White House Pastry Chef Leaves Post: ‘I Don’t Want to Demonize Cream, Butter, Sugar, and Eggs’

by Nancy French

Bethany Jenkins at the Gospel Coalition explores food and healthy choices in her article “Watching What We Eat,” which mentions the White House pastry chef who recently left his post:

Under the direction of Mrs. Obama, the White House executive pastry chef, Bill Yosses, “was directed to make more healthful desserts, and in smaller portions, that were to be served only sparingly to the first family.” He frequently replaces butter with fruit purée and sugar with honey or agave. He also often adds whole grains to desserts and picks his fruits, vegetables, and herbs directly from the White House garden.

A few weeks ago, however, Yosses announced his “bittersweet decision” to leave Washington and head to New York, explaining, “I don’t want to demonize cream, butter, sugar, and eggs.” He also said, “Not everything is about sugar, but everything is about good taste. And there’s such a thing as healthy good taste.” In other words, he thinks it’s possible to focus on healthy ingredients without stigmatizing traditional ones.

Remember -- This Professor is a “Liberal”

by George Leef

On Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene Volokh writes about the recent, very nasty instance at UC Santa Barbara where a professor took violent action against young anti-abortion protesters on campus. Actually, he doesn’t need to add much to the transcript of the interview with a police officer,from which we learn a lot about the authoritarian mindset of many “liberals.” The professor says that she acted because she “felt triggered” by the protesters and their signs, because she felt they were violating school policy, and because the protesters were violating her rights. Freedom of speech? She replies that she doesn’t know where the boundaries are.

I bet that this professor’s classes are wonderful examples of pure, dispassionate, academic inquiry.

Eat Right and Save the Planet

by Julie Gunlock

Every five years, a committee of officials chosen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reviews the federal dietary guidelines. This committee, called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, is mandated by Congress to work on “providing nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public . . . based on the preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge currently available.”

In other words, these are the government-fat-camp counselors, and they’re here to tell you what to eat.

These DGAC folks don’t have such a good track record. After the 2010 meeting, the DGAC unveiled the new Choose My Plate icon, which emphasized the importance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. That replaced the “Oops, we were wrong” Food Pyramid that had encouraged Americans since 1992 to go heavy on the carbs. The new plate was met with much optimism. Celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi gushed that the new plate was a “triumph for the first lady and the rest of us.” Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University said, “The new design is a big improvement.” Others suggested the plate would finally knock some sense into us piggy Americans and make us eat better and lose weight.

Of course, reasonable people realize this is ludicrous because what normal person says, “You know, I really need to eat better. I think I’ll go check out the USDA website for diet info.”?

Only Washington bureaucrats could be oblivious enough to miss the utter uselessness of the DGAC. Only they could be unaware that the United States has a thriving, $60 billion diet and exercise industry (not to mention a whole host of independent bloggers) that already provides people with a variety of choices and advice on how to get fit and eat nutritiously. The DGAC members must avoid grocery stores altogether because if they did ever stand in the checkout lane, they’d be bombarded with magazine headlines promising guidance on dieting (along with pictures of bikini-clad hard bodies).

So the DGAC is at it again this year, reviewing the 2010 dietary guidelines. You can even watch the proceedings online . . . although I don’t recommend it. I watched the second hearing (so that you don’t have to) and after the first speaker, I considered bailing for the much more entertaining activity of organizing my son’s sock-and-underwear drawer.

But then something happened. Something relatively interesting.

Kate Clancy, billed as a “food systems consultant” (yeah, so am I!) came to the podium and explained that the DGAC must integrate environmental concerns into the guidelines. As her speech went on, I heard phrases like “environmentally friendly food choices” and making “low impact food choices” and looking at things with an “ecological perspective.” Her point was clear: Americans must not only make nutritious food decisions, they must make environmentally responsible food decisions even if that means Americans’ food costs increase. And food prices most definitely will go up if her recommendations are included in the final guidelines.

According to Clancy, environmentally responsible food decisions include switching to a “plant-based diet” – which is food-systems-consultant talk for “vegetarian,” but she fails to mention that when it comes to total calories, it takes much more plant-based food to equal what lean meats can offer. Are Clancy and the DGAC suggesting people with scarce financial resources spend all of their money on a high-priced plant-based diet? After all, kids need things besides food. School supplies, clothing, and a place to live seem vital elements of a child’s life.

While Clancy doesn’t say we have to swear off meat altogether, she envisions a population that procures protein from local sources, only buying line-caught fish, grass-fed beef, and organic milk. Again, she makes no mention of the added costs associated with this Whole Foods-style food shopping. Which should make us all wonder, do these folks understand that the highest rates of obesity are suffered by those who live under the poverty line? This administration, which portrays itself as looking out for the poor, might want to reconsider making recommendations that will needlessly hike the prices of healthy food for that very demographic.

