Evidence-based barf: Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop on new Netflix show

My friend, Timothy Caufield, a prof at the University of Alberta and author of, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything? will get loads of material from this after the Goopster confirmed with ABC News that she had signed a deal with Netflix that would see 30-minute episodes of a docuseries focused on physical and spiritual wellness.

CULVER CITY, CA – JUNE 09: Gwyneth Paltrow speaks onstage at the In goop Health Summit at 3Labs on June 9, 2018 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for goop)

Set to air later this year, Paltrow and Goop chief content officer Elise Loehnen will co-host the show and talk to experts, doctors and researchers. The pair already have a popular podcast series.

Paltrow started the company more than 10 years ago and has been criticised for promoting products like jade eggs, that Goop alleged improved vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance and chi, but which health practitioners warned were dangerous.

Other health practices Paltrow and Goop have promoted include vaginal steaming, bee sting facials, bio frequency stickers (to “rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies”) and earthing.

She was married to that singer from Coldplay, and they suck.

Speaks volumes.

Adjectives rule ‘Organic scrotal braisin’ Gwyneth Paltrow’s first Goop health summit

It’s lazy to poke holes in the wellness industry.

So here’s to fun and laziness.

Dr. Kellogg has been an easy target for two centuries, other shamen and woman date back to antiquity, when who knew why anyone had explosive diahhrea, other than the ether or the gods.

Anyone who likes Coldplay enough to marry the singer has serious problems, and should not be dispensing advice for anyone.

Andrea Mandell of USA Today reports Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website, tested its first summit in the gluten-free city of Los Angeles last Saturday. The price was steep: Roughly 600 attendees paid anywhere from $500 (for a “Lapis” pass) to $1,500 (for a “Clear Quartz” pass) to experience all things Goop for over nine hours. From crystal therapy to organic bone broth sampling, here’s how our experience went down at Paltrow’s first conference.

8:45 a.m. This is technically the time I’m allowed into “Goop hall,” where I’ve been promised a long list of vendors showcasing goods for me to try. But I’m still at home, trying to figure out if the dress code will be more athleisure or free-spirited sundress. The first session doesn’t start until 10 a.m., so what’s the harm in arriving a tad late?

9:30 a.m. Huge mistake. After being given my entry pass for the day – a bracelet of brown worry beads with a blue tassel, signifying my lowest-tier status (Lapis), I enter Goop hall and it is immediately epic. There’s a woman giving crystal therapy readings seated on cushions, the line for aura photography (a thing!) is 25 people deep, the flavored oxygen bar is packed and Dyson blowouts are in full swing.

9:35 a.m. Mildly panicked, I quickly get to breakfast, sampling in quick succession: Bulletproof Coffee Plus (coffee blended with something called Brain Octane Oil, grass-fed Butter and pasture-raised collagen protein), a tiny pink glazed donut from Erin McKenna’s Bakery and a sushi-inspired breakfast lox burrito from Kye’s.

9:40 a.m. I spot Gwyneth Paltrow walking in and hugging her staff as she takes in the peak Goopdom. (She wore a pink sundress, and I feel vindicated, but in truth anything went, as the dress code varied from athleisure to jeans.) The crowd here is mostly female, white, and between the ages of 30-50.

10 a.m. We assemble into the “chat room,” a forum style hall in which Blythe Danner’s pre-recorded voice welcomes us over the PA. Paltrow takes the blush-tone stage to greet us and explains how she became interested in this space in 1999, after her father was diagnosed with throat cancer. “I was trying to get him to eat healthier and I made him this batch of zucchini bread that was everything-free and I thought it was delicious,” she says. “And he bit into it and went, ‘Well, it’s like biting into The New York Times’.” As the audience chuckles, she says luckily gluten-free sugar-free food “has made a lot of progress since the ’90s.”

