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Archive for November 21, 2011

No Iowa Dairy for President Clinton

Grass Fed Dairy Cattle

President Bill Clinton was on the Daily Show recently promoting his new book, Back to Work. He looks frail, but engaged in life. I got into an argument with a Hillary Clinton supporter during the run up to the 2008 Iowa precinct caucuses based on making this same statement. I said “frail” but maybe I should have said “less big and beefy.” He did look less big and beefy when I heard him speak at the Solon High School during the winter before the caucus. He still does, despite television’s ability to rejuvenate appearance.

Clinton is reported to have started a treatment for his cardio vascular system promoted by a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic and based on a whole food, plant based nutritional program. He lost weight, and presumably the treatment is repairing his cardio vascular system as it claims to do. The film Forks over Knives presents a general introduction to the treatment promoted at the Cleveland Clinic, and as Johnny Carson might have said, it is interesting stuff.

Forsaking meat and dairy products, as the Cleveland Clinic program requires, seems unlikely to catch on in Iowa. I sent organic dairy farmer Francis Thicke, who farms near Fairfield, an email with these questions,

“…what I am asking you as a dairy farmer is have you heard of this nutritional treatment for disease, and if yes, what are your thoughts about it? The large agricultural associations have attempted to marginalize the physicians who are developing this treatment, and I am wondering if you share the same concerns they do about people who point to detrimental effects of meat and dairy on the cardiovascular system?”

Thicke replied,

“Just yesterday I heard about the film Forks over Knives when I was up at ISU speaking to a couple of classes. I think it is very interesting. As a matter of fact, my wife and I have been trying to get a lot more veggies in our diet in recent years. If it is healthier, I think people should go for it. However, I doubt that the whole nation will go vegan overnight.”

At least one dairy farmer is not worried about a sudden shedding of dairy products from our lives. That is probably the norm. People’s habits, like drinking fluid milk or putting cheese on a taco are engrained.

Consumer products marketers understand consumer habits and what it takes to change or encourage them. For all the complaints about fast food, when a person eats a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese or an Arby’s roast beef sandwich with “horsey sauce,” it is tasty, and that tastiness is by design. Getting people to change habits by eating more plant based foods seems as likely today as it was when Francis Moore Lappe published Diet for a Small Planet in 1971. While revolutionary in concept, the idea of eating more plant based foods didn’t stick with the masses then, and seems unlikely to stick now.

What was bothersome about Forks over Knives was that it seemed like a too long infomercial about the treatment process. The expectation was a documentary, but what we got was case studies similar to what we might see on the latest edition of a Marie Osmond hosted Nutrisystem commercial. The Cleveland Clinic idea is pretty basic. Check in with a physician, get training in how to prepare food and then follow the plan. Sounds like something fitness promoter Tony Little might have come up with.

What had me thinking about President Clinton’s appearance, rather than the book he was promoting? Maybe it is that his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is the deeper thinker of the two. Maybe it is the difficulty in taking anything that comes out of Comedy Central too seriously. More likely, it is the fact that a book about economic policy is far less interesting than a weight loss or health plan will ever be in modern American society, and perhaps that is the problem. We are consumed by our interest in things we can personally relate to, and the sound of another politician talking about economic policy is blocked out by his appearance and the knowledge that his health and diet plan might work for us too.

This Week On The Fallon Forum: Occupy, Super Committee, Radon

Monday – Thursday from 7:00-800 pm, join us for the fusion of politics and civility at 98.3 WOW-FM and on-line at  Call (515) 312-0983 or (866) 908-TALK to participate in the conversation.  If you miss the show, you can hear it as a podcast and please help support local progressive talk radio with an online donation  or by check to PO Box 13421, Des Moines, IA 50310.   


Locally, the intelligence level of  talk radio is about to soar this week, what with a bunch of truly talented folks filling in for me.

Monday, Jon Krieg and Kathleen McQuillen with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) talk with Arnie Alpert, director of AFSC’s New Hampshire office. Arnie will provide an overview of Occupy movements across the country and weigh-in on some of AFSC’s economic justice priorities.

Tuesday, Peggy Huppert with the American Cancer Society hosts an informational chat with David Osterberg about radon. David’s the associate professor in public health at the University of Iowa. Having served in the Iowa Legislature for a decade, David is well-qualified to discuss noxious gases.

Wednesday, Charles Goldman and Jeffrey Weiss talk about the Super Committee’s deliberations regarding the federal budget. Either the recommendations will have been announced by today or the across-the-board 10% cut goes into place. Regardless, Charles is likely to be unhappy.

Thursday is Thanksgiving and there will be no Fallon Forum to brighten your day. Have a great time with family, friends and food. Despite these challenging times, there’s plenty to be grateful for. Among other blessings, I’m thankful to all of you who take time to share your feedback on pressing issues. I hope you continue to enjoy the radio show, and I’ll be back on the air November 28th.

So, tune in at 98.3 WOW-FM and online. You can download the Fallon Forum as a podcast, too.  And don’t forget to visit The Fallon Forum website at  Thanks!