Re-inventing Nutritional Science. First step is “Un-Learning.”

Even the best and brightest still think there’s a “need” for animal protein.

Jo Robinson's new book

Jo Robinson’s new book

This blog was inspired by a New York Times article entitled, “Breeding the nutrition out of our food.” (Jo Robinson, 5-25-13, see link below). Her article got me to thinking about the enormous challenge we face—in getting our field of nutritional science and medicine back on the right track.

It’s a daunting task and will take decades. And who’s going to lead it? The nutritional scientists will be in the lead someday—but not anytime soon. I believe that it begins with consumer acceptance of the overwhelming preponderance of evidence supporting the “whole foods, plant-based” diet for humans.

The benefits are enormous. It prevents cancer. It reverses heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It consumes 90% less land, water and energy for the same number of calories. I mean, really, what more do we need? We need our experts to start getting it right, and Ms. Robinson got a lot of things right in her article, beginning with:

WE like the idea that food can be the answer to our ills, that if we eat nutritious foods we won’t need medicine or supplements. We have valued this notion for a long, long time. The Greek physician Hippocrates proclaimed nearly 2,500 years ago: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Today, medical experts concur. If we heap our plates with fresh fruits and vegetables, they tell us, we will come closer to optimum health.

usdaShe went on to explain what has been happening to the nutrients in our food since humans began to farm over 10,000 years ago. She points out how the first GMOs hit our grocery shelves in 1961 and then shared this very troubling information:

The United States Department of Agriculture exerts far more effort developing disease-resistant fruits and vegetables than creating new varieties to enhance the disease resistance of consumers. In fact, I’ve interviewed U.S.D.A. plant breeders who have spent a decade or more developing a new variety of pear or carrot without once measuring its nutritional content.

Grass fed beef---NOT a health food.

Grass fed beef—NOT a health food.

But no sense of urgency. While Ms. Robinson’s excellent article revealed much of what is wrong with our system, it did little to change it. In fact, even she seems to believe the old “protein myth” that we “need” to eat animal protein to be healthy. She states:

Experiment with using large quantities of mild-tasting fresh herbs. Add one cup of mixed chopped Italian parsley and basil to a pound of ground grass-fed beef or poultry to make “herb-burgers.” Herbs bring back missing phytonutrients and a touch of wild flavor as well.

The Bottom Line.  No doubt Ms. Robinson is right about the way we’ve bred most of the nutrients out of our food. Even so, the whole foods, plant-based diet that is still available today is capable of promoting health, reducing obesity and reversing heart disease. The good news is that we can all take charge of our health TODAY—even with the food choices that are out there NOW. Here’s an example on Amtrak:

Hot oatmeal, nuts and fresh banana on Amtrak

Hot oatmeal, nuts and fresh banana on Amtrak — $3.50

As I draft this blog from Amtrak 183 to Baltimore, I am sitting in the Cafe Car and just enjoyed a hot bowl of oatmeal with nuts and fresh banana for $3.50. And, over the weekend, four of us dined at the Salt Creek Grille in Rumson, NJ. We had a few drinks and kept ordering sides of things like roasted asparagus and sweet potato fries until we were full. Not quite a 4Leaf meal, but a great deal healthier than ALL of the entrees on the menu.

Definitely NOT one of Mr. Buffett's favorite foods.

Healthy eating in mainstream restaurants is possible. I always go immediately to the sides.

So, as more of us begin to demand a greater variety of WFPB on the menu, the food industry will respond, animals will be saved by the billions and eventually our special interests-controlled Congress will be forced to put our dietary guidelines under an agency whose number one priority is the health of our citizens.

Only then will our descendants be able to bring our human species back to living in harmony with our planet. As Dr. Campbell states in his new book, Whole, “No less than our future as a species hangs in the balance.”

What about the un-learning? Changing the “system” is going to take decades. And it will be driven by a brand new kind of thinking about nutrition—the kind of thinking that Dr. Campbell described in his new book. Sadly, Colin is among a tiny handful of nutritional scientists whose brain is not imprisoned by the narrow, reductionist thinking that dominates the field today. As the “un-learning” of the old begins and the “whole” thinking begins, it could take fifty years before our government, schools of nutrition & medicine, and food companies get it right.

I am thrilled that Dr. Campbell endorsed our book on page 167 and that our mutual publisher, BenBella, placed a full page ad for Healthy Eating, Healthy World in one of the last few pages of the book.

I am thrilled that Dr. Campbell endorsed our book on page 167 and that our mutual publisher, BenBella, placed a full page ad for “Healthy Eating, Healthy World” in one of the last few pages of the book. To purchase, see link at left.

Meanwhile, we need to do our best to tell people exactly what they should be eating NOW—and it doesn’t include the grass fed beef and free-range chickens referred to in the article. Other than that bit of confusion, it’s an excellent article.

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

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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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 Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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—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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5 Responses to Re-inventing Nutritional Science. First step is “Un-Learning.”

  1. Joanne Irwin says:

    One change desperately needed is to elect Congressional leaders with ethics, openness and intelligence who refuse to be strangled and held captive by the tentacles of Big Agra and Big Pharma. (Are there such beings???) Probably wishful thinking on my part.
    Change is slowly ‘blowin’ in the wind’, but we need to keep repeating the mantra with everyone we know…..people we meet, restaurants we eat at, writing letters to the Editor, teaching, etc.
    Often, it’s not what we say, but who we are, how we appear, how we model energy, zest and vitality. A picture is worth a thousand words and I’m frequently asked, “Where do you get your energy from?” You, in my plant based family, know my answer. Some, however, would sacrifice that gift in favor of the SAD way of eating.
    Some might think that we’re waging a losing battle, but I don’t believe that. Remember, whatever we believe and can conceive, WE CAN achieve!!
    Keep smiling, hoping, and being the change we want to realize!

  2. Salvatore Liggieri says:


    Roasted asparagus, sweet potato fries . . . tell me JIm were these prepared without oil?

    WFPB foods still a well kept secret? No one I talk to has ever heard of Hicks, McDougall, Fuhrman, Barnard, Campbell, Esselstyn, Novick and the list can go on and on.

    I’m wondering how many people have been influenced by these learned experts. Visiting any supermarket, I would say none. I know in preaching McDougall for the last thirty five years, I have influenced no one in my family of thirty five and in my circle of friends and aquaintences only one.

    That is progress!

  3. T Colin Campbell says:

    Right on point! This is the problem in a nutshell.

    • Jackie Pekar says:

      It’s amazing to me how people are STILL so such in food myths. When I tell people (family) that I’m eating this way, they say things like…well, I hope your combining foods (like rice and beans) so you get a complete protein! When I answer that veggies, grains, etc ARE complete they tell me no they’re not! Whew…I always refer them to this site, your site, McDougall’s site and others like it. They try to argue with me but I just smile and say…look it up yourself! They won’t and that’s what makes me saddest. Like Dr. Phil says…you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy? Sigh…

  4. Jackie Pekar says:

    I’ve been reading “Whole” and it’s excellent! I think it might have to go in your kit!

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