reduce the validity of their conclusions. No data exist on the potential therapeutic benefit of EPA, DHA, or ALA supplementation on those individuals who already consume a vegetarian diet. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to recommend n–3 fatty acid supplementation for the purposes of cardiovascular protection; however, ongoing studies such as the Alpha Omega Trial may provide further information.

                  Combined with the lack of convincing clinical data in favor of n–3 fatty acid supplementation for cardiovascular endpoints and the lack of data in those that consume a vegetarian diet, it is difficult to make the recommendation that vegetarians should consume fish to optimize their cardiovascular mortality.”


                  “Comparison of the PLLC n23 PUFAs:DALA ratio between dietary-habit groups showed that it was 209% higher in vegan men and 184% higher in vegan women than in fish-eaters, was 14% higher in vegetarian men and 6% higher in vegetarian women than in fish-eaters, and was 17% and 18% higher in male and female meat-eaters, respectively, than in fish-eaters This suggests that the statistically estimated conversion may be higher in non-fish-eaters than in fish-eaters.”


                  “There is no evidence of adverse effects on health or cognitive function with lower DHA intake in vegetarians”

                  “In the absence of convincing evidence for the deleterious effects resulting from the lack of DHA from the diet of vegetarians, it must be concluded that needs for omega-3 fatty acids can be met by dietary ALA. ”


                  Thirdly, Regardless of the epidemiological studies, the harms of fish consumption have been established.

                  The link between fish consumption and neurobehavioral abnormalities in adults is likely related to mercury toxicity.

                  Blood arsenic levels are an accurate marker of fish consumption

                  As is mercury in the hair

                  Fish has the highest content of dioxins, PCB’s and flame retardant chemicals

                  This study compared 2 groups in Hong Kong, one group was a fish consumer, the other was not. Those who consumed fish had 10 times the mercury in the body.

                  One or more servings of fish a week and Mercury consumed exceeded the safe level of consumption for 25% of the subjects

                  And this has not even acknowledged the IGF-1 raising effects of animal products as well as endotoxemia which are by far the most compelling arguments to abandon animal products consumption.

                  Furthermore, the idea that marine fats are healthy comes from modelling the diet of the eskimos based on a study in the 1970’s.

                  “Eskimos do have a similar prevalence of CAD [coronary artery disease] to non-Eskimo populations, and in fact, they have very high rates of mortality due to cerebrovascular events (strokes). Overall, their life expectancy is approximately 10 years less than the typical Danish population and their overall mortality is twice as high as that of non-Eskimo populations.

                  “Considering the dismal health status of Eskimos, it is remarkable that instead of labeling their diet as dangerous to health, a hypothesis has been construed that dietary intake of marine fats prevents CAD and reduces atherosclerotic burden,”

                  I hope you will not dismiss the presented evidence as “faulty” because you have not seen it and actually absorb the presented data.

                  1. Huh!? What a preposterous reply! I never said that the n-6/n-3 ratio was “an invention” or not relevant. I said that some people carry genetic polymorphisms making them virtually unable to synthesize LCPUFAs from alpha-linolenic acid, irrespectively of their dietary n-6/n-3 ratio (as even Dr. Greger acknowledges by recommending an algae oil supplement for vegans). Now this is really my last response. I won’t try anymore to discuss with you as you have repeateadly shown your inability or unwillingness to follow my argument.

                    1. “I won’t try anymore to discuss with you as you have repeateadly shown your inability or unwillingness to follow my argument.”

                      The information I shared follows your argument as outlined below, you are just not willing to acknowledge the evidence, as you have failed to do so countless times during our discussions. Because the evidence disagrees with your perceived outlook on nutrition does not mean it should be discounted willy nilly.

                      “Even Dr. Greger acknowledges the need for preformed LCPUFAs and recommends vegans to supplement DHA from agae oil.”

                      I Acknowledged this with the vegetarian studies

                      ” genetic polymorphisms in the involved desaturase and elongase enzymes rendering them virtually unable to synthesize their own DHA from alpha-linolenic acid (men are generally much less efficient in doing so then women, who need to supply the growing fetus brain with DHA), regardless of the dietary n-3/n-6 ratio.”

                      I showed that for most people this is not a real issue. If you have studies to share showing this widespread dilemma then please do.

                      “I eat fish because of the extremely compelling epidemiological evidence* for the health benefits of regular fish consumption”

                      Also acknowledged and discounted with many studies showing a prevalence of people who have burdened their bodies with an excessive intake of toxic compounds, in addition to the IGF-1 raising and endotoxemic effects of animal based foods.

