Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Complain About "Sexist" Kitchen & Hollywood Mom Fear Mongers • Stacy Petty GunlockTue, 17 Nov 2015 12:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCelebrity Fear Mongers & Starbucks Snowflake Outrage • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 10 Nov 2015 15:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCelebrity Fear Mongers<p> Have you heard? It&rsquo;s a miracle you&rsquo;re alive. Killers lurk everywhere&mdash;on store shelves, in schools, in every home.</p> <p> Consider just a few of the many things we&rsquo;re told will cut your life short: bacon (well, really, all meat), sugar, soda, diet soda, plastic of any kind, your kid&rsquo;s mattress, their clothes, corn, milk, tuna, coffee, makeup, pretty much every personal care product and cleaning solution on the market, your couch, garden hoses, playgrounds, Goldfish Crackers (and pretty much all the snacks your kids love), rain coats, shower curtains (wait . . . no, those just make you fat . . . which of course, also leads to death), wine, vaccinations, modern medicine, modern agriculture, science, sunshine, happiness, joy, laughter, fun . . .</p> <p> According to one very nervous Twitter-er (Is that right? Twitterer? Twitteree, member of the Twitterati? How about we use Twit), toxins are everywhere!</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> Over 5000 personal care products contain cancer-causing toxins. See the <a href="">#greenguidebook</a> on how to protect yrslf. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Green and Prosperous (@greenprosperous) <a href="">September 24, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> She&rsquo;s right. Humans do live among toxins and all sorts of chemicals but that does not mean we&rsquo;re in danger and doomed to death by poison. Consider the fact that, right now, as you&rsquo;re reading this article, you&rsquo;re breathing in argon, neon, helium, methane, and that killer of Superman, krypton? Scary, huh! But don&rsquo;t worry. Those are just five of the ten gases that make up our atmosphere, you know, the stuff that keeps us all alive.</p> <p> Another carcinogen&mdash;sunshine&mdash;is something we all have trouble avoiding. Yet, thanks to the invention of some pretty beneficial sun blocks, clothing manufactured with UV protection, and sunglasses, we can mitigate the risks by blocking those cancer-causing rays. If we were to follow the advice of many of the alarmists who tell us to avoid all toxins at any dose, we&rsquo;d all turn into agoraphobics&mdash;too afraid to leave the house for fear of a sunny day.</p> <p> I applaud the business savvy of those who have managed to make a buck off this &ldquo;fear everything!&rdquo; trend. Jessica Alba has created an <a href="">empire</a> scaring the crap out of moms about the products they use (and their mothers used and their mother&rsquo;s mother used). Her company&rsquo;s goal is to &ldquo;help you create a safe, non-toxic, and beautiful home&rdquo; and to achieve that, one must simply purchase her overpriced (<a href="">and underperforming</a>) products. Nevermind that her products (diapers, dish soap, face cleaner) also contain the <a href="">very toxic chemicals</a> she warns about. Oops.</p> <p> Similarly, Vani Hari (The Food Babe) moans and groans about certain preservatives and additives in the foods sold in the grocery store <a href="">yet endorses</a> many organic food items that contain the very same preservatives and additives she condemns as poison.</p> <p> Another mom blogger named Robyn O&rsquo;Brien <a href="">warns</a>: &ldquo;80% of the &lsquo;foods&rsquo; on supermarket shelves today didn&rsquo;t exist 100 years ago.&rdquo; Well, yes, that&rsquo;s true. But is O&rsquo;Brien&rsquo;s analysis of supermarket inventory supposed to indicate some sort of risk of harm?</p> <p> Those who idealize the past overlook how truly difficult it was to survive 100 years ago. The empirical truth is, things have gotten measurably better since 1915. We&rsquo;re living longer than ever before; we&rsquo;re healthier and more fully informed about what it takes to stay healthy longer. Poverty is down, crime is down, and literacy is up. And when it comes to food in the grocery store, feeding one&rsquo;s family has never been easier. The food options seem endless&mdash;from out of season fruits and vegetables, fresh meat that&rsquo;s deboned and ready to cook, whole aisles dedicated to frozen and ready-made food and canned items that can be stored for months.</p> <p> <em>Downton Abbey</em> fans yearning for a romanticized past won&rsquo;t mention what was missing from store shelves in 1915, like the many over-the-counter medicines that are now common&mdash;from cold remedies and pain killers to birth control. They don&rsquo;t talk about how the laundry detergent sold in 1915 was very harsh on one&rsquo;s skin, leaving it irritated every time you used it (and one&rsquo;s favorite organic hand lotion to treat such ailments didn&rsquo;t exist either). Shampoos and soaps also left hair and skin feeling like dry hay.</p> <p> But don&rsquo;t worry, the misery won&rsquo;t last, because in 1915, peopled didn&rsquo;t live very long. Life expectancy was around 54 (the current age of Julianne Moore, George Clooney, Toby Keith, and Daryl Hannah). Women regularly died in childbirth and kids often died from diseases that we now have vaccinations to prevent. And did I mention losing teeth? Common.</p> <p> The last hundred years have witnessed unprecedented progress, thanks to the innovations that so many people demonize today. But, of course, Jessica and Robyn and the many other profiteers of fear know chemicals used properly don&rsquo;t really harm or kill. And that&rsquo;s what thousands of manufacturers do every single day&mdash;utilize chemicals in products in order to extend the shelf life, keep products safe from bacteria, make products more durable, and on and on. There&rsquo;s a reason chemicals are used: they are effective. Consumers need to keep that fact in mind when they pay premium prices for products that don&rsquo;t last as long, are fragile or don&rsquo;t do what they claim to do (for an example of this now common trend, check out the <a href=";tbm=nws">fire storm that erupted this summer</a> over Jessica Alba&rsquo;s sun block didn&rsquo;t block much of anything).</p> <p> It&rsquo;s fun to appreciate the fashions and culture of a bygone era, but we shouldn&rsquo;t lose perspective on the benefits our own modern era has brought. And we shouldn&rsquo;t listen to celebrities who try to profit from fear-mongering.</p> GunlockTue, 10 Nov 2015 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPodcast #24 • Fear and Wrong-Headed Loathing of GMOs<p> Two moms take on the anti-biotech bullies in this Working For Women Podcast. Julie Gunlock, IWF Senior Fellow, sits down with Julie Kelly, a cooking instructor, food writer, and owner of Now You&rsquo;re Cooking to discuss the alarmism surrounding the Biotech industry and the movement against GMOs. The two women debunk the false theories pushed by the organic industry and federal government. The podcast exposes the scare tactics employed by the organic industry to convince mothers that non-organic foods are harmful to children and families, when really there is no scientific backing to these arguments.</p> GunlockThu, 5 Nov 2015 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumKiller Meats & Government Intervention In The Diet Industry • Bill Meyer GunlockWed, 4 Nov 2015 11:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMandated Calorie Displays Won't "Cure" Obesity<p> The Daily Mail <a href="">reports on a new study</a> that suggests mandated menu labels would help reduce the obesity &ldquo;epidemic.&rdquo;</p> <p> But not so fast. While the study did show that restaurants that voluntarily display calorie counts offer food with fewer calories, the study did not examine human behavior. It didn&rsquo;t analyze the people actually ordered. Did they order fewer calories or did they continue to order the higher calorie items on the menu?</p> <p> Fortunately, we already know he answer to that question. Thanks to many very well respected studies (see <a href="">here</a>, <a href="">here</a> and <a href="">here</a>) that have shown that people simply ignore calorie information or, in some cases, order higher calorie items when they see their &ldquo;healthy&rdquo; choice is close in calories to a not-so-healthy option.</p> <p> So yes, this study showed the not-so-surprising trend of restaurants &ndash; particularly restaurants that display calorie information &ndash; working to look responsible and health conscience. It makes complete sense in our health-obsessed world that restaurants interested in being competitive are going to shy away from offering 3,000-plus plates of creamy pasta.</p> <p> The point is, it doesn&rsquo;t take government mandated calorie counts and menu labeling laws to make restaurants understand the need to offer healthier options or to make their entire menus healthier. Restaurants across the board are doing this and have been for years.</p> <p> Consumers have choices&mdash;they can eat at restaurants that offer calorie information and offer healthier, lower calorie options or they can choose to eat elsewhere. As consumers demand more information, restaurants that want to maintain a competitive edge will offer that information. If restaurants don&rsquo;t meet this demand, they will fail.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s the beauty of the free market.&nbsp;</p> GunlockWed, 4 Nov 2015 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBacon…Sugar…Diet Coke…Everything's a KILLER<p> Welp, another day, another scary story about delicious and enjoyable things.</p> <p> Last month, it was sugar. Last week, bacon. Today, Diet Coke.</p> <p> Drudge links to <a href="">one story</a>&nbsp;but there are many others. The headlines generated by this study are standard alarmism: &quot;DIET COKE KILLS! AHHHHH!