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A Cacophony of Culinary Lunatics

The very ingredient some rail against is the very ingredient others recommend, with equal passion and conviction, as the substitute for the thing they know to be the true source of all evil in the kitchen.
09/17/2014 12:45pm ET | Updated November 17, 2014
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Let's face it, ISIS is pretty scary. But it isn't especially scary because it represents something like 30,000 men under arms. The U.S. alone could field a force of a million if need be, and our arms are much better, too. What makes it scary is the radical ideology that holds it together. It's because of that, that thousands more would flood in to replace the fallen. It's the radicalism that is so hard to fight, and defeat.

That radicalism seems like lunacy to many of us. But it is the product of a well understood process. People embrace a point of view, then associate selectively with those who share it. It isn't long before it seems like the only point of view there is; the only one that makes sense. Whatever the evidence in support of other points of view, it is irrelevant -- because no one you know ever mentions it. You live in an echo chamber.

I recently announced the launch of my wife's beautiful recipe site, Cuisinicity. It features nothing more, and nothing less, than the very recipes that have nourished my family and me these past decades. It is the very food we love, and that has loved us back.

There are no strings attached. The site is a pure expression of our desire to pay it forward. It's all free, to use or ignore as you choose. No fees, no ads, no pitches. As my wife says, it really is an act of love. We have a beautiful, healthy family. That is a blessing born partly of good fortune, and partly of good practice. We can only wish you the good fortune. The practice can be paid forward -- and since we can, we feel we should.

Many hundreds, if not thousands, have embraced the Cuisinicity offering in just the spirit intended, and my wife gets plenty of wonderful feedback. But on the other hand, we do hear back every day from people protesting some ingredient or another. The protests aren't numerous; they trickle in. But they are noteworthy just the same, because they seem to represent a multitude of echo chambers.

In any given echo chamber, dairy is evil; or canola oil is; or gluten is; or eggs are; or grains are; or fish is; or... well, you get the idea.

But here's the trouble with that: one echo chamber's meat is another's poison. In other words, the very ingredient some rail against is the very ingredient others recommend, with equal passion and conviction, as the substitute for the thing they know to be the true source of all evil in the kitchen.

Thankfully, we are not yet killing one another over this -- but it seems much the same kind of mentality and religious fervor that is invoked when we do. That's concerning.

What I eat, and recommend, is pretty well informed. I am the product of roughly 40,000 hours of post-graduate training; and 25 years of research, teaching, and clinical practice. The third edition of my now more than 700-page, extensively referenced nutrition textbook is hot off the presses. I have been charged with reviewing the nutrition literature and reaching a balanced conclusion.

If we disagree, it's not because I'm ignorant. It's because we disagree. I eat, and enjoy, everything featured on Cuisinicity. You, of course, should eat -- whatever you want.

But I do think we should all be careful about the cacophony that ensues when we all make noise, but nobody bothers to listen. I think we should consider the hazards of culinary lunacy where everyone knows everything, and no one is willing to allow that one person's meat is another's poison. I think we poison the stew with so many adamant opinions.

The good news is that, unlike ISIS, at least this radicalism, thus far, isn't lethal. But on the other hand, it isn't very appetizing.

-fin

David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACPeats wholesome foods in sensible combinations, and along with his family, loves the food that loves him back. As a result, he will almost certainly go to heaven. Or at least be able to fly. Well, he can do chin-ups, anyway.

Author, Disease Proof ("Listen to my son, he's a doctor!" - Dr. Katz' Mother)

Co-parent, Cuisinicity.com ("I can't talk, my mouth is full!" - Dr. Katz)