Fighting Cancer With A Fork

Approximately 1.8 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and more than 600,000 will die from it. But there are ways to protect yourself. American Cancer Society researchers estimate that at least 42% of new cancer cases may be avoidable , with 18% being related to lifestyle factors like diet and physical activity.

Foods contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and phyto- chemicals that help prevent DNA damage or assist in its repair. These substances are particularly found in plant foods and appear to work together in ways that provide the protection from certain cancers.  

Attempt to prevent cancer by giving large groups of people vitamin supplements or phytochemical extracts thought to account for the plants beneficial effects on cancer development have not been successful. In fact, a number of studies have noted that more harm than good results from the use of high amounts of individual supplements such as vitamin C, beta carotene, and vitamin E. Particular types of food clearly provide greater levels protection against cancer than supplements.

One major role plant foods play in reducing cancer risk appears to be related to the antioxidant function of certain vitamins and chemicals. These antioxidants in food neutralize reactive oxygen and other molecules to prevent them from damaging the DNA and also to repair DNA when necessary. Many brightly colored vegetables and fruits contain phyto – chemicals that act as antioxidants, and their consumption is being encouraged. Taking antioxidants as supplements have not been shown to have the same beneficial effects as those found in foods. It is thought that these chemicals work best synergistically.

There are other ways that some phytochemicals help to fight cancer formation. Vegetables from the cruciferous family for example broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, appear to turn off genes that help produce proteins that increase the ability of cancer cells to grow blood vessels that support the continued spread of cancer. Substances in food that reduce inflammation may also decrease cancer risk by reducing the number of oxidized particles in cells that can damage DNA.

Dietary patterns and lifestyles related to reduced cancer risk

  • Consume a plant-based diet that includes five plus servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits daily, including those that are dark green, orange, and red.
  • Consume 3 plus whole grain products daily.
  • Regularly consume dried beans nuts and seeds.
  • Include fish and seafood lean beef, chicken, pork and other meats.
  • Avoid alcohol in excess.
  • Include 30 minutes 5 plus days a week of physical activity.
  • Maintain normal weight.

What does recent research say? From Eating Well Magazine, Nov. 2020

Consume more soy.  Studies have shown that flavonoids in plants like soy can alter certain aspects of cells related to tumor growth.  These flavonoids may protect against hormone related cancers like breast cancer. One recent analysis in the International Journal of Cancer looked at data from Chinese women enrolled in the Shanghai Women’s Health study and found that those who reported eating high amounts of soy in adulthood had a lower chance of both pre and post-menopausal breast cancer than those who rarely ate this nutrient packed legume.

Eat red and purple. The antioxidant called anthocyanin found in red, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables may also have anti cancer properties. One trial in Cancer Prevention Research had 25 colo rectal cancer patients ingest varying levels of anthocyanins before their surgery dates. The scientists found a 7% drop in tumor proliferation in patients with the higher anthocyanin consumption doses.   

Increase the Fiber. A systematic review and meta analysis published earlier this year in the journal Cancer found that participants in the US who ate the most fiber had a 8% lower risk of breast cancer than those who consume the least. The researchers noted that fiber rich foods like whole grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against the disease by leveling post meal blood glucose spikes and improving insulin sensitivity. Fiber also increases the activity of compounds that lower circulating estrogen levels in the body. Another reason is that the nutrient has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer.

More About Diet and Cancer Relationships

Specific characteristics of diets that have been linked to the development of cancer include low vegetable and fruits intake and a lack of variety of vegetables and fruits excess alcohol intake, or more than one drink a day by women 2 drinks a day by men is associated with the development of a number of cancers of the digestive system. Diets routinely low in whole grain products and fiber appear to promote the development of colorectal cancer. Regular intake of charred meats or the black charred outer parts of high fat meats cooked at high temperatures may also promote DNA damage and cancer development. Other major risk factors for many types of cancer include smoking, physical inactivity, and excess body fat.