Clancy also skips over how this type of diet would work in practice. In addition to ignoring costs, she doesn’t discuss how it might be difficult to get a child to eat the appropriate number of calories if they’re subsisting on a vegetarian diet – something most mothers struggle with daily. She doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of how lean proteins and diary are considered an important part of a child’s diet.

Those things are secondary to the real goal: saving the planet from that plague of hungry humans. Watch out for the next DGAC guidelines; they may not just be useless. 

— Julie Gunlock, a Sr. Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, is the author of the new book From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.

The Bright Side of Prenatal Screening

by Colette Moran

Over on the Corner Andrew Johnson posted about Planned Parenthood’s president being pressed on when she personally felt life began. I hope the video goes viral, so that people will begin to see that simply ending your answer with “but that’s my own personal decision” will not wash away the distaste that denying the humanity of the preborn leaves in sensible minds.

Another story from NPR this week was understandably seen as bad news by some. 

By their very nature, technocracies work towards the path of least resistance: towards creating systems with fewer exceptions, aberrations, or deviations. Technocrats think in matrices, and exceptions to the norm are viewed as problems to be solved. If children with disabilities spoil the mathematical predictability of the technocratic utopia, they must be eradicated from the equation. Eugenics make perfect sense when paradise is only a problem of engineering.

But I’m looking at it in a positive light. While NPR trumpeted that the new blood test that can screen a preborn’s DNA for genetic abnormalities will give parents more confidence when they choose to abort, I am thrilled that it will potentially lead to fewer abortions on perfectly healthy children. These developments could also lead to there being fewer amniocentesis procedures done, which is good news since amnio does carry a small risk of premature delivery or infection.

Though such tests give parents the opportunity to choose abortion when the results are not favorable — somewhere between 70-90 percent of preborns diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted — if they save even a few little souls from the scare tactics of doctors who are more concerned about malpractice and “wrongful birth” lawsuits than keeping babies alive, life wins.

Duke Porn Star’s Father Home from Afghanistan

by Greg Pollowitz

New York Post:

A US Army physician came home from a tour in Afghanistan to find that his little princess had turned into a porn star.

Devout Catholic Dr. Kevin Weeks was stunned by the news, but told relatives he and his wife are still supportive of Miriam, a Duke University freshman who has been having sex on camera to pay for her huge tuition bill.

“This is a tragedy in the family,” Amanda Minor, the mother-in-law of Miriam’s brother, Paul, told The Daily Mail. “The father is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met. He is just back from Afghanistan. He served his country, how awesome is that?”

Minor said that Dr. Weeks — based out of Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane — remains “so proud of his daughter; there’s no way they could have known this was going on.

“It’s terrible. But they would never abandon their daughter. This is a nightmare, what the family are going through.”

Miriam — known as “Belle Knox” to porn fans — wrote on women’s site XOJane last week that she needed the money to pay for school and avoid nightmarish loans.

Since the story emerged last week, Miriam has become the hottest name in porn.

The news completely floored dad Weeks, 54, and his wife, Harcharan, 48. The loving mom and dad had always made education a top priority for their kids — Miriam, 18, Anita, 20, and Paul, 22 — who went to a prestigious Jesuit school, Gonzaga Prep in Spokane.

Obviously, there are other ways of avoiding student loans, like going to a state school where the education is just as good as at Duke. And I hope the report from the mother-in-law is true and that the family is standing by their daughter. Being a parent is hard, but it’s a lifelong job. You can’t quit when the circumstances go against you.

The rest here.

The Importance of the Right Stories – for Kids, Adults, and Nations

by Nancy French

I remember the night.

A group of friends stood around my husband David’s laptop, looking at photos he had taken during the first half of his deployment with the Third Armored Cav. Regiment in Diyala province, Iraq.  He was on his twelve-day leave, and we’d gone to Boston to be with his dear friends from Harvard Law School. They came, with their families, for dinner. Soon, everyone gathered around him to hear the stories of war – the things he had seen, the soldiers he’d befriended, the al-Qaeda members who had vomited on him. 

Yes, he had some stories. Since his regiment suffered more casualties during “the surge” than any other in that time frame, his voice occasionally broke with emotion.

We had only twelve days with him before he went back to war, but we thought it was important to be with friends.

Our kids hovered hesitantly near the cozy group listening with rapt attention. My son gripped a Batman figurine in his hand as he stared at his dad whom he hadn’t seen for months. David was talking about things – terrorists, bombs, IEDs, tanks – that he hadn’t talked about before he’d deployed.  We weren’t a “military family,” so they didn’t grow up with talk of war. David was a lawyer who decided to serve his nation after 9/11. Suddenly, we moved from our penthouse in Center City Philadelphia back home to the south to be near family during the deployment.

This “new dad” was unfamiliar to them.

I wondered for a moment if this was good – we were at a party, for goodness sakes. Did our well-heeled friends really want to hear about the war? My friend Jean pulled me aside and said, “This is amazing. You never get to hear from people who’ve seen the front lines.”

