I am renaming the blog to The Farmarian Weekly. This will reflect my new commitment to the website: consistent publishing of pieces on the blog. Correspondingly, I will be dedicating myself daily, and most Saturdays and Sundays: to publish one or more pieces each week.
There are three projects underway on the blog.
First, the vegetable oil project. Industrial seed oils, also known as vegetable oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, peanut, and soybean oils) are, along with sugar, some of the most emblematic and exemplary industrial foods. They were never consumed until the 20th century–and this makes them even more contemporary than sugar–and they are produced by characteristic monocultural and industrial methods.
There is currently a debate underway about vegetable oils in the food-health community, both scientific and popular; vegetable oils may contribute to accelerated ageing, and certain vegetable oils (corn, for example) almost certainly contribute to premature death. However, some influential researchers still recommend them. All of these factors make vegetable oils a “high yield” discussion topic. The Farmarian Weekly industrial seed oil project aims to encourage discussion about vegetable oils–and, most importantly, to provide a record of movement to some kind of truth regarding them. I hope this is useful to someone, and I welcome input.
The link to this project is here.
The second project is a full critical write-up of how the “Farmarian” perspective differs from that of the nutritional philosophies and theories in the mainstream medical community. My goal is, ideally, to “bring out” the salient and increasingly prevalent “Farmarian” tendencies in this community, while criticizing some of the more counterproductive tendencies of mainstream medical nutrition.
For example, the medical community emphasizes that science and rational control should characterize healthful eating; however, the Farmarian point of view finds this to be a mechanical and even neurotic idea to have on something as enjoyable and rich in meaning as food, and perhaps more importantly (and largely for the above reason), doesn’t see this as a tenable public health strategy. In a medical context, nutritional science is powerful and essential; it can also be a very beneficial tool in high-level discussions about the future of food and health. But in society at large, food culture and a holistic understanding of food, must be given precedence over the narrow and mechanical conceptions of food science. Most people, in past and future alike, will eat food–not science. A great example of this understanding of food can be seen in Brazil’s revolutionary dietary guidelines (praised by vox.com as “the best in the world”):
This even might seem like an obvious point. But this obvious point needs to be placed front-and-center. It is necessary therefore to engage medical professionals on their own terms, show the shortcomings of these terms, and try to persuade them of the broader view on this issue; and have them emphasize to a greater degree the cultural and political dimension of food, rather than to apparently believe that educating the population in biochemistry, molecular biology, etc. is remotely sufficient. So, this sort of project is necessary in order to reduce confusion in the diet-health community about the proper targets to focus on, if we are to make a positive impact on the future of food, culture, and health in the United States.
The way I am organizing this second project, is by providing links, from The Farmarian Weekly About page (here), to posts that elaborate the ideas from this page. In other words, the About page will provide the basic navigational framework for the system of ideas, critiques, and findings encompassed under this second project. This project can also be accessed in the chronological order of my posts, here. This second project I consider the “master project”: the transparent framework out of which everything else on this blog is thought and built.
The third project will be especially enjoyed by those with an interest in traditional food politics: an extensive documentation of industry sponsorship of health organizations. First I have started with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, listing the amount of money that they receive from industry, and a partial list of corporations that provide the money. In time, the page will include all major health organizations in the English-speaking world, in alphabetical order, along with their corporate funding, along with an interpretation of how the listed financial incentives might influence organization commitments. So, a list of all the corporate sponsorship of all the health organizations in one place. You can find the link to this project here.
Upcoming glosses (soon) will cover the American Diabetes Association, the American Society of Nutrition, and the Australian Academy of Dietetics.
Because I have made the commitment to dedicate virtually all of my free time outside of medical school to these projects, I am also requesting a little bit of help. The following roles are available:
- Administrator of the Facebook group. I need someone with good ideas about how to make this group better. This role may not be necessary just right now; but it will become increasingly important. I would like to see someone step up at some point in the next 6 months.
- Artist- I have designed the Farmarian Weekly logo. I need someone to make the design into art.
- Writers- The more people who can contribute to the blog, the richer it will be. I need people who really get what I am driving at, and want to write. My biggest need is for people who are a part of the biomedical field and can talk that language, while also using that perspective to show the inadequacy of an approach to food that rests strictly on the natural sciences. This is a niche that, currently, only I fill; I need help in expanding, and I find it very challenging to do it alone. I would love if people had their own ideas for projects (sugar, wheat? other industrial foods?), also. The idea is to bridge the gap between science and culture–to emphasize how the science of food jives with the broader environmental, cultural, political aspects. I think it is all one story. But we really need to nail that in, and emphasize how important it is not to lose sight of the bigger picture–especially for scientists.
- Researchers- I need people to help with the industry sponsorship of health organizations page. The format I am looking for is straightforward: if you want to see the sponsorship of a particular organization posted, gather and send the data in the format that I have posted in, and I will post the information with the basic interpretative commentary. You will receive credit if you choose. This will allow this page to become a rich source of information–likely the best on the web–in the shortest time possible. If this is something you want to invest time in, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your data.
- Social media people- I have accounts on all important and popular social media, and a pretty sophisticated (and developing) “marketing” strategy, but I am also always learning. My current project is to produce strictly @farmarian-type accounts (I just created such an account on Twitter), to make this project something that doesn’t just depend or use my own personal accounts. If anyone really loves social media and wants to help with these accounts, please let me know. My systems are quite sophisticated, and I think you will be impressed and enjoy operating them if you decide you want to help.
My disclosure: I do not make any money from Farmarian.com or any of these things I am asking for help with. I am currently several hundred dollars in the red for what I have purchased for these projects. I cannot say that Farmarian.com or any of these projects will never generate revenue; I can say that any such revenue generated will be reinvested into this project. Nobody will ever make money from Farmarian.com. I consider this a sort of health and political non-profit. But I need volunteers to help me make it work. If you are interested in this, or if you have any ideas for contributing that I haven’t yet mentioned, please send me a message to let me know.