Remembering Kevin Moore

Having My Say At The USDA About The 2010 Dietary Guidelines To Be Released In December

Last week I embarked on quite an adventurous journey that took me away from my daily routine in my hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina all the way to our nation’s capital in Washington, DC to stand before one of the most powerful government agencies overseeing nutritional public policy in the United States of America. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) along with The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) have combined forces every five years since 1994 to come up with brand new recommendations known as MyPyramid about how the public should be eating and exercising in order to attain optimal health and weight control. They do this through a subset of the USDA called The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) created in December 1994 and charged with identifying all of the latest and relevant scientific research linked with nutrition that is important to the American people. These recommendations are used as a template and guide for many government programs such as school lunches in public schools. Additionally, major health organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association cite the information provided by the USDA as their evidence for promoting nutritional solutions to health conditions related to diet, namely heart disease and diabetes. In other words, this is all a very big deal and 2010 just happens to be the year when the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans is set to be released.

On June 15, 2010, the 13-member Advisory Committee for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines released their long-awaited preliminary recommendations to the USDA about what should be promoted as the ideal way for Americans to eat based on what they found is the latest scientific literature to be released over the past five years. However, all it took was a cursory glance at what they came up with (greater carbohydrate intake, lower fat and especially saturated fat consumption, moving to a more plant-based diet, hours of cardiovascular exercise weekly, etc.) to realize that some key studies had either been inadvertently or purposefully overlooked by the Advisory Committee. Although there were plenty of qualified candidates doing quality studies on carbohydrate restriction like Dr. Jeff Volek, Dr. Richard Feinman, and Dr. Eric Westman who were willing and able to provide input as part of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, not one single low-carb researcher or practitioner was chosen to serve on the panel. The presence of even a single bona fide expert who realizes the positive health ramifications of a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet would have tee-totally changed the dynamics of this group given the task of identifying the most pertinent science as it relates to nutrition (click here to read more reaction from the low-carb community). Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and the results were predictable. But this didn’t sit too well with me or other key members of the low-carb community who are concerned with the regression happening with the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines.

In January 2010, I proposed three daring ideas for trying to influence the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and beyond with the low-carb science: urging concerned low-carbers to submit comments to the USDA directly, holding a low-carb rally in Washington, DC to attract media attention to the low-carb science they ignored, and providing public oral testimony before the USDA Committee. The first idea is still available until July 15, 2010 for anyone who wants to provide public comments about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for the panel to consider before they release the final version in December 2010. If you haven’t made your voice heard already, then this is the perfect chance for you to have your input become a part of the public record. As for the second idea, a group of us attempted to put together a media rally on behalf of the low-carb science to take place in Washington, DC the day before the USDA allowed for public testimonies, but it was cost-prohibitive (one public relations firm said it would cost upwards of $50,000 to hold such an event to get the media to attend). We were going to try to make it happen on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 but it would not have made any difference if the media failed to attend. However, it was the final idea that I decided to embrace and take on as my personal cause on behalf of real people within the low-carb community and it culminated at the USDA’s South Building on July 8, 2010. That’s the day they swung their doors wide open to anyone and everyone in the United States who wanted to provide input into what should go into the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

Shortly after the Report of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was released to the public last month, I knew I would be heading to Washington, DC to air my grave concerns with what they would be sharing as nutritional truths with millions of unsuspecting Americans whose health will be made worse following their advice. If the USDA was a business and the state of public health was their profit margin, then they would have gone bankrupt years ago. In case you haven’t noticed in the past 20 years or so, the rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses have gotten considerably worse since the implementation of these Dietary Guidelines. Albert Einstein once defined insanity by stating quite clearly that it is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And that’s precisely what has happened to national nutritional policy in the United States in recent years. It’s as if the blinders have been turned on when they go to look at the science and virtually ignore anything that doesn’t fit within the template of a low-fat, low-salt, calorie-restricted, high-carb, plant-based diet. You and I both know this one-size-fits-all approach to eating does not work for a large segment of the population dealing with obesity or any variety of metabolic or blood sugar disorders. In fact, the statistics have shown us what an utter and dismal failure this message has been for America and it’s time for the USDA to realize the error of their ways.

