The American Plate

Nutrition Confusion: The Roaring Twenties

”Mary Pickford, Theda Bara, and Rudolf Valentino, the era’s movie idols, promoted the idea of being thin.  This replaced the “plump” image of the previous decade, exemplified by Diamond Jim or Lillian Russell, a couple of decades ago.  

Home economic classes and a plethora of women’s magazines helped America on its new ideal of body image – the war against fat.

“American women were ready to cut their hair, step out into jobs, and have a good time.” But, at the same time, American women were becoming dependent on their own cooking and household skills. The result was that between 1921 and 1929, the home appliance industry tripled its output. The kitchen was considered the workstation whereas; eating was almost always done in an adjoining breakfast room or dining room.

“The May issue of Women’s Home Companion publishes an article that includes the lines, “with the revolution in clothes has come a revolution in our attitude toward avoirdupois (weight). Once weight was an asset: Now it’s a liability, both physical and esthetic.” This reflects a new attitude of women with a new body image.

In January 1920, Prohibition goes into effect, although drinking will continue and will lead to underground establishments known as “speakeasies”. Prohibition leads to an increase in sales of coffee, soft drinks, and ice cream sodas. Many bars convert to soda fountains or tearooms to stay in business.

Looks Good Enough to Eat

By 1927, there were 20 million cars cruising over 600,000 miles of roads connecting U.S. cities and towns. All those drivers needed to eat somewhere, and to get their attention on the open road, restaurants took on a whole new shape – literally. Diners and coffee shops were built to look like doughnuts, ice cream cones, coffeepots, hot dogs and yes, pigs. While these establishments provided only mediocre food, they supplied plenty of atmosphere and maybe even more important, offered quick and consistent meals. The whimsically shaped spots would pave the way or the drive-ins and chain restaurants of the future.

Fast Food

The first White Castle hamburger stand opens in 1921 in Wichita, Kan. The white of the stones suggest cleanliness; the castle facade suggests stability. The little burgers cost 5 cents apiece and are marketed with  the slogan “Buy ‘em by the sack.” Paper napkins come on the market in 1925, and the White Castle locations follow by developing folding paper hats that can changed often. “Program-mic” hot dog-shape kiosks and cone shape stands architecture becomes the rage in restaurants.”


“No one knows how the word flapper entered American slang, but its usage first appeared just following World War I. The classic image of a flapper is that of a stylish young party girl. Flappers smoked in public, drank alcohol, danced at jazz clubs and practiced sexual freedom that shocked the Victorian morality of their parents. Many pictures depict them wearing a tight-fitting cloche.

However, the good times were all about to change – in October, 1929, the stock market crashed and the country was faced with the worst economic trial of its history.


Beverly Bundy. The Century in Food: America’s Fads and Favorites, Collector’s Press, Inc. 2002

The American Century in Food. Bon Appetit, September, 1999.

Animal Welfare: Prop 12?


In 2018, Californians overwhelmingly voted Prop 12 into law.

Proposition 12 would impose new minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egg‐laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal. It would ban the sale of meat and eggs from animals confined in ways that do not meet those requirements.

On October, 4, Mercy for Animals released a groundbreaking undercover investigation exposing the heart breaking conditions pregnant pigs suffer at factory farms, and how the meat industry is seeking to silence those voters by challenging the law before the Supreme Court of the United States.

“ Footage from the investigation showed:
Days-old piglets who survived the acts of cruelty had their testicles and tails cut off without pain relief; their mothers helpless to do anything but watch. Some babies were stolen from their mothers just a few weeks after birth and the mama pigs immediately forced back into restrictive crates to continue the cycle of cruelty.

The footage also showed baby pigs violently smashed against the ground and were brutally struck, stabbed with sharp objects and thrown bloody and wounded and left to suffer. One day, more than 100 piglets were discovered dead.”

Please visit to take action.
Compassionate Living, Winter 2023

“The love for all creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” Charles Darwin.

Are You a Snackaholic?

SAD News for the SAD – The Standard American Diet!!! What happened to “whole real food”?

