What should I eat today? It depends who you trust.

I ate out last evening and splurged a bit (I had one glass of Riesling, split an calamari appetizer, ate two-thirds of a Thai entree and split a favorite dessert, sticky rice with mango). So today my weight is up a little, but still within my allowable range.

Watch out for scam artists

But that sent me to my stack of recent articles on healthy and unhealthy eating and in particular to one from the April 2011 edition of the Nutrition Action Healthletter put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). I have four of their articles sitting on my work desk amidst others I found on the internet or in a medical journal.

The one that caught my eye was titled "10 Common Food Goofs: "Fool me once..." and written by Bonnie Liebman. She is the Director of Nutrition for CSPI, got an MS degree from Cornell and has worked since 1977 for the CSPI almost from its inception.

I was going to ping off her article, but then got caught up after Googling Liebman, in following the Web trail back to a harsh critique of CSPI coming from an organization called The Center for Consumer Freedom (TCFCF)

I personally respect CSPI, but my intellectual curiosity kicked in and I wanted to know if the criticisms, calling CSPI the "undisputed leader among America's 'food police,'" came from a valid source. It took a bit of hunting, but what I found was interesting.

The non-paper trail for TCFCF leads to an interesting character, Richard Berman, a high-paid lobbyist for the restaurant and beverage industry. I don't know his actual salary, but he traded in one very fancy house for another even fancier one in the past decade and a half. One ABC article said his business got $1.5 million back in 2004 from TCFCF.

His internet overview of CSPI slams its director, Michael Jacobson, an MIT-trained PhD microbiologist. But when I followed up on Jacobson's reputation, I found the Center for Disease Control (CDC) had given him its 2010 Foundation Hero's Award.

Berman, on the other hand, was noted in the 2006 ABC article I found online, as one of a growing group of lobbyists who've set up non-profit front groups to push their corporate messages. The Center for Media and Democracy was quoted as saying groups have filed complaints with the IRS against such smear tactics. A former IRS division director was quoted as saying, "If someone sets up a website claiming the moon is made of green cheese and they go through some elaborate proof of that, the IRS isn't going to say that's too absurd. It's a form of free speech."

So I'm going to stick with CSPI's publications and ignore Berman's industry-favoring slant. I found it interesting that one of the websites I found in tracing Berman's roots is titled activistcash.com.

I think my bottom message is don't believe all that you read. Check up even on sites and publications you normally have confidence in.

That was a divergence from my usual blog posts, but I thought it was worth my time and hopefully yours too.


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