I arrived at the USDA’s South Building in Washington, DC and made my way over to the Jefferson Auditorium where the Public Meeting of Oral Testimony on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines would be taking place. According to the agenda for the meeting, there were some opening remarks by the Executive Director for the CNPP Rajen Anand, the Deputy Director for the CNPP Robert Post, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health from HHS Penelope Slade-Sawyer that preceded 50 three-minute comments from members of the “public.” I was speaker #26 and proceeded to my assigned seat in the auditorium. Proving the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction, guess who I was sitting right next to? None other than vegan/vegetarian activist Dr. Neal Barnard from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). He was scheduled to speak right after me at #27 and I couldn’t help but laugh at the fortuitous scheduling that put one of the biggest low-carb proponents right next to a leading voice in the low-fat, vegetarian community. Somebody at the USDA wanted to have some fun it seems. Interestingly, Dr. Barnard was quite a nice guy and introduced himself to me stating, “Hi, I’m Neal Barnard.” I shook his hand and replied, “I know who you are, sir. You’ll be a guest on my podcast show next month.” I booked him several months ago through his assistant to record the interview about his new book on diabetes in mid-August and it will air on September 20, 2010. When he heard my name, Dr. Barnard replied, “Oh yes, I look forward to our chat.” Me too, my friend. It should be quite the discussion!

Once the testimonies began, we were rounded up to stand in line five at a time each having our three minutes at the microphone standing in front of the panel representing the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. They sat behind a table up on a stage taking notes and occasionally looking up from time to time at the parade of people testifying before them. I was surprised to see so many people there reading from prepared statements. Since what was shared during oral testimonies will become a part of the public record (a transcript of the oral testimonies will be shared here within the next few days), I guess they wanted to make sure they got it all in. You couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t just submit their comments in writing. If you are passionate enough about a topic and believe in it wholeheartedly, then you could speak extemporaneously about it without any trouble at all. You could count on one hand the people that did that.

One by one we heard from what was obviously paid lobbyists for just about every food industry and interest group you could think of relating to diet and health: sugar, dairy, bakery, salt, eggs, produce, soy, beef, pork and more. I suppose that it shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, considering they all have a stake in what the USDA promotes to the public as healthy or not. Even still, groups you would think would support low-carb living in front of the panel instead attempted to kowtow to them by putting the emphasis on the “lean” cuts of meat or the egg whites. It was pretty disgusting and a missed opportunity for the companies representing milk, beef, pork and eggs to explain the healthfulness of the fat in their foods. That’s just too bad that they have to play the political propaganda game in order to try to get in the good graces of the almighty USDA. No wonder all you can ever seem to find on shelves is low-fat junk!

Furthermore, it’s just too bad that of the 300 million Americans who had the opportunity to present testimony at this important meeting, a measly 50 people signed up with the vast majority of them paid to be there. I realize trying to get off work, not having the resources to travel to Washington, DC, family responsibilities and more prevent most people from doing something like this. That’s why I wanted to go on behalf of the real people out there who didn’t really have an advocate speaking for them at this meeting besides me. But it was encouraging to see so many who did show up in defense of the low-carb/low-sugar lifestyle, including testimony from people like Kendra Wyatt, Pramod Khosla, Sally Fallon Morell, Morton Satin, Dr. Richard Feinman, Adele Hite, Dr. Jeff Volek, Kathryne Pirtle, Linda Eckhardt (on behalf of Dr. John Salerno), Alyce Ortuzar, and myself. The ten of us represented 20 percent of the testimonies given–a staggering number considering how much the low-carb message was pretty much given the shaft by the Committee. And at one stretch during the meeting, four out of six of us were promoting the low-carb message and my testimony was the final one in that group.