10:15 a.m.. Paltrow introduces us to the “the guy responsible for the term conscious uncoupling,” Dr. Habib Sadeghi, who will be instructing us on something called Cosmic Flow. But it’s a rough start: Sadeghi’s hour-long session proves to be a puzzling, extemporaneous jumble of his battle with testicular cancer, “the ontological experience called your life,” queries on why water is wet and how birds know how to fly (my 8-year-old could deliver this talk; get out there and earn your keep). He reads thank you notes from his patients and holds an existential discussion on how we chew our lunch. “I am one of the most authentic beings you will ever meet!” says Sadeghi, which immediately makes me question whether he is authentic. “Because I will never sell you short.” Somewhat deflated, I await the next session on gut health.

I’ve always told my daughters, when someone says “trust me,” run away.

11:35 a.m. Dr. Alejandro Junger (known for his Paltrow-approved master cleanses) takes the stage with Dr. Steven Gundry and Dr. Amy Myers. I know nothing about gut health, so I’m here for this: Teach me about my gut! But the first 10 minutes meander so much I get antsy and sneak out to try more of the samplings in Goop hall. There goes my gut.

11:45 a.m. Living the high life, I try Belcampo’s organic bone broth (unsalted, it’s hospital-like, but becomes more appetizing once you stir in offered mix-ins like apple cider vinegar and honey), before moving onto Moon Juice’s Blue Tonic with Brain Dust. There’s also a progressive display of pre-filled vape pens from hmbldt and an area called The Pharmacy, where you can buy Paltrow’s pre-packaged vitamins ($90).

12:05 p.m. Scooting back into gut health, it seems I’ve missed Gundry advising the audience to go hungry: “Don’t eat. I can’t stress that enough. We have the ability to store fat,” he instructed, according to my colleague at the Los Angeles Times.

12:15 p.m. Break! Though all of the activities available in the courtyard booked up for the day by 10 a.m. (an annoyance to many who paid hundreds if not thousands to be here) I luck out and get my aura photographed (a purple-y red, as it turns out, signifying I’m both a “visionary” and “passionate”). I sample “kale cookies ‘n cream” vegan ice cream. (Pass.) Two women I run into from Kansas City have told me they’re not super into the panels so far, and might try a nearby hike.

12:35 p.m. Onto a psychotherapy panel called The Tools! Paltrow moderates this one herself, and the session features her go-to doctors, Dr. Phil Stutz and Barry Michels. Initially, I’m worried they’re going to espouse more why-do-birds-fly generalities, but suddenly a red-headed woman volunteers to go up on stage for a session of LIVE THERAPY. (Paltrow gives up her seat and sits cross-legged on the floor.) It’s a remarkably raw, honest 30 minutes and closes with a talk about positive entitlement. “60 to 80 percent of the women in my practice don’t feel that basic sense of entitlement, that ‘I deserve this,’ ” says Michels. At their prompting, the room of women shout, “I’m an animal!” The hour ends with Paltrow opening up about her struggle with perfectionism. The doctors coin our fear The Shadow. “It’s whatever you wish you weren’t,” says Michels, no matter how much success you have.

1:15 pm Lunch is a yogi’s dream: Kale salads from Sweetgreen, poke bowls from Sweetfin, the matcha bar in full swing. Paltrow is off in an enclosed garden space having a catered meal with those who shelled out $1,500. This is not me, but I’m cool, I get to watch people willingly submit themselves to electrolyte IV drips in the courtyard.

3:45 p.m. The sex panel! Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more advice, renowned relationship expert Esther Perel (whose podcast I will now subscribe to), takes the stage with Girls showrunner Jenni Konner and “orgasmic genius” Nicole Daedone. Konner explains she and Lena Dunham depicted mostly bad sex on Girls because “we showed what sex is like in your twenties.” Perel disputes the common belief that women have lower libidos than men. “I don’t think women don’t want sex, I think women don’t want the sex they have,” she says. The session gets the biggest applause of the day.

5:05 p.m. Cute servers circle the chat room with trays of refreshing fruit smoothies. I’m starting to think Paltrow is a genius.

