Tamar Haspel Profile picture
James Beard winning WaPo columnist, author of TO BOLDLY GROW, co-host of @ClimavoresPod, gentleman oyster farmer. @tamarhaspel@mastodon.sdf.org
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Apr 2 9 tweets 3 min read
Look at county-level data and all the things - except one! - point to the southeast as the Death Quadrant.

Start with life expectancy.

(Data from: vizhub.healthdata.org/subnational/usa) Hypertension
Jan 23 10 tweets 2 min read
Diets are stupid!


Diets can occasionally be helpful.

Why? Because the stuff that's stupid and the stuff that's helpful are totally different stuff.

A short diet 🧵
washingtonpost.com/food/2023/01/2… You know the story about the blind men and the elephant?

A bunch of blind guys were asked to describe an elephant, but each was feeling a different part.

"And elephant is hard and pointy" says the tusk guy.

"Soft and flappy" says the ear guy.

None of them can see the whole.
Jan 6 11 tweets 3 min read
This story illustrates a big problem in the field of nutrition.

It starts with Harvard's Wyss Institute, working with Kraft-Heinz, developing a very cool enzyme.

It can turn SUGAR (a simple carb) into FIBER (a complex carb).

wyss.harvard.edu/technology/sug… Here's the idea:

You eat something containing sugar and this enzyme.

When it hits your gut, the pH change triggers the enzyme to do its thing.

It changes that sugar into fiber, preventing absorption of some of the calories and promoting gut health.

Still interesting!
Dec 6, 2022 11 tweets 3 min read
There is a zombie idea that just won't die and I am going to kill it with math.

If we put all our crop subsidies into fruit & veg, it WOULD NOT change the way Americans eat ONE IOTA.

Ok, maybe ONE iota, but not TWO.

Here's why, and it's MATH.

A cranky 🧵 Let's figure out how much money we're talking about!

The subsidies we have now go mostly to corn & soy. We'll include both insurance premium subsidies and what used to be called "direct payments" and are now called ARC/PLC.
Nov 20, 2022 9 tweets 3 min read
For your Sunday morning reading, an @adele_peters @FastCompany piece on regenerative ag.

It's a good run-down of the projects and uncertainties.

I want farmers to get paid to put carbon in soil.

BUT ...

A short🧵
fastcompany.com/90796487/is-re… There are 2 huge problems:

➡️How to measure changes in soil carbon

➡️What to do when land *loses* carbon

Let's take them one by one.
Nov 9, 2022 24 tweets 5 min read
My mom, Barbara Haspel, died on Monday.

Because what’s left is our collective memory, I find I want everyone to know her.

I had the same impulse when my father died, a few years back.

May I introduce you to my mother? Image She wasn’t very mom-like. My sister-in-law called her the mom who fell to earth. When I was a kid, and experienced the small tragedies that kids do, she always had a damned constructive suggestion. It was maddening.
Sep 30, 2022 9 tweets 2 min read
Hey nutrition twitter, I have a question.

What do we actually know about how diet affects health outcomes?

And by "know" I mean near-universal agreement in the nutrition community.

This is a 🧵

Please add to it ... ➡️Trans fats are bad

I think that one's pretty solid
Aug 16, 2022 8 tweets 3 min read
The grazing people make an argument that I think is wrong.

They claim that ruminants co-evolved with grasslands (true!) and grazing is necessary for grassland health.

I don't think that's true. This is a 🧵about why.

Start here, with @GeorgeMonbiot
theguardian.com/environment/20… Ruminants & healthy grasslands can definitely coexist!

But the question is whether grasslands, whether or not they co-evolved with grazing, are healthier with or without livestock.

People study this, and the answer is nearly always without.
Aug 11, 2022 14 tweets 5 min read
In-the-weeds nutrition 🧵 here.

Why I don’t buy the Carbohydrate-Insulin Model (CIM) of weight gain.

It posits that carbs drive insulin which drives fat storage which makes you hungry and you overeat.

So, overeating is a RESPONSE to weight gain.
washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/… Here are two predictions made by CIM:

1. You will burn more calories with a low-carb diet, compared to a regular-carb diet with the same number of calories.

2. The regular-carb diet will make you hungrier, and drive you to eat more, than the low-carb diet.
Jul 28, 2022 10 tweets 4 min read
Per the FAO, calories in our food supply haven't increased as we've continued to get fatter.

@davidludwigmd says that doesn't support the Energy Balance Model of weight - and that's true!

Problem is, it doesn't support *any* model, including his.

A 🧵
washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/… The Carbohydrate Insulin Model (as I understand it) doesn't say you gain weight without consuming more calories. It says eating carbs drives hunger, so you eat more.

In both the EBM & CIM (sorry for the abbrevs!) people overeat - they are just 2 different explanations for why.
Jul 25, 2022 9 tweets 2 min read
I wrote about how subbing (well-raised) pork for 1/2 your beef is a climate win.

I got 2 kinds of responses:

VEGANS: Stopping meat altogether is a way bigger climate win.

