Organic Style magazine
am the author of two health books and run a consumer-information website
(www.bodyfueling.com) covering health, environmental, and animals rights
issues. I have no diets to sell; I advocate for people to understand the
basic science of how the human body works so that they can sort trendy
hype from sensible information.
Organic Style, I thought at last Id found a magazine with integrity
that covered healthy living from a perspective of genuine social and environmental
concern. Then I opened my January/February 2004 issue and found the sales
pitch by Maria Rodale promoting the South Beach diet. I am disgusted by
this on several counts.
column is full of misinformation, sloppy assumptions and groundless assertions--blithely
offered as fact. She cites potatoes and rice as bad carbohydrates
and processed food, and lists meats among unprocessed
foods. Huh? These ideas have no basis (other than pop-diet books);
they are merely the whimsical hearsay of the low-carb movement, which
although undeniably popular is still little more than a cult.
most anti-carb proponents, Rodale dismally fails to distinguish between
simple and complex carbohdyates, tossing out healthy complex grains with
the simple-sugar bathwater. She lumps potatoes and rice in with sweets,
and tars all bread with the same brush. And fruit--a crucial source of
nutrients and natural disease-fighting phytochemicals--is cast as a fiend.
She mixes just enough fact with fiction to sound halfway credible. (Of
course excesses of white sugar/white flour and alcohol are unhealthy,
sure vegetables are nourishing, and whole foods most nutritious.) The
uneducated layperson may not be able to distinguish these few facts from
the unsubstantiated bunk.
is no lifestyle. It is a restrictive regimen like any weight-loss
diet. Slicing out bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and even a glass of wine
or an organic Ginger-o is no life I would want--nor would anyone I know.
Wiping out an entire macronutrient category is not sustainable, pleasurable,
holistic, or healthy. Its unreasonable, obsessive and misses the
point. And its unnecessary.
tagging an entire food group bad carb is not only irresponsible,
but childish simplism (the tone is one step removed from bread is
naughty and rice is a no-no! Broad, general good/bad
labels are always a telltale hallmark of dieting mentality.
South Beach diet on the whole does not promote the consumption of fresh
whole foods, as Rodale misleadingly enthuses with the zeal of the newly
converted. Like its many carb-demonizing counterparts, this diet demands
massive protein consumption, most of which is encouraged in the form of
meat and other animal products (as Rodale cites, meat, fish, fowl,
) . Aside from countless other faults that should
discourage their consumption, these foods are anything but unprocessed.
(Her grandfather railed against processed foods? What would
he say about factory farms?)
in this piece are as glaring as the inconsistencies and errors. This unrestrained
espousal of protein and fat excludes dozens of compelling facts about
human and environmental health. Im disappointed that a magazine
with your charter allows such dietmongering without at least a counterpoint
citing the well-substantiated damages.
you must condemn a food group, why attack the one with so little legitimate
evidence against it--and then campaign for the one with all the health
and environmental minuses? Why spare the meat/dairy category
any confrontation, when it is indisputably destroying public health and
the planet at equally staggering rates? To denounce grains and extol the
virtues of meat must be either politically-driven hypocrisy or plain stupidity.
is it noted that the main reason these diets ever succeed--temporarily--is
because they are low-calorie, regardless of food source, and particularly
deprive the body of the fuel it most needs to run (carbohydrate). Starving
the body of what it needs IS by definition a weight loss diet.
The long-term health effects are disregarded. Rodale fails to discuss
how depriving the body of essental carbohydrate causes muscle loss, slowed
metabolism, and in severe cases a ketogenic state that can stress or even
damage kidneys. She misses the concept of true fat loss vs. indiscriminate
weight loss, harping on pounds as if that tells
us anything. (Woo hoo--shes lost ten pounds! Of what?) Body weight
never was relevant to health or fitness, yet Organic Style helps to encourage
this fallacious obsession.
allow lavish support for a meat-centric diet--but neglect to note the
1.5 million deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke every year, in
which animal fats and meat play an *overwhelmingly* established role.
Mainsteam and alternative health authorities agree on this, supported
by thousands of reputable studies. A diet comprised almost entirely of
meat and dairy products represents job security for cardiologists and
poultry, pork, dairy and even fish are all strongly implicated in Americas
top three killers (and other diseases). This is attributable to the excesses
of saturated fat, chemicals, hormones, pollution, infection, and drugs
involved. Foodborne illnesses, the vast majority meat-related, also sicken
38.6 million Americans annually (and kill 2,700). Diets high in animal
protein have been firmly linked to osteoporosis and diabetes as well.
