Scientific Kitchen: Hard to Swallow Facts about Food Trends and Nutrition in America

(Photo courtesy of Scientific Kitchen)

For those of us trying to eat healthy and get to or keep a healthy weight, we are constantly barraged with ever-changing, and often conflicting food trends and nutritional messages telling us: what foods to eat, when to eat it, how many times a day to eat, how much or how little to eat, how far our food should travel from farm to fork, when it should be picked, how much we should cook it (if at all), to juice or not to juice, kale chips are healthy, kale is bad for your thyroid, warnings against too much fat or too little protein, too little fat or too much protein, soy is good for women, soy is bad for women, we are eating too many carbs, cavemen never ate grains and neither should we, gluten is poison/gluten is healthy,  freekah is the new quinoa, use coconut oil, don’t use butter, butter is back, paleo is the new vegan, duck fat lowers cholesterol, schmaltz is the new duck fat, paleo-schmaleo, vegan is the new paleo…

The latest food fad: getting the correct amount of bacteria in our “microbiomes”–the more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere in our bodies and help us digest our food, process vitamins and nutrients and ward off bad/disease-causing bacteria.

Yet, still remains our American paradox, as Michael Pollan described back in 2009 in his book, In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto: the more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we are becoming as a nation. While his oft-quoted advice, “Eat food. Not too Much. Mostly plants.” still stands as good words to live by, properly executing it in this food environment remains a challenge. With all this food and nutrition information, our diets have never been less nutritious and our nation’s obesity rate never higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the obesity rate for adults (those having a body mass index or BMI of 30 or higher) hit 28.3 percent in 2013, up from from 27.4 percent in 2011. For adolescents, the rate was 13.7 percent in 2013, up from 13 percent in 2011.

May 31 Program at NYU Offers a Generous Helping of Reality about our Diets
For a hard look at the facts and the hype behind some of our food trends, join a panel of award-winning food journalists, doctors, and scientists at this Sunday’s Scientific Kitchen: Hard To Swallow. As part of the World Science Festival‘s Scientific Kitchen series at NYU’s Global Center, the panel helps sift the solid science from the pseudoscience and marketing for a generous helping of reality about our diets.

Moderated by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, the panel explores questions like:

  • Does science support our love affair with supplements?
  • Are we damaging our health with hormone and antibiotic-treated livestock?
  • Has the processed food industry used sugar, salt, and fat to lure us into buying and eating more?
  • Is our environment too clean for our own good? Are we compromising our microbiome?

Event Details

DATE: Sunday, May 31, 2015
TIME: 11:00 AM-12:30 PM
VENUE: NYU Global Center, Grand Hall, 238 Thompson Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY
TICKET PRICES: $25 ($15 Students, $40 Silver, $50 Gold)


Michael Moss
Journalist, Author
Michael Moss is the author of the No. 1 New York Times best seller Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (Random House, 2013). He has been an investigative reporter with the New York Times since 2000. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2010, and was a finalist for the prize in 2006 and 1999. He is also the recipient of a Loeb Award and an Overseas Press Club citation. Before joining the Times, he was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Eve Heyn, and two sons.


Brian Elbel
Population Health and Health Policy
Brian Elbel is an associate professor of Population Health and Health Policy at the NYU School of Medicine, where he heads the Section on Health Choice, Policy, and Evaluation within the Department of Population Health, and the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Elbel studies how individuals make decisions that influence their health and health care, with a particular emphasis on evaluation, obesity, and food choice. His work uses behavioral economics to understand health and health-care decision-making among vulnerable groups, and the role and influence of public policy on these decisions. He directs the CDC-funded NYU Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN), which examines several initiatives intended to improve healthy eating and drinking in New York City. His research has been funded by, among others, the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, and multiple foundations. His work has been featured in numerous national television, radio, and print media outlets. Brian Elbel has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and an MPH and Ph.D. in Health Policy/Health Economics from Yale University.

Paul Marantz
Physician, Epidemiologist
Paul R. Marantz (MD, MPH) is associate dean for Clinical Research Education, and professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Population Health, and Medicine, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System. He is associate director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Einstein and Montefiore, an NIH-funded center that aims to improve human health by advancing the efficiency and quality of translational and clinical research. In this role, Marantz established a patient-centered outcomes research training program, which examines how medicine is practiced and received in real-world environments. Paul Marantz’s focus is on advancing evidence-based public health and clinical practice decisions and improving medical and research education. He has published on a range of topics, including the need for higher standards of evidence for dietary guidelines and on novel approaches to teaching about population health.

Catherine Price
Author, Journalist
Catherine Price’s written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post Magazine, Slate, Salon, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, the Oprah Magazine, and Parade, among others. Her previous books include a parody travel guide called 101 Places Not to See Before You Die (Harper Paperbacks 2010), and The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook: A Year in the Life of a Restaurant (Harper Collins 2009). Price is a two-time Société de Chimie Industrielle fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and her book, Vitamania was supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She has also been a fellow at the Mesa Refuge, the Middlebury Program in Environmental Reporting, and the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT. Price has been nominated for an American Society of Magazine Editors Award and a James Beard Award. She’s passionate about nutrition, diabetes, health, and travel, and also founded a legal-themed clothing shop called Illegal Briefs. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2001, Catherine Price is a frequent contributor to

(This program is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of its Public Understanding of Science and Technology Initiative).

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