Frequent consumption of certain types of foods is sometimes more strongly related to particular cancers than to other types. For example, regular consumption of tomato products is related in particular to decreased risk of prostate cancer, and regular intake of black and green tea appears to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Bogus cancer treatments

Unorthodox, purported cancer cures such as macro- biotic diets, hydrogen peroxide ingestion; laetrile tablets, vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, and animal gland therapy have not been shown to be effective treatments for cancer. Such remedies have been promoted since the early 1900s. They still exist, although not proven to work, they offer some cancer patients a last ray of hope. They should not be used as a substitute for conventional cancer treatments.

Grass-fed Beef: Is It Safer?

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A typical feedlot

Grass-fed beef comes from cattle that eat only grass and other foraged foods. Usually, beef and dairy cows eat a diet of processed grain, such as corn.  There has been an increased interest in grass-fed or pastured beef because of its health claims when compared to cattle from commercial feedlots.  Grass-fed beef may have some heart-health benefits that other types of beef don’t have. When compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef may have:

  • Less total fat
  • Higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • Higher levels of another type of fat (conjugated linoleic acid) that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks
  • Lower levels of a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria

Due to the almost continuous news of recalls of beef contaminated with a dangerous strain of E. coli 0157:H7 or often just called O157 bacteria, grass-fed beef purveyors have often promoted the idea of safer beef than conventionally-grown or grain-fed beef.  What does the science say?

Work conducted at Cornell University by Russell and Diez-Gonzalez in the late 1990s showed that cattle that were fed hay had far fewer E. coli concentrations than when they were fed a standard feedlot diet based on grain. (Microbes Infect 2, No. 1 (2000): 45-53.)  However, earlier studies did not look at the levels of the dangerous strain 0157 apart from other strains.

The researchers hypothesized that when grain is fed to cattle, their digestive tracts become more acidic.  Over time, the E. coli in their intestines become resistant to this acid environment.  When we ingest them, a high percentage will survive the high acid content of our digestive juices and increase the risk of E. coli food poisoning.  Theoretically few E. coli from grass-fed cattle will survive because they have not become acid-resistant.

Since this original work, other researchers have explored the link between cattle feed and E. coli with more attention paid to the presence of 0157:H7.  Some have confirmed the work by Russell and Diez-Gonzalez but the majority has disputed the finding.  For example, in 2003, at the University of Idaho, a study found no difference in the levels of E. coli 0157:H7 in grass-fed and grain-fed.  In both cases, acid resistance was high.  Other studies have come to the same conclusion.

Grass-fed growers point out that even if there is not much evidence that diet can affect the number and acidity of E. coli in the intestines of cattle, grass-fed beef may be safer in the long run than feedlot beef.  Simply, grass-fed cattle are cleaner at time of slaughter.

Feedlot animals often stand all day in dirt and manure and careless and dangerous practices in the slaughterhouses increases the risk of manure contamination of the meat.  For a graphic depiction of slaughterhouse practices, read “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. A cleaner animal upon entering the facility will lessen this possibility.  In the magazine Meat Marketing and Technology, the associate editor stated: “pasture-raised animals are much easier to clean because they come form smaller herds raised in relatively cleaner pastures.”

From the webpage:

“It (grass-fed) is usually processed in a small local meat processing operation by skilled butchers who are careful to avoid fecal contamination of the beef.  When you buy grass fed ground beef from a reputable local farmer, you can be assured it is not “frankenbeef.”  In fact, the ground beef probably came from one cow.  Rest assured, it was processed from quality, uncontaminated ingredients.”

In 2009, there were 4,643 cases of Shiga-toxin producing 0157:H7 E. coli illnesses; In 2010, the number rose to 4, 757.  Fortunately there were few deaths, but this strain can cause a condition known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) often with lasting kidney damage for a lifetime.

Choosing whether to buy grass-fed or grain-fed beef is a personal decision based on taste, price, ethical and environmental issues.  Some grass-fed beef purveyors will say that it is OK to consume the beef raw as in steak tartar, for example based on the myth of less E. coli contamination.  If you choose grass-fed beef it is important to realize that you should practice all the safe-handling techniques recommended for grain-fed beef based on the current scientific evidence.