So I bet you want to know what I said, huh? Well, they didn’t allow any audio or video recording inside the auditorium at all, so to know exactly what was said you’ll need to refer to the transcript from the meeting. But here’s the basic gist of the testimony I gave before the panel:

My name is Jimmy Moore and I’m from Spartanburg, South Carolina. I stand before you representing literally hundreds of thousands of people who read my “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog and listen to my podcast each week. So many of us have tried and failed to lose weight and improve our health following what you have told us is the right way to eat. But after years of frustration and disappointment by your Dietary Guidelines that push a low-fat, high-carb, vegetarian diet on us, it was time for a change. Since you said to eat low-fat, we now eat high-fat. Since you have made it clear that you believe carbohydrates are an important part of our diet, we now look at them as being not very important at all. And all those hours of cardiovascular exercise you think we should be doing each week has only led us to do even less. And what has been the result? Weight loss, but more importantly health improvements like nothing we’ve seen before. This should tell you that the monopolistic message you are promoting isn’t the only way to a healthy life. In fact, the whole idea of having Dietary Guidelines that apply to all Americans is about as ludicrous as having one shoe size for everyone. I wear size 13 shoes and I’ll bet most people in this room can’t wear them. The same goes for our diet. We are not the same and each of us needs a customized plan that will work for us. That’s why offering people choices about which plan will work for them is the best way to go. If you fail to recognize this, then we’ll be right back here again in 2015 with even MORE obesity, MORE diabetes, MORE heart disease and many of these same people will be testifying before you again with the exact messages they’re sharing today. And I’ll be back with one simple question to ask you–WHY?

Dr. Volek told me later that with most of the speakers who got up there to give their testimony most of the panel was looking down. But when I was in the heart of my talk, every single eyeball from the Committee was looking at me listening to what I had to say. I have no grand illusions that what I said to them made any difference at all about the inevitability of what will eventually become the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Representing all of the real people out there who have been harmed by what the USDA has said is a healthy diet, I was so happy they got to hear what I had to say. While it won’t change much about what’s coming later this year and what will stand as nutritional law for the next five years, I think they see the handwriting on the wall about their devotion to promoting grains and eschewing fat.

It was pretty neat during the break when so many people came up to me to share their appreciation for what I had to say to the panel. That was gratifying to know that my words were the right message for the right time. In fact, after I returned from the restroom, I saw this big African-American gentleman wearing a security uniform and he was inside the auditorium when I was speaking. He asked me if I had a card so he could check out my web sites later on. The man said he could tell there was something authentic about me unlike most of the others who were there reading from prepared notes. That was an awesome confirmation in my mind that choosing to speak from my heart and letting the words flow freely without abandon was the right choice. I’m glad I did!

So what now? I’m making a push for legislation by my two U.S. Senators and Congressman for a bill permanently detaching the Dietary Guidelines process from the USDA. Nothing will ever change regarding nutritional policy as long as the government agency responsible for protecting the interests of agriculture is kept in charge of it. As Dr. Robert Lustig so eloquently said in my recent interview with him, it’s the fox in charge of the hen house. He added, “Bottom line, the USDA controls the Food Pyramid, the question is WHY?” Why indeed. If you want to take pro-active steps to try to do something about this in time for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, then we need to act NOW! Contact your Senators and Congressmen requesting they sponsor a bill that appoints an all-inclusive commission examining diet and health separated from the heavy influence of the United States Department of Agriculture. We could perhaps let the United States Health & Human Services handle the details of this important public health policy task to find the brightest and best health experts who do not have a financial stake involved in the creation of nutritional recommendations that work. This is the way it should be and the sooner we act on this the better since the health of innocent Americans who are still blindly following the Dietary Guidelines is at risk. Let’s stand up for them and make our voices heard. I had my say at the USDA and now you can have your say to make a difference in the years to come.

