Money, integrity, science—and the search for the truth about food


Two days ago, I posted a blog entitled, “How many PhDs does it take to figure out what we should eat?” Then yesterday, I published one featuring the fact that President Bill Clinton has chosen to ignore the collective conventional wisdom of the entire world of nutritional science. (See links below)

With industry now controlling our schools of nutrition, is academic freedom dead?

Instead, he chose the simple wisdom of one lone renegade nutritional scientist from Cornell University. Why do I say renegade? Because of the way that he is now treated by the university where he earned his PhD and spent almost his entire career.

As of today, you can hardly find any information about this great man on the Cornell website despite this extremely rare, glowing endorsement from a legendary president of Cornell. As recalled by Dr. Campbell himself:

When the legendary long-term Cornell president Frank Rhodes retired in 1995, he cited Campbell’s China Project in his farewell address to 8,000 people as “one of the greatest embodiments of Cornell excellence to take place during my twenty-two years at the helm of this great institution.”

Cornell excellence? Nowadays, this example of one of the “greatest embodiments of Cornell excellence” seems to have become almost an embarrassment to this great university. Like so many of our elite schools of nutrition, much of their financial support comes from the producers of meat, dairy, eggs and other unhealthy products. So aligning themselves with a scientist who is now recommending the avoidance of ALL of those products is not good for the health of their revenue stream.

For the same reason, a few years ago, this great university suddenly canceled Dr. Campbell’s plant-based nutrition course that he’d been teaching for seven years. They didn’t even give him the courtesy of a phone call to let him know of their decision in advance. This is no way to treat a future Nobel prize winner.

You can study nutritional science in Malibu, CA.

Before it was canceled, it was the only such course offered for credit toward graduation from any accredited school of nutrition in the United States (to his knowledge). Like Cornell, all those other schools are feeding at the trough of the USDA and their misguided food guidelines driven by the special interests of the food producers.

Now, even though the United Nations has formally endorsed a vegan diet for a host of reasons, this travesty continues in our elite schools of nutrition. The U.N. put it this way on their website in a 2010 paper (See link below):

“A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change…As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable.”

Academic freedom? To me, this is a sad state of affairs in our overall education system. Because of pressure from our food producers, who provide the funding for our schools of nutrition, “academic freedom” is a thing of the past when it comes to providing our brightest young minds with the information they need to reverse chronic disease, tame our health care monster and preserve the planet’s ability to provide for the longterm sustainability of the human race.

To my knowledge—the ONLY nutrition school in the nation that offers a course in plant-based nutrition. Bravo for Dr. Roman Pawlak for making that happen.

I found one exception. Actually, there is at least one public university that has not succumbed to the financial muscle of the food industry—East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

One of my readers told me about an associate professor there, Dr. Roman Pawlak (See link below). While speaking with Dr. Pawlak a few weeks ago, I learned that, after consulting with Dr. Campbell several years ago, he developed his own plant-based nutrition course and has been teaching it since. To my knowledge—and his, that is the only such course offered for credit toward graduation in the United States. Let me know if you know of others.

1-9-13 update. Dr. Pawlak has just published a new book, In Defense of Vegetarianism, which you can order by sending an email to him at indefenseofvegetarianism@gmail.com

So the United Nations talks about what we must do to survive, yet our schools of nutrition completely ignore it. What about all of those other nutritional science faculty members across the United States? How can we help them come to understand the harm that has been inflicted on the world because of their failure to consider the “big picture” when making their dietary recommendations.

How can we implore them to consider these four questions as part of their “big picture?”

    • Has heart disease or type 2 diabetes ever been reversed by recommending more consumption of meat and dairy?
    • What do the strongest animals in the world eat, and what do the chimps and the gorillas eat? (the animals whose DNA is closest to ours)
    • How do meat and dairy foods stack up to plant-based when it comes to water consumption/pollution, climate change and energy consumption?
    • Is the American diet (heavy in meat and dairy) sustainable in a world that will soon have 9 billion people? Is there enough land? 

