A few days ago Glen Friedman reposted an article from NaturalNews.com on his blog. As a propaganda site run by an egomaniac NaturalNews doesn’t allow comments because it can’t allow the faithful to be exposed to dissenting opinions, and my rant was too long to post as a comment on WTF, so I’m falling back to my own neglected blog!
The article was a response to an article in the guardian about a new “eating disorder” called orthorexia nervosa, the supposed main symptom of which is an obsession with healthy eating. It doesn’t really seem necessary to give this disorder it’s own name, but the idea that OCD, anorexia or just plain misinformation about what constitutes healthy eating could result in damaging behaviour doesn’t seem outrageous to me. I would consider somebody who thinks they can survive on sunlight and air to be pretty fucking crazy, for example. People like myself who avoid meat and junk food but don’t spend every waking minute worrying about whether what we eat is “pure” enough, I think we’ll probably avoid diagnosis.
What is really fucking insane is the liberties Mike Adams takes with the truth in order to spread his “pharmaceuticals baaaaad” propaganda. Let’s examine some of this rhetoric:
Google before you speak
If you focus on eating healthy foods, you’re “mentally diseased” and probably need some sort of chemical treatment involving powerful psychotropic drugs.
Granted, the guardian article does suggest the first part of this, being quite sensationalist itself, but I would hope that anybody interested in things like facts, truth or accuracy would do a bit of supplemental reading before squeezing out an article of their own on the topic. If you focus on eating healthy foods over unhealthy foods you are not “mentally diseased”, and nobody is claiming that you are. If you focus on eating healthy foods but have no idea what is actually healthy, or focus on it to the exclusion of all other interests, then you may need help. That that help must be pharmaceutical in nature is not clear at all. I know that drugs can be a part of the treatments for OCD and anorexia, so maybe they could help with this too, but not a lot of people seem to be saying that… I mean look at this hippy shit right here.
Wait a second. So attempting to avoid chemicals, dairy, soy and sugar now makes you a mental health patient? Yep.
Nope. The guardian article had a far longer list of things that people with this condition avoid (sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy). Mike seems to have cherry picked from the list the things that he personally avoids in order to support the conclusion that he himself would be diagnosed with this condition. To be honest I don’t think the things that are avoided are actually a major part of the proposed criteria for diagnosing this condition, so it’s really turtles all the way down here.
If your opponent isn’t crazy enough, just make some shit up
But did you notice that eating junk food is assumed to be “normal?”
Nobody actually said this. This is the authors assumption stuffed into the mouth of the straw man he’s constructing.
Years ago, I warned NaturalNews readers that an attempt might soon be under way to outlaw broccoli because of its anti-cancer phytonutrients.
Yes, that is what has happened here. They have outlawed broccoli. You called it, Mike Adams.
Reading comprehension 101
Follow the non-logic on this, if you can: Eating “good” foods will cause malnutrition!
You can’t just ignore punctuation when it’s inconvenient. Those quotation marks mean something. In this case they mean “good in the (potentially mistaken) opinion of the subject”. Taken to the breatharian extreme, for example, eating only “good” foods will certainly cause malnutrition, because you would be eating nothing. The author has himself expounded on examples of “good” food that is actually unhealthy. My parents consider their Sunday dinner to be “good” food, and it is, but I think it would be better without the beef. At the end of the day, I’m not going to starve because of the choices I make about food and neither are they, and that is not what the guardian article or the doctor(s?) advancing this diagnostic category are saying.
Mike attempts to prove own sanity. Fails.
It’s an effort to marginalize healthy eaters by declaring them to be mentally unstable and therefore justify carting them off to mental institutions where they will be injected with psychiatric drugs and fed institutional food that’s all processed, dead and full of toxic chemicals.
