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New York's Pino Prime Meats in Danger After Nearly a Century

New York's Pino Prime Meats in Danger After Nearly a Century

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The New York mainstay’s landlord has threatened eviction, causing a storm of opposition

On 149 Sullivan Street in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood stands a family butcher shop that hasn’t changed in nearly a century. One of the last old-New York businesses to stay in one family for so long, Pino’s Prime Meats is a lauded favorite of those fortunate enough to know about it. Its steaks and sausages are cut and prepared in the finest tried-and-true Italian style, and those anonymous mass-produced things from your local supermarket’s deli don’t hold half a candle to the authentic flavor to be found at Pino’s. So with those qualifications, why is it in danger of closing for good?

Well, as reported by Jeremiah's Vanishing New York in May, the landlord of the space on Sullivan Street recently sent Pino’s a letter to inform them that their lease was abruptly going to run out, citing complaints from tenants that the butcher shop was creating a nuisance in front of the building and blocking it with boxes. Pino’s, of course, denies the claims, and has indicated that the letter is an attempt to push them out of the space, since the old standby has been grandfathered into the area for so long. Sal Cinquemani, Pino’s son, told Jeremiah Moss that “The landlord is trying to get us out, and we need people’s support.”

Since that time, many have come out in support of the hard-dying butcher shop. A petition on was started by Moss to push for overcoming the eviction of Pino’s, and it currently has over 1500 signatures from area supporters. As a lawsuit progresses between the landlord and Pino’s lawyers, the petition stresses that “multigenerational mom and pop businesses like Pino’s should be protected and preserved. Don’t let Pino’s vanish!”

Here’s hoping the venerable butcher shop, one of the last extant artifacts of the area’s Italian immigrant culture, won’t disappear forever from the sidewalks of New York. The petition now has a new goal of 2,000 signatures, and remains available to be signed by any sympathizers to the plight of Pino’s Prime Meats.

The Best Hot Dog in Every State

One of the best hot dogs I tried all year was the unexpected highlight of a two-month visit to France, back when Americans were allowed in other countries. This hot dog, served at a tiny sidewalk cafe in Aix-en-Provence, was a thing of beauty: a snappy, Alsatian-style foot-long, looking like a whole snack in the sort of soft, sumptuous bun you𠆝 expect to be offered at a French hot dog joint𠅌ustom-baked, fresh from the boulangerie.

There were all sorts of ways that I could have gone, but for my dog I chose rich, caramelized onions, a thick blanket of melty cheddar, and crispy onions on top. At Aux Petit Oignons, this is is known as "Le British."

Americans tend to think of the hot dog, the wiener, the frankfurter, as a terribly American thing, something fast-talking men in suits ate at brightly-lit counter joints in black and white movies, something you eat from a cart on the streets of New York City, by the side of the road in New England at century-old stands, at backyard picnics, at the dinner table when the kids are hungry and nothing else will do.

But like pretty much every thing America has ever done, good or bad, the origin story of the hot dog begins elsewhere—in this case, Europe.

There are those classic Viennese coffee houses where lanky franks are served on platters with two kinds of pungent mustard, bracing, freshly-shredded horseradish, and pots of gulasch sauce, a beautiful creation I like to think of as a classy, Old World ancestor to so much American meat sauce.

And then there are the dogs of Switzerland, and train stations in Germany. There&aposs the frikandel of The Netherlands�p-frying a hot dog wasn’t invented by us, either𠅊nd the street dogs of Copenhagen, where you’ll find more carts than in parts of Manhattan, serving up some of the world’s most creative hot dogs, often buried in blizzard-level drifts of crispy onions. How did the hot dog become one of America’s favorite foods? Just look back across the Atlantic. 

And, boy, did we grab the bull by the horns. We give ourselves enough credit, as a country, for how widespread we were able to send this lowbrow-brilliant European invention. When the world turned upside down in March, I returned to the United States with an entirely rekindled fascination with one of our most taken-for-granted culinary contributions. Now, I wanted rippers in New Jersey, sizzling from their oil baths and topped with spicy relish. I wanted bacon-wrapped Sonoran dogs in Tucson, Coney dogs dripping sauce that rich with suet and beef heart in Detroit, dogs topped with pimiento cheese in the Carolinas, and slaw dogs in West Virginia.

