Author Archives: Matt Ruscigno

About Matt Ruscigno

I'm a vegan Registered Dietitian, endurance athlete and activist living car-free in California. I think fun, adventure, ethics and radical politics go hand in hand.

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer #8, Sunday April 28th 2013

[Update Tuesday 4-23-12: Strava data!]
[Update Monday 4-22-13: It's official; we're going backwards. Again. Same map as last year, which I also embedded below]

A lot has changed in the Los Angeles bike world since I first held this event in 2006! Urban riders have become racers with regularity, racers have found the benefits of riding in the city and unsanctioned bike races are the norm. What I love is that these were the original goals of my bike club, Swarm!, way back in 2005 when we put a name to what we are doing- blurring the line between being a commuter and a racer and adding DIY ethics to everything. Bikes are more than exercise machines- they are a medium for exploring the world! Putting yourself on a bike in a city is still an act of rebellion. With that said I present to you the 2013 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer.

ShawnBannonMtWash

Sunday April 28th 745am at 3626 W Sunset Blvd / Sunset Triangle Park in Silver Lake.

Rider meeting at 810am, roll to first hill at 815.  Please be on time!

Yes- fun, rain, shine, any bike, water, snacks, tube, tools, stokedness, riding just to finish, riding for points, waiting at top of each hill
No- bad attitudes, entitlement, car support, jock mentality, entry fee, prizes
See other FAQ on this earlier post and entire event history here. Last year’s info and ride report are fairly comprehensive. It’s a facebook event too.

Send any questions to BikeSwarm [at] gmail. Day-of announcements on twitter: @BikeSwarm
I may need some more day-of volunteers, please let me know if you can help out. Thank you!

Andrew

What exactly is this?

This is a stage ‘race’ on 10 of the hardest hills in Los Angeles that started in 2006. We ride as a group between hills and then each hill is its own event with points awarded for 1st through 5th. We regroup and ride together to the next hill. The rider with the most points after 10 hills wins! It’s based on Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen. Most riders are out there just to ride all 10 hills in one day, which is no small feat. It’s also a fun tour of hidden roads in Los Angeles.

Red- hills
Blue- route between hills
Green- route back to start from last hill

And strava data is available.

What are the hills?

Micheltorena
Duane
Fargo
Stadium Way/Boylston
Baxter
Marview
Thomas
Commodore
Eldred
Mt Washington

Do I have to race?

Definitely not! Most people on this ride are not racing, but are there just to ride up single every hill, which is a huge endeavor on its own.

Is there an entry fee?

No!

Are there prizes?

No!

Can I ride fixed gear?

You can try! We ride together from hill to hill and any gear that you could get up these hills with will be too low to stay with the group. You are welcome to come out and prove me wrong though. No automobile support to drive your bike around. I don’t care if you are the Messenger World Champion of the World. Using a flip flop hub is okay.

Will I get lost?

Probably not. We ride as a group from hill to hill at a chill pace. At each hill it will be obvious where to go. At any turns or confusing parts I’ll try to have chalk or a volunteer. We regroup at the top only after the last person has made it up. Either way, please familiarize yourself with the hills and the route.

How can I prepare?

Climb. A lot. Also check out all of the hills beforehand and learn the areas we ride through.  A good gauge is Micheltorena off of Sunset Blvd. It’s long with steep sections and if you can make it up that comfortably I think you can hang on this ride. Another test is Fargo St, which is a monster of a hill.  Most people who come out way underestimate how hard this is. Which is why more than half who start don’t finish.

Do I get a meal or picnic or something out of this?

I wish. In the past we’ve done everything from pancake breakfasts to picnics and from t-shirts to patches, all for a free event! I’m not sure we’ll be doing any of those in 2013, but I’ll see what I can do.

Who puts this on?

My bike club, known as Swarm!. We ride everything from alleycats to international UCI races. Collectively we think that the world would be a better place if people rode bikes and ate vegan food more often.

My friends want to watch, can they drive along the course and stop at the hills?

Absolutely not. We’re going to be on narrow roads in quiet neighborhoods; I don’t want to add to the car traffic. They are welcome to ride bikes along with us and I’ll help navigate the best places to see and how to get around. By the end almost half the people with us are just there to watch and cheer on the other riders! Again, no cars. I will ask you to leave. If multiple people cannot abide by this I will simply cancel this and ride away.

How long is this ride?

Plan to be done around 2pm, hopefully sooner.

Anything I can do to help?

Thanks for asking! I need help getting the word out. Please send this page to your bike club/crew/gang. I also may need some volunteers the day of. Getting up and down the hill may or may not be required. Photography is always appreciated, but again, by bike, not car. Get in touch at bikeswarm [at] gmail.

Thank you for your interest and I hope to see you at Sunset Triangle Park on Sunday the 28th!

GroupThomas

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Filed under city, feelmylegs, road

On the Road Spreading the Word About Healthy Eating

I’m elated to be on this tour speaking about the importance of nutrition; it’s a privilege to travel and be hosted by so many exceptional people and organizations.  You never know what to expect when you are setting up these events and I’m always nervous the hour before. Who will come? How will they react?

I was honored to be introduced by old friend Paul Shapiro, founder of Compassion Over Killing, who is now with the Humane Society.

I was honored to be introduced by old friend Paul Shapiro, founder of Compassion Over Killing, who is now with the Humane Society.

In the last 10 days I’ve given 5 presentations and the responses have been beyond amazing. At Austin Peay University in Tennessee I spoke to an exercise physiology class and gave a lecture presented by the Sociology Department. I love sociology, I almost double-majored in undergrad, so I tied in multiple concepts on how our environment has affected our food and transportation choices. For example- 1950’s racism lead to development of car-centric white suburbs; all with federal funding. Poor quality fast food soon followed to cater to this demographic. And I can’t thank my friend Tucker Brown enough for inviting me to speak and hosting me. So cool to hang out with my friend who took me to my first punk show 20 years ago.

In Washington, DC I was hosted by the wonderful people from Compassion Over Killing and presented on vegan athletes in their standing room only office. The next night Sticky Fingers Sweets and Treats graciously hosted me with a special menu! There I talked more in depth about vegan nutrition to another packed room.

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Athletes like Scott Jurek make my presentation easier! Fortunately we have more than anecdotal evidence.

Turns out not only new vegans and flexitarians are hungry (zing!) for nutrition knowledge; seasoned vegans and activists equally want to know how to eat healthy. My presentations are not technical nor do they simply glorify eating vegan. My points are simple:

  • We have lots of research showing vegans diets are not only adequate, but have positive health consequences.
  • It’s more about what you eat than what you don’t eat! Vegans still need to base their diet on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
  • We don’t need to overly restrict foods or food groups once we are eating whole foods plant-based diets. 
  • It takes some work to be vegan! We need to learn the basics of nutrition and make wise choices in order to be the best vegans we can be.

I’m still on the road and have two more upcoming events. Wednesday night I’ll be in NYC at Jivamukti Yoga, presented by The Discerning Brute. Will include a question and answer session with myself and other vegan athletes. There’s a Facebook page and a spectacular event flier.

Saturday I’ll be in Chicago at the Bucktown Wicker Park Library at 3pm, brought to you by Chicago Veg. Event flier here.

If you are in either of these cities, I hope you can make it. Please come and say hello. And I promise that my presentations are not only informative, but fun too!

Lastly, congratulations to Vegan Outreach for handing out their 20 millionth pamphlet.

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Filed under nutrition, travel, vegan

My Favorite Photos of 2012

I am well aware that it is already Spring and this is a ‘favorite of 2012′ post, but hey, better late than never, right? I take a lot of photos. Some end up on facebook or instagram but most never make it off of my phone/camera. I was looking through all 1400 of them and thought I’d pick some of the ones I like best from last year.

Thanks for reading (and looking!) and thanks to everyone who was a part of this madness!

TourDeFat

Tour De Fat is one of the funnest days of the year. And I don’t even drink!

When I attempted the Zion 100. My first of failed 100-mile runs. Still a day well spent.

When I attempted the Zion 100. My first of two failed 100-mile runs. Still a day well spent.

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California Coast. Many many hours spent here in 2012.

Big dude big dog.

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Aaron Edge’s bag. He’s the dude I tweeted about from #furtherfasterforever who was recently diagnosed with MS.

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CicLAvia plus pupusa. Los Angeles!

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More CicLAvia hangouts. MacArthur Park.

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This tiny bridge connected two bike routes and not only made cyclists’ ride way shorter and easier, but safer. Also called ‘Jesus Bridge’ because google earth hadn’t caught up to Strava and it looked like you rode on water….

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Any dog in my sight is at risk of being picked up. Especially pugs. This is pre Zion 100.

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Can I help you? At the NYC Veggie Pride Parade.

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I love classic East Coast brick buildings with their shady fire escapes. Bethlehem, PA.

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I only went mountain biking a few times in 2012 (wtf?) but this ride with my friend Timoni was a good one. Snake!

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At the 24 Hours of the Enchanted Forest, where I finished third place in solo single speed. 2am blurry photo with a crooked wheel?

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A pug in a milk crate basket is already great. Another great part is that Paul, who I did the British Columbia bike touring / mountaineering trip with, saw this photo and thought I was taking this bike.

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British Columbia. SO MANY BEARS.

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Mountaineering cabin view. Hell yes.

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Us on the mountain from the previous photo!

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Mountaineering challenged me in many ways. Most of them mental!

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Roped in, on the side of a steep mountain, discussing if it’s safe to be where we are. Why not pull out my phone and shoot a photo?

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Whistler Mountain Bike Park. I had such a blast. One of the best days of the year for sure. Wish I had more photos, but I was too busy getting rad.

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Vancouver. There was a serious race. I ate a veggie dog from a vendor. End of story.

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North Shore, Vancouver. This place is internationally known and changed mountain biking forever. Such a privilege to be there and ride bikes! I saw this the first day, thought it was insane and then rode it the second day. I guess I got use to the bike I was borrowing? Haha.

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Twenty-four hour vegetarian dinner in Vancouver. I love breakfast, in case you didn’t know that.

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Back to Eden vegan bakery in Portland. A treat. And mirrors on the walls.

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This pug was going wild while the owner went shopping. I had just locked up my bike and was on the phone but fortunate enough to capture this.

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Donovan at the Headlands 50/100. He paced me on my first 50 miler. And then ran 50 more miles while I hitch hiked back to SF from Marin County. Beautiful race!

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We fostered kittens for awhile at my house. This one was born with only one eye. Adorable.

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You know it’s an adventure when you are sleeping in a high school gym. This is Christian, my college housemate and close friend who joined me for several hundred miles when I rode cross-country in 2001. Here we are at the Oil Creek 100. He ran the 100k and I DNF’d the 100-miler.

Oil Creek 100. I was planning on quitting at the mile 62 aid station but then somehow still blacked out after I sat down. Not sure what happened! This is me trying to get warm and figure out the meaning of life.

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Excuse me, can I hang out with your pug?

Thor. The pit bull rescue. Maybe the cutest puppy ever?

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Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships. Yes, I’m pretty stoked and wearing a wig. Photo by Donovan. Hooliganness by Los Angeles.

Hey dawg.

I love garlic. And have the tattoo to prove it.

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Art.

First CX race of the year. I may not of placed well, but I did do this every lap. Photo by

First CX race of the year. I may not of placed well, but I did do this every lap. Photo by PB Creative.

For the first time every I regularly made pizza from scratch at home.

For the first time ever I regularly made pizza from scratch.

Backside of Amethyst in Montecito Heights during Feel My Legs I'm a Racer. Photo by @Area45

Backside of Amethyst in Montecito Heights during Feel My Legs I’m a Racer. Photo by @Area45

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Filed under city, off-road, race, run, travel

Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes Update!

[Thursday March 21 1145am update: Still have about 10 prints left!]

You probably have noticed a lack of updates on our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes project, but it’s for good reason, don’t you worry. Fellow co-creator and bad-ass filmmaker Sasha Perry has spent the last 10 weeks as Executive Producer of Whale Wars filming with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on an anti-whaling ship in the Antarctic Ocean! I’ve been able to email with her and it sounds like it has been an unbelievable experience. Maybe you saw the Sea Shepherd ship being rammed by a whaling ship that is 5x bigger?! Now, after two and a half months at sea, they are returning to Melbourne, Australia after keeping the illegal whalers to the smallest kill year yet!

SeaShepherdBookClub

Sea Shepherd Book Club getting some important reading in at the bottom of the world.

Where does that leave Day in the Life? Since our Kickstarter campaign we have created six episodes- Donovan Jenkins, Catherine Johnson, Megan Hebbe, Justin Torrellas, Rob Dolecki and Michael Arnstein. And we have at least two more episodes in production! We feel we have made very good use of the funds we were so fortunate to receive. But as that money dries up we were forced to discuss what’s next. People have used the videos as the education tools they are designed for and we have gotten wonderful feedback. Just last week I showed the Cara Gillis episode, where she kicks my ass on hill intervals, to a packed room of over 125 people! So obviously we want to keep making them, but we decided to make a small change.

CaraJeffscreening

I recently spoke at a bike shop to over 125 people interested in plant-based nutrition. Screening the Cara Gillis episode was a hit!

We are going to move Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes to a new site. A site that isn’t my personal one, but one that is exclusively about plant-based athletes. We are very excited! Domains have been purchased, twitter handle has been secured and other important internet-y stuff has already been done.  What is the site? Well, we can’t tell you just yet. Because there’s nothing there! Here’s where you come in. We have a few goodies left over from our previous fundraiser that I’m putting up for sale with 100% of the proceeds going toward the setup of the new site. Orders can be made via my Paypal using mattruscigno at gmail.com. Please mention the specific item you are interested in and order by Saturday March 23rd at 1159pm PST!

Make Rad Decisions

I have about 20 (out of 100- each hand-numbered) of the Make Rad Decisions posters left. They were printed by the awesome Tom P from Bird Apt Printing on heavy-duty 8.5×11 poster board using environmentally-friendly inks. They rule! Prints are $15 shipped to the US. International orders get in touch.

Appetite For Reduction

I have two copies of Appetite For Reduction signed by Isa Moskowitz and myself. I think these are worth at least $40 shipped! Though instead of going straight to Paypal let’s see if we can do a silent auction in the comments. Top two bidders get em! Don’t make me give up my faith in humanity by giving fake bids, okay? These would make an awesome gift for your favorite cookbook fan. Last bids taken by Saturday March 23rd at 1159pm PST.

Since I already have these items, 100% of the funds (after stupid Paypal and shipping) go toward our new site and new episodes! Thank you so much for supporting our project thus far and we look forward to making more episodes as soon as Sasha is back on land. Well, we’ll give her a few days to get used to no longer being at sea and then we’ll make some new ones!

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Filed under Day in the Life, nutrition, vegan

Posters for San Diego and New York City talks

I love fliers, posters, whatever you want to call them, I love them. It’s probably the old punk in me. Old as in standing in front of a copy machine with scissors, photos and a marker and cutting and copying, cutting and copying until you get it just right. Things have changed a bit (most fliers never become actual hard copies!) but I still love them. Below are two that my hosts made for upcoming talks in San Diego and New York City. Thanks Cycling Camp SD and Discerning Brute! If you live in or near one of these cities please pass them on. More info on my talks here: www.truelovehealth.com/speaking.

MattRuscignoSD.jpg

 

 

MattRuscignoNYC

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Upcoming Speaking Engagements

I’ve created a page for my speaking engagements: www.truelovehealth.com/speaking and have included the Spring events below. I love doing these sort of events! If you are near any of these please come out and say hello. And bring your friends! Thank you to all of the people who have helped to make these possible.

All events are free of charge, unless otherwise noted.

*Wednesday March 13th 6pm  Hi-Tec Bikes,  San Diego, CA

Adding Plant-based Meals to Your Sports Nutrition Plan: The How and Why
Brought to you by my friends at Cycling Camp San Diego. See the event page on facebook for more info.

 

*Saturday March 23rd  Mission Viejo Hospital, Mission Viejo, CA

Plant-based and Powerful: What We Know About Vegan Athletes
Part of the Orange District Dietetic Association Fundraiser. May require registration.

 

*Tuesday March 26th 4-6pm Austin Peay University, Clarksville, TN

 The Unathletic Vegan Athlete, is that Even Possible?  How Being Physically Active Can Have Nothing to do with Sports
Hosted by the APU Sociology Department and Tucker Brown, PhD.

 

*Wednesday March 27th 7-830pm  Compassion Over Killing Headquarters, Washington, DC

Film Screening on Vegan Athletes with Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD
Limited seating, reservations required!

 

*Thursday March 27th 7pm  Sticky Fingers, Washington, DC

Plant-Based Nutrition Discussion with Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD
Limited seating, please get there early! More info here.  Special menu by Sticky Fingers! Hosted with Compassion Over Killing.


*Wednesday April 3rd 7-9pm  Jivamukti Yoga, New York, NY

Athletes and Plant-based Nutrition: Get Real Science From An Expert
Presented by The Discerning Brute and will include a question and answer session with myself and other vegan athletes. Ten dollar suggested donation. Facebook page and spectacular event flier!

 

*Sunday April 7th Chicago, IL

Sports Nutrition: What We Know About Plant-based Athletes
Details TBD

 

*Thursday, May 2nd 2-3pm Boise, Idaho

Sports Nutrition: What We Know About Plant-based Athletes
Idaho Dietetic Association annual meeting. Requires conference registration.

*Friday or Saturday May 3rd or 4th Portland, Oregon

Athletes and Plant-based Nutrition: Get Real Science From An Expert
Details TBD. Hopefully at Velo Cult with the my friends from Herbivore!

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My Thoughts on The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Corporate Sponsorship

I’m an idealist, there’s no doubt about it. I dream big! With my beliefs though compromise is a necessity to get anything done. It’s a reality I accepted when I started studying nutrition as a teenager at Penn State University. And there really is no better analogy for compromise than my academic pursuit to become a Registered Dietitian.  Yes, Cattle and Dairy Boards have influenced nutrition as we currently know it, but I’m confident that thanks to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics I received the best education in nutrition available. I have no regrets about becoming an RD.

Note that I say ‘best education in nutrition available.’ There is room for improvement and not everything my professional organization does I agree with. My ideal organization is really unfathomable, so I choose my battles and do more to promote what I want to see than to fight what I am against.

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With that said, Michele Simon’s report, And Now A Word From Our Sponsors, hit a chord with me. It’s no secret that The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics works closely with major corporations and big food interests. I remember the first year I attended the Food and Nutrition Convention and Expo, the Academy’s annual conference, and was staying with a friend of mine. She noticed my conference bag and said, ‘Coca-cola sponsors your conference? Really? That’s insane that these are supposed to be nutrition experts and something so unhealthy sponsors your conference!’ And in one sentence she nailed the problem with having such sponsors. Not to mention the embarrassment!

The issue here is power.

With size and money big companies become powerful. They alter the environment we live in (‘environment’ in both senses of the word!) and normalize use of their products. It’s no coincidence that Coke billboards are everywhere, portion sizes have grown tremendously and nearly everyone on the planet knows what soda is.  Do you remember the Beef Industry freak-out over Meatless Monday being in an internal USDA memo? And the USDA issuing a public apology immediately? That’s power.

They have influence.

They influence government regulation from safety standards to advertising to young children. Big brands have billions of dollars to advertise their products, buy smaller companies and influence decision-makers and policy-creators like Registered Dietitians.

People say we need to hear both sides and we have to work with them to make change.

But the reality is their number one interest is in selling more of their product. It’s the nature of capitalism. The power dynamic is off: health professionals are not on equal footing, it is naive to think so. They have fought every single effort to reduce their effect on our health and the planet. If you work for them you are merely doing damage control.

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One of my first tweets ever was this photo from the 2010 FNCE in Boston of RD’s lined up to get free soda from Coca-Cola.

This is what makes small companies different.

It’s not about any sponsors. It’s about the right ones. They do not have the access to power and influence, so say the Mushroom Council or Broccoli Growers Association (one of those is real!) are not able to throw their weight around the way Coca Cola does. They don’t have the power to promote positive research and to bury negative outcomes. Or to buy off health professionals. Selling sugar-water is much much more profitable than selling vegetables straight out of the ground and these profits must be protected. When we work with them we are helping to protect their power, influence and profits. Is it worth the damage done to our field?

Yes, Registered Dietitians are smart enough to know if research has been influenced.

But that is not the issue. It is merely the association with our professional organization that is problematic. Like the story of my friend who pointed out the blatant hypocrisy. It’s embarrassing. We can do better. I understand defending your professional organization, but fellow RD’s please put your ego aside and think about what’s best to remain credible and move on as the nutrition experts we are.

A few links to read more about this.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics did respond to Michele Simon’s report, but it’s either purposefully ignorant or simply they don’t understand what the issue is. And she has since responded and pointed out what they are missing.

This has gotten some media in the United States, which Michele Simon covers here, but the most interesting, in my opinion, is this Al Jazeera 25-minute video on the topic.

The Union of Concerned Scientists briefly cover the influence of corporations on science in a recent article, which I recommend if this idea is new to you.

And every single person who works in the food and nutrition field should read Food Politics by the great Marion Nestle. And while you are at it, World Hunger: 12 Myths will give you a good idea of how corporate interests are protected at the expense of people’s health all over the world.

To my Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

I am proud to be a Registered Dietitian. I have compromised with you tremendously over the years. I know we don’t see eye to eye on everything. But this is a big deal and we need to make some changes. Please read the suggestions that Michele Simon makes, listen to your members (and ex-members! This is why so many have quit!) and let’s continue to be the experts on nutrition. We don’t need Coca Cola’s money to do that. And taking it just isn’t worth our reputation.

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Filed under eat, nutrition, political, read