What was it like working for the Department of Health?

Marion Nestle: I was Senior Nutrition Policy Advisor in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the Department of Health and Human Services.  And this was an agency that was set up within Health and Human Services to work on chronic . . .  The particular things we were interested in were chronic disease prevention – diet and chronic disease prevention.  And my main job was to edit a very, very large report called The Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health which came out in 1988.

I came there from a masters degree in public health nutrition, and this was my first job after my masters degree.  And I love to tell this story.  On my first day on the job, the person I was working for said . . . and I was to edit this report on diet and chronic disease prevention.  And he said on my first day, “No matter what this report says, and no matter what the research says, this report will never say, ‘Eat less meat.’”  And I said, “Oh?”  He said, “You can’t say, “Eat less meat.’  That’s too controversial.  The Department of Agriculture is opposed to that kind of recommendation.  They will go to Congress and have the report suppressed if it says anything like that.” So right from day one this was going to be a compromised report that was going to state everything in euphemisms.  And so the first thing I learned on my first day on the job was if you wanted to get politics done in Washington you have to speak in euphemisms.

If you want to get anything done in Washington, Nestle says, you have to speak in euphemisms.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less