                3. +Timar, you are a devoted saboteur of reliable nutritional news. Your promotion of meat and dairy exemplifies why American’s are ignorant about nutrition. Somehow you think you can write a few sentences and dismiss good science. Meat consumption is dropping in the USA. Too bad the word isn’t spreading faster.

                  1. Huh? First of all, I’m not an American. Second, the fact that I am not biased towards veganism doen’t mean that I am promoting meat and dairy. On the contrary, I have stated in several discussions that there is reason to reduce the total intake of animal protein to about one ounce a day (wich is less than one third of the current US avarage). Third, I think that it is a great thing that meat consumption is dropping in the USA and other affluent nations. It is still far to high – from an ecologic and well as a public health or animal rights standpoint. However, I don’t think that there is scientific evidence to suggest that all animal products should be avoided for health reasons. There is evidence that they should not be consumed in excess, as it is currently the norm. And I think there is some evidence that a moderate consumption of more humanly produced animal products (such as pastured dairy) may provide health benefits over an exclusively plant-based diet.

                    I not against veganism. I’m only against the distortion of scientific evidence in the pursuit of ideology – be it vegan, paleo or whatever.

                    1. Timar, regardless of the source, Americans are bombarded daily with misinformation about nutrition. Most of this misinformation reaffirms their belief that it’s OK to eat meat and dairy. Whether the misinformation is perpetuated by a fellow American or someone, like yourself, doesn’t change the message.

                      By your own account what you say is based on personal belief (” I don’t think that there is scientific evidence to suggest that all animal products should be avoided for health reasons.”). Your belief has no place when claiming science is your source. Americans eat more than three ounces of meat daily. “Three ounces” is the amount recommended on the preposterous “food pyramid” guide published by our government. It was dictated by the meat and dairy industries. Are you sure you even understand the health problems we have in the U.S.A.?

                      What science tells you one ounce of meat daily will contribute to health and not disease? Or are you claiming one ounce of meat won’t harm your health? Isn’t that like saying one cigarette a day is OK? You “think” this and you “think” that but what you think isn’t proof of anything. It’s especially offensive and even amusing considering you haven’t viewed the available videos provided by Dr. Greger (and others). It appears you read a little and extrapolate big erroneous opinions from your small time expenditure. You’d be better received if you put the time in and actually study the subject.

                    2. Toxins, are you sure you understand this web site? Dr. Gerber scours scientific papers, articles, studies, and nutritional claims…and using his medical knowledge shares pertinent ones with us. He reviews their claims and focuses on significant points. He then explains the validity (or otherwise) of each claim, He also adds commentary doing all this with humor. I personally could not put all the relevant nutritional information in perspective.

                      Dr. Gerber’s efforts are complimented by the work of Dr. John McDougall, a contemporary cohort, others, and all the science validated from past researchers. Without their effort and contribution the meat and dairy industries would dominate media and all nutritional information unchallenged. Until you take time to know the available body of work you’ll just keep expressing personal opinion contrary to the science. That would embarrass me.

                    3. Slider, I am a moderator on this website. I am agreeing with your points. You have misinterpreted my agreement with you.

                    4. LOL, Toxins…mixed up the names. My laptop screen is broken (stepped on it)…only half is working. I’ll stop posting until I can get to my desktop tomorrow. There are some really outrageous half-baked ideals on this board; you’re not the poster.

                    5. I agree with you, I have already experienced the “thick headedness” of Timar along with other passionate posters on this website. There will always be people who are like this, that are not willing to accept any incoming information from Dr. Greger on things they disagree with. It is good to identify the problems in their argument so that others can see.

                    6. Sorry but I don’t have the time to comprehensively list all the sources I base such assessments on. It is based on my reading of hundreds of studies and textbooks over a long period of time. Of course we all have our biases as we are bound to a selective perception of reality. However, we either can make an effort to keep our biases in check and remain as objective as possible for human being or choose to indulge in our biases by turning them into an ideology. The latter is certainly the more convenient and hence – I’m affraid – the more popular option.