The Bottom Line. Although this is a very difficult mountain to climb, I am going to give it a shot. I am going to start by writing a few letters to some of the nation’s most prominent nutrition professors. In those letters, I am going to try to convey my genuine understanding of the frustrations that they must be feeling—given the overall state of poor health in the United States.

In my home state of Connecticut, my first letter will be addressed to Dr. Nancy Rodriguez, professor.

My first letter will be addressed to Dr. Nancy Rodriguez, professor in the Department of Nutritional Science at the University of Connecticut, just an hour’s drive from my home. I chose her for three reasons: She debated Dr. Campbell on Larry King Live about two years ago, she wrote the opposing view to the vegan diet in the recent Wall Street Journal article, and we both reside in Connecticut.

In that letter, I will mention that I have recently lectured in three university settings, including one in the state system in nearby New Haven, CT. The other two are Holy Cross and the University of Kentucky. None of those lectures were in a department of nutritional science, but rather in other areas related to my favorite topic: the promotion of health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

Toward the end of my letter, I am going to offer my services as a guest lecturer. Not being a PhD myself, I would label my topic “An industrial engineer’s “big picture” view of a global feeding model that is not working.” The primary point in my letters will be that their “best and brightest” students who have managed to be accepted there—deserve to hear all sides of this crucial subject. (Watch for that letter in tomorrow’s future blog)

Consecutive daily blogs (numerals from the windy city)

A little research. According to the Campus Explorer website (See link below), there are 264 schools of nutrition in the United States and probably well over 10,000 faculty members.

One of those schools is Cornell, which charges undergraduates a tidy $37,750 per year in tuition. You’d think that a good measure of scientific integrity would be included for that kind of money. If I were a parent paying the bill, I would insist on it.

Here are links to U.N. source document, to Dr. Pawlak’s page at ECU and a few of my earlier blogs on this topic.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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6 Responses to Money, integrity, science—and the search for the truth about food

  1. T. Colin Campbell says:

    Jim,

    I just came back from Italy and am getting caught up with my e-mail and ran across this piece. Wow! And thank you for all your compliments.

    I can only wonder what they might think when my new book comes out. It is not about scolding individuals but about redefining concepts and practices like nutrition, medicine and health. There is something really fundamental that underlays these words that I am hoping to share with all, those in favor and those opposed to our ideas.

    I just spent a few days in Vicenza, Italy (near Venice), where I was the speaker in a mostly professional audience of 650 people. Our hosts were as generous as any I’ve ever experienced–really wonderful people. Karen and I also had a chance to visit an amazing museum, Teatro Olympico, the oldest indoor theater in the world but more importantly, from my point of view, a structure built during the time of the Renaissance, reflective of that period.

    In my limited knowledge of that period, I nonetheless really became enthralled with the beginnings of the humanist philosophy and what it meant to later generations. This visit for me was amazing because, in my limited scholarship of the period (I still am just a farm boy!), I discovered that what I have come to know as the basis for nutrition, medicine and health is not only the major theme of my book, “Whole”, but also a fundamental theme or rationale for the Renaissance.

    Colin

  2. Jim – You did not mean to use the word “recanted”?

    ” rare, glowing endorsement from a legendary president of Cornell. As recanted by Dr. Campbell himself:”

    • J. Morris Hicks says:

      Thanks Bill, I appreciate your careful reading and have made the correction. Best, Jim

  3. Lester Sukenik says:

    I will be interested in the response you receive from the school’s faculty. It seems the more educated you are in the nutrition field as a teacher the less you really understand. I guess the money is more important than helping our fellow man (women) live a healthy life. Just maybe you will start a dialogue with some of these schools that will lead to a change in the right direction. I fully support your efforts and will look forward to the responses (if received?).

  4. billkranker1 says:

    J.

    We really do have an uphill battle. When I went to Dr. Pawlaks page at East Carolina, the picture above his bio shows a student on the campus and in the background is an on-campus Starbucks outlet. I am sure you may recognize the irony.

    Bill

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