Tom Philpott of Mother Jones has written a good article on the demonization of saturated fat, though it falls short of calling out James McWilliams for what he is: a hysterical and discreditable shill for the Industrial Food Machine. Here’s a quote from the Philpott article:
“Simultaneously, as Bittman correctly noted, trans fats–cheap vegetable oils treated with hydrogen so that they remain solid at room temperature–emerged as the food industry’s butter substitute of choice for decades, providing the main substance for margarine. Based on relentless food industry marketing, generations of people grew up thinking trans-fat-laden margarine was healthier than butter–even after science definitively showed that it was much, much worse (a sorry tale I laid out here).
These fat-related marketing triumphs, quite profitable for the food industry, coincided with a surge in diet-related health troubles, including heightened obesity, diabetes, and metabolic-syndrome rates. Bittman is correct to discuss highly processed food in the context of the controversy over fat; and in trying to force it out of the conversation, McWilliams is playing his usual role: reasonable-sounding defender of a highly profitable but dysfunctional industry.”
Philpott’s article takes on another article published by McWilliams in Pacific Standard that makes the claim that butter is back (becoming acceptable again) only because disingenuous food writers are misinterpreting studies in order to push their “eating like grandma” agenda. And this comes from a guy who has long hustled the political agenda of the food conglomerates and pseudo-scientific special interest groups.
McWilliams is a consistent force in banging the drum for GMO foods and seeds, anti-meatism, and industrial-chemical products that are barely laced with food while he carries on a campaign against locavores and self-sufficent types who pursue the traditional/real food lifestyle. Additionally, he has carried on his own private war against saturated fat while supporting his personal preferences – and hatred for all things fat – by promoting a consistent stream of political ploys and junk scientific studies.
The McWilliams article cannot possible be taken seriously at the point that McWilliams refers to the defense of meat eating as “prescribing a heart attack on a plate.” His argument loses all traction – if he ever had any – with that statement. In fact, meat eaters, or any other category of peaceful foodies, are not promoting any political agenda – they are merely forced to defend their choices from their politicized attackers who have continually used coercive tactics to ban or stigmatize traditional foods in favor promoting the wonders of chemical-industrial replacements.
What really has McWilliams all pissy is the fact that New York Times food writer Mark Bittman wrote some kind words about a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that challenged the conventional wisdom on the saturated fat question. Bittman was called out as a zealot who believes we can “egg-and-bacon our way to heart health” when in fact Bittman is a promoter of the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle and the author of a book on that topic.