                      Two important clarifications, though: First, I didn’t say one ounce of meat, but one ounce of animal protein. This is based on a comprehensive review of the epidemiological literature as well as on some more hypothetical considerations regarding the effect of methionine and branched chain amino acids on IGF-1 and the mTOR pathway. Second, it is preposterous to compare the consumption of meat with the smoking of cigarettes, as cigarettes provide only toxins and no nutrients. Animal products, however,

                      are important sources for an array of nutrients, some of them essential, some of them (semi-)essential and/or health-promoting at low to moderate intakes but detrimental at higher intakes (e.g. methionine, heme iron, possibly carnitine), some of them health-promoting (e.g. vitamins and trace minerals), benign (e.g. MUFAs, most amino acids) or detrimental (e.g. contaminants such as mercury) at any possible dietary intake level. Moreover, animal products have been an important part of almost all human diets for at least 2 million years, whereas the smoking of tobbacco has only become en vogue in the 18th century.

                    7. Timar, I’m not interested in your list anyway. If you said you read a thousand articles claiming Communism was a better form of government than capitalism does that make it true? Restating a falsehood many times doesn’t make it a fact. Hitler said, “Repeat a lie often enough and the masses believe it. If it’s a bold outrageous lie they believe it even more because their rational is no one would tell such a stupendous lie.” He killed millions repeating his lies.

                      “Bias” is not a bad word. The definition of bias is to favor something BASED ON FACT. If I am bias towards capitalism and it’s based on “success” and I see communist China converting to capitalism then regardless of all the claims China makes about communism being superior my bias is for capitalism. Likewise, the Soviet Union collapsed. Therefore their claims of a superior way isn’t supported.

                      Seriously? Animal meat is different from animal “protein”? If I eat animal protein exactly what would I be swallowing? I challenge you to share just one benefit from animal “protein” or meat that’s not available from a starch based diet (With the exception of providing an excellent income for medical doctors.)

                      My smoking analogy was appropriate. I’m saying how few cigarettes can you smoke and not risk getting cancer? Likewise how little meat (fish, poultry, mammal) can one safely eat and not cause harm?

                      Please spare me the microscopic view of nutrition. I don’t understand it. Simply tell me what essential benefit eating animal flesh provides. Does it strengthen your immune system? Protect you from cancer? Improve brain function? What?

                      Just because some of our ancestors ate meat doesn’t mean it was healthy. Agreed, in your general terms (you sound like a government agency), animal meat was an important part of our ancestors diets because it kept them form starving to death. I would eat meat too if it kept me from starving. Doing so doesn’t mean I’ve done something healthy. Besides, today’s science wasn’t available two million years ago so why base our food choices on what someone did out of ignorance millions of years ago. Just two hundred years ago blood letting and leaches were the medical rage. Do you advocate blood sucking?

                    8. I don’t think that it makes any sense to continue this discussion with you as you only come up with an army of straw mans instead of arguments:

                      1. Comparing empirical scientific publications to ideological articles about political systems. This is utterly absurd.
                      2. Of course animal meat is different from protein. You shouldn’t dicuss nutrition if you lack the most elemenat knowledge. Meat is meat. Protein is protein. What is so hard to understand about that? Meat contains about 30% protein but also fat, water, some carbohydrates and many other compounds. You can get one ounce of animal protein from three ounces of meat or you can get it from two cups of milk or a cup of scrambled eggs. Animal protein is the protein from any type of animal food. Got it?
                      3. Regarding your question:
                      “Simply tell me what essential benefit eating animal flesh provides.
                      Does it strengthen your immune system? Protect you from cancer? Improve
                      brain function?”
                      Indeed there is good evidence that the latter is the case (e.g. in elderly Japanese man). There is also some evidence that it may improve immune function (it has convincingly been shown that milk protein boosts immune function). If you look at epidemiological studies you generally see a weak U-shaped relationship between meat consumption and disease risk. Those eating a lot of meat have an increase risk and eating relativiely little meat have the lowest risk. Those eating the least meat or no meat at all are again at qa slightly increased risk. The question is whether both sides of thar curve reflect a causal relationship. Given the nutrients in meat and the increased requirement for many of those nutrients in the elderly there is good reason to assume that they both do. I have written more about the epidemiology of meat consumption and given references to the largest and most recent epidemiological studies in another comment to this video.

                    9. Timar…

                      There’s a new sheriff in town, Lollypop. I read both your reports and didn’t skip over the big words. That technique was the key to discovering your misinterpretation. the elderly men did not have an increase in brain function. Some had a slight decrease in the rate of decline. That’s like you driving your car off a cliff and on the way down you strike a protruding tree branch. technically your rate of decent might slow slightly but you’ll still hit bottom. (splat) Incidentally, the elderly women did not show any measurable reduction in their rate of decline. Do you conclude only men should eat more protein so they die infinitesimally slower?

                      You ramble on saying, “There is also some evidence that it may improve immune function”. Not a strong statement, pilgrim. That study was done on rats and mice given a protein extract from cow milk. Had they used the whole milk product they could have concluded cow milk clogs human arteries and overloads human kidneys. But, again, they avoided that conclusion by only extracting a component from the milk. How does it function when the other components of milk are included?
                      My simple analogy previously was geared toward the reader. You still missed the point. Are you trying?

                      You blurred the line talking about animal meat having 30% protein. (some actually has more. In a moment I realized you were ASSUMING a simple percentile was all that’s need to to conclude “3 OZ meat = 1 OZ protein. That’s not how protein ic calculated. the unit of measurement is generally in grams or, as I prefer, a percentage of caloric content. Regardless of preference, three ounces of met has but a few grams of protein.

                      Let’s extrapolate your simpleton deduction. By your “reasoning”, all elements in meat have the same weight and mass, therefore are a percentile (volume-wise) of the total mass. Consider this, Sherlock, (an analogy just for you)…If you have a box half full of feathers and have full of lead. Each is 50% of the volume. Do you see the problem? The lead even though it’s half the volume (equal to the feathers) is infinitely heavier (figure of speech). If you eat the feathers you’ll derive more protein than if you eat the lead (I just threw that in for humor). What I’m saying is just because meat is 30% protein doesn’t meat the protein weight 30% of the total. You made that up unwittingly revealing your intellect.

                      The advantage of watching the Dr. Gerber videos is you don’t have to understand, or even read, the big words. You cleverly (in your own mind) dismiss arguments you can’t debunk by claiming we don’t communicate or you don’t have time. Yet you choose to hang our on a board devoted to disseminating nutritional science in a format usable by anyone. You make so many false claims the majority of folks just let it pass. Your life would be more pleasant if you didn’t need to convince the rest of us your meat eating habits are good choices. If that’s your conclusion then do the manly thing and eat a c=double cheeseburger with bacon every time you have the urge. It’s your life and you don’t need my permission. But PLEASE, don’t clutter this board with your conclusion of what others are claiming in their research papers. I gave you the benefit of the doubt this one time and read your references. They were not as you claimed. Instead you added personal conclusions and erroneous understanding of what was otherwise a weak research conclusion. Don’t expect me to read another.

                    10. I see you are stil levying your army of straw man – now armoured with quibbling and nit-picking. Sorry, but I don’t have time for such skirmish.

                    11. I guess since you’re running for the hills that means you won? Do you understand what a “straw man” argument is? Lollypop, you have a lot…and I mean a LOT of defense mechanisms. I bet you never lose an argument.
                      Was pointing out your embarrassing blunder calling a three ounce steak “one ounce of protein” one of my straw man arguments?
                      Maybe it was when I ‘splained” those elderly Japanese men didn’t actually get better eating protein extract, they just got sick a little slower.
                      Or were you talking about my plea that you read the big words too?
                      Maybe you just confused me with the character in the Wizard of Oz!
                      Have you suggested to Dr. Gerber that he let you screen all his videos before posting them? He might let you …just convince him you’ll start reading the big words too.
                      Here that bell ringing? It’s me thumping on your right temple….”Anybody home?”

                    12. slider1: This post is completely unacceptable. You may not refer to someone in a derogatory manner. Your posts may not be snide or rude. All posts on this site must be polite. You have the potential to be a good part of this community. So, I am taking the time to give you this warning. If someone is driving you crazy, you have the option of simply not replying. If you choose to engage, you must do so within the rules of this site.

                      I am deleting this post. Please take this warning seriously.

                    13. Thea, Nope, no one is driving me crazy. I was just toying with the lad. But you are right. He’s defenseless against the facts. I’m just not as gentle as you (or this site’s “standard” apparently.) You’ll forever have saboteurs discrediting the good that is posted here. It will continually be rebuked by those who have no regard for your rules. They are not here by chance. It’s an orchestrated plan to smother truth with confusion and misdirection. But, rules are rules. I’ll do better. I need a good set of rules. Let’s see…hmmm…number 1 hmmm?

                    14. slider1: Thank you.

