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Jane Brody, Wrong on Nutrition

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I have a love / hate relationship with the New York Times.

On the one hand, there's David Brooks and Gail Collins.

On the other hand, there's Jane Brody.

Jane Brody never met an establishment position she didn't unquestioningly embrace. She's continued to parrot the low-fat idiocy years past its expiration date, and has acted as a de facto shill for the American Dietetic Asssocation's brain-dead positions on every nutritional issue she writes about. Her latest piece on "Eating Well on a Downsized Budget" tells us how wonderful potatoes are and recommends "100 percent fruit juice blends" as a beverage.

In fairness, this is mixed with a generally good message about eating real foods on a budget, albeit, of course, the "low-fat" variety. But the comment that prompted this column was her astonishing statement that canned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh.

This statement is particularly frustrating because she mixes fact with fiction, lumping frozen and canned vegetables together as if they are the same thing: "One myth to dispel is that fruits and vegetables must be fresh to be nutritious" she starts out, reasonably enough. "Not only do canned and frozen versions usually cost less and require less preparation, but nutrient value is as good or better and less food is wasted."

Note the collapse of "frozen and canned." Frozen vegetables indeed are a great option, and are usually picked and frozen at the height of their ripeness. Canned vegetables are complete junk, boiled beyond recognition and canned with a ton of sodium. Ever try canned stringbeans? Let me know if you can even recognize them as anything that was once alive.

I might have a love/hate relationship with the New York Times, but I have no such ambiguity about the American Dietetic Association, which is apparently the source of all information about nutrition for Times writers like Brody and Gina Kolata. (Not so for Tara Parker Pope who appears to at least question the press releases from the ADA that Brody apparently uses as source material.)

The American Dietetic Association at this point has no useful purpose on the planet except to protect it's union members and shill for it's flat-liner positions which are now running about two decades behind their sell-by date.

The American Dietetic Association's latest foray into politics -- one of many you never hear about -- is to bombard state representatives in Wisconsin to pass a bill licensing who can provide nutrition advice. "While at first it may sound like a noble objective under the premise of "consumer protection" what it actually does is make it a crime for practicing naturopaths, nutritionists, nutrition consultants, Ayurvedic practitioners, and others to offer nutrition advice" writes my friend Wisconsin nutritionist Bernard Rosen, PhD.

The American Dietetic Association has tried this before in other states. Their goal has been to keep anyone without their "Registered Dietitian" credential from being a recognized expert in the field of eating and nutrition. That would eliminate PhD's, MDs with a nutritional background, NDs, CNS's and CCNs. (By the way -- I'd love to see the average RD pass the CNS exam. Typical CNS exam question: "The product of enterokinase reactions is:......" Typical RD exam question: "What are the ingredients in a lemon meringue pie?")

Yes, the folks who gave you hospital food (white bread and jello as the perfect recovery meal), who think you can "get all you need from food" and don't need supplements, who think that a diet of 70% carbs is ideal, should be the only ones who are considered responsible sources of nutrition advice.

You may think is all pretty silly, but virtually every magazine editor in America still thinks that the only way to get the "real" story when it comes to nutrition information is to interview an "official spokesperson from the American Dietetic Association."

That's like getting the "real" story on the Iraq war from the Taliban.

The American Dietetic Association's corporate sponsors include PepsiCo, Coca Cola, General Foods, Kellogs, and the National Dairy Council. For a full list, go here.