5:15 p.m. After a brief Q&A with Tracy Anderson, we’re onto the celebrity-packed keynote panel called Balls in the Air, which features Cameron Diaz, Tory Burch, Nicole Richie and Miranda Kerr, with Paltrow moderating. The convo is focused not on how these successful, beautiful women do it all, but how they choose what not to do. Diaz reveals why she hasn’t made a movie in over three years.

After being on the road continuously for her film career, “I just went, ‘I can’t really say who I am, to myself. Which is a hard thing to face up to,” says the actress, who married Benji Madden in 2015. “I can’t do the same things I’ve been doing for two decades…if I want to have a full life.” Richie’s tip on how she stays sane? “I like to wake up an hour before my kids, just so I can be alone.” The session ends on a classically Goop note, with Kerr revealing she once tried leech facials, and brought the leeches home because they kill them otherwise. “They’re in my koi pod,” she says.

 

More fairytales: In reality it’s just sugar water

Food is 21st century snake oil.

This isn’t a new observation but one that food hucksters continue to enforce with ever more audacious claims – and all for a price.

sideshow-bobNever underestimate the ability of the food biz – big or small, organic or conventional, raw or paleo — to make a buck.

And universities, with all their pomposity, especially Haaarrrvvvard, can suck.

Retailers promote scientific nonsense by exploiting consumer fears. Hence G Organic, a version of Gatorade that will be made with sugar from organically farmed sugarcane and carry a label whose largest word is a sprawling “ORGANIC.”

James Hamblin of The Atlantic notes the market for products labeled “organic” has exploded in recent years, to $43.3 billion in the U.S. alone in 2015. Marketing to capitalize on that demand sometimes confuses consumers into thinking that organically-produced products are healthier for us, a hope that has not born out. As dietician Lisa Cimperman told NPR, “I think it’s a marketing ploy to apply this organic health halo to this product.”

Executives from PepsiCo have implied as much. According to PepsiCo executives in Ad Age, the approach is an attempt to reach the growing market of consumers who seek out the term. The company is responding to pressure from challengers like coconut water, “as consumers are focused more than ever on ingredients.”

A socially conscious cerebral cortex may be drawn to organically farmed sugar over inorganically farmed sugar, but a pancreas makes no such distinction. It releases insulin in both cases, spreading word throughout the body that this is a time of fantastic abundance. The insulin signals the body to save and pack these calories away in fat cells, for use when food is scarce. For most Americans, that scarcity never arrives. All that does is more food.

g-organicFor serious athletes doing prolonged exercise—the sort that drains their blood sugar, and depletes their sodium stores as they soak themselves in sweat—adding some sugar and sodium back into the mix does help to keep a person moving.  This is why Gatorade was useful to the University of Florida’s football players, who were succumbing to heat exhaustion after hours of summer practice, when the product came into existence in 1965.

Still, the sugar content in Gatorade Thirst Quencher today is much too high, and the sodium content much too low, to re-hydrate a truly dehydrated person. Properly balanced oral rehydration solutions do exist, but they don’t taste as good to most people as the much sweeter concoctions.

Most of Gatorade’s $3.3 billion in annual sales come from consumers in much less extreme circumstances, where it is simply empty calories. The product is positioned as an optimal approach to hydration—to quenching thirst. This is purportedly because of the “electrolytes” (meaning a bit of sodium and potassium), but for people who eat food, these additives are moot. A serving of Gatorade Thirst Quencher has about as much sodium as a slice of bread.

But Gatorade Organic (G Organic sounds too much like a sexual act) is only the latest.

Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times reports the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show.

The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease — including many of today’s dietary recommendations — may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.

“They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,” said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at U.C.S.F. and an author of the new JAMA paper.

bobby_bittman_sctv_eugeneThe documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of sugar, fat and heart research. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.

The Harvard scientists and the sugar executives with whom they collaborated are no longer alive. One of the scientists who was paid by the sugar industry was D. Mark Hegsted, who went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where in 1977 he helped draft the forerunner to the federal government’s dietary guidelines. Another scientist was Fredrick J. Stare, the chairman of Harvard’s nutrition department.

