While nutrition activists continue searching in vain for The Risk-Free Diet, the rest of us are subjected to a daily overdose of warnings and hysteria. The food frenzy has stretched to encompass everything from cooking oil to table salt to grilled chicken. Sadly, there seems to be no end in sight. As we remarked a few months ago, it’s getting harder to separate "the latest nutrition advice" from Aesop’s fables. Fortunately, though, every now and then we get a break. The latest came on Saturday with this level-headed editorial in The Edmonton Journal.
Apparently the United States isn’t the only country experiencing an overdose of dietary panic:
There isn’t a day when Canadians aren’t buffeted by a plethora of competing, confusing "facts" on a mind-numbing array of dietary matters. Vegan, vegetarian or carnivore? Is it organic, homegrown or not? What of vitamins, herbal remedies, supplements, additives, pesticides, raw versus cooked, natural or processed, and well, a thousand other things to ponder? Can we trust our governments to balance consumer interests with the priorities of agribusiness?
The claims and counterclaims — often spawned by studies that seem reasonable — can drive us crazy, especially as we struggle to feed our kids properly.
The Journal editorial goes on to describe a recent visit from Dr. Joseph Schwarcz of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. In his lecture in Edmonton last week, the Popular Canadian columnist and broadcaster known to millions as "Dr. Joe" came through with exactly what we — and The Journal editorial board — needed to cut through the constant drumbeat of senseless warnings from food cops and scare-mongers:
"The first thing we should keep in mind as Canadians is that there is no need to panic. The science is in the details, and most of the hype we hear is just that — meaningless, biased. As in other realms, "a sound education" is the key, says Schwarcz, developing food "literacy based on improved nutritional and scientific information and then applying that to the everyday." …
The doctor speaks the truth. Would that there were more like him, closer to home.