Bad Science

There’s a lot of bad science out there. Even I, a non-scientist, can tell. We are constantly bombarded with misinformation, and a lot of it has to do with food and health. We have become a nation bizarrely obsessed with health and medicine. It seems that nearly every article in the newspaper is related to health and medicine, as is a huge chunk of the evening news, and much other media. Is that all we think about anymore? Could this obsession be, well, unhealthy? Are we are now the dog being wagged by the
medical-pharmaceutical industry?

And is it any wonder, therefore, that some of us have developed, let us say, a certain sense of cynicism when the latest news is blasted out to the world? Do this, don’t do that. Eat this, not that. Oh wait, do this or eat that instead of what we told you yesterday. Nowadays I just hit the mute button or turn the page.

Each new study is touted as gospel, and often a mere correlation is mis-interpreted into a cause-and-effect relationship. Correlation does not necessarily mean one thing causes the other! (If more of us understood statistics, and how to interpret them, I suspect we would be less prone to being misled by all this information.)

There are sites that try to de-bunk some of this bad science, and one that I have come across, thanks to a recent post to the NYT’s Diner’s Journal, is the blog, Science-ish. Don’t you love that name? Blogger Julia Belluz has recently taken to task Gweneth Paltrow’s new cook book, “It’s All Good,” about a severe elimination diet she put herself – and her children! – through. All this cleansing, detoxing stuff…seriously, your body knows how to cleanse itself, folks! It was, um, built to do so.

And this reminds me of the juicing craze. (Excuse me while I climb a little higher on my soapbox.) Do you really need a bazillion times the normal intake of vitamin [whatever] that you’ll get from puréeing massive amounts of leafy vegetables? What do you think your body does with all that excess? Uh, it eliminates it. Your body can’t use that overload, doesn’t need it, doesn’t want it. Plus, with juicing, you’ve ruined or strained out the fiber – and the deliciousness! – you would have gotten had you eaten the whole food.  Remember that term – WHOLE food.

On the lighter side of questionable food topics, is the practice of throwing out food as soon as it slips past its sell-by or expiration date. We throw out shocking amounts of food, and even though I teased my late father mercilessly about keeping really old (often rank) food around, it is true that many foods are fine beyond those dates. Some of them are described in this NPR article.

(p.s. Now, I wonder how many incorrect facts I have put into this post?!)

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