In a statement responding to the JAMA report, the Sugar Association said that the 1967 review was published at a time when medical journals didn’t typically require researchers to disclose funding sources or potential financial conflicts of interest. The New England Journal of Medicine did not begin to require financial disclosures until 1984.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, wrote an editorial accompanying the new paper that said the documents provided “compelling evidence” that the sugar industry initiated research “expressly to exonerate sugar as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.”

“I think it’s appalling,” she said. “You just never see examples that are this blatant. The amount of money they were paid to do this is staggering.”

Actually, $50,000 is nothing.

hucksterDr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that academic conflict-of-interest rules have changed significantly since the 1960s, but the industry papers are a reminder of “why research should be supported by public funding rather than depending on industry funding.”

Nope.

Full transparency is much better: why ding taxpayers for the cost of proving something.

And most nutritional research is bullshit anyway.

The JAMA paper relied on thousands of pages of correspondence and other documents that Cristin E. Kearns, a postdoctoral fellow at U.C.S.F., discovered in archives at Harvard, the University of Illinois and other libraries.

The documents show that in 1964, John Hickson, a top sugar industry executive, discussed a plan with others in the industry to shift public opinion “through our research and information and legislative programs.”

At the time, studies had begun pointing to a relationship between high-sugar diets and the country’s high rates of heart disease. At the same time, other scientists, including the prominent Minnesota physiologist Ancel Keys, were investigating a competing theory that it was saturated fat and dietary cholesterol that posed the biggest risk for heart disease.

Mr. Hickson proposed countering the alarming findings on sugar with industry-funded research. “Then we can publish the data and refute our detractors,” he wrote.

In 1965, Mr. Hickson enlisted the Harvard researchers to write a review that would debunk the anti-sugar studies. He paid them a total of $6,500 – the equivalent of $49,000 today. Mr. Hickson selected the papers for them to review and made it clear he wanted the result to favor sugar.

I’m proud to have taken industry money: and to tell them how fucking wrong they were, when it was the right, evidence-based conclusion.

Food fairy tales: ‘If you eat food, you are being lied to every day ‘

I like Tampa, and even more Sarasota and Anna Maria Island. Brisbane is equidistance from the equator as is Sarasota, and I enjoy going to the rink in flip-flops and shorts.

MF_34_Max_combine_-_2006I also enjoyed that Tampa Bay beat Detroit (Amy’s team) in game 1 of the National Hockey League playoffs

And like Brisbane, there is great seafood, but a lot of it is bullshit.

Laura Reiley of Tampa Bay writes the restaurant’s chalkboard makes claims as you enter from the valet parking lot. At the hostess stand, a cheery board reads, “Welcome to local, farm-fresh Boca.”

Wait.

Amy and I were in Phoenix in 2007, and went to a Coyotes game, and I eventually had to turn to the asshole sitting behind us, going on about how he had this cougar in Boca and tell him to shut the fuck up.

But food fraud and hucksterism is a growth business.

Brown butcher paper tops tables and lettuces grow along a wooden wall. In a small market case, I see canned goods from here and produce from somewhere. Check the small print: blackberries from Mexico and blueberries from California.

With the tagline “Local, simple and honest,” Boca Kitchen Bar Market was among the first wave of farm-to-table restaurants in Tampa Bay to make the assertion “we use local products whenever possible.” I’ve reviewed the food. My own words are right there on their website: “local, thoughtful and, most importantly, delicious.”

But i’ve been had, from the snapper down to the beef.

It’s not just Boca. At Pelagia Trattoria at International Plaza, the “Florida blue crab” comes from the Indian Ocean.

Mermaid Tavern in Seminole Heights shouts “Death to Pretenders” on its menu, but pretends cheese curds are homemade and shrimp are from Florida.

At Maritana Grille at the Loews Don cesar, chefs claim to get pork from a farmer who doesn’t sell to them.

This is a story we are all being fed. A story about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors – I grew up with Massey-Fergusons — scattering broods of busy chickens. A story about healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy and earnest artisans rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves nearby.