&quot;</p> <p> But does it? Does it really? Because if so, why am I not dead? I live on Diet Coke.</p> <p> The truth is, this study found no such thing. It in no way connected Diet Coke consumption to heart disease. Instead, the study showed a &quot;correlation&quot; between consumption of Diet Coke and heart disease. In other words, those who drank at least two Diet Cokes a day had a higher chance of developing heart problems. But what the headlines and many of the stories leave out is that people who drink diet beverages tend to be overweight and obese and also fail to engage in regular exercise. So...hmmm....being overweight, being obese, failing to exercise...might those factors have something to do with that person developing heart disease? I&#39;m just spit-balling here but it seems to me that being fat and sedentary is a good way to give yourself heart disease.</p> <p> But isn&#39;t it fun to blame soda? Isn&#39;t it just so great to see your &quot;research&quot; plastered all over the pages of major newspapers. Isn&#39;t it fun to jump on the bandwagon and boo hoo about scary soda? Being a member of the anti-soda crowd is sure to help you when you apply for your next grant, right?</p> <p> Ostensibly, these researchers care about people and so they view their work as vital to humans becoming more healthy. Yet, crappy studies like this do just the opposite. Millions of Americans struggle every single day to lose weight and for many, treating themselves to a diet cola really helps steer them away from higher calorie beverages. Unfortunately now, many people will see these headlines, worry that drinking a diet soda is going to kill htem, and forgo diet colas and perhaps other sugar-free foods and beverages. Dieting will be harder. There won&#39;t be available options for them and as a result, they&#39;ll be more likely to fail on their diets and perhaps gain even more weight back.</p> <p> Perhaps an enterprising young scientist will do a study on the effects of crappy, alarmist studies on dieters&rsquo; peace of mind. Perhaps they&#39;ll find that crappy studies cause obesity, which then cause heart disease.&nbsp;</p> GunlockTue, 3 Nov 2015 10:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLet Them Eat...Candy!<p> Just in time for Halloween there&rsquo;s <a href=";alg=y">another study</a> telling parents sugar is bad for, well, just about everyone but especially kids (And did you hear? Bacon will kill you too!). While the headlines generated <a href="">by studies</a> like these <a href="">often over-hype their findings</a>, they do serve as an important reminder that parents need to play an active role in their kids&rsquo; diets and encourage healthy habits. But should parents take this study as a call to stop the tradition of Halloween trick-or-treating?</p> <p> You can almost hear the internal debate tormenting too many parents: All that sugar! But, sugar is toxic, right? And it&rsquo;s responsible for all the problems in the world, including Syria. Do I let them eat all the candy in their bags? Two pieces? Seven? What&rsquo;s the right number? Do I just let them eat until they develop an upset stomach and beg for a cracker and a ginger ale (diet, of course)? Do I tell them we&rsquo;ll dole out the candy piece by piece until it&rsquo;s gone (while I secretly throw most of it away)? Or maybe I should participate in my local dentist&rsquo;s candy confiscation program: &ldquo;C&rsquo;mon kids; you get this snazzy toothbrush when you bring in your evil, cavity-causing candy!&rdquo;</p> <p> The truth is, Halloween is a dinosaur&mdash;a relic of an era when people had some perspective and knew that there were appropriate times to let the rules&mdash;even the food rules&mdash;ease a bit and have some fun. Today&rsquo;s parents need to take a deep breath, recognize that one night of indulging in a candy feast isn&rsquo;t going to do any lasting harm, and try to enjoy a good time with their kids.</p> <p> Sadly, that&rsquo;s a tough job for many parents who are so dedicated to a set of rules about food that they&rsquo;ve developed what some psychiatrists are calling Orthorexia&mdash;an unhealthy fixation on eating healthy and consuming (or avoiding) only certain types of food. This inflexibility has made Halloween a troubling and very disruptive time for some parents.</p> <p> The fear of any unhealthy eating is being fed by many bloggers who amp up the scary messages. Take Vani Hari (known as <a href="">The Food Babe</a> who suggests on her website that handing out the familiar and much-loved candy many of us remember from our trick-or-treating days (Snickers, Reese&rsquo;s, Butterfingers, Tootsie Rolls) is tantamount to murdering children (yet somehow, we survived!). No surprise, Hari offers an alternative&mdash;the wildly expensive, hard-to-find, artisanal, organic, small-batch candy that she promotes on her popular website.