Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I like reading old magazine articles since the people writing them have no perspective. They don't know what's going to come, what will be learned, how their subject will be viewed. So, reading them, you get a better idea of what people originally thought, without the gloss.
I recently watched a DVD of old Dick Cavett shows and saw someone I hadn't heard of--Adelle Davis. She was a major food guru in the early 70s. Checking up on her via the internet, I was a bit surprised to learn she was still controversial. Anyway, it was fun to hear nutritional folk wisdom back then.
A lot of what she said made sense--for example, avoid processed and refined foods. Perhaps it's just common sense. Some of what she said is still questionable--she favored large doses of Vitamin C. (According to some websites, she also favored large doses of other supplements like Vitamins A and D, which is definitely bad.)
Sometimes she just seemed wrong. She was against chemical fertilizers, but they've made food cheap and plentiful for a world that Adelle's contemporaries were predicting would see shortages. And with what we know now, Adelle's enthusiasm for getting rid of DDT may have been deadly.
Worst of all, she claimed all those chemicals would soon destroy our topsoil. I remember hearing about this as a kid and worrying. I have to ask, what happened to all the disaster that was predicted--all the vast areas of farmland that would no longer produce?
Then there's things she said which are the reason I love to hear old stuff. You realize some things never change. The latest generation is always out of control. Popular entertainment is always too dirty and violent. Everything is always at crisis level.
According to Adelle, because of the evil "food industry," people are eating worse than ever. Perhaps it was true then--perhaps now--so I guess we're lucky that life expectancy keeps going up anyway. You'd think people would be dropping dead on the streets.