Her reassurance comforted me, but I wondered if I should let the kids hear what he was saying. They were eight and ten years old. When is this the age-appropriate time to introduce them to genocide?  Beheadings? Just weeks prior to that moment, I’d covered their eyes during the scary scene in one of the Chronicles of Narnia movies.

The deployment made things real with our family. From those early ages, the kids began to contemplate unmitigated evil, the responsibilities of freedom, the high cost of war – on families, on soldiers, on nations.

I thought of this today as I drove them to school. They’re teenagers now, no longer hovering hesitantly on the sidelines of adult conversations. Their views – political, moral, philosophical, theological – have been shaped over the years by conversations, stories, and books. We were listening to an NPR interview about Mark Harris’s new book on World War II filmmakers, and discussing the government’s role in telling the story, balancing “propaganda” with actual patriotism.

As I listened to their thoughts, I was suddenly thankful David made the decision to serve his country. I’m also thankful that he chose to tell the children the hard, horrifying stories of war.

I am different than I would’ve been had he not chosen to serve, and the kids are different than they would’ve been had he not chosen to serve.

When my husband left in 2007, that man would never really return. But, I’m thankful that his voice still breaks when he tells the stories.

NJ Woman Suing Her Parents for Tuition Costs

by Greg Pollowitz

Sounds like she just wants access to her college fund. Reuters:

A New Jersey student who says her parents abandoned her when she turned 18 is suing them for school costs and other expenses in a case legal experts say could set a precedent for a family’s obligation to support a child who has left home.

Rachel Canning, 18, of Lincoln Park, New Jersey, wants her parents to pay the remaining $5,000 in tuition to the Catholic high school where she is a senior and seeks access to a college fund and repayment of her legal fees, court documents show.

A cheerleader and lacrosse player at Morris Catholic High School, Canning claims her parents kicked her out of the house in November 2013 after she turned 18, the age of legal adulthood. She wound up living with a friend’s family, she said, and the upheaval has jeopardized her educational future.

Her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning, said their daughter left home voluntarily late last year because she did not want to follow the rules of the house, including doing chores and adhering to curfew, according to court papers.

The rest here.

Update March 5: The judge dismissed the case, but Rachel doubled-down with this. The New York Post:

Rachel’s lawyer, Tanya Helfand, said the couple hadn’t lifted a finger to contact their daughter or make sure she’s doing OK.

“She is lucky to have her benefactors,” Helfand said of the family caring for Rachel.

“Her relationship with her parents is abusive, in particular her relationship with her father. I’m asking the court to help this vulnerable young woman.”

In court papers, Rachel said her mom has called her fat, while her dad has been “inappropriately affectionate with me.”

“He mentioned frequently that my relationship, in his eyes, was not one of a daughter, but more than that,” Rachel contends.

She stopped short of saying he never touched her unlawfully.

Her parents’ lawyer, Laurie Rush-Masuret, denied all of Rachel’s claims.

This has gone from kinda funny to really, really ugly right quick.

The Missing Factor in Latest Breastfeeding Study?

by Colette Moran

A study of children within families, some breastfed and some not, seemed to show no significant advantages for children who were breastfed. The researcher felt it was important to check the data within families as opposed to across families.

Many previous studies suffer from selection bias. They either do not or cannot statistically control for factors such as race, age, family income, mother’s employment – things we know that can affect both breast-feeding and health outcomes. Moms with more resources, with higher levels of education and higher levels of income, and more flexibility in their daily schedules are more likely to breast-feed their children and do so for longer periods of time.

Here’s the big unanswered question in this story — did she survey the moms of the siblings to ask about their socioeconomic status at the time of each of the children’s infancies? Did she find out whether or not the circumstances for each pregnancy, birth, and beyond changed for those moms? Couldn’t the child who was breastfed have come at a time when the mom was out of a job and low on money and wasn’t eating well and may have not known about the other health benefits for children? And couldn’t the bottle-fed child have come when the mom had better resources and she had learned those other health benefits?

Maybe mom got on a fitness kick with her last child who she bottle-fed due to an illness and that’s why the last kid is as thin as the first kid who was breastfed. Maybe she wasn’t as exhausted with that last kid (since breastfeeding is tiring) and she was able to spend more time caring for her and developed just as special a bond as the breast-fed child. Maybe mom was only able to teach that last kid her ABCs and such, boosting her academic performance.

I think it’s incorrect to assume that any mom is the same mother to every child.

But maybe I’m just irked that, when asked about her study, the researcher took the opportunity to grandstand for social policies: 

“I’m not saying breast-feeding is not beneficial, especially for boosting nutrition and immunity in newborns. But if we really want to improve maternal and child health in this country, let’s also focus on things that can really do that in the long term – like subsidized day care, better maternity leave policies and more employment opportunities for low-income mothers that pay a living wage, for example.”

I don’t necessarily disagree that we should consider improving all those policies (except bringing the “living wage” nonsense into the mix) — but if we’re talking about the benefits of breastfeeding, let’s stick to the science of the matter at hand.

Find more here.