                      If you are interested in the official rules, you can find them on the FAQ page:

                      The parts of interest might be:
                      “people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked,”
                      “no tolerance for ad hominem attacks”
                      “foster a community of mutual respect.”
                      “respectfully disagree”


                    15. Timer, anyone reading my reply can see for themselves that I pointed out the erroneous claims in your post. What you claimed was not factually in the report. Next time I won’t be so inclined to read your link.
                      No, I’m not a fanatic, just a stickler for honesty. You don’t object to that do you?

  9. How very sad. When are we likely to see change in this area, though? Agribusiness has an enormous influence on Capitol Hill – they have their own congressional subcommitees, huge amounts of money to spend on lobbyists and politicians, and it’s impossible to win presidential office without winning at least some big agricultural states. Even in Europe dairy is heavily subsidized in certain countries. If only 1% of corn is destined for human consumption, and the other 99% to feed animals so we can eat those animals, how can we turn this around?

    It was controversial to subsidize corn to produce ethanol but it does not seem very controversial to subsidize corn production to feed livestock so we can eat those livestock.

    I no longer eat any animal products but virtually all my friends and family still do. They think I’m crazy to have given up meat. I have one sympathetic friend with a very wide spectrum of major food phobias who said that if she gave up eating chicken, dairy and beef, she would have nothing left to eat. Sometimes eating vegan out is very isolating, but I tend to take it all in stride. It’s a healthy way to eat, I’ve lost lots of weight and brought my blood pressure and lipids down, and I am not directly contributing to animal suffering through my food choices. It seems like such a “slam dunk” choice to make that it’s startling that more people aren’t making it!

    1. I collect hilariously stupid reasons people use to rationale meat eating. Your “I will have nothing left to eat” made my “David Letterman’s top ten list.

      The top dumbest reason I ever came upon –true story! — was “If we all stopped eating animals, then where would they keep all the farm animals??…they would just flood the cities…containment would be a huge problem.”
      I bet nobody can beat that one!

      1. “If we all stopped eating farm animals, then our cities would be overrun by them.” – If this is the level of knowledge we are up against, then we have a long way to go.

        1. Feral pigs are already problem in parts of the South, with respect to wildlife habitat. Not likely to overrun Atlanta anytime soon.

          Too many Crackers live for pork BBQ! (a feast/fiesta only food for me now).

      2. VegAtHeart: That one about plants feeling pain or “plants are alive too” just pisses me off. Your top one, I hadn’t heard before. That just makes me laugh. Oh boy.

      3. There is no excuse for eating (sustainably produced) meat, because one doesn’t have to excuse for it.

        However, sustainable, small-scale integrated organic agriculture, like family farms in the way they have existed for hundreds of years, does not work without livestock. Animals are by far the most important source for nitrogen and their manor is often without alternative for fertilizing the soil.

        Of course, such traditional, organic farming produces much less meat than factory farming. This is why a hundred years ago, most poeple ate meat once a week, not on a daily base.

        There is no concept of a sustainable agriculture without livestock, which I know of, that has been shown to work.

          1. Obviously I was refereing to organic farming practices that are productive enough to nourish an urban population, not of some petty “vegan organix gardening” ;)

        1. Seriously Timar? Livestock manure is causing our water supplies to be contaminated with algae and other contaminants. All because we are growing corn and soy to feed animals.

    2. Congratulations! always check out the “side servings” and ask to hold the fat/salt/sugar etc.

      I think you are changing them, even when they protest…their own words echo inside and change begins. You lead by example.

    3. To suggest that veganism is the solution for all the problems associated with or food system is like suggesting that childlessness is the solution for overpopulation. In a way it is, but of course such problems require a much more nuanced consideration. There are many brilliant people who have thouroughly analyzed industrial agriculture, like Marion Nestle in her book Food Politics, Michael Pollan in The Omnivores Dilemma, who haven’t come to the conlusion that one should follow a vegan diet but that one should consume animal products in moderation chose such from sustainably raised animals. In my opinion (ethical objections against eating animals left aside), moderation is always preferable to abstinence, although the latter may be easier to realize.

      1. Given the wealth of evidence supporting a plant-based diet, the meat proponent has the burden to prove that “moderate” meat consumption is beneficial.

