Welcome to another episode of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and ask brief answers in return. Today’s guest has is not easily classified: He’s an author, a professional speaker focused on wellness, and an official spokesman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, all while he keeps his day job working for Canada’s largest telecom.
Welcome to another installment of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and request brief answers from them in return. Today’s participant is the co-producer, co-director, and writer of “Carb Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat,” a film that came out Oct. 1. We spoke on Oct. 3, and you can find a video version of our conversation here. Please remember: “10 words” is an intention, not a limit, so please, no counting. If you think it’s easy, let’s see you do it.
Name Lathe Poland
Born when, where Carson City Nev., winter 1973
Where do yo live now? Fairfield County, Conn.
Family composition "Married 17 years with amazing wife, just the two of us."
An early formative experience “Learning [in junior high school] that food could trigger migraines for me had a pretty big impact on my view on nutrition.”
Your first paying job “You’re going to love this one. I dotted chocolates at a chocolate factory [pause] which actually connects to the previous answer I gave you."
Wisdom you retain from that experience "Find work that you actually love to do."
Welcome to another text installment of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and request brief answers in return. (Previously, I posted the video of our chat; this is the edited transcript, for those who prefer text.) Today’s participant is a food-safety advocate and college instructor in regulatory affairs who formerly operated a nuclear reactor. (I can’t count how many of my friends can say that!) Please remember that “10 Words” is an ethic, not a rule, so please, no counting. If you think it’s easy, let’s see you do it.
Name Darin Detwiler (right)
Born when, where May 19, 1968, San Francisco
Resides "Salem, Mass., known for the Salem Witch Trials, which are allegedly tied to food-borne illness, as the source of the deliria that was perceived as witchcraft."
Job "I have two jobs: Adjunct professor at Northeastern University, where I teach in regulatory affairs of food and food industry. Also, I’m the senior policy coordinator at Stop Foodborne Illness, a national nonprofit that supports victims and their families."
What you wanted to be when you grew up "Actually, two things. I wanted to be a musician, and I wanted to be a seismologist. I really wanted to shake, rattle, and roll."
Your first paying job "When I was in high school, I played a Santa Claus at a mall. [Pause.] It wasn’t that paying."
Wisdom you retain from that experience "Never say to a kid, or ask a kid, about their parents, Mom or Dad. Always say ‘folks,’ because folks is generic, and can apply to adopted or grandparents or foster parents. We go through life thinking everyone had to fit into a cookie cutter, but there are many children who have different family situations."
Darin Detwiler and I conducted this interview on Thursday. Detwiler is the senior policy coordinator for Stop Foodborne Illness and an instructor on regulatory affairs and food industries at Northeastern University. As I do, he has a deeply personal motivation to be in his line of work: His son was one of four young people who died in the 1993 E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants in the Northwest. He tells that heartbreaking story in the interview, while also sharing vital information of use to anyone who eats.
I said in a recent post that there is very little black and white, compared to all the gray of decision-making, and here’s another example.
Brian Wansink and David Just do some interesting research at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, and the finding in this report is that cafeterias, in schools and otherwise, ditch their buffet trays, the victim is often salad at the expense of dessert.
One reason many cafeterias have gone trayless is to reduce energy use (repeatedly cleaning all those trays), to which Just and Wansink add a desire to cut down on food waste: People are less likely to take food they’re not going to eat when it’s easier to carry.
But when they went to a college cafeteria to test what happens when trays are taken away, they found that if forced to choose among making multiple trips, or leaving something at the expense of something else.
Students were more reluctant to take a salad, as 18.3% fewer students took salads on the trayless day than the students on the normal day. Without trays, many patrons tried to compensate for having fewer items on their trays by taking more of the few items they took. Because of this students were less likely to eat all of their entrée (38.8% vs. 85.7%), salad (53.6% vs. 91.7%), or dessert (52.7% vs 90.7%)—though the amount of dessert remaining was insignificant.
So not only did it not cut down on food waste, it altered food choices for the unhealthier. Getting rid of the trays seems like a good idea, from the energy perspective. So this is just another example that few matters are black and white, that the color of most decisions in gray.
The person who shared this video with me suggested it was the companion to "Fed Up," the Katie Couric/Laurie David documentary. It is full of good information on the effects of processed-sugar consumption on our bodies and on public health. It even features a slimy industry apologist.
So now obesity is a disease, huh? As I first wrote last July (“Obesity isn’t a disease, but it still sucks”), I can’t say I agree.
Yes, my declaration carries substantially less weight than the American Medical Association’s, because, you know, they’re the big market movers in the disease business. But that’s how it strikes me.
More notes from the inaugural “Your Weight Matters” conference in Dallas...
They played the Jennifer Livingston video (she’s the Wisconsin anchorwoman who was flamed in e-mail for being overweight) at the opening session, declaring her as a hero for standing up to the cretin who wrote to her.
OAC isn’t the only weight-advocacy group to praise Livingston, and I continue to struggle with that stance.
In 1979, I was over 300 pounds, a daily pot smoker, and about to piss away my opportunity to graduate with my college class by blowing off two courses in my last semester. Joan Gussow was already preaching a gospel of healthy, sustainable food that I would have ignored had I known about it at the time. Somehow, it makes me more appreciative of it now.
I’ve been wanting to get to this topic for a while, but it has languished in the in-box, as too many other things do:
The headline is, “The Food Industry Fights Back,” and it’s written by Dave Fusaro, editor in chief of foodprocessing.com (“Home Page for the Food & Beverage Industry”). The subhed is just as good: “On obesity, food safety, 'questionable' ingredients, the industry can do a better job of tactfully defending itself; the key is transparency.”