</p> <p> Echoing Hari&rsquo;s hysteria, another parenting website gives tips on how to avoid <a href="">&ldquo;toxic&rdquo; Halloween candy and go GMO-free</a>. Still other mommy bloggers have re-envisioned that 70&rsquo;s trick-or-treat letdown&mdash;the penny roll&mdash;giving moms tips on how to prepare candy-free giveaways. Of course, these tips ignore the extra cost and hassle associated with these alternatives.</p> <p> <a href="">One mom blogger</a> (with a ton of time on her hands) recommends giving out cellophane bags filled with orange Legos cinched with a green ribbon on top. See what she did there? It looks like a pumpkin! The kid won&rsquo;t notice but the moms&mdash;cooing about how perfect!perfect!perfect! the treat is&mdash;surely will. And that&rsquo;s what really matters, right? Impressing the other moms. Because, who wants to look like the insensitive jerk in the neighborhood handing out poisonous candy bars?</p> <p> Perhaps some moms are up to the task of creating these crafty handouts, but others have laundry to do, homework to help with, dinner to prepare, and other things that take time and energy. They should know it&rsquo;s okay to opt for the cheap bag of candy.</p> <p> Even certain Debbie Downer businesses are capitalizing on alarmism. Chipotle&mdash;well known for their alarmist marketing strategies&mdash;has altered their popular Halloween Boorito promotion ($3-off a burrito if you come in wearing a costume). This Halloween, say goodbye to Halloween fun and say hello to political ideology. To get your cheap burrito, you&rsquo;ll need to &ldquo;add something unnecessary to your costume&rdquo; to coincide with the company&rsquo;s &ldquo;unnecessary ingredients in fast food are creepy&rdquo; message. Nothing says celebrate like making your customers promote your dystopian food message.</p> <p> Despite these messages, there are some good and valuable lessons to be eked out of a night dedicated to eating large quantities of sugar. First, kids tend to work pretty hard for their candy and most kids understand that being polite will get you more loot. Second, trick-or-treating requires walking&mdash;usually long distances. It seems a fine message to allow a kid to indulge if it&rsquo;s coupled with some calorie-burning activity. Third, stomach aches will happen and that&rsquo;s one sure fire way to drive home the consequences of overdoing it. The adult version of this phenomenon is called a hangover, which for generations has helped people keep control. Kids get this lesson a little earlier&mdash;after doing the equivalent of a keg stand with corn syrup.</p> <p> While it may seem provocative to say so, Halloween may just be the healthiest of holidays because the message it conveys is clear: There&rsquo;s a proper place and appropriate times for candy and a bit of celebration. Halloween and other holidays and events&mdash;like a child&rsquo;s birthday&mdash;where food and sugar-filled sweets are central to the celebration don&rsquo;t cause childhood obesity.</p> <p> But they do cause happiness and joy and fun and those things are important for kids too.</p> GunlockFri, 30 Oct 2015 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat the Halloween culture is doing to little girls' costumes • Conservative Commandos GunlockWed, 28 Oct 2015 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWHO Report Links Bacon, Sausage, Processed Meats to Cancer • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 27 Oct 2015 07:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMore Baloney About Processed Meat and Cancer<p> Watch out Paleo and low carb diet devotees&mdash;you might look good, but according to the World Health Organization, you&rsquo;re going to die of cancer, like yesterday.</p> <p> <a href="">According to story in The Washington Post</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too.</p> <p> The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States.</p> </blockquote> <p> Look, this stuff has been haunting the halls of the temples to diet and health for years. Led primarily by animal rights and anti-meat groups, the theory that there&rsquo;s a connection between cancer and the consumption of processed meat is nothing new.</p> <p> So, let&rsquo;s break it down. Is there any truth to this latest alarmist claim?</p> <p> Well, the studies do not&hellip;DO NOT, show causation. Causation means there is a link between a certain habit and a disease. That has not been found with this WHO study. Instead, the researchers say there&#39;s an &ldquo;association&rdquo; or &ldquo;correlation&rdquo; between meat consumption and cancer.</p> <p> Knowing that the WHO study found an association is important because it&rsquo;s easy to find associations and correlations between certain behaviors and diseases. And that&rsquo;s the point. These studies are often limited because we simply don&rsquo;t know all the habits of the people in the study&mdash;habits that might have more to do with the person developing cancer.