With this pandemic hanging around like a bad penny, my travel plans were somewhat curtailed, but I managed to eat and assess far more hot dogs than I𠆝 initially expected, building on experiences from other years. I ended up eating Michigans in New York’s North Country Italian dogs in Elizabeth, New Jersey, served in hollowed-out loafs with at least a pound of fried potatoes so you shouldn’t starve baked beans and red snappers in Maine and fried dogs topped with head-clearing pepper relish and rich, hot brown mustard in Connecticut, served with cooling cups of birch beer. On and on it went, all across the country, so many greats, and in many cases, very old ones, very nearly unchanged after a century or so in business. 

Not all Americans take the hot dog equally seriously. In some parts of the country, it never quite took hold, perhaps because there was so much else to eat. In some places it is considered little more than a snack, an entry-level food, something to eat on the fly at Costco (don’t laugh—that’s a great, standard hot dog).

Then, in other pockets of America, the hot dog has the sort of staying power𠅊nd is treated with the sort of reverence—given to barbecue elsewhere. People will line up patiently, they’ll drive long distances, and then they’ll go home and think about the next time.

By nature, a hot dog joint is relatively easy to manifest, but the journey to indispensability is long and often difficult. The landscape is littered with the wreckage of failed establishments where the proprietor gambled on toppings, forgetting that this particular house is nothing, nothing at all, without a strong foundation—in this case, a quality dog and a well-crafted bun. Who could blame them for going the visual route, in this aggressively visual age. Many a wide-eyed entrepreneur has no doubt learned that the hot dog is not so easily suited to modern times, and that is precisely the point: hot dogs are not the most photogenic, and some of the finest can be downright unsightly.

It is the finest, no matter what they might look like on camera or our social media feeds, that we celebrate here today. So jump in the car and try the one nearest to you. The hot dog is, after all this time, a simple, affordable pleasure—the perfect little indulgence in times like these.

Cold Smoking Meats: Don’t Do It

Can you say nova lox? Lebanon baloney? Kielbasa? Smoked chub or sable? All fabulous and all cold smoked. Can you also say botulism?

Cold smoking food can be done at home and many people do it expertly, safely, and deliciously. But if you don’t know what you are doing, if you don’t have precision tools and precision control, you can kill. Yes, I know there are websites and books devoted to the subject, but based on my interaction with readers here and in person, I fear many folks who do cold smoking at home don’t fully understand the risks. Grandpa cold smoked his own sausage and lox, they reason, so can they. He lived to a ripe old age, why won’t I?

But today’s food supply is different. Modern factory methods of meat production result in more pathogenic bacteria on meats. To safely cold smoke meats you must have a bulletproof recipe from a pro, not a buddy at work, you must understand some basic scientific principles, you must control the temperature of the smoker and the meat precisely, which means you must have top grade digital thermometers, you must measure the precise amount of salt and/or preservatives with a digital scale, you must cool it properly, and storage temperature after smoking must be precise. If you don’t, you are driving on bald tires, skating on thin ice, playing Russian roulette.

Yes, many people do it. Many people also go 100 mph on the highway. That doesn’t make it safe. I have excellent equipment and extensive knowledge of the subject, yet I never cold smoke. I love my family too much. If I want andouille, I can make a mighty fine one with hot smoke, or I can buy one made in a HACCP certified plant at my grocery store. HACCP means Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, and it is a systematic well-established protocol and preventive approach to safe food production from biological, chemical, and physical hazards.

Cold smoking is an old method where the food is not cooked by heat during the smoking process. The air temp around the food is usually below 140°F according to the FDA. It is usually done with one container for generating smoke, another for the food, and a pipe between the two, although there are some clever devices that produce smoke and very little heat that can be placed on grills and even on home made smoke boxes.

Cold smoking cheese, tofu, and nuts at home are relatively low risk. Bacon is not high risk because it is cooked hard before serving, but I still do not recommend cold smoking meats at home, especially for beginners. The risk is too high, especially for children, elderly, pregnant, and immune compromised. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is quite succinct on the subject: “Most food scientists cannot recommend cold-smoking methods because of the inherent risks.”

What is the risk? Among other pathogens, Clostridium botulinum, the botulism bug, the one that makes a neurotoxin that kills people, loves improperly produced sausage and smoked fish. In fact botulism comes from the Latin word botulus which means “sausage”! Listeria monocytogenes is another killer that loves home sausage makers and fish smokers.

The risk of botulism poisoning is low, but it is there. The risk of other pathogens such as listeria is much higher, and they can make you mighty sick. Are you willing to risk killing your family?