Related article


Important Facts about Vitamin B12

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By Sally J. Feltner, MS, PhD

Vitamin B12 is often overlooked as to its importance to human health. Vitamin B12 is needed for the metabolism of another vitamin, folate as well as fatty acids to maintain the insulating layer of myelin surrounding nerve fibers. When myelin degenerates, neurological symptoms occur that include numbness, tingling, memory loss and disorientation. If not treated, it can eventually cause paralysis and death. On the other hand, a deficiency is rare, but can be a public health concern due to marginal B12 status due to either low intake or problems with absorption as often found in the older adult. This deficiency may also occur in people who attempt to practice a strict vegan diet as this vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products.

The absorption of B12 from food requires adequate levels of stomach acid, intrinsic factor (produced in the stomach) and pancreatic secretions. Even though it is a water-soluble vitamin, the body stores and reuses it more efficiently that it does other water soluble vitamins.

Poor absorption of vitamin B12 can result from a condition called pernicious anemia. It is an autoimmune disease in which the cells in the stomach that produce intrinsic factor are destroyed. Therefore, B12 cannot be absorbed due to a lack of intrinsic factor. The anemia can be treated with injections, nasal gels or oral megadoses. The injections and gel bypass the GI tract and thus there is no need for intrinsic factor. Megadoses can allow adequate amounts of B12 to be absorbed that then do not require intrinsic factor.

Vegan diets are a concern due to B12 found only in animal foods. Severe deficiencies have been found in breast – fed infants of vegan women and marginal  deficiencies for all vegans if supplemental or fortified foods are not consumed in the diet.

What You Need to Know At A Glance

Primary Function:

  • Helps maintain nerve tissue.
  • Aids in reactions that build up protein tissue.
  • Needed by normal red blood cell development.

Consequences of deficiency

  • Neurological disorders (nervousness, tingling sensations, brain degeneration
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Elevated blood level of homocysteine (increased cardiac problems)

Consequences of overdose

  • None known.
  • Excess is excreted by the kidneys and not absorbed.
  • B12 injections may cause a temporary feeling of heightened energy.

Primary Food Sources

  • Fish, seafood
  • Meat
  • Milk and cheese
  • Ready to eat cereals

Highlights and Comments

  • Older people, those with previous stomach surgery, and vegans are at risk for deficiency.
  • Some people become B12 deficient because they are unable to absorb it (pernicious anemia).
  • Vitamin B12 is found in animal products and microorganisms only.

Source: Smolin, Lori A. & , Grosvenor, Mary B. Nutrition, Science and Applications, Third Edition

Judith E. Brown, Nutrition Now, 7th Edition

“Hurrah” for the Pumpkin Pie

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When you think of Thanksgiving, the pumpkin pie (aside from the turkey) first comes to mind. In fact, when else do you make a pumpkin pie even though canned pumpkin is available all year around?

In Medieval times, squash, gourds, and other fruits were stewed with sugar, spices, and cream wrapped in pastry. During the Colombian Exchange in the 16th century “new world” foods that included pumpkins, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, and corn were introduced into European cookery. Pumpkins became a favorite almost immediately whereas most other foods took several generations to be totally accepted. This was more than likely due to their similarity to “old world” gourds and squashes and they were easy to cultivate. They were called pompions, after French “pompon.”

Pumpkins were first cultivated in Central America around 5,500 B.C. The Northeastern Indians used squash more than other Indians in early America and did favor pumpkin the most. They baked them by putting them in the embers of a fire, then moistened them with maple syrup or honey or some type of fat and then turned it into a soup. It was likely that pumpkin was on the first Thanksgiving table in some form. By the 1700’s, it became a popular item to celebrate the holiday. In 1705, the town of Colchester, Connecticut postponed the holiday for a week due to a molasses shortage to make the pies.

