How do lobbies affect the way we eat?

Marion Nestle: Well during that period when I was working on that report, which was to come out with a set of dietary recommendations, every single food industry that was likely to be affected by the report sent droves of lobbyists to the office to discuss issues related to the report with the people . . . the staff who were working on the report.  I was protected.  I was so low down on the federal hierarchy that I was protected from a great deal of that.  But I did get to experience some of it on my own, particularly with the cattlemen.  The cattlemen were very concerned that the report was going to say, “Eat less meat,” because meat is such a large source of saturated fat in the American diet.  And saturated fat raises blood cholesterol.  And blood cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease.  And so saturated fat is something you don’t wanna eat way too much of.  And they were very concerned that the report was going to come out and say, “Eat less meat,” and they let everybody in the office know about that very clearly.  They brought in people to come talk with reams of information about how healthy meat was, and meat’s enormous contribution not only to the American diet, but also to the national economy.  You know every state in the union has cattle in it of one kind of another, and every state has two senators.  And so they have a great deal of political power.  And so I got to see that in action, and eventually the report came out and stated recommendations and euphemisms.  And almost immediately after I left government and went into the private sector again, the Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services . . .  Well actually the Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid came out, and there was an enormous scandal about that in 1991 because the cattlemen protested against the way that the pyramid was likely to go, and the Department of Agriculture withdrew it.  And so it’s very difficult for federal agencies to give any kind of dietary advice that indicates that people should eat less of anything, because eating less is very bad for business

The government can't recommend you eat less of anything, Nestle says.

How space debris created the world’s largest garbage dump

Since 1957, the world's space agencies have been polluting the space above us with countless pieces of junk, threatening our technological infrastructure and ability to venture deeper into space.

Framestock via Adobe Stock
Technology & Innovation
  • Space debris is any human-made object that's currently orbiting Earth.
  • When space debris collides with other space debris, it can create thousands more pieces of junk, a dangerous phenomenon known as the Kessler syndrome.
  • Radical solutions are being proposed to fix the problem, some of which just might work. (See the video embedded toward the end of the article.)
Keep reading Show less

Looking for something? A team at MIT develop a robot that sees through walls

It uses radio waves to pinpoint items, even when they're hidden from view.

TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
In recent years, robots have gained artificial vision, touch, and even smell.
Keep reading Show less

The ‘Lost Forty’: how a mapping error preserved an old-growth forest

A 19th-century surveying mistake kept lumberjacks away from what is now Minnesota's largest patch of old-growth trees.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service via Dan Alosso on Substack and licensed under CC-BY-SA
Strange Maps
  • In 1882, Josias R. King made a mess of mapping Coddington Lake, making it larger than it actually is.
  • For decades, Minnesota loggers left the local trees alone, thinking they were under water.
  • Today, the area is one of the last remaining patches of old-growth forest in the state.
Keep reading Show less

The Great Resignation: COVID revealed how abnormal the modern workplace is

Is working from home the ultimate liberation or the first step toward an even unhappier "new normal"?

Credit: BARBARA GINDL via Getty Images
Culture & Religion
  • The Great Resignation is an idea proposed by Professor Anthony Klotz that predicts a large number of people leaving their jobs after the COVID pandemic ends and life returns to "normal."
  • French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that by establishing what is and is not "normal," we are exerting a kind of power by making people behave a certain way.
  • If working from home becomes the new normal, we must be careful that it doesn't give way to a new lifestyle that we hate even more than the office.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast