How the gluten-free movement is ruining our relationship with food
Gluten, which gives bread, pizza dough and other starchy foods their chewiness, is one of the most beloved proteins in the world. But it’s also quickly becoming one of the most feared — at least here in the United States. An estimated 20 million Americans believe that eating it causes them distress. And 100 million people, meanwhile, say that they are actively working to eliminate gluten from their diet.
Roughly 1 percent of humans suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that damages the body’s small intestine when gluten is digested. But the gluten-free movement has gone far beyond those who suffer from celiac, becoming a pervasive part of how Americans eat.
And yet there is a growing sense that people — in particular those who don’t suffer from celiac disease — are being a bit ridiculous about avoiding the protein.
Is there a scientific basis for all the gluten fear-mongering? Is it wrong to avoid gluten if avoiding it makes you feel better? And are people actually feeling better, or is it all just in their heads?
Alan Levinovitz, who teaches philosophy and religion at James Madison University, did more than merely ask these questions; he spent years pursuing answers to them. The result is a newly published book, “The Gluten Lie,” which explores the origins, appeal and dangers of this latest food fad.
I spoke with Levinovitz to pick his brain about why, after all this research, the gluten-free movement is so troubling to him. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
This whole gluten-free movement — it wasn’t always a thing. How far back do you have to go to find a time when no one was talking about it?
If you went back to the 1980s, nobody would have heard of gluten. Not even health advocates. In fact, and sadly, even people with celiac disease might not have heard of gluten at the time.
Much more to read HERE.
Inside Obama’s drone panopticon: a secret machine with no accountability
An apparatus of official secrecy, built over decades and zealously enforced by Obama, prevents meaningful open scrutiny of ‘signature strikes’
Of all the reactions to the deaths of two hostages from a missile fired from a US drone, Congressman Adam Schiff provided the deepest insight into the logic underpinning the endless, secret US campaign of global killing.
“To demand a higher standard of proof than they had here could be the end of these types of counter-terrorism operations,” said Schiff, a California Democrat and one of the most senior legislators overseeing those operations.
The standard of proof in the January strike in tribal Pakistan was outlined by the White House press secretary in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s admission about the deaths. An agency that went formally unnamed – likely the CIA, though the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) also conducts drone strikes – identified what Josh Earnest called an “al-Qaida compound” and marked the building, rather than particular terrorists, for destruction.
Thanks to Obama’s rare admission on Thursday, the realities of what are commonly known as “signature strikes” are belatedly and partially on display. Signature strikes, a key aspect for years of what the administration likes to call its “targeted killing” program, permit the CIA and JSOC to kill without requiring them to know who they kill.
The “signatures” at issue are indicators that intelligence analysts associate with terrorist behavior – in practice, a gathering of men, teenaged to middle-aged, traveling in convoys or carrying weapons. In 2012, an unnamed senior official memorably quipped that the CIA considers “three guys doing jumping jacks” a signature of terrorist training.
Civilian deaths in signature strikes, accordingly, are not accidental. They are, as Schiff framed it, more like a cost of doing business – only the real cost is shielded from the public.
An apparatus of official secrecy, built over decades and zealously enforced by Obama, prevents meaningful open scrutiny of the strikes. No one outside the administration knows how many drone strikes are signature strikes. There is no requirement that the CIA or JSOC account for their strikes, nor to provide an estimate of how many people they kill, nor even how they define legally critical terms like “combatant”, terrorist “affiliate” or “leader”. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing an obstinate administration to compel disclosure of some of the most basic information there is about a program that has killedthousands of people.
Read all of this HERE.
American Outcasts: U.S. Prisons and Modern Day Banishment
The following article was published on Wednesday on The Intercept. It was written with the support of a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation.
In 1986, Patty Prewitt was sent to prison for the murder of her husband. In addition to maintaining her innocence, she, like many others her age, has also been a model prisoner for nearly 30 years. Yet Prewitt, now 65 years old, will not be eligible for parole until 2036, so she is virtually guaranteed to spend the rest of her life behind bars.
In an essay published in the 2013 anthology Too Cruel, Not Unusual Enough, Prewitt described an incident in a women’s prison in Missouri a decade ago, when a caseworker sat her down and presented a modest proposal. “I think we should start a cemetery behind 2-House,” the caseworker said. “A graveyard for you and the others serving no-parole.”
While she described her vision down to the flower beds and flat gravestones that can easily be mowed over, I sat sad, dumb and numb. It never occurred to me that the state was patiently waiting for me to die, although it makes perfect sense. In their opinion, a pine casket is my only way out, and since I am not directly sentenced to the death penalty, they must wait for me to die on my own … a second-class dead-woman-walking.
Patty Prewitt is one of the tens of thousands of Americans who will never again experience life outside of prison. While inside, Prewitt, a grandmother of 10, runs education and parenting programs, produces award-winning writings, and crochets teddy bears for charity. Yet for a crime committed three decades ago (and currently being reviewed by the Midwest Innocence Project), she will forever be barred from society, never again to live among free people.
Read it all HERE.