</p> <p> Consider a<a href=""> 2013 study that came to the same conclusions</a>. In that study, researchers, writing in the journal BMC Medicine, said the method of preserving meat (think luncheon meat, sausages) &ldquo;may&rdquo; damage health. Yet, according to this same study, &quot;...people who ate a lot of processed meat were also more likely to smoke, be obese and have other behaviors known to damage health.&quot;</p> <p> Okay, super. So, really the study concluded that if you&#39;re unhealthy, you&#39;ll die. Great. Got it. News to me!</p> <p> Of course, <a href="">media reports at the time </a>said the researchers accounted for those risk factors but found that processed meat still damaged health. So, how much of this processed meat does one need to ingest for it to damage health?</p> <blockquote> <p> ...those eating more than 160g of processed meat a day - roughly two sausages and a slice of bacon - were 44% more likely to die over a typical follow-up time of 12.7 years than those eating about 20g.</p> </blockquote> <p> Uh, eating sausage <em>and</em> (and, not or) bacon every day of your life might cause you to die earlier than those who didn&#39;t indulge in a bacon and sausage filled breakfast?</p> <p> Shocking!</p> <p> Yet again, we have a scientific study that purports to prove things that most people consider common sense. If you eat bacon and sausage every day, if you are obese, if you smoke, or practice other behaviors &quot;known to damage health&quot;;ll DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and die earlier than the kale and quinoa eaters.</p> <p> So, I guess the lesson with this latest study is one should enjoy that occasional baloney sandwich or bacon and eggs, but perhaps don&rsquo;t make those items the backbone of your diet.</p> <p> <strong>UPDATE</strong>: Just read <a href="">this excellent piece</a> explaining relative risk of eating that baloney sandwich. Check it out for some calming perspective.</p> GunlockMon, 26 Oct 2015 11:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFeminists’ Latest Cause? The Battle Against “Sexist Kitchens”<p> This week, <em>Suffragette</em>&mdash;a period drama about the women&rsquo;s suffrage movement in England in the early 20th century&mdash;opens in American theaters. The movie is sure to be a big hit, with its cast of A-list actors including Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan, who just last year played another feminist icon, Bathsheba Everdene, in the latest <a href="">adaptation</a> of Thomas Hardy&rsquo;s <em>Far From the Madding Crowd</em>.</p> <p> <em>Suffragette</em> is already getting rave reviews. <em>The Guardian</em> <a href="">called</a> it a &ldquo;forthright, heartfelt, red-blooded drama&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> The movie comes at a good time. We could all use a reminder of the challenges and true suffering experienced by the early feminists, especially after watching today&rsquo;s prominent feminist leaders&mdash;too often an unhappy and distracted pack of women who have officially run out of things to complain about. Need proof? Look no further than the suggestion that the design of the American kitchen is sexist.</p> <p> In an <a href="">article</a> for <em>Quartz</em>, author Rachel Z. Arndt is outraged about what she considers sexism in kitchen design, writing: &ldquo;Today&rsquo;s kitchens may have more machines, but they remain abuzz with structured and artificial femininity, from aprons to pink Kitchen Aids.&rdquo;</p> <p> First of all, aprons are a practicality, not a weapon of the male patriarchy. Perhaps Ms. Arndt doesn&rsquo;t cook because if she did, she&rsquo;d know that real cooking (no, opening your trendy Blue Apron box, boiling the contents, and Instragramming the results, does not count as cooking!) gets a little messy. (Although if you go to a nearby restaurant for a takeout meal you might also have to battle a new patriarchal scourge: <a href="">&ldquo;sandwich sexism&rdquo;</a> ).</p> <p> As a matter of habit, I always wear an old, tattered, white apron in the kitchen. It serves as a towel, a potholder and protects me from the splatters that always seem to happen. While Ms. Arndt might think I use aprons because I like to play the perfect Donna Reed role for my oppressive husband, the real reason I like aprons is that I hate laundry.</p> <p> Second, as for that pink Kitchen Aid mixer? Well, yes, they do exist. I agree that&rsquo;s troubling, but only from a home d&eacute;cor standpoint. Kitchen Aid provides consumers a plethora of color choices. Does the fact that they provide steel gray, black, blue, and brown indicate a preference for men and their color wheel choices? Of course not. Kitchen Aid is simply providing people with choices. Ms. Arndt is confusing bad taste with sexism.</p> <p> But Ms. Arndt goes beyond attacking the sexism of specific kitchen accessories. She says the entirety of the kitchen&rsquo;s set up&mdash;from the counter height to the cabinet design&mdash;is just another way to keep us down and at the very least gravely inconvenienced.