Do I really need to point out the crazy in this sentence? This really has no resemblance to the reality of how most sufferers of mental illness are treated, whether that illness is depression, OCD, anorexia or the mental health fad du jour. It requires exceptional circumstances for somebody to be “carted off” anywhere. The discovery or creation of this “new disease” is characterised as an effort by the pharmaceutical industry, in concert with the food processing industry, under the supervision of the over-zealous nanny state, to force “radical” (that means radical in the mistaken opinion of the subject) healthy eaters into institutions so that they can be force-fed “institutional food”, thereby stifling opposition to the global political and economic order. This begs the question, what exactly is in it for the state? Rather than having these foodies running around spending above average amounts of money on their food and contributing to the economy in other ways, they choose to put them in institutions where the state has to pay for their food, drugs, and upkeep? Keep in mind that the health food industry is not insignificant in size, and that NaturalNews.com are a part of that industry. I suppose it’s ok that they’re selling something, because they’re the “good” guys.
Of course, a few google searches on the subject reveals that far from being the latest weapon in the pharmaceutical industry’s assault on human conciousness, orthorexia nervosa is in fact the invention of a single doctor who wanted to sell a book and that it has received only limited attention since then, and that mostly from media outlets which don’t really care what kind of bollox they print. The doctor admits himself that he is not an expert on eating disorders and states that is not his place to push for it to become part of the DSM. He is apparently quite active in editing the Wikipedia entry about the subject (though it’s hard to be sure it’s him) where he makes statements such as:
I don’t claim it’s a disease. I invented the word as a kind of “tease therapy” for my macrobiotic and rawfoodist patients who took their diet too seriously.
But I wasn’t trying to invent a disease, either. I was trying to tease overly serious health food maniacs into relaxing a little. (Doesn’t seem to have worked, doc.)
Lots of dieticians, eating disorder specialists, etc., seem to take it seriously. But that doesn’t mean it’s a real disease. …the fact is, orthorexia is NOT a scientific diagnosis. It’s just a popular culture term at the moment.
I agree that it might turn out to be best described as a form of OCD.
So the doctor who invented the term himself admits that it is not a real disease and that it was basically coined as a joke. A lot of people didn’t get it and are taking the concept seriously, but nobody is being carted off anywhere, being force fed junk food or being injected with drugs against their will. Bottom line is it’s not the pharmaceutical industry that’s pushing this, but the media, desperate for something to hype, and Mike Adams either fell for it because he’s a gullible fool or decided to hype it further for his own ends.
Wake up Neo, it’s time to go shopping
People who subsist on junk foods are docile and quickly lose the ability to think for themselves. …people who eat health-enhancing natural foods — with all the medicinal nutrients still intact — begin to awaken their minds and spirits. …They become ‘aware’ and can start to see the very fabric of the Matrix, so to speak. …consumption depends on ignorance combined with suggestibility …Eating living foods is like taking the red pill …It sets you free to think for yourself. …eating processed junk foods is like taking the blue pill because it keeps you trapped in a fabricated reality …Some people are ready to take the red pill, and others aren’t. All you can do is show them the door. They must open it themselves.
In the delusional system of Mike Adams he takes on the role of Neo, leading the subdued masses out of their consumerist nightmare by teaching them to… uh… consume different things. Adams falls into the very pattern of black and white thinking that he falsely accuses the guardian of (and by extension the rest of the media). The unwashed are “ignorant”, “blind” “zombies” who mindlessly consume whatever they are commanded to by the television. They are subhumans whose desires and choices are not their own, and presumably their opinions are worth nothing. Adams and his followers, on the other hand, are “aware”, “empowered”, “awakened”. They are the enlightened vanguard pointing the way for humanity. But if we step back from this masturbatory fantasy for a second I think it is obvious that nobody is less human for enjoying a plate of greasy chips, nor are you better than them just because you can afford to buy organic produce, you just have different priorities. Food is just one aspect of the human experience, and there is a wide spectrum of perfectly valid choices that can be made regarding it rather than the binary health vs junk that Adams sees. In fact, this emphasis on consumer choice as the only important freedom, and virtuous consumption as the solution to society’s ills is more than just misguided: our consumer choices, if mistaken for paths to spiritual enlightenment or political change, are a cage that we build around ourselves, even mistaking the bars for the structure of reality. Mike fails to realize that the “fabric of the matrix” is the illusion that our choices as consumers define us as people and establish our worth.
Eating healthily is not a revolutionary act and it’s not a mental illness; it’s just a good decision.