Pumpkins have been in American history for centuries and recipes for its preparation began appearing in cookbooks. The first known American cookbook was American Cookery by Amelia Simmons in 1796 that included a recipe for “pompkin” pie. She made two versions. Both had pumpkin, ginger, and eggs. One used cream and sugar with Old World spices, mace and nutmeg; the other used milk and molasses with New World allspice.

Later in 1805, a recipe for pumpkin pie appeared in the Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple by Mrs. Hannah Glasse.

“Take the pumpkin and peel the rind off, then stew it till is quite soft and put thereto one pint of pumpkin, one pint of milk, one glass of malaga wine one glass of rose-water, if you like, seven eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, one small nutmeg, and sugar and salt to your taste:”

By the 1800’s, pumpkin pie was a necessity at most Thanksgiving celebrations. If you have ever heard the famous poem about Thanksgiving by Lydia Maria Child in 1842:

“Over the river and through the wood, to grandfather’s house we go” ends with “Hurrah for the pumpkin pie”.

In 1929, Libby’s meat-canning industry made pumpkin preparation easier by offering its famous canned pumpkin with its traditional recipe on the label. My mother would have appreciated the Libby’s version. I remember her talking about making her first pumpkin pie and neglecting to strain the stringy pulp from the pumpkin itself. Needless to say it was a disaster. Next time you open a can, please think kindly of her and in her day, there may not have been canned pumpkin.

The only problem is the sugar content found in pies – as for my pumpkin disaster, I forgot the sugar one year and it was awful. But who is counting sugar grams on Thanksgiving?  No one. (for the few that are – 1 serving has 253 cals, 3 grams of fiber, 32 grams of carbohydrate and about 19.7 grams of sugar (5 tsp). Pumpkin is also loaded wtih vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant).

Eating in America: A History, Waverly Root & Richard de Rochemont William Morrow, New York 1976, (p. 41).

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Mrs. Hannah Glasse, 1805 .

Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People, Linda Civitello, 2nd Edition, Wiley

Living in a Blue Zone

By Sally J. Feltner, M.S.,  Ph.D


Ponce de Leon began his quest for the fountain of youth in 1531 and humans have been seeking magical solutions for keeping us younger and living our later years in relatively good health.

In 2009 with the backing of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, AARP and the National Geographic, Dan Buettner established the Blue Zone Project and authored The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who lived the longest, He interviewed those who were either centenarians or those in their later years and began to investigate what factors may have contributed to these long lives. He identified five regions that for various reasons had populations meeting this criteria:

  • Sardinia in Italy with the highest concentration of centenarian men.
  • Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, where some residents live ten more healthy years than the average American.
  • The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica that has the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and the second highest concentration of male centenarians.
  • Ikaria, Greece that has one of the world’s lowest rates of middle age mortality and lowest rates of dementia. Only 20 percent of people over 80 showed any signs of dementia, whereas a similar study of long-lived people near Athens showed an almost 50 percent rate of dementia.
  • Okinawa, Japan home to the world’s longest living women.


Remarkably, all the regions had common characteristics that included family and purpose, community and spirituality, stress reduction and physical activity..

One major practice was that all their diets, though not vegan, were predominantly based on plants. Meat and other animal products were either the exception or used as a condiment. Okinawans, practice a philosophy called hara-hachi bu regarding food; they only eat until they are 80% full.

In the Costa Rican Zone, everyone feels like they have a plan de vida or life plan. Even at ages above 60 and 70, inhabitants don’t stop living. They keep themselves busy; they love to work. It provides them a “reason to waking up in the morning” called ikigai. There is no word for “retirement” in Okinawa.

The book introduces some very interesting longevity “superstars.”