The risk from ground meats is higher than any other products, and this means sausages. When animals are slaughtered, contamination from microbes in the gut is usually confined to exposed surfaces and surfaces in contact with contaminated knives, gloves, and tables. This contamination is killed almost instantly when heated in the process of cooking. But if the meat is ground, contamination is distributed evenly through the meat, and the center may not get enough heat to pasteurize it.

Acme Smoked Fish is the largest commercial fish smoker in the nation. I have toured their plant in Pompano Beach, Florida, where they have precise instrumentation and tip top sanitation and a HACCP plan. Yet in 2015 they had to recall some fish. Food safety professor Martin Wiedmann of Cornell University says the problem is that “it’s not hot enough to kill the listeria that comes in the raw fish.”

Listen to this quote from Colorado State University about commercially produced cold smoked salmon: “It is risky for pregnant women, the frail elderly and others with compromised immune systems due to disease or medical therapy. Many countries, including the U.S., recommend these groups avoid cold smoked fish . The shelf life of smoked salmon is very short, one to two weeks in the refrigerator and about one month in the freezer. Storage time is another critical factor in the proliferation of Listeria monocytogenes.”

Heat kills all these bacteria and pathogens. Freezing does not. Alcohol does not. Yes, salt will inhibit their growth, but salt does not kill them all, only those on the surface and just below. Meats left at temperatures between 40°F and 130°F are in “the danger zone”, a range of temps within which microbes reproduce rapidly, sometimes doubling every 20 minutes. If you cook these products to internal temperatures below 130°F you are cooking at a temp that bacteria love. At 130°F the time it takes to pasteurize meat can be hours, and at 165°F the pasteurization time is down to seconds. Because the proper balance of temperature, salt, and preservatives is so delicate, I cannot recommend any cooking below 200°F minimum. And even that is not ideal. The science advisor Prof. Greg Blonder explains: “Even 200°F is tricky because evaporation can cool the meat and keep it in the danger zone for a long time, a phenomenon called ‘the stall’. This is why pros start beef jerky at 165°F in 100% humidity, so there is no evaporative cooling, and the meat is pasteurized. Then they drop the humidity and desiccate the meat.” Commercial jerky makers use preservatives, and still, dried meat recalls are common. For safety and taste, please use my Food Temperature Guide.

If you love cured smoked sausage, I recommend you buy it. Professional sausage makers should have the expertise and all the critical point variables under control. If you love nova lox, buy it. Or click here for my recipe for a divine hot smoked salmon that is perfectly safe. I also have recipes for bacon and pastrami which are cured and hot smoked, so they are safe.

With fish, there is the additional hazard of parasites, like tapeworm. They get into fish flesh, especially if there are mammals in or around their waters whose fecal matter can contaminate their environment. That means people, farm animals, whales, seals, and porpoises. A tapeworm in your intestines can grow to 30′! The Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guide says you can kill parasites by freezing to -4°F for seven days, but most home freezers do not go below 10°F and if they are frost-free freezers, they can go up to 32°F in the defrost cycle. Yes, the risk is not much greater than eating sashimi, but in theory, sashimi is the highest grade of fish, and sushi chefs are trained to spot signs of parasites. To get a sense for what you are up against, look at this page on the FDA website.

Finally, if I have not scared you off, if you insist on going down the risky path of cold smoking, buy the book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman. It has superb recipes for making sausages and other cured meats. Follow his instructions carefully.

But don’t come to me for help. I have decided that I will not offer recipes or advice on cold smoking on this website. I want you and your loved ones alive and cooking my safe recipes!

I intend to live forever. So far, so good.

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Published On: 12/12/2013 Last Modified: 4/22/2021

Action on Global Warming: NYC's Green New Deal

NEW YORK&mdashMayor de Blasio today announced New York City's Green New Deal, a bold and audacious plan to attack global warming on all fronts. It is comprised of $14 billion in new and committed investments, legislation and concrete action at the City level that will ensure a nearly 30 percent additional reduction in emissions by 2030. The laws and investments of New York City's Green New Deal will directly confront income inequality, generating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs retrofitting buildings and expanding renewable energy.

You can read the full report here.

"Every day we wait is a day our planet gets closer to the point of no-return. New York City's Green New Deal meets that reality head on," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We are confronting the same interests that created the climate crisis and deepened inequality. There's no time to waste. We're taking action now, before it's too late."

