An error that has caused more deaths than all of our nation’s wars
As Dr. T. Colin Campbell told us in The China Study in 2005, the nutritional work of Senator George McGovern was ahead of its time—and could have had profound beneficial effects on our nation’s chronic diseases in the three + decades since his original ideas were rejected and even labeled “fraudulent” by subsequent meat & dairy-controlled nutritional information committees. Here’s the heading from Wikipedia on this visionary leader:
George Stanley McGovern (July 19, 1922 – October 21, 2012) was an American historian, author and U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election.
A little background from The China Study:
In 1976, Senator George McGovern had convened a committee that drafted dietary goals recommending decreased consumption of fatty animal foods and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables because of their effects on heart disease. The first draft of this report, linking heart disease and food, caused such an uproar that a major revision was required before it was released for publication.
In a personal conversation McGovern told me that he and five other powerful senators from agricultural states lost their respective elections in 1980 in part because they had dared to take on the animal foods industry.
A few years later, in a meeting of the new Public Nutrition Information Committee, McGovern’s earlier work was labeled as fraudulent. From The China Study, Dr. Campbell writes:
As I scanned the list of so-called frauds, I was stunned to see the 1977 McGovern dietary goals on the list. First drafted in 1976, these relatively modest goals suggested that less meat and fat consumption and more fruit and vegetable consumption might prevent heart disease. In this proposed news release, they were described as nothing more than simple quackery, just like the widely condemned Laetrile and pangamic acid preparations. In essence, the recommendation to shift our eating habits to more fruits and vegetables and whole grains was a fraud. This was the committee’s attempt to demonstrate their ability to be the supreme arbiter of reliable scientific information!
It’s been just over a year since Mark Bittman visited with the ailing Senator (ten months before his death) and then published a revealing article in the New York Times on 12-6-11. It was entitled “The Wisdom of George McGovern” and touched on many of the unfortunate nutritional errors of our federal government. From the article (See link below), these two paragraphs tell the incredible story of how Mr. McGovern had the knowledge forty years ago to head off our emerging obesity crisis.
By the ‘70s, the food industry found a more profitable way to use “excess” corn, converting it to high fructose corn syrup — the cheap sweetener that is in large part responsible for the subsequent obesity crisis. McGovern was early in seeing that problem too: he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, which initially advised Americans in 1977 to eat less meat and fewer dairy products for the sake of health. To the chagrin of agribusiness, sales of meat, dairy and eggs dropped.
Intense lobbying followed, and the dietary goals were soon revised to say that consumers should “Choose meats, poultry, and fish which will reduce saturated fat intake.” (This was not the only battle McGovern lost, of course.) Note the shift of emphasis from food (“eat less meat”) to nutrients (“eat less saturated fat”), an unnecessary muddling of the issues that has benefited industry at the expense of health and the environment.
The Bottom Line. Just imagine the lives that could have been saved if we had only listened to George McGovern’s “wisdom” back in the 70’s. Just as the obesity epidemic began, he was the lone voice in the wilderness who understood why it was about to happen and what we could do about it.
But we didn’t listen, and that obesity has resulted in a nation with an obese and sick populace—with no apparent end in sight. But there are a few glimmers of hope on the horizon:
- Bill Clinton. We now have a former President who knows that George McGovern was right—and our former president is living proof that it works.
- Barack Obama. We now have a sitting president that truly “gets it” about food and is about to begin his all-important second term—the one when he doesn’t have to worry about getting elected again. In this earlier blog, there is a 4-minute video illustrating our president’s knowledge about food and links to a few other blogs devoted to what he might do during his second term: Did you know that Obama really “gets it” about food?
Maybe Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama can team up and change how the world looks at food during the next four years. Their former elder statesman from South Dakota would be so proud if they did. In yesterday’s blog, read about the need for some Lincoln-esque type of vision, leadership and determination. Lincoln. A special man. A special leader. A special time.
Please see Dr. Colin Campbell’s comment below; he ends with this statement, “McGovern at about that same time told me that of all the things he did during his career, he was most proud of his organizing those committee hearings on diet and health in 1975-1977.”
Today is my 675th consecutive daily blog, a streak will end in 55 days—after two full years of daily blogging. But don’t worry; all of my previous work will remain here for your convenience and I will continue to post blogs several times a month.
But my primary focus will be a full-time effort to help selected corporate clients implement food-focused wellness initiatives aimed at promoting health and slashing the cost of health care in businesses.
- Mark Bittman’s article. The Wisdom of George McGovern – NYTimes.com
- Yesterday’s blog, Lincoln Leadership. Lincoln. A special man. A special leader. A special time.
- From Dr. McDougall’s October 2012 newsletter. George McGovern’s Legacy: The Dietary Goals for the United States
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
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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