</p> <p> Her main gripe seems to be the standardization of kitchen design&mdash;a trend that occurred in the 1930s at the same time women&rsquo;s clothing was undergoing a transformation from custom-made clothing to standard sizing. To millions of women, this signaled progress as manufactures could begin producing products&mdash;including kitchen cabinets, counters, and appliances&mdash;at reduced price. But Ms. Arndt romanticizes the past and laments this progress, saying, &ldquo;Until the 1930s, kitchen-surface heights, like clothing, varied as people did, with kitchens and clothes matching the women in them, rather than the other way around.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet, Ms. Arndt fails to understand that the vast majority of kitchens built prior to standardization weren&rsquo;t all that desirable. In these so-called customized kitchens, space was tight and often wasted, storage was nonexistent, and large counter spaces for prepping meals was a thing not yet imagined.</p> <p> And Ms. Arndt might also consider another thing that&rsquo;s common in older homes&mdash;small closets. The reason? People simply didn&rsquo;t have much because the type of clothing that was made specifically for you and your body type was more expensive to produce, meaning people could afford only a small wardrobe. Ergo, small closets.</p> <p> Many feminists wonder why so many American women reject the term &ldquo;feminism&rdquo; and claim not to be feminists. Perhaps the superfluous nature of the issues tackled by today&rsquo;s modern feminists&mdash;like sexist kitchens&mdash;is the reason women have rejected it.</p> GunlockThu, 22 Oct 2015 07:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Government's Sour Advice on Milk Consumption<p> I pack my kids&rsquo; lunches every day because I believe I&rsquo;m better at nutrition than the U.S. Government. But there&rsquo;s another reason I do it&mdash;school-provided meals simply don&rsquo;t contain enough dietary fat&mdash;especially after Michelle Obama&rsquo;s school lunch &ldquo;reforms&rdquo; were implemented. And it&rsquo;s not just with the bland food being served (lunch ladies aren&rsquo;t allowed to use butter and other flavorings&mdash;like olive oil, cheese, etc.--on the vegetables served on the hot lunch line); kids can&rsquo;t get full-fat milk. According to the <a href="">National Milk Producers Federation</a>, whole milk is banned in schools:</p> <blockquote> <p> &hellip; the new standards allow only for low-fat (1 percent) or fat-free plain milk or fat-free flavored milk in the school meal programs. The rule no longer allows schools to offer whole milk or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk or low-fat flavored milk as part of the reimbursable meal.</p> </blockquote> <p> What&rsquo;s frustrating about this school lunch rule is that kids actually need dietary fat. Dietary fat helps kids absorb other key nutrients in the food they eat. Milk is particularly important because it contains calcium, potassium and vitamin D. And the calcium in milk also helps kids bone health, which is particularly important when they&rsquo;re growing. Of course, kids aren&rsquo;t going to get these critical nutrients if they refuse to drink milk&mdash;which is precisely what&rsquo;s happening because better-tasting whole milk isn&rsquo;t being offered. In fact, since the 1970s, milk consumption in the United States has dropped 36 percent.</p> <p> This is a troubling sign. In a July 2013 article published in <a href="">JAMA Pediatrics</a>, doctors from Boston Children&#39;s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health criticized schools for offering low-fat milk over whole milk, <a href="">saying</a> that there&rsquo;s never been strong evidence that skim milk leads to better outcomes.</p> <p> And now, a <a href="">new story in the Washington Post</a> highlights how for years the feds have been giving Americans bad advice about milk (emphasis mine).</p> <blockquote> <p> U.S. dietary guidelines have long recommended that people steer clear of whole milk, and for decades, Americans have obeyed. Whole milk sales shrunk. It was banned from school lunch programs. Purchases of low-fat dairy climbed.</p> <p> &ldquo;Replace whole milk and full-fat milk products with fat-free or low-fat choices,&rdquo; says the the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government&#39;s influential advice book, citing the role of dairy fat in heart disease.</p> <p> Whether this massive shift in eating habits has made anyone healthier is an open question among scientists, however. <strong><em>In fact, research published in recent years indicates that the opposite might be true: millions might have been better off had they stuck with whole milk.</em></strong></p> <p> Scientists who tallied diet and health records for several thousand patients over ten years found, for example, that contrary to the government advice, people who consumed more milk fat had lower incidence of heart disease.