A diet emphasizing flesh and dairy foods is nearly devoid of fiber and
is another giant omission: ALL animal food production is rapaciously destructive
to our planet. Where is your purported environmental sensibility? This
selfish, short-sighted infomercial ignores the fact that animal food production
is an environmental disaster with wide-ranging and catastrophic consequences.
fast weight loss means more to you than the 190 trillion quarts of methane
gas released annually by the worlds 1.3 billion head of cattle.
(This is the second-most significant contributor to the greenhouse effect,
after carbon dioxide.) Fast weight loss must be more pertinent than the
87,000 pounds of excrement per second produced by livestock raised for
food in the U.S. (This pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial
sources combined.) Does it befit your name to ignore that more than a
third of all raw materials and fossil fuels consumed in the U.S. are used
in animal food production? Or that making a pound of meat demands 2,500
to 6,000 pounds of water (compared to the 25 pounds of water used to grow
a pound of wheat or potatoes)? Half the rainforests in the world have
been destroyed in the service of hamburger. I could go on for pages--there
are entire books filled with statistics such as these.
Organic Style is supposed to favor issues of social justice, how can you
forget that every pound of beef we consume diverts 16 pounds of grain
to cattle feed--an insult to a world plagued by hunger and malnutrition?
And millions of miserable animals die every day for food production, after
enduring outrageous, indescribable cruelties. This merciless carnage doesnt
seem to suit your title either. The style must count for more
than the organic.
Animal food consumption is a health nightmare, an environmental travesty,
and barbarically inhumane. Yet you advocate it in your pages because it
*supposedly* helps people lose a few pounds--as if there aren't
proven ways that are better for everything and everyone! But hey, anything
for a buck and to lose a few pounds fast, right? Money and weight loss
may be the two greatest American dreams. Here you serve both masters.
sunny weight-loss ad disregards ALL of the above-described issues, which
I can assure you are extremely germane to the eco-conscious reader you
supposedly target, who expect better from a magazine founded on the concept
of living green.
Publishing high-protein diet baloney renders your other efforts into token
lip service. I found it amusing that one of your feature stories in the
same issue focused on four different food pyramids. The article itself
is inconsistent--one pyramid says dont shun meat while
another says avoid saturated fat--but none fit with Rodales
new anti-carb religion. Instead of evoking integrity, you appear schizophrenic.
also notice that on page 97 is an actual advertisement for the book--published
by Rodale Press, as her column acknowledges. Like Atkins and other high-protein
diets that have been muscle-wasting (if not killing) people since the
1970s, the books cover unapologetically brandishes fast weight
loss as its purpose. The ad promises loss of 13 pounds in two weeks--without
health risk. It promises to target belly fat first. It promises you wont
have to give up your favorites.
basic biology and common sense tell us you cant lose 13 pounds healthily
in only two weeks. You cant lose fat that fast, just muscle and
water. Its not possible for a diet to target tummy fat
or any body part. No one in their right mind who knows a thing about human
physiology or health would endorse this drivel--or does. A diet comprised
of mostly fat and protein, primarily from animal sources, not only cant
fulfill these fantasmagoric promises--its a hazard in umpteen ways.
is no proof anywhere that people get fat on complex carbs. If they did,
most of the world would be sick and obese. Thats not the case. It
certainly isn't true for me or many people I know. The hawked book promises
dont give up your favorites--but I certainly would be
doing just that if I had to give up bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. I
wager this is true for most Americans--who are thoroughly perplexed these
days, thanks to the conflicting stories to which your magazine now contributes.
I eat vegetables and nuts. I also eat fruit. And lean (vegetarian) protein,
and healthy fats in moderation. I also eat as many complex carbs as I
please--which is to say a LOT--and small amounts of (organic) sweets and
occasional alcohol. I have done so for 15 years, in proportions much like
the pyramids in your article. Not surprisingly, by doing so I easily maintain
the figure that most people on these crazy diet schemes are desperately
trying to achieve. And they never stop trying--because each diet inevitably
fails them and a new one emerges.
that is exactly what the South Beach diet is--the latest high-protein
copycat with a hip new name. You do your readers--and the environment--a
gross disservice to actively promote it. These fads already have an regrettable
amount of ignorant momentum behind them. They dont need your help
in spreading the misinformation.
seems that Organic Style, like any other publication, must do the bidding
of its advertisers and cater to the whims of its publishers. Even so,
I am appalled that you had to let your Vice Chairman of the Board/founding
editor air her personal dieting views--and worse, title them simple
truth! as if they were sound universal health advice. Is Organic
Style Maria Rodales playground, or a magazine honestly presenting
ways to live a healthy, green life?
Right now you appear no different than the fashion-crazed Vogue, Glamour
or Mademoiselle--publications to which I thought Id found an alternative.
Why pay to subscribe to such hypocrisy? I can get that anywhere else in
the world for free.
a shame. Now Ill have to broadbrush you into the bad
BodyFueling and Herbal Defense