      2. Timar, your attitude is reflected in your comment, “Marion Nestle (Food Politics) or Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), who haven’t come to the conclusion that one has to follow a vegan diet…” It’s not a matter of “having to”. Honestly I’d get nauseous if I was forced to eat meat. Only in industrialized countries are the populations conditioned to consume huge amounts of meat…and think it’s normal (and “healthy”). I met a medical doctor who teaches at Wright State University, School of Medicine. She is from Nigeria and shared her experience practicing medicine in her country. No one was even trained to diagnose heart disease because they never saw it. Finally one person had it and they couldn’t diagnose it. She smiled the whole time she told that story. Imagine how silly Americans must look to folks in other countries who AREN’T ‘studying nutrition” because they don’t get heart disease, cancer, high BP, and the rest because they don’t eat meat and dairy.

  10. Question for the staff: how do you format the bibliography?

    I mean the sequence author – title – journal.

    By hand or using some software? Thank you so much for letting me know!

    1. Hey, if you’re looking for citation software, I’ve recently learned in grad school of 2 programs, EndNote and Zotero. Both are free! I use Zotero because it has great Firefox integration and will extract the biblio info from Amazon or any journal site and create the biblio in any style you want.

      1. Thanks!

        Zotero seems great, but can you tell me how do I export the bibliography so that it also have the links to the original article, like here on NF?

  11. It’s too hard to listen to this guy. His voice tone is way too pompous sounding, Constantly nasal, smacking his tongue off the roof of his mouth before he starts a new sentence, using that pompous sounding vocal fry “creak” sound all the time.

    1. We all have things about us that someone would find “grating” I am sure. Just read the transcript if you prefer or review the Sources Cited.

  12. When you give the state the power to subsidize foods you consider healthful, don’t be surprised when it subsidizes foods you consider unhealthful. If you give it the power to rule others on your behalf, you simultaneously give it the power to rule you on their behalf. The answer to unhealthful foods is education; it is not robbing Peter to subsidize health conscious Paul.

    1. I don’t think he’s promoting the idea of subsidized healthy foods. Just pointing out the disadvantage caused by subsidies for unhealthy foods. Remove those and cattle ranchers could not afford to feed cows corn and sow or make cheap corn syrup, et all.
      Plant food is already cheap…it’s just not recognized by mainstream consumers as “complete” without a hunk of fried flesh as the center piece. Plant food is always the bridesmaid and never the bride. It adds color to meat dishes. Sad but true.

  13. I am missing a few pieces of the story. WHY did the US start to subsidize ‘animal feed’ – the lower grade corn and soy in the first place? Thank you.

    1. Politicians were “influenced” by meat and dairy and farm lobbyists. In fact, even today they are afraid to not do their bidding. You and I don’t have lobbyists to offset the efforts of big business lobbyists. Big business finances politicians’ campaign efforts. Sadly simple, but true for many many decades.

    2. No one started out conspiring to rip off the American taxpayer or promote unhealthy food. Like so many other government programs its beginning was humble, seemingly benign and as humanitarian as one could imagine. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the people’s president, received tens of thousands of letters each day from starving Americans. During the Depression and American Dust Bowl, farmers were dirt poor. Back then farming was a family affair. None in the Midwest could grow any food. Roosevelt has pulled us out of the depression with several programs designed to put America back to work. One more was created to save the farmers from certain death, figuratively and literally.

      The programs succeeded and millions of desperate Americans returned to work. Farmers were able to keep their farms and grow food and save their eroded soil. WWII drew millions to war production jobs and off the farms. However, the subsidies remained in force without much questioning. Winning the war was priority over all else. As time passed, companies started forming and buying small farms until today small farming is a quaint memory and the business of farming is conducted by huge conglomerates with money and political clout.

      The small farmers didn’t have lobbyists but the giant farms had money so hired lobbyists who made donations to aspiring politicians and dictated what farm bills would be kept in force. Politicians are motivated by a need for power. The fear of losing their power and political perks and soft jobs in government keep them beholden to the demands of the giant corporations.

