The Physician Boondoggle

Boondoggle: “Work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.”

The Doctor Is Cooking, New York Times, 22 may 2018
Here we were, 80 eager physicians from across North America in a large teaching kitchen in Northern California.

My anger burns white hot sometimes. We don’t improve the diets of millions of Americans by sending rich, white, privileged doctors on a boondoggle to the affluent area of Napa Valley, California to learn how to cook farro! As I said, as I keep saying, poor people already know how to cook. The reasons they don’t eat well are myriad … they don’t have the time, the transportation to acquire food, the money to pay for it, the place to store it, the kitchen to cook it in, the tools to cook it with. They are coping with physical and mental disabilities … wheelchairs, poor vision, amputations, depression, addiction, dementia. Wealth and income inequality are at the root of their poor diets, and so, of their chronic illnesses. Not their purported inability to dice onions (something these physicians were taught at the conference).

Look …

As physicians themselves aren’t typically the best models for nutrition — long hours and on-the-run meals are common — bringing doctors into the kitchen may also be a way to encourage self-care as well, both through the mindfulness inherent in food preparation and the consumption of wholesome foods.

Physicians are too harried to cook? Give me a break. Farm workers aren’t? Food service workers? Housekeepers? Sanitation workers? Truck drivers don’t eat on the run? And, here again we have a focus on “wholesome foods,” the access to which is based on one’s location on a socioeconomic ladder.

And this!

Much of the day was also spent addressing nutrition myths (for instance, low-fat diets don’t necessarily lead to weight loss).

Low fat diets do lead to weight loss! That low-fat diets are a myth is a myth! They spend 4 days learning myths?

Obesity Energetics: Body Weight Regulation And The Effects Of Diet Composition, Gastroenterology, Online 10 Feb 2017

Our meta-analysis of 32 controlled feeding studies with isocaloric substitution of carbohydrate for fat found that both energy expenditure and fat loss were greater with lower fat diets.

If you want to teach physicians about nutrition, do so in the classroom. Teach them the Krebs cycle, the physiology of digestion and absorption. Teach them the essential nutrients. Teach them that alcohol is a carcinogen. (This conference promotes alcohol consumption. Well, the Napa Valley after all…)

Where are the people of color here?

Below is a video from this year’s conference (it has been running for over a decade). And … they’re selling Spanish olive oil! I guess they need sponsors. Not only is olive oil not something you should be consuming by the glassful (if at all), but it’s expensive, at least the authentic, imported, extra virgin olive oil they’re selling here is. The Mediterranean diet is beneficial for its vegetables, not its fat.

2 thoughts on “The Physician Boondoggle

  1. Bix Post author

    The Mediterranean diet is beneficial in spite of the oil, and fish, and alcohol, and lean meats, and cheese, and other unhealthy foods people claim are part of it … not because of them.
    The Mediterranean diet is beneficial because it gets people to eat more vegetables. It gets them to eat at McDonald’s less often.


  2. Pingback: Want To Solve The Obesity Crisis? Fight Poverty, Not Poor People | Fanatic Cook

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