  • Congratulations, Mr. Moore! I am really glad that you were able to make your way to Washington, DC, just like Mr. Smith did. 🙂 I wish that I had the time to do so too. Nevertheless, I am very happy that we had ten speakers including you lined up to give the USDA and HHS officials an earful of enlightenment. Sure, they should have known some, if not all, of what you and I have learned in a hard way that carbohydrates can and do kill! Instead of making my way there for oral testimony, I published my weekly blog, “The Dietary Guidelines 2010 Must Do No Harm Or Be Overhauled”, on July 7, along with an interview on my podcast with Ms. Sally Fallon.

    I know it is very hard to convince the members of the DGAC and the officials of the USDA and HHS, in light of highly possible conflict of interests as charged by Ms. Sally Fallon on my podcast. However, I hope and think that what we have done so far may help those who are in charge of creating this ill advice stop and think twice about we are telling them. If our efforts do not make them a turnaround, at least, should make a dent on their thinking of the beautiful carbohydrates……. As I wrote in another blog earlier, I urged everyone who cares for a sound advice from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, should write to the USDA and HHS about his thought and experience with high carbohydrate, low-fat diets, before July 15, 2010. I also encourage everyone who has suffered from diseases as a result of following the current and earlier Dietary Guidelines and Food Pyramid, should tell the USDA and HHS that they are responsible for his ill health. Let the USDA and HHS know they must take their responsibilities seriously.

  • Way to go Jimmy!

  • Michael McGuckian

    Congratulations Jimmy. Keep up the fight. It is important for us in the rest of the world, for those US guidelines are killing us all.

    • You’re right, this is a worldwide problem.

  • SamMac

    Jimmy that was awesome! Respect from the UK.

  • Good for you, Jimmy. And you’re absolutely right: the dietary guidelines, school meals and other programs should be permanently detached from the USDA so that this agency can do what it does best: sell industrial farm products.

  • SnowDog

    First of all, thank you Jimmy for taking your time to help.

    But now…

    “Contact your Senators and Congressmen requesting they sponsor a bill that appoints an all-inclusive commission examining diet and health separated from the heavy influence of the United States Department of Agriculture. ”

    I was with you up to this point. Don’t you see? This is what everybody does, and it’s why the government has grown to such a tyrannical size. One group wants the government to do X, so the government does X. The next group wants the government to do Y, so the government does Y, etc. Now the government is huge; we’re living in a proto-police state; no one wants a government this size; and you’re calling for more government! The government needs to have NOTHING to do with nutrition. Their only ability to act is backed by violence and threats of violence. All the money they spend is taken by force, and every regulation they pass is enforced at the point of a gun.

    This idea IS another version of the same problem that gave us the USDA food pyramid as well as every other vile and wasteful act from Congress.

    • Oh, you’ll get no argument from me about the intrusion of government in our lives, SnowDog. I’m with ya there! But things have got to be shaken up and removing the Dietary Guidelines process from the USDA is only the beginning. I think this should be an independent group from the government entirely and given the teeth to make it legitimate. We’re on the same page buddy!

  • Jimmy, thanks for the full accounting of the event – I feel like I was there! Thanks for doing what you could, on behalf of your loyal listeners/readers! I listened to your podcast for many, many weeks before accepting what you and your guests were advocating, and I’m now Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb, too! I just ordered your book as well as Jonny Bowden’s, and am 1/2 way thru the new Atkins book and it’s all coming together for me, like the proverbial “light bulb.”
    Thanks again for each blog post, each podcast, and for facing our government officials in our stead!

    • THANKS for your support Min! Look forward to seeing you develop your blog, too. Lemme know when you’ve got some content on there and I’ll feature it at my blog in a few months. 😀

  • I think you should plan a march on Washington in 2015 and not worry about whether the media shows up. We have our own media, with the dozens of blogs out there. I know I’d go for sure!

    • I like the idea, MrFreddy. But in order for there to be the kind of impact needed, we need the word to get out through media sources that your average Joe and Jane reads. Perhaps by 2015 the blogosphere will be the primary source of information for people.

  • Congratulations Jimmy. Keep up the fight. It is important for us in the rest of the world, for those US guidelines are killing us all.