</p> <p> By warning people against full-fat dairy foods, the U.S. is &ldquo;losing a huge opportunity for the prevention of disease,&rdquo; said Marcia Otto, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas, and the lead author of large studies published in 2012 and 2013, which were funded by government and academic institutions, not the industry. &ldquo;What we have learned over the last decade is that certain foods that are high in fat seem to be beneficial.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> The Post reporter then <a href="">asks this important question</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> It also has raised questions about the scientific foundations of the government&rsquo;s diet advice: To what extent did the federal government, and the diet scientists they relied upon, go wrong? When the evidence is incomplete on a dietary question, should the government refrain from making recommendations?</p> </blockquote> <p> Ya think?</p> <p> When it comes to dietary guidelines, I wish I could provide the same advice I give when it comes to how people should respond to health nuts&mdash;ignore them. But it&rsquo;s important for taxpayers to understand that the Dietary Guidelines have a huge impact on food policy in America. These guidelines determine how SNAP benefits are allocated, how the school lunch program is managed and what kids eat, and how our military feeds its soldiers. These guidelines are important which is why they need to be based on the best nutrition information&mdash;not politics. And they shouldn&rsquo;t be used to push certain agendas.</p> <p> But more importantly, these guidelines should not inform the average American&rsquo;s diet choices. Talk to your doctor, consult with a nutritionist, do your research. Just don&rsquo;t rely on Uncle Sam for diet tips.</p> GunlockWed, 21 Oct 2015 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMiddle School Elections Not Valid Due To Lack Of Diversity • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 20 Oct 2015 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumKids rebel against bland foods in lunch line: Time for a 'pasta exemption'? <p> ATLANTA &mdash; Even after some 4,700 guiding documents from the United States Department of Agriculture on the country&rsquo;s new experiment with healthier school lunches, the nation seems to have once again failed to advance a century-long effort to get kids to eat their peas.</p> <p> Five years after Congress passed the Healthy Hungry-Free Kids Act, an offshoot of first lady Michelle Obama&rsquo;s &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s Move!&rdquo; campaign aimed at curbing childhood obesity, participation in school lunches across the US has declined by 4 percent &ndash; or 1.5 million kids &ndash; food wastage has gone up, and growing numbers of lunch rooms are operating in the red.</p> <p> A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released this week blamed dwindling amounts of salt and butter fats in the new federal recipes for the decline in participation, concluding that &ldquo;it is unlikely that children will be easily motivated to continue to eat foods they find unappealing.&rdquo;</p> <p> School lunches have been the subject of jokes, snickers, and outright mockery since at least the 1980s, when federal regulations were proposed that would have classified ketchup and relish packets as &ldquo;vegetables.&rdquo; The resulting controversy roared for just over two weeks &ndash; when President Reagan stepped in personally to cancel the program &ndash; but many Gen Xers still talk about the days when ketchup was a vegetable.</p> <p> So, the US Congress again faces the existential question of how to make healthy food palatable to picky eaters. (And if they figure it out, could they please let parents of toddlers in on the secret?) The core question for the new school menu as it faces reauthorization hearings next year is straightforward: Should good nutrition be mandated from on high or coaxed into foods that kids like? As Rep. Kristi Noem (R) of South Dakota said earlier this year: Kids &ldquo;deserve a school meal program &hellip; that includes food that they&rsquo;re actually going to eat.&rdquo;</p> <p> But &quot;food they&#39;re actually going to eat&quot; has been the holy grail of lunchroom cuisine since almost the first American child picked up the first cafeteria tray.</p> <p> <strong>Celebrating 121 years of hairnets</strong></p> <p> The first school lunch programs started in Boston in 1894.&nbsp;No word on how long it took for the first complaint to follow, but&nbsp;Harvey Levenstein, author of &quot;Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet,&quot; writes that the founders&rsquo; efforts to teach kids the &ldquo;new nutrition&rdquo; largely failed.</p> <p> About 50 years ago, a federal survey found that &ldquo;if 20 million school children had their druthers, the federal school lunch program might serve only hot dogs, hamburgers, steak, fried chicken, desserts, bread and rolls,&rdquo; as the Los Angeles Times wrote in 1968.