  • Marge Jones, at 100 years old from Loma Linda begins every day with a mile walk, a stationary bicycle ride, and some weight lifting. “I’m for anything that has to do with health”, she says.
  • Kamada Nakazitam, 102 years old from Okinawa says “To be healthy enough to embrace my great – great grandchild is bliss.”
  • Ellsworh Wareham, age 91 from Loma Linda, assists during heart surgery procedures, something he does about two or three times a week.
  • Abuela Panchita, 100 year old Costa Rican woman whose 80 year old son, Tommy bicycles to see her every day, spends every day cooking, splitting logs and using a machine to clear brush from her yard.
  • The notion of moai in Okinawa stands for “a social support network. Says 77 year old Klazuko Mann, “each member knows that her friends count on her as much as she counts on her friends.”
  • Tonino Tola, 75 said that “Sardinian men can shed stress by often joking at the expense of one another.” Science tells us a belly laugh a day may reduce stress and actually keep the doctor away.

The final chapters of the book boil it all down into nine lessons and a cultural distillation of the worlds’ best practices in longevity. Beuttner provides credible information available for adding “years to your life and life to your years.”

However, there is a downside. From the author: “Sardinians today have already taken on the trappings of modern life. For example, junk foods are replacing whole-grain breads and fresh vegetables traditionally consumed here. Young people are fatter, less inclined to follow tradition, and more outwardly focused.”

From the author: “I once pressed a 101-year-old woman in Ikaria, Greece to tell why she thought people there lived so long. ‘We just forget to die,’ she said with a shrug. None of them went on a diet, joined a gym, or took supplements. They didn’t pursue longevity – it simply ensued”

Since the first book, Mr. Buettner has published two other books that continue to describe the lifestyles of these regions. They include The Blue Zones Solution and The Blue Zones of Happiness. I’ve enjoyed these books immensely and have often referred to them in various tweets and posts. The first book concludes with a chapter on Your Personal Blue Zone. Other books give us more explicit ways to establish Blue Zones in other areas in the U.S.

From the back cover of The Blue Zones Solution – “Propagating the Blue Zones would not only prevent a rise in the prevalence of diabetes (and other such misfortunes); it would allow us to eliminate more than 80 percent of the burden we have now. That’s revolutionary.”

David Katz, M.D., Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center

All these books are highly recommended, in my opinion. They not only teach us valuable information to remain healthy in our later years, i.e. a longer lifespan of optimal health,  but they also present a relatively comprehensive and colorful glimpse of their individual lives and culture.

Working for an extension of a Healthy Lifespan

Vitamin D: An Update At A Glance

Several posts have explained the role of vitamin D in immunity and and thus the Covid virus – (can search on this blog under Infectious Disease). This post is simply an update about the expanded role of vitamin D status.

WHAT You Need to Know Vitamin’s Immune Benefits

More than 70% of Americans have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D supports the immune system’s response to illnesses of all kinds which may include COVID-19.

Past studies show that low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased rates and severity of viral infections.

Clinical trials have shown that vitamin D has a protective effect against respiratory tract infections.

Vitamin D and Viral Illness

Vital respiratory tract infections, such as flu, are more common during winter. One of the reasons for this may be seasonal variations in our vitamin D levels. During winter, we get less sun, leading to lower vitamin D production. That puts us at increased risk for viral infection. Low vitamin D is also a risk for more severe lung disease called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This condition can lead to what is called a cytokine storm with hyper- production of inflammatory factors that can lead to death.

Vitamin D’s Protective Action

Vitamin D contributes to many functions that help shield the body from infections and lessen their severity. Maintaing adequate levels of vitamin D:

Interferes with the ability of viruses to replicate and produce more viral particles.

Helps support and repair heathly cellular linings in the body, including the airways of the lungs.

Increases production of proteins that shield against bacteria and viruses, enhancing the ability of cells to protect themselves from infection.

Improves the ability of immune cells to mount an effective attack against specific viruses.

Helps prevent the immune system from going overboard and producing excessive pro-inflammatory compounds in the lungs.


Unfortunately, vitamin D is found naturally in few foods in the diet. These are fish and seafood, fortified breakfast cereals, orange juice, regular milk, rice milk, soy milk, yogurt, and margarine Therefore, an oral supplement may be necessary. If you think you may not get enough D in your diet, please see your physician to discuss the benefits and side effects of vitamin D supplementation. There is a common blood test that he/she may suggest to indicate your blood level of this fat-soluble vitamin.