BEEF FOLKS: Cows are better for the planet than pigs.

Who's right? A 🧵
washingtonpost.com/food/2022/07/2… The vegans are absolutely right.

A diet of only plants is almost certainly what's best for the planet. (Also: animal welfare issues!)

There's just one problem: people won't do it. And I try to traffic in realistic solutions.
Jun 2, 2022 8 tweets 2 min read
You can cut the climate impact of your diet by 20% in one easy step.

But 46.9% of you are going to have to re-think your meat priorities.

Sub in pork for 1/2 your beef, and it's done.

Pork has about 12% of the climate impact that beef has.

BUT if we move away from densely populated, unenriched, confined operations (which I think we have to), that number will go up.

Call it 20%.

From there the math is easy.
May 27, 2022 10 tweets 4 min read
Should @Starbucks charge more for oat milk, which costs them more than dairy?

It’s better for the planet so maybe not.

Majority says “charge more” anyway, but just ask the question and people come out swinging, so let’s look at OAT MILK vs. DAIRY

First let’s tackle ” LOL you moron DAIRY is better for the planet.”

It’s just not. Cows have enviro benefits! But their carbon footprint is SO BIG that it’s easy to have a better alternative.

@_HannahRitchie explains:
Apr 28, 2022 10 tweets 2 min read
Dear People Who Hate Weight-loss Drugs,

Not only do I think you're wrong, I think your position is mean-spirited and not worthy of you.

We all know that obesity is theoretically 100% preventable/treatable with diet. But we still need drugs.

This is why.
🧵 The key word is THEORETICAL.

Theoretically, everyone can solve a lot of their problems.

They can theoretically stop: gambling, drinking, hoarding, overspending, not exercising.

Perhaps even you, weight-loss drug hater, have a problem you could theoretically solve.
Apr 26, 2022 7 tweets 3 min read
Burning Q: do 95% of weight loss attempts fail?

A: We have no idea. Sort of.

We can't put a number on it because there's no way to accurately assess how many people try to lose weight, and how many succeed.

BUT we're not totally clueless.
🧵 That zombie data point, that 95% of diets fail, is 70 -- COUNT EM 70 -- years old.

It has even more staying power than the thing where you're supposed to drink 8 glasses of water (you're not).

Here's a take-down from 1999! But it endures.
Apr 25, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
Sauerkraut is happening at our house.

Step one: Break out the pelican.

Hobart commercial mixers have an attachment that turns them into food processors for slicing & grating.

Called a pelican for obvious reasons. In go the raw materials: 3 cabbages, quartered.
Apr 5, 2022 9 tweets 2 min read
Everyone's talking about COWS but this morning I am thinking about PIGS and how great they are.

If we want to feed people meat, responsibly, pigs are the GO-TO livestock.

There are 6 reasons why and here they are:

A🐖🧵 1. Pigs are WAY more fertile than cows.

A cow has a calf every year, so you have to factor in an entire year of that mother's life to the resource cost of the calf.

A sow can have 20+ piglets in a year
Apr 1, 2022 18 tweets 4 min read
Holy moly say the word ORGANIC and everyone comes out swinging.

Organic ag has some big advantages, and also some big disadvantages.

Conventional, too!

This thread is everything (OK most things) you need to know, plus a plea for world peace.

Lucky for us, @vereseufert and @nramankutty took a good hard look at organic a couple years back, and published this excellent synthesis of all the evidence on organic.

With HT to them, I am going to summarize here.
Mar 30, 2022 9 tweets 3 min read
I pissed a bunch of people off yesterday by being flippant and annoying about the state of nutrition science.

I'd like to say something about how science and journalism intersect.

A short 🧵
First, you should know that, in high school I won the coveted Teacher's Pest award - with 80% of the vote when you could vote for anyone.

(I come by it honestly - the year ahead of me, my brother @ahaspel won it, undoubtedly by a similar margin.)
Mar 28, 2022 11 tweets 3 min read
There is ONE reason - and only 1 - there's so much nutrition poppycock.

It's why people fall for silly diets

And why crank food ideas get traction

And why the Dietary Guidelines were wrong for so long

And why we get so much stuff like this:

nature.com/articles/d4158… It's because people HATE uncertainty.

They want ANSWERS.

They want them so much they'd rather have wrong answers than no answers.

That leaves the door open for bad ideas - some just grift, because people want to scam, but many well-intentioned, because people want to help.
Mar 11, 2022 12 tweets 2 min read
What should you eat?

For human health?
For planetary health?
For animal welfare?

Food is all trade-offs, all the time. Might be good for you, bad for the planet. Or good for the planet, bad for the animal.

Here are 8 trade-offs in a handy dandy 🧵 BEEF (also lamb)

Cattle (& sheep) eat grass, which can grow on marginal land, and turn it into high-quality human food. Lots of meat for one life taken.


Ruminants emit methane as a byproduct of digestion, which is why beef is the lion’s share of diet-related GHG