      We once had mom n pop grocery stores. Like the family owned farms they were put out of business by large businesses with lots of money. Today the small stores have been re-invented and branded as “convenience stores” where we pay huge premiums to buy what’s on their shelves. Like the family farms of past, these new small stores are owned in mass, by billionaires with political clout.
      It’s about power, money, and politics. We elect others to protect our interests in government but they are obedient to the hand that feeds them, big business.
      Rush Limbaugh uses fear to convince his listeners big business is their friend and needed by them. He often says, “No one EVER got a job from a poor person.” Obviously Rush has never operated his own small business. The country is full of small business where the owner is just getting by, putting in too many hours, and paying the bills and the salaries and the taxes and what’s left is little enough to survive. They aren’t buying out their competitors. They don’t have powerful influential lobbyist either.They merely exist and provide employment to others. They are truly poor by American standards. They can’t keep the doors open on pride alone so often they close up shop and work for the other guy to survive. Rush would have you beholden to big business for your job. Indeed, there is economy in size but at some point it’s obvious to those who want to see that the excess profits go to enrich the huge corporations and do nothing for the workers. When businesses get that big it’s easy to dictate to government what ‘ingredients” are acceptable for America’s food. Their choices is based on extending shelf life, reducing cost of ingredients, and maximizing profits. The result is the processed foods most Americans unwittingly put in theirs body’s thinking it’s normal based on all the media hype telling them bacon burgers are “to die for.” Did your great grand parents need constant reminders of what to eat? Which burger is juiciest; has the most cheese? I have a relative who grew up listening to all the media hype and I actually witnessed a dinner time decision he had to make. One grade school daughter wanted a burger but the other one wanted pizza. To please both he went to two fast food joints to buy dinner for his family. In times past folks were thankful there was food on the table. Children weren’t ask what they wanted for dinner. They found out when they sat down at the table…and ate the veggies and all without question. I didn’t know I wasn’t suppose to like vegetable. It was food and I was hungry. Today everyone has a voice and each is different and demanding. My hunch is a 21st century child will eat vegetables without hiding them under the cheese.

      Farm subsidies exemplifies where our country has drifted from humanitarian efforts to exploitation. Over time what was once a societal solution became another opportunity to convert taxpayer money to personal assets for a few billionaires. You and I can’t change that. but we can change ourselves. Instead of buying sl many of the processed “food” products, plant some seeds…grow a garden. If that’s too much then buy a bushel of tomatoes in season and can them. Same for beans, beats potatoes, corn and peas…whatever is available and you desire. If you do that and I do then then we have solved our personal dilemma of unhealthy processed food products. If millions of Americans can a few foods this/next years, bug business will see their market/profits shrink. they will definitely notice. It can’t be all about economics for you and me. I don’t care if I Do have to buy canning jars and do the work. I’d rather can for a few hours than work for big business those hours to just turn around and use my money to buy inferior food. You can fix you. You can’t fix me or big business. But if you fix you, and I fix me, and others do the same we can protect our health and fix the problem too. We don’t need a lobbyist. We need resolve and a personal effort to control our personal food supply. Eating broccoli with our bacon burger to hopefully fight off the cancers and heart disease isn’t he answer, personal responsibility is. This government is so afraid of low employment numbers and an ailing gross national product forecast they are paralyzed by big business and their lobbyist…so don’t dare remove any subsidies paid out for unhealthy food. It’s about jobs and power. You and I don’t have those constraints. We’re free to grow or buy untainted food. All you have to do is take advantage of your power to do so.

      You and I don’t have a lobbyist. The American consumer doesn’t have a lobbyist. The most influential business do have lobbyists. Their lobbying efforts has kept subsidy programs in tact and even expanded them to meet their individual business needs (wants).

    1. Sylvia, wright or wrong, what people have eaten for thousands of years was never scientifically scrutinized until the last hundred years (or so). What folks ate in ignorance thousands of years ago isn’t necessarily what’s optimal for health. However, since you want to use that argument then recognize people thousands of years ago didn’t eat nearly as much meat and dairy as you do. Many didn’t eat any. Meat consumption started to increase after the new world was discovered. Explorer took corn from the West back to Europe and found, for the first time it was economical to raise farm animals for food. Until then they couldn’t afford to feed a cow. BTW, corn is poor, but cheap food for cows.
      How do you propose to evolve to successfully process the excess meat you personally eat? It’s not going to happen. You’re overloading your body with protein. It was just a coupe hundred years ago humans were burned for witchcraft. I suppose that historical fact makes it a good idea?

    1. You’re right… but i do not know if society could translate from a heavy animal food diet to a near zero animal diet in few years, so maybe it will be a period of time where insects will substitute “animal” food waiting for the shift in human eating behaviors to a whole food plant based diet.