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Sales of cookies, chips, candy and popcorn are soaring as America binges on snacks.
Stunning stat: Nearly half of U.S. consumers are eating three or more snacks a day — up 8% in the last two years, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing market-research firm Circana.
Snack sales ballooned to $181 billion last year, up 11% from the year before, according to Circana.
What’s happening: Mondelez International — maker of Oreos, Ritz Crackers, Swedish Fish and more — saw sales jump 22% between 2019 and 2022.
Hershey’s sales rose 30%.
America’s love of snacks is leading to “the ‘snack-ification’ of everything,” Andrea Hernández, who writes Snaxshot, a newsletter on food and beverage trends, told The Journal.
Kellogg is pitching breakfast cereal, including Apple Jacks and
Froot Loops, as snacks.

Are Keto and Paleo Diets Heart Healthy?

Popular keto and paleo diets aren’t helping your heart, report says
An analysis of various diets gave low marks to some of the most popular ones for straying from heart-healthy eating guidelines

By Anahad O’Connor
April 27, 2023 at 5:00 a.m. EDT

Washington Post:

Ketogenic and paleo diets may be trendy, but they won’t do your heart any favors.
That’s the conclusion of a report from the American Heart Association, which analyzed many of the most popular diets and ranked them based on which approaches to eating are best and worst for your heart.

The authors said one of the purposes of their report was to counter widespread misinformation about nutrition promoted by diet books, blogs and people on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter — where posts promoting keto and paleo eating plans have surged in recent years.

The amount of misinformation that has flourished on social media sites has reached “critical levels,” said Christopher D. Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and chair of the committee that wrote the report.

“The public and many health-care professionals are likely confused about heart-healthy eating, and rightfully so,” he added. “Many of them likely feel that they don’t have the training or the time to evaluate the important features of the different diets.”
Ranking diets for heart health
The report, published Thursday in the journal Circulation, was drafted by a team of nutrition scientists, cardiologists, dietitians, and other health experts, who analyzed a variety of dietary patterns.
The diets were evaluated to see how closely they aligned with guidelines for heart-healthy eating, which are based on evidence from decades of randomized controlled trials, epidemiological research and other studies. The report also took into account factors like whether the diets allowed flexibility so that people could tailor them based on their cultural and personal preferences and budgetary constraints

The include advice to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains like brown rice, bulgur, and steel cut oats, as well as lean cuts of meat and foods like olive oil, vegetable oils and seafood, which is high in protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
The group recommends limiting foods that are salty, sugary, highly processed or made with white flour and other refined grains. These include things like soft drinks, white bread, white pasta, cookies, cakes, pastries and processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages and cold cuts.
As for alcohol, the evidence that it provides a cardiovascular benefit is questionable. The heart association says that people who don’t drink shouldn’t start, and that if you do drink, you should limit your intake.
Popular low-carb diets scored lowest
The heart association gave its lowest rankings, using a scale of 0 to 100, to some of the buzziest diets widely touted on social media. These included very-low-carb regimens like the Atkins and ketogenic diets (31 points) and the paleo diet (53 points).
Following such diets typically requires restricting your carbohydrate intake to less than 10 percent of daily calories. The diets are widely promoted for weight loss and endorsed by many celebrities.
“People are so carb-phobic, and that’s one of the things that you see on Instagram — that carbs are bad,” said Lisa Young, an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University, who was not involved in the report. “But that’s misinformation. Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are good for you — these are healthy carbs. These foods are the cornerstone of a healthy diet.”
The report noted that the Atkins and keto diets have some beneficial features: They restrict sugar and refined grains, for example, and they encourage the consumption of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, leafy greens, and cauliflower. But they generally require limiting a lot of “healthy” carbs that align with the heart association’s dietary principles, like beans, whole grains, starchy veggies, and many fruits. And they typically include a high intake of fatty meats and foods rich in saturated fat.