New York City is not only taking steps to adhere to the Paris Climate pact, it is frontloading the most significant greenhouse gas reductions for the coming decade, before it's too late. The City is going after the largest source of emissions in New York by mandating that all large existing buildings cut their emissions - a global first. In addition, the Administration will convert government operations to 100 percent clean electricity, implement a plan to ban inefficient all-glass buildings that waste energy and reduce vehicle emissions.

The Green New Deal policies are laid out in "OneNYC 2050: Building a Strong and Fair City," a new, comprehensive plan to prepare our city for the future and leading the way for the nation on how to address the existential threats posed by climate change, economic insecurity, inequity, and rising global intolerance.

Combined with the de Blasio administrations previous actions, the actions announced today will lead to a nearly 30 percent reduction in emissions citywide. In combination with actions taken prior to this administration, New York City on track to achieve a 40 percent reduction in emissions from a 2005 baseline by 2030 -- the breaking point to turn back the most devastating and irreversible consequences of climate change.

The announcements today will reduce our emissions by the following percentages from a 2005 baseline:

10%: Mandating that all large, existing buildings implement retrofits to be more efficient and lower emissions &ndash a global first.
6%: OneNYC initiatives to further reduce emissions including more renewable energy, expanded energy efficiency in buildings and reduced reliance on fossil fuel vehicles.
5%: Pursuing a deal to power 100% of City operations with clean electricity sources like Canadian hydropower.
2%: Cleaning up vehicle fleet and implementing congestion pricing.

The above actions will account for a 23 percent reduction in emissions. Previous actions taken by the de Blasio administration, such as phasing out dirtier heating oil, have already resulted in a 5 percent reduction. The total reduction secured through actions of the de Blasio administration will reach 28 percent. When added to reductions made under the prior administration, New York City will reach a total emissions reduction of 40 percent by 2030 and putting ourselves on track for full carbon neutrality by 2050.

New York City's Green New Deal

  • Committing to carbon neutrality by 2050, and 100% clean electricity. The City will pursue steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and source 100% clean electricity, while creating green jobs and holding polluters responsible for climate-related costs.
  • Requiring buildings cut their emissions &ndash a global first. With the passage of the building mandates law, New York City is the first city in the world to require all large existing buildings of 25,000 square feet or more, of which there are 50,000 citywide, to make efficiency upgrades that lower their energy usage and emissions &ndash or face steep penalties.
  • Banning new inefficient glass-walled buildings. The City will no longer allow all-glass facades in new construction unless they meet strict performance guidelines, making inefficient glass-heavy building designs a thing of the past.
  • Hydro-powered City government. The City, working with partners, will pursue 100 percent carbon-free electricity supply for City government operations with the building of a new connection linking New York City to zero-emission Canadian hydropower. Negotiations will begin right away, with the goal of striking a deal by the end of 2020 and powering city operations entirely with renewable sources of electricity within five years. This action is the equivalent of converting the entire state of Vermont to clean energy.
  • Mandatory organics recycling. The City will make organics collection mandatory citywide, expanding the country's largest organics management program, including curbside pickup, drop-off sites, and support for community composting opportunities.
  • Reducing waste and carbon-intensive consumption. The City will end unnecessary purchases of single-use plastic foodware, phase out the purchase of processed meat, reduce the purchase of beef by 50 percent and commit to a carbon neutral City fleet by 2040
  • Aligning with U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals. With OneNYC, New York City was the first city to map our local strategy to the SDGs and to submit a Voluntary Local Review to the United Nations. The Voluntary Local Review monitors New York's advancement toward the goals, identifies areas where we can learn from others, and addresses remaining challenges. By demonstrating directly in our strategy how OneNYC aligns with the SDGs, we strengthen our efforts to build a strong and fair city and deepen the city diplomacy that makes New York City a leader on the world stage.

Preparing for the Effects of Climate Change

  • Comprehensive resilience planning. The City is executing our $20 billion resiliency plan to address the growing threats of coastal storms, sea-level rise, extreme heat, and increased precipitation with projects and programs across the city. These investments will save lives and people's homes as New York prepares for the effects of climate change that are already locked-in.