  • Jimmy I know you and your readers do not want to miss this or see parts only.– Michelle Obama speaks openly to obesity and health at NAACP National in Kansas City, yesterday I think.


    I personally believe that to study and to work on our diet and obesity and diabetes and our nations health matters, can only lead to where we are all at right here right now.

    Low carb!

    Because it’s the truth and it’s a fact!

    It will be a great day when Michelle and Oprah begin to see the significance in what we are saying.

    Nothing less can happen!

    Thank you

  • Glad you felt heard & made them look up from their Blackberries or whatever distractions – hopefully your voice will at least make the call to reason one decibel louder!

  • Cindy

    Nice job, Jimmy. It takes a lot to make the trip to make a public statement. It might seem like steering an ocean liner, but I like to think that at some point the ship will turn!

    • It’s gonna have to turn around at some point, Cindy. THANK YOU for your support.

  • Lucy

    Thank you for going Jimmy! You did the right thing and you did it well.

  • Bravo Jimmy!! I feel so proud of you, though I have no reason to be proud, just am!
    Every year at my kids elementary school they teach them the government guidelines for health and the pyramid etc etc etc. Then my kids come home and I tell them “thats wrong.” Its hard, because they listen to me, but they also listen at school. My oldest daughter recently told me when she was in 8th grade that her health teacher was obese and on all kinds of drugs for cholesterol etc. She spoke about it to the kids and said most likely she was pre-disposed to needing these drugs because of her genetics, her parents needed them too etc, and that she ate a super low fat low calorie diet but it was not enough and that this was normal. I asked my daughter, does that sound normal to you? Does that sound right to you? Or does that sound like the easy way out? Just listen to your doctor and do what he says no matter what it does to your health? She is a logical kid and eventually said no, it didnt.
    What a difference it would be if my kids were taught the right way to begin with at school! There would be no push and pull and wondering about these things, just knowing and doing the right thing. I can tell sometimes she wonders if what I am serving them to eat is healthy because according to school, I am feeding them the worst foods ever.
    Anyway, good job and thank God someone is gutsy enough to stand up in front of all those people and speak the truth! Thats you! The gutsy one!

    • THANKS Nancy! You’re raising some pretty gutsy kids yourself. 🙂

  • Awesome job Jimmy. Let’s hope that your testimony is heard and acted on by the government.

    • Not holding my breath…but it’s nice to dream.

  • Dusty

    Way to go Jimmy!! You kicked Goliath in the shins and made him wake up a little!!! In 2015 we kick him in the….well we kick him even higher up the legs! How about it!!1 Woo hoo!!!

  • Jennifer

    Thanks, Jimmy! I’m so glad you did that. And thanks for the link to make written comments, too. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise, not knowing where to go to do it. Really appreciate it!

    • You bet! Standing together and making our voices heard WILL make a difference someday.

  • Matt from Australia

    As soon as I read that The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is involved with the recommendations, I realized that was the reason there will be no major changes. Great speech though and good luck.

  • Dan (aka Renegadediabetic)

    WTG Jimmy, thanks for speaking for all of us who couldn’t be there. I doubt it will change anything, but you gave them an earfull to think about. Maybe they’ll realize the insanity by 2015. Ha Ha!

    I’m with snowdog that the goverment should get out of the nutrition business and quit telling us how to eat. However, I doubt that would happen any time soon, so getting the “fox” out of the “henhouse” is a step in the right direction. 🙂

  • I’m not optimistic the USDA will EVER be a truly objective source of nutritional information. There is an incestuous relationship between them and the big food processors which almost guarantees that cheap “base ingredients” like soy and corn (Subsidized by the government) will continue to be foundational ingredients to processed foods. There’s just not much money to be made from meat, dairy products, seafood, low-sugar fruits, and vegetables. We see a similar scenario playing out with the FDA and Big-Pharma…incestuous and financially biased relationships between the “regulators” and those supposedly being regulated.

    • That’s why diet recommendations and the USDA need to be split up like a Hollywood couple!