More often than not, those things are fairy tales. A long list of Tampa Bay restaurants are willing to capitalize on our hunger for the story.

LightningMazeAnd it’s all 21st century snake oil.

PEOPLE WANT “LOCAL,” and they’re willing to pay. Local promises food that is fresher and tastes better; it means better food safety; it yields a smaller carbon footprint while preserving genetic diversity; it builds community.

If you eat food, you are being lied to every day.

The food supply chain is so vast and so complicated. It has yielded extra-virgin olive oil that is actually colored sunflower oil, Parmesan cheese bulked up with wood pulp, and a horsemeat scandal that, for a while, rendered Ikea outings Swedish meatball-free.

Everywhere you look, you see the claims: “sustainable,” “naturally raised,” “organic,” “non-GMO,” “fair trade,” “responsibly grown.” Restaurants have reached new levels of hyperbole.

What makes buying food different from other forms of commerce is this: It’s a trust-based system. How do you know the Dover sole on your plate is Dover sole? Only that the restaurateur said so.

And that’s why traceability and microbial food safety need to be marketed at retail. The technology is there.

Market microbial food safety instead of fear: Hot dogs do not contain human meat

The eye-catching headlines on the new findings started coming in waves. “Report: Human DNA Found in Hot Dogs” said USA Today, in a typical example.

da.bears.hot.dogThis bizarre information came from a single document released on Oct. 17 by the consumer marketing arm of a company called Clear Labs, which had found traces of human DNA in 2 percent of the products sampled.

But don’t worry: There’s no evidence that hot-dog lovers are unwitting cannibals. It’s more a matter of hygiene in food production. The tiniest particles of hair, nails and skin could show up in these tests.

Even so, an executive at the company interviewed last week was unapologetic about the attention-grabbing finding.

“Its pretty unlikely that the human DNA piece is actually harmful to consumer health,” said Mahni Ghorashi, a Clear Labs founder. “We consider it more of a hygienic issue that degrades the quality of the food.”

Snopes, the rumor-debunking site, was rather more harsh, labeling the information “unproven.”

Consumers should brace themselves for more buzzworthy headlines as genome sequencing gets cheaper and Silicon Valley companies like Clear Labs, Beyond Meat and Soylent try to disrupt eating itself.

The Clear Labs story was an effort to bring marketing attention to the company’s use of gene-sequencing technology, first pioneered by the Human Genome Project. Looking at regions of the genome called bar code regions, the company identifies traces of animal species in food samples, including those that are not supposed to be there. The Hot Dog Report did contain significant findings, notably that pork had been substituted for chicken and turkey in 3 percent of samples, and that 10 percent of vegetarian products contained real meat.

But it was the human DNA detail that took off on social media.

The focus on marketing by food start-ups should not be surprising. While the technology is getting faster and cheaper, start-ups still have to attract investors.

Where’s the micro? Whole Foods to introduce produce ratings program

It’s just too easy to make fun of the adjective-embracing data devoid Whole Foods Market, Inc.

old school blueThe company is going to introduce a produce ratings program on Oct. 15, said John Mackey, co-chief executive officer of the Austin, Texas-based retailer.

“Organic is not enough,” he said Oct. 1 during the GE Capital Corporate Finance Food & Beverage Summit. “Consumers want total information, total transparency. Some people want it all.”

Yes, I want it all. Especially microbial food safety.

Instead consumers will be offered a buffett of “good,” “better,” and “best” labels that will be displayed throughout the retailer’s produce department. The labeling system is based on an index to measure the performance of products relevant to such sustainable topics as pest management, farmworker welfare, pollinator protection, water conservation and protection, soil health, ecosystems, biodiversity, waste, recycling and packaging, energy and climate – good, better and best.

market.natural“People have a hunger for more transparency,” Mr. Mackey said Oct. 1. “We have the technology to make that transparency come alive. Every product we sell has a story attached to it. People want it and we try to give it to them.”

Bring that technology alive for microbial food safety – the stuff that makes people barf.