Solving our Transportation Challenges

  • Help New Yorkers get moving. The City will support the implementation of congestion pricing to reduce traffic in Manhattan and help fix our broken subway system, while also improving bus speeds 25 percent by the end of 2020. We will speed up our buses through expanded and improved bus lanes, stronger bus lane enforcement, and signal improvements that prioritize buses as they travel through city streets.
  • Reclaim city streets. The City will meet the needs of the public by ensuring better buses to increase efficiency in all five boroughs increasing off-hour deliveries to help ease congestion and creating People Priority Zones that restrict vehicular access, create public spaces, improve safety, reduce congestions, and improve air quality. We will start with a zone in Lower Manhattan to test a potential expansion citywide.

Ensuring Social Equity and Jobs

  • Promoting New Yorkers' health. The City will guarantee health care for every New Yorker, to create the most comprehensive, universal coverage in the nation for uninsured New Yorkers, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status. The City will focus on ending the opioid epidemic and deploy engagement teams alongside first responders to support people with mental health and substance misuse needs.
  • Building a fairer city for all. The City will explore expanding the IDNYC municipal ID card to enable banking access for the more than 1 million underbanked New Yorkers and will continue protecting tenants from displacement and supporting working New Yorkers by aggressively enforcing fair wage and work regulations.

Since the launch of the original OneNYC strategy in 2015, New York City has been a global leader in progressive policies that serve all New Yorkers and secure a sustainable future. Amid this progress, our city and its residents continue to face numerous challenges today. These include pervasive social and economic inequities at-risk infrastructure and an exposed and endangered waterfront threatened by a climate change emergency. OneNYC is our blueprint to meet these challenges head-on.

OneNYC lays out our aspirations for the City we want to build by 2050. It contains eight goals that respond to core challenges facing New York City today 30 initiatives the City and our partners need to undertake to meet those goals by 2050 and more than 80 specific new metrics and targets to guide City leaders and hold us accountable.

The OneNYC strategy was developed following months of engagement with a diverse cross-section of 16,000 New Yorkers from across the city. The City convened a 39-member Advisory Board of community leaders, advocates, elected officials, and policy experts, as well as 26 regional leaders to discuss shared challenges and opportunities to collaboratively address shared regional needs. In the coming months, the de Blasio administration will continue the conversation with residents, civic leaders, and elected officials to refine initiatives and encourage civic engagement.

"Here in New York City, we recognize our climate crisis for what it is - an emergency - and also that what matters most is not words, but action," said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC's Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director. "With today's release of OneNYC 2050, we are demonstrating to the world what a green new deal looks like in practice. Taking on the fossil fuel industry, getting our emissions to net zero, building greater resiliency citywide, and creating an inclusive economy - these may not be easy, but they are necessary if we are to secure a livable future for the next generation. And by taking action now, we are building a strong and fair city for all New Yorkers."

"If someone tells you the Green New Deal won't work, tell them to come to New York City," said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability. "There are no sidelines in the fights against global warming and inequality &ndash either we act or we forfeit our future."

"Our investments in resiliency are focused on ensuring New York City is prepared to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change," said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor's Office of Resiliency. "Climate change presents an unprecedented threat, but with the Green New Deal we have the opportunity to address inequality, create thousands of new jobs, and build a stronger and more resilient city for generations of New Yorkers to come."

"From harnessing the power of our upstate water supply to phasing out the use of dirty heating oil in the five boroughs, New York City is leading the way in fighting climate change," said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. "Moving forward we will continue to transition our wastewater treatment facilities to resource recovery operations where we can harvest additional clean energy to help reduce our carbon footprint."

"The updated OneNYC plan sets the stage for a New York that is well prepared to address the realities of climate change and income inequality. It does so while recognizing the need to invest in and improve our mobility and quality of life infrastructure- both critical to the retention and growth of a workforce that serves as the underpinning for a resilient and growing economy," Larisa Ortiz, Principal, Larisa Ortiz Associates and New York City Planning Commissioner, OneNYC Advisory Board Member.

"Mayor Bill de Blasio's OneNYC 2050 is a breakthrough of historic proportions. The Mayor's goals for sustainable development ensure that NYC will be in the global forefront of the 21st century. One NYC 2050 gets it just right, putting vibrant democracy, an inclusive economy, excellence in education, health lives and a sustainable environment into a holistic plan, one that will benefit all New Yorkers and the world. With this launch, NYC will now move into high gear of leading the nation's Green New Deal," said Jeffrey D. Sachs, University Professor at Columbia University and Co-Chair of the OneNYC Advisory Board.