The Upper Limit is 100 mcg or 4,000 UL if you choose to take a supplement. Consequences of overdose may include: mental retardation in young children, abnormal bone growth and formation, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, weight loss, calcium deposition in organs such as kidneys, liver, and heart, toxicity is possible with long-term use of 10,000 daily.

Nutrition Now, Judith E. Brown, 7th Edition, 2013

Life Extension November, 2020

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Benefits

Large Human Trial Demonstrates Extra Virgin Olive Oil Reduces Cardiovascular and Breast Cancer Risks

Results of a large clinical trial published in two prestigious medical journals JAMA an the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrate that a diet supplemented with extra Virgin olive oil provides health benefits.

The PREDIMED study enrolled adults age 55 to 80 who are considered at high risk for cardiovascular disease based on various factors.

Participant participants were assigned to a Mediterranean diet, one with supplemental extra virgin olive oil at least 4 tablespoons and the other supplemented with mixed nuts. The third group was assigned to a control, low fat diet.

Over almost five years of follow-up, cardiovascular outcomes including heart attack, stroke, and death from any cardiovascular cause, were noted. The Mediterranean diet groups had a significantly lower rate of negative cardiovascular outcomes. This association was particularly strong for the supplemental extra virgin olive oil group, which had a 31 percent reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease outcomes compared to the control diet group.

The researchers also observed data of new breast cancer in the women enrolled. Here too, the diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil was most protective, reducing rates of breast cancer by nearly 70% compared to the control diet. Interesting, the group that supplemented with mixed nuts did not show a significant benefit in terms of breast cancer risk. The study’s authors report that this was the first human trial to find a beneficial effect of a dietary intervention on breast cancer risk. Together, these results suggest that a Mediterranean diet with supplemental extra virgin olive oil is protective against both cardiovascular disease and breast cancer in older adults with existing risk factors

The American Plate: Dining in the 70’s

Updated 10/2/2020

West Coast Cuisine: Alice Waters

The 1970’s ushered in many new innovations in the world of food. In 1971, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkley, California and changed the definition of salad. Instead of the old iceburg lettuce wedge of previous times, she used everything from fresh mixed greens to goat cheese. A three-course meal costs less than $8.00.

She also had a passion for Mediterranean cooking, not yet popular in the U.S. She went against the previous decades of prepackaged foods and her mantra was fresh foods, simply prepared. She promoted a new concept dubbed “California Cuisine” which spread through the rest of the country. She shunned factory farms, and promoted food that come from the farm to the table as quickly as possible. This philosophy is growing currently as a national movement.

A standard at health food restaurants across the country, carrot cake was ubiquitous, Grated carrots made it  a nutritious choice, or so the thinking went.

Another landmark in food in 1971 began when three friends opened a coffee house in Seattle, Washington. They named it after a character in Herman Melville’s 19th century novel, Moby Dick – Starbucks, the chief mate on the Pequod, a whaling ship .

Fat Attack and Veganism

In 1977, an American committee of the U.S. senate led by George McGovern published the first Dietary Goals For The United States in order to reverse the epidemic of heart disease in the country at the time. The trend still exists in that heart disease still is the number one “killer” in the U.S. The guidelines generally suggested that fat was the culprit in our diets; soon food manufacturers began removing the fat and when that happens, sugar is added. So carbs were in and fat was out.

A young doctor named Dean Ornish recommended that heart attack patients change their diets drastically and promoted “heart-healthy” recipes. The American Heart Association adopted these recommendations and soon restaurants were soon displaying heart symbols on menu items that were approved to be healthy. Dr. Ornish stressed a change in lifestyle approach to treat and prevent coronary artery disease (CAD).  Beginning in 1977, he conducted clinical research studies showing that lifestyle changes could not only stop the progression of CAD but could actually reverse it. These lifestyle changes included plant-based diet, smoking cessation, moderate exercise, stress management techniques including yoga and meditation, and psycho-social support.

