The sugar conspiracy

Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.

A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. Lustig shook his head. John Yudkin, said the scientist, was a British professor of nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in a book called Pure, White, and Deadly.

“If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive,” wrote Yudkin, “that material would promptly be banned.” The book did well, but Yudkin paid a high price for it. Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry to destroy his reputation, and his career never recovered. He died, in 1995, a disappointed, largely forgotten man.

But it was not impossible to foresee that the vilification of fat might be an error. Energy from food comes to us in three forms: fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Since the proportion of energy we get from protein tends to stay stable, whatever our diet, a low-fat diet effectively means a high-carbohydrate diet. The most versatile and palatable carbohydrate is sugar, which John Yudkin had already circled in red. In 1974, the UK medical journal, the Lancet, sounded a warning about the possible consequences of recommending reductions in dietary fat: “The cure should not be worse than the disease.”

In 1980, after long consultation with some of America’s most senior nutrition scientists, the US government issued its first Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines shaped the diets of hundreds of millions of people. Doctors base their advice on them, food companies develop products to comply with them. Their influence extends beyond the US. In 1983, the UK government issued advice that closely followed the American example.

The most prominent recommendation of both governments was to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol (this was the first time that the public had been advised to eat less of something, rather than enough of everything). Consumers dutifully obeyed. We replaced steak and sausages with pasta and rice, butter with margarine and vegetable oils, eggs with muesli, and milk with low-fat milk or orange juice. But instead of becoming healthier, we grew fatter and sicker.

The sugar conspiracy | Ian Leslie

The Long Read: In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?

Vegan Demi-Glace

An unctuous, flavor-packed demi-glace that’s wheat free, gluten free, and vegetarian. Did we say vegetarian? We should probably mention that it’s in fact vegan—with no dairy at all. And yet, you won’t believe its rich, satisfying taste and texture. Oh, and hey, you can make this stuff in less than two hours!

Click below for recipe and instructional video..

Umami-Bomb Vegetarian Demi-Glace | Recipe

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Lobster Mac and Cheese with Fresh Chives, Pimente d’Espelette

North Atlantic lobster meat, organic, whole wheat macaroni, aged Vermont white and cloth-bound cheddar, fresh cream, chives and pimente d’Espelette..

Lobster Mac and Cheese

1/2 pound organic, whole wheat macaroni
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shell stock
blond roux as needed
1-1/2 tablespoons good sherry (not cooking sherry!)
1/2 pound aged white cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1-1/2 tablespoons pimente d’Espelette
3 tablespoons fresh chives or slivered green onion tops
3/4 pound lobster meat, poached
1/2 cup organic panko
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Prepare macaroni according to package instructions, but reduce cooking time by 2 minutes.  Drain pasta (don’t rinse) and set aside.

Lightly poach lobster meat until a little underdone in simmering water with a little fresh lemon juice,a tablespoon of butter and some fresh parsley.  Remove from heat, drain and transfer the lobster meat to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside.

Add cream, stock, sherry and nutmeg together in a heavy saucepan. Heat just until tiny bubbles come to the surface, but do not let it boil.  Whisk in just enough roux so that the sauce coats and clings to the back of a wood spoon.  Remove from heat.

Fold in cheeses, chives, pasta, pimente d’Espelette and lobster. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Turn mixture out into a small skillet or individual gratin dishes. Sprinkle lightly with panko and place into a 375 degree oven until bubbly and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.

Sprinkle lightly with additional chives/green onions and chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Unbroken Ground—Revolutions Start From the Bottom

Our food choices are deeply connected to climate change. Food will play a critical role in the next frontier of our efforts to solve the environmental crisis.

Unbroken Ground, a compelling new film by Chris Malloy that explores four areas of agriculture that aim to change our relationship to the land and oceans.