  • I think that if you were to take a group of lets say the top 100 people from the USDA, from Obama on down and then the top 100 people from the Big Food Corporations and the same top 100 group of people from lets say, farmers and then doctors and then scientists and finally 100 laymen and 100 politicians and 100 teachers and 100 everything and look at what each and every one of them eat and drink and each and every one of them feed their children routinely and on a daily basis, a picture of just how lost and unknowing we all are begins to emerge here. Our population is not biased, it is mistaken. — Accidentally! We all just got here by accident! That’s a fact and now we can’t comprehend or understand this fact. I believe everybody is going to be as happy about this discovery as we are once they get on to it and there is nothing else that can happen because it’s the truth. It’s really happened and it’s really happening. — Just like tobacco! It’s hard to imagine that just a few short years ago and still today with many, that tobacco was seen as innocuous. Unbelievable! — People want to legalize marijuana! Unbelievable! People are dumb! We can’t help it! The truth will prevail, however slowly!

  • Eeva

    Hi Jimmy,

    Having just watched the fantastic Michael Moore documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story”, I can’t help myself thinking you misters Moore should make a movie together! Yes, “Food, Inc.” is already out there but it focused mainly on animal and farmer abuse (which are important issues, too) and not so much on what is being marketed as “healthy diet”. What do you think?

    • Michael Moore and Jimmy Moore making a documentary together…as long as we didn’t talk politics, then I think we’d be okay. LOL!

  • I was imagining a musical soundtrack playing as I read your testimony like it was a final scene to the movie when the forces of good finally break through. It may take another generation before this happens, but until it does the anti-guidelines of lowcarb/paleo will continue to be broadcast and followed. Thanks for laying the foundations of this anti-pyramid.

    • LOL! Don’t give me any ideas for a podcast/YouTube video, Zach! I may take it and run with it. LOL! 😀

  • Tula

    Well done, Jimmy! I must admit, that I was thinking the same thing as Eeva about you Moore fellows making a movie together. This issue needs that kind of publicity. Though, I thought I read somewhere that he’s a vegetarian(?) That certainly wouldn’t work, LOL!

    Thanks for caring and for going to all this effort. At least you know they listened. Only time will tell if they actually heard you.

    • THANKS Tula! Oh, they HEARD me, but what they choose to do with what I said is totally up to them. 🙂

  • That was so heartening to hear. You never know what kind of an impression you’ve made. It was so great to hear that everyone was listening and looking at you while you were speaking. That seemed pretty significant to me. They probably remember your speech out of all others after all was said and done Jimmy. Sometimes that has a delayed impact. Keep up the great work!

    • THANKS Vickie! We can only hope that stories like mine will reverberate in their minds as they consider dietary guidelines heading into the future.

  • Way to go, Jimmy! I really appreciate that you took the time and spent the money to go to DC to represent those of us who reject the USDA dietary recommendations. Let’s tell it like it is — they’re marketing directives! Thank YOU for telling it like it is. I’m not surprised that every eye was on you when you spoke. Your podcasts are more and more polished, you have mastered an impressive amount of research, and you speak with passion from personal experience. That has to be more compelling than the droning on by paid flaks.

    Also, I appreciate how openminded you are about letting people with different philosophies speak on your podcasts. It’s great to hear people speak for themselves, and great that you’re asking them important questions. I’m a big fan.

    • Thanks Jeanmarie! It was such an honor representing so many people like yourself before that governmental committee because they needed to hear from someone who didn’t have a canned response. THANK YOU for listening to my podcasts and I enjoy talking to anybody about this stuff that means so much.

  • Jimmy, you don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk. A cliché, perhaps, but an apt one. Thanks for trying. Reminds me of that classic quote from Dr Atkins in GCBC.

    “It is incredible that in 20th century America a conscientious physician should have his hard won professional reputation placed on the line for daring to suggest that an obesity victim might achieve some relief by cutting out sugars and carbs” Atkins, testifying before congress, 1973

    • Wow, I feel like I’m in good company now, Sean. THANKS for sharing the Atkins quote. 🙂