</p> <p> To be sure, the GAO report found that many children&rsquo;s taste buds are adjusting to the new menus. &ldquo;It makes you feel better,&rdquo; Lexi Atzen, a senior, says in a USDA video on the new menu. &ldquo;When you eat good foods you feel a lot better about yourself, you feel a lot better just in general.&rdquo;</p> <p> Moreover, it&rsquo;s mostly children who pay full price for lunch (usually around $3) that are leaving the program, whereas participation among kids who receive free lunch &ndash; the core target group for Mrs. Obama&rsquo;s gambit &ndash; has actually inched up.</p> <p> For its part, the USDA, which is tasked with setting the guidelines that districts have to follow to receive federal reimbursement, says &ndash; rather bravely, one might add &ndash; that the palatability problem is more &ldquo;lack of culinary training&rdquo; among US cafeteria workers than lower salt and fat requirements. (Many school districts reported that lunch lady morale is in the dumps under the new regime, because, as every parent knows, it hurts to watch kids throw away food you spent hours preparing.)</p> <p> On top of that, there is, in fact, evidence that the federal one-size-fits all approach to a better diet is not ideal. For one, the push this year to serve only whole wheat grains meant lots of pasta went uneaten, as the whole wheat variety quickly began &ldquo;to lose structural integrity,&rdquo; which made it &ldquo;unappealing to students,&rdquo; as the GAO wrote. Worse, the new menu has put de facto bans on some regional food choices that kids actually liked. Kids in some North Carolina lunch rooms almost revolted after popular chicken biscuits were discontinued, given that it&rsquo;s scientifically impossible to make a righteous Southern biscuit with 100 percent whole wheat flour.</p> <p> For now, the USDA says it&rsquo;s allowing school districts to file for a &ldquo;temporary pasta exemption&rdquo; as kids get used to the whole wheat versions.</p> <p> <strong>Potato chip black market</strong></p> <p> But meanwhile, the GAO found that many students are simply bypassing the new dictums by sneaking salt and pepper shakers onto campus, even creating a clandestine market for potato chips. Technology has added pizzazz to the age-old lunch line complaints. Some students are Tweeting sad-looking lunch trays with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a black market,&quot;&nbsp;says Julie Gunlock, who directs the Culture of Alarmism Project at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum in Washington, joking about &quot;kids with trench coats lined with potato chips and other things they can&rsquo;t get at school.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;God bless innovation and entrepreneurialism, but that&rsquo;s not the goal of reforming the school lunch program,&quot; says Ms. Gunlock. &quot;It was intended to get kids to eat their veggies because they like them, but instead it&rsquo;s created a culture where kids are disgusted by the food because they&rsquo;re not allowed to flavor it. So, it&rsquo;s had an opposite effect, and created a much bigger problem.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> The debate over the new federal school lunch program revolves around fundamental differences not just in culinary, but political, world views. As New York University sociologist Marion Nestle, author of &ldquo;Food Politics,&rdquo; writes in an e-mail: This pushback against new school menus &ldquo;is about politics, not salt.&rdquo;</p> <p> Professor Nestle posits that the pushback to the new menu is fueled by the large food conglomerates that provide much of the prepared foods to cafeterias across the country.</p> <p> And at the end of the day, it&rsquo;s pretty hard to quibble with the first lady&rsquo;s motivation: To raise overall nutrient levels in government-funded foods to offset bad food habits.</p> <p> But for critics like Rep. Reid Ribble (R) of Wisconsin, the &quot;federalized&quot; approach to enforcing good nutrition is counterproductive.</p> <p> &ldquo;Healthy eating has more to do with what children like and how you can help shape those tastes than it is with some policy decision,&rdquo; he told a Hudson Institute seminar earlier this year. He added that he &ldquo;never ate&rdquo; broccoli as a kid, but that, &ldquo;I like it now as an adult, but it has to be prepared with lots of Wisconsin cheese on it.&rdquo;</p> <p> In other words, tastes thankfully change. The enduring struggle between adults and children over that blob of green on the corner of the plate, however, isn&rsquo;t likely to end any time soon.</p> <p> Indeed, the GAO report confirmed once again that, despite everybody&rsquo;s best efforts, the vast majority of school children still won&#39;t eat their legumes. That&#39;s peas to you.</p> GunlockFri, 16 Oct 2015 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum