Dear human species,
Today we, the professionals of nutrition, offer you our resignation. This letter—signed by virtually every nutrition scientist and technician, clinical nutritionist, dietician, and food journalist, worldwide—is our heartfelt apology.
We screwed up. We failed completely.
We may have killed millions of people. We’re really, really sorry about that. However:
Our most important message to you today is: we know absolutely nothing about nutrition. Our field is intellectually bankrupt.
What’s worse, we have no clue how to find out anything about nutrition.
The only conclusion we can draw, from decades of elaborate and extremely expensive research, is that our research methods don’t work.
Admittedly, in retrospect, many of us were incompetent, were biased or outright corrupted by power interests, or pursued personal food ideologies that had no basis in data. However, even our largest, most careful studies, funded by neutral parties and run by our best scientists, gave only equivocal results.
We’d totally understand if you never want to have anything to do with us again. There’s no reason you should listen to anything we have to say. However, we do have two requests.
- We’re pretty darn sure no one else knows anything about nutrition, either. Please don’t listen to “alternative” nutrition quacks. We’ve been there, and we know.
- Obviously, there’s no point doing any more nutrition research for the foreseeable future. It would just be more of the same. However, we’d like to ask that some of the nutrition research budget be redirected into meta-nutritional research: to try to understand why we failed, and if there are other methods that might work.
- Please eat a healthy, balanced diet.1
[Every nutritionist in the world]
1. Just kidding!
Dear nutrition professionals,
Apparently, you are clueless. You have no idea what your jobs are.
As your employers, we thought we were hiring people with more than two neurons, who could figure out the obvious without having it spelled out completely literally. But no.
Your job is to wear white lab coats while saying that food ingredients are healthy and unhealthy, and to wave charts around. That makes the ingredients authoritatively healthy and unhealthy, which covers our asses.
Some of us have to feed something to school children. Parents demand that school lunches be “healthy.” What does that mean? You don’t know, and we don’t care. What matters is that when parents sue the school district, we can point at you waving charts around. “See! Science! Science says it’s healthy! Go away!”
Some of us have to sell breakfast pastries. Consumers demand that their breakfast be “healthy.” We know you have no idea what that means, because for every ingredient on our master list of industrial food components, you have said it was good one year and bad the next. We made up our own chart, you know? Three columns: ingredient, study that proves it causes cancer, study that proves it prevents cancer. Our food engineers make pastries out of whatever optimizes cost and shelf life, and then the marketing department pastes “Coreopsis free! Now with added chelicerates!” on it. That’s what makes a healthy breakfast pastry.
Some of us make most of what everyone eats: high fructose corn syrup, soy oil, and wheat flour. Just one of our companies sold $81 billion of that stuff last year. It has been authoritatively proven to be healthy. By Science. By you.
Go back to work. Your resignations are hereby rejected. If you refuse to continue waving confusing charts around, we will hire other people who are less fussy. There will be nutritionists; we don’t care whether or not they are you.
[The governments of every country in the world, the agriculture industry, the food processing industry, the supermarket industry, and so forth.]