Some studies have found that very-low-carb diets can help with weight loss and improve certain markers of metabolic health, like blood sugar and triglyceride levels. But the heart association’s report noted that these improvements tend to be short-lasting, and that very-low-carb diets often cause an increase in LDL cholesterol levels, which can heighten the risk of heart disease.
The report found similar problems with the paleo diet, which excludes grains, vegetable oils, most dairy products and legumes such as peanuts and soybeans. The theory behind the diet is that it allows foods like fruit and honey that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had access to but excludes grains and other foods associated with modern agriculture.
The diets have also been criticized for what is often interpreted as an all-you-can-eat stance toward red meat, from steaks and burgers to bacon and processed deli meats. TikTok’s “Liver King,” for instance, gained popularity advocating a controversial meat-heavy “ancestral” diet consisting largely of organ and muscle meats.
The low ranking for the ketogenic and paleo diets is expected to generate controversy. In 2019, three doctors published an essay in JAMA Internal Medicine cautioning that the enthusiasm for the ketogenic diet was outpacing the science. The research was polarizing, generating a flood of emails of both support and condemnation.
Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins, said that the new report failed to adequately describe the Atkins diet, which includes three approaches with different carbohydrate limits.
One approach, which is typically used on a short-term basis for weight loss, allows only 20 grams of carbs per day. Another version of Atkins allows 40 grams of carbs per day, and the third approach allows people to have up to 100 grams of carbs daily, including small amounts of fruit, starchy vegetables, beans and whole grains. “Evidence suggests that Americans have varying tolerances to carbohydrate loads,” Heimowitz said. “So carb-focused dietary patterns like Atkins have never been more relevant.”
The four winning heart diets
The heart association gave its highest mark — a score of 100 — to the DASH pattern of eating, which stands for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension.” Developed by researchers at the National Institutes of Health in the 1990s, the DASH diet is widely endorsed by doctors, dietitians and other nutrition experts.
But it’s not exactly buzzworthy among celebrities and social media influencers. The diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy, while encouraging people to limit their intake of salt, fatty meats, added sugars and refined grains.
The DASH diet and three others with high scores were grouped into what the heart association called Tier 1. The others in the Tier 1 group included the pescatarian diet (92 points), the Mediterranean diet (89 points) and the vegetarian diet (86 points).
While these diets have small differences, they also share some common denominators — promoting fresh produce, whole grains, beans and other plants and whole foods. The pescatarian diet is similar to the vegetarian diet, but it allows seafood. The Mediterranean diet promotes moderate drinking, while the DASH diet allows alcohol but doesn’t encourage it.
“The conclusion that we came away with between these diets is that they’re all fine and very consistent with a heart-healthy diet,” Gardner said.
Vegan and low-fat diets
Gardner emphasized that the report judged diets based on how they are “intended” to be followed, not necessarily on how some people actually follow or interpret them.
For instance, a vegetarian can drink Coca-Cola and eat potato chips and a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin without the meat for breakfast. It’s a vegetarian diet, but not exactly a heart-healthy vegetarian diet, Gardner said.
“That’s not what we have in mind when we say people should follow a plant-based diet,” he added. “I know from doing these studies that people don’t always follow diets as they’re intended: They follow them based on misinformation.”
The report included two other tiers of dietary patterns. Vegan and low-fat diets were grouped into the second tier because they encourage eating fiber-rich plants, fruits and veggies while limiting sugary foods and alcohol. But the report noted that they are quite restrictive and can be difficult for many people to follow. The vegan diet, in particular, can increase the risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency and other problems
The third tier of diets received the second-lowest range of scores. This group included low-carb approaches like the South Beach and Zone diets, which limit carbs to 30 or 40 percent of daily calories, as well as very-low-fat diet plans such as the Ornish, Esselstyn and Pritikin programs, which restrict fat intake to less than 10 percent of daily calories.
These diets received lower scores because they limit or eliminate a number of healthy foods, the report found. People on low-carb diets, for instance, tend to eat less fiber and more saturated fat, while people on very-low-fat diets have to cut back on all types of fat, including the healthy unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Despite giving some diets low scores, the report did find that all of the diets across every tier had four positive things in common: They encouraged people to eat whole foods, more non-starchy vegetables, less added sugar and fewer refined grains.
“If we could get Americans to do those four things, that would go a long way toward everyone eating a healthy diet,” Gardner said.

Crime and Nourishment?

“Poor nutrition can impact on concentration and learning and may result in episodes of violent or aggressive behavior. In prisons, a bad diet also contribute to increased rates of poor mental and physical health compared with the general population.”

A hypothesis: Could violence and crime be caused in some measure by nutritional deficiencies in general (a.k.a. The Standard American Diet – SAD? )

C. Bernard Gesch, Sean M.Hammond, Sarah E. Hampson, Anita Eves and Martin J. Crowder. Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behavior of young adult prisoners: A Randomised, placebo-controlled trial.

Very interesting paper discussing the link between increased crime and diet. Click the above citation.