Pet food porn

With an appeal to the simplistic, Barbara Laino says, “We know processed foods are wrong for us. It has to be wrong for them. If you can feed yourself healthily and your children, then you can feed your pets healthily, too. It really isn’t that hard.”

Laino is talking about the standard recipe she uses to feed her Alaskan malamute, another dog and three cats in her house for around 10 days: grind 40 pounds of pasture-raised chicken necks with another 20 pounds of chicken giblets. To this, she adds five pounds of carrots, a whole cabbage and several other fruits, all from the organic fields of Midsummer Farm, Ms. Laino’s farm in Warwick, N.Y. Finally, she blends the mix with herbs and supplements.

She tells the New York Times in a piece of pet food porn that she wants for her pets what she wants for herself: a healthy diet of unprocessed organic foods. And now she teaches others.

Cesar Millan, host of the television show “The Dog Whisperer,” says, “The dog has always been a mirror of the human style of life. Organic has become a new fashion, a new style of living.”

Cesar got the lifestyle bit right, because that is all it is; as for microbiological safety, the cross-contamination risks alone in the food prep sound daunting.

Nancy K. Cook, the vice president at the Pet Food Institute, a trade association for commercial pet food makers, cautions pet owners that it is hard to create a balanced diet at home, since dogs and cats have specific nutritional requirements.

Joseph J. Wakshlag, a clinical nutritionist at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University, said that if pets are not fed the correct balance of proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, they can experience several health disorders, including anemia, broken bones and loss of teeth from lack of calcium.

Korinn Saker, a clinical nutritionist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, who treats animals at the school’s teaching hospital, said she was not against people cooking for their pets, but that if it was not done correctly, the consequences could be harmful.

She has seen several dogs with adverse effects from unbalanced homemade pet food diets, including a German shepherd puppy “who was walking on its elbows because it had no strength in its bones,” she said. The dog, it turned out, was not getting enough calcium.

Dr. Saker, asked to analyze the recipe from Ms. Laino’s workshop, found that it was lacking in a number of nutrients recommended by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.

Ms. Laino said she rejects the standards recommended by the feed association, and suggested that her recipe might be richer in certain nutrients because the ingredients are organic.

Hucksterism is alive and well for Barbara Laino and the N.Y. Times.
 

Whole Foods hucksterism

Starting a sentence with, ‘well’ may be how people talk but it’s just sloppy writing.

And terrible writing is proliferating all over the Internet.

The Whole Story blog of Whole Foods is a favorite target. It must be a challenge to keep getting people to pay a premium for crap.

Today, they put aside the pretentions and said this is why you should pay more – for crap.

“Well, our turkey standards prohibit animal by-products in feed and require space for normal turkey behavior. So isn’t it worth it that when a turkey is raised with these standards its meat costs more?”

I’m interested in turkey that doesn’t make me barf. Can you provide that?

Seeduction bread or whole wheat sandwich bread made without artificial dough conditioners and preservatives is about 14¢ more per sandwich compared to leading conventional brand whole wheat sandwich bread.

I’m a fan of chemistry, Is Whole Foods a fan of witchcraft?

Organic Mustard (and I have no idea why the ingredients are capitalized, must be that unique Whole Foods writing style) helps you avoid exposure to pesticides with your sandwich and is less than 2¢ more per serving.

Organic is a production standard that has huge tolerances for synthetic chemicals and any kind of so-called natural chemicals.

Organic Lettuce is another good choice for your health and that of the planet and costs about $1.00 more per head.

Why? Is it safer? No. Do the production methods extract less of a toll on the soil? No.

Tomatoes taste best (and have more nutrients) when they are picked ripe, so look for local and in season, as well as organic. Local may cost less, organic about 20% more.

Food porn, nothing to back this up.

Lunchmeat that doesn’t contain artificial colors, flavors or preservatives such as added synthetic nitrates or nitrites and from animals raised to meet our animal welfare standards- you get all that for about 25¢ more per slice.

This has nothing to do with food safety. Whole Foods is familiar with listeria?