      1. Merio, ask any vegan, from experience they’ll confirm you don’t need to eat bugs to transcend from meat and dairy to not eating meat and dairy. You just stop. It takes about two weeks for your taste buds to recover from all the sensory overload and then you’ll discover vegetables explode with flavor. Meat eaters “imagine” they can’t survive without meat and dairy. They assume a world of bland food is all that’s left! Eat a chicken wing without the BBQ sauce, salt, pepper, and whatever else you put on it and tell me how flavorful chicken skin and flesh is. Ditto for hamburger and fish.
        Probably the biggest misconception is they have to live on salads. You’ll starve trying that. Your new main course is bean dishes, rice dishes, lentils, veggie burgers, Mexican foods…I even have a recipe for mock tuna salad. I challenge you to tell the difference. In addition eat all the veggies and salads you want…just make sure you get enough calories from the grains and beans. You can flavor them as you would meat…or not.

        1. you’re perfectly right, in fact i try to stick to a WFPB diet, but my parents think it is strange not to eat animal food (they are completely ignorant about human nutrition).

          In those days i will plan a vegan meal plan in a way to erase all animal food from my diet and i know i could succeed because i already tried in past time but i was less prepared than now.

          1. Merio, keep in mind your parent’s, like all of my generation, was raised eating Betty Crocker meals, We’ve been indoctrinated from childhood to eat what’s produced for profits. Generations back everyone grew some food and fast food wasn’t even an industry. I recall coming home from grade school and smelling something in the oven. My aunt explained it was “adult food”. That meant “don’t ask for any”. I ask what the adult food was. My mother said, “It’s called pizza…you wouldn’t like it.” This was the 50’s and the new pizza product came frozen in a cardboard box.

            Before I ever had my first taste of pizza I did have a Burger Chef hamburger as a sixteen year old…the first franchise hamburger chain in my small town. Their burgers were fifteen cents…add a nickle for cheese.

            Most older folks don’t change their nutritional habits until they are diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. For your parents to change now is to admit all they believe about nutrition is wrong…even the way their mothers’ fed them was wrong. That’s too much to ask of most adults. People fear change. Just take care of your own health and set an example for others. Some will notice; most won’t. Your reward isn’t in “being right” but the excellent health you’ll enjoy as life happens.

            Oh, add chili and veggie stew to my list of vegan foods. When a curious soul seems sincere about going vegan I suggest they adopt the attitude,”I’ll eat the plant food and afterwards I’ll have some meat.” Once they have their starch based diet meal they are full and have no room (or desire) for meat. After that experience even the die-hard meat eaters realize it’s doable…without ever being hungry and without craving what they gave up. Good luck.

            1. Sorry, i forget to say that i’m italian so my parents were born in the ’50s in a small town in the North, and diet was really “poor” in the sense that there was not much differentiation. Fast food was not existent, while there were (i think) a lot of veggies, diary products (but few types) and grains (rice, pasta), while meat was for rich people and even fruit was rare. Unfortunately i do not know where to search about italian diet after WWII. There are a lot of difference throughout the peninsula.

              Now there are a lot of different types of food but as other countries, when people became richer, they start to buy more animal food because there is this myth about the superior value of animal proteins etc.

              And we start to eat a lot of simple sugars i think.

              Italian pastry is famous in all the world (unfortunately).

              Simply “we” do not have the human nutrition basis.

              1. Merio, I should have figured as much from your name :)

                “Poor” is a relative term. Americans eat poorly today. your parents ate better back then without even trying. They did not have to match wits (so much) with the food producers. Even the meat they ate was not like today’s meat. Much of what we eat in the U.S.A. isn’t even allowed to be sold in Europe. They are very anti GMO too!

                In your parents day they didn’t have to deal with the thousands of unhealthy food products on the shelves today. So it’s understandably they aren’t quite as aware as you are with regard to how badly our food chain is tainted. Back then more folks jobs were actually labor and physical exertion tends to suppress appetite. Today we sit and our minds drift off to what the next meal will be. It takes months and even a year sometimes to clear out whatever ails our body. Just eat what you like and know is safe and the body will heal itself and your immune system will be optimal.

                1. You made some good points, unfortunately there are a lot of people that promote GMOs in europe and i do not know why, and now there is this economic agreement ( ) where negotiations are practically hidden from the public and we have EU’s lobbyists vs US’s lobbyists but don’t know what they are going to do. Probably acting against national interests and food/agricultural policies.

  14. Dear Doctor:

    Thanks, but please b careful, very careful: there is a whole lot of money on the table. I had two dear friends (one was a urologist, his body was never found) that were murdered (one for less than $1,000). Increase your security as much as u can. It is like Dr. Mc says: it is not a conspiracy, it is just business.

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