In 1973, the Moosewood Restaurant, a collectively owned vegetarian restaurant opened in Ithaca, New York. It featured vegetarian cooking that was spicy, ethnic and exciting. Cookbooks such as The Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest soon followed. These new innovations gave vegetarianism a new life since its first boost of energy at the end of the 19th century.

For meat eaters, one very popular dish of this decade was Beef Wellington, a fillet of beef tenderloin coated with pate de foie gras and a duxelles of mushrooms all wrapped up in a puff pastry crust. Dinner parties with friends featured more complicated menus and Wellington was considered the most difficult because of its preparation.


The War of the Diet Books and a Murder

The weight loss craze was in full swing and the “diet wars”and books  began to appear in earnest. In 1972, Dr. Atkins introduces his “Diet Revolution” featuring a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet. The anti-fat gurus were appalled.  In 1978, Dr. Herman Tarnover introduces the “Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet”, another version of the high protein low carb diet. “The book would have been quickly forgotten if Tarnover hadn’t been shot four times and killed by his 56-year old female companion, Jean Harris on March 11, 1980, a few days before his 70th birthday”.  The murder became the subject of numerous books and two films.

“Harris was a headmistress of an exclusive school for girls and a summa cum laude graduate of Smith College. On February 25, 1981, a trial began that caused a media frenzy.  Harris was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison. At the time of his death, Tarnover had just begun outlining a new book about how to achieve and enjoy longevity.” All he would have had to say was,  “Stay clear of zealous  jealous mistresses” seeking revenge. (note from me who saw one of the films).

SOURCE: The Hundred Year Diet: America’s Voracious Appetite for Losing Weight, Susan Yager. As of this writing,  Yager is a adjunct instructor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University.


The decade of the 70’s was also time for indulging our tastes with eclectic appetites. We indulged in Buffalo chicken wings, Pasta Primavera to goat cheese salads to Crock-Pot Chili in the course of a week. Brunches with quiches became Sunday morning fare, but soon men rebelled by saying “real men don’t each quiche.” We worked our way through the Vietnam War, rampant inflation, Watergate, and President Richard Nixon’s resignation. Jerry Ford became the President.

New At the Market

Hamburger Helper, Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn, Celestial Seasoning Herbal Teas, Snapple fruit juices, Cup O’ Noodles, Stove Top Stuffing, Miller Light, Yoplait Yogurt, Perrier, Ben and Jerry’ s Ice Cream, Resses’s Pieces

Trivia Timeline:

1970 The first overseas Dunkin’ Donuts opens in Japan. Later, MacDonald’s opens its first international site in Tokyo.

1970  Resealable plastic bags and Reynolds Oven Bags are introduced.

1970  Morton introduces Salt Substitute and, in 1973, brings out Lite Salt.

1971  The nation’s first salad bar is laid out at R.J. Grunts, a singles bar and Chicago restaurant. Wendy’s hamburger chain introduces salad bars in 1979.

1971  Rival trademarks the Crock – Pot.

1972  “He likes it! Hey Mikey!” Two older brothers get Mikey to try the family’s new cereal, Life, in a commercial that ran for 12 years on TV.

1973  MacDonald’s introduces the Egg McMuffin, the first fast-food breakfast item.

1973  When introducing the expensive ($140) Cuisinart food processor, it was viewed as an indulgence. It soon became mandatory equipment for anyone who considered themselves a good cook. The product becomes so hot during  the 1976 Christmas season that retailers sell empty boxes as promises for future delivery.

1975 American consumption of soft drinks surpasses that of coffee.

1976  Tom Wolfe calls the 1970s the “Me Decade” and Burger King follows with the “have it your way” campaign.

1977  The term “comfort food” first appears in the Washington Post magazine. The author uses the term in reference to grits, but by 1980, the food has grown to encompass the food of childhood such as meatloaf, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and gelatin dessert.

1977  The plastic grocery bag is introduced to the supermarket industry. It is now an environmental nightmare.

1978  General electric offers the first over the range microwave oven, the SpaceMaker.

1978  For the first time, more women then men enter college.