"The work we do to ensure that our City's parks and open spaces are equitable, sustainable and resilient is critical in advancing the goals of OneNYC. From neighborhood playgrounds and parks to our urban forests and natural areas, we strive to contribute to the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers, today and for decades to come, "said NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner, Chief Operating Officer Mark Focht.

"New York City takes a bold step on this Earth Day as we incorporate a commitment to global engagement into our local strategy of OneNYC," said Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for International Affairs. "As host city to the United Nations, New York City shares innovations with the world through our Global Vision|Urban Action program and the Voluntary Local Review tool to drive solutions to the most pressing challenges concentrated in cities including climate change, migration and inequality. The new OneNYC plan shows how our local efforts align with and advance the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, because the future of the world depends on city leadership today."

"New York City is a leader in fighting climate change, and the Department of Sanitation is proud to be part of this effort," said Acting Sanitation Commissioner Steven Costas. "Organic waste makes up more than one third of everything New Yorkers throw away, and when it breaks down it emits harmful methane gas. To address this issue, we will expand our organics management program, already the largest in the nation, to create citywide, mandatory organics recycling. We look forward to working with City Council and other stakeholders to take action, and we will continue to work toward our goal of sending zero waste to landfills."

"The City of New York is leading the way in addressing the climate crisis," said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. "We are leading by example through better government operations. The City is improving energy efficiency in its government buildings, replacing gas-powered fleet vehicles with electric vehicles, and considering environmental impacts when we purchase the goods and services we use. This Earth Week we should all redouble our efforts to build a more sustainable future for New York City."

"Earth Day is about coming together as a planet and committing to protect our environment, which is why I am so proud this City Council last week took the ambitious step of passing the Climate Mobilization Act, one of the most aggressive legislative mandates any city has ever taken to combat global warming. The package requires that medium and large buildings dramatically cut their greenhouse gas emissions, among other measures. The Council has a long, proud history leading the fight against climate change, including requiring that the OneNYC sustainability report be submitted every four years, electric vehicle charging stations in parking lots and garages, and establishing the organic waste curbside collection program. I am pleased to see that, following last week's passage of the Climate Mobilization Act, the Administration is expanding these measures to further reduce the effects of climate change in the city. I look forward to working with the Mayor to implement these measures," said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

"As an original cosponsor of the Green New Deal, I'm fighting for reductions in carbon emissions at the Federal level, but the Trump Administration and our colleagues across the aisle remain tethered to oil company interests and outdated energy policies that are killing our planet. The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which I now Chair, is pushing legislation to fight climate change, including H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act. But we cannot be sure the GOP controlled Senate will act on this critical issue. Therefore, it's more important than ever for state and local municipalities to take the lead in reducing harmful greenhouse gases. I applaud Mayor de Blasio, the City Council and City officials for once again making NYC a climate leader by committing to a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. And I will continue to push for similar or greater emissions reductions at a national level," said Representative Eliot Engel.

"As the federal government fails to acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis, New York City is leading the way by taking bold and decisive action for a clean energy future. An investment in our environment means not only cutting emissions and expanding renewable energy, but also creating good jobs and improving the quality of life of all New Yorkers as we move toward a greener, healthier city. I commend Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and commitment to resiliency and sustainability," said Representative Jose Serrano.

"New York can be a leader for the rest of the nation in combatting the growing threat of climate change. Addressing this pressing danger will require working federally, locally and internationally. I'm hopeful that by adopting a Green New Deal, New York City can help lead the way for other cities, states and localities in reducing carbon emissions and building a more sustainable economy that creates jobs and opportunity, while preserving our planet for future generations," said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez.

"Climate change is one of the most dangerous threats we currently face, and we need to get serious about combatting it now. I'm proud that New York City is taking this threat head on, and I will continue working down in Washington to ensure the rest of the country follows New York's lead," said Representative Carolyn Maloney.

"Investing in the protection of our environment means investing in the future of the next generation of New Yorkers. The OneNYC plan not only serves to shrink New York City's carbon footprint &ndash it strives to reduce income inequality by providing thousands of job opportunities for city residents. I applaud Mayor de Blasio's leadership and look forward to working together to build a healthy, sustainable New York," said Senator Alessandra Biaggi.

"People around the world are already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change, but the worst is yet to come. With the federal government refusing to take serious action, cities like New York are rising up to the challenge of addressing the most pressing issue of our time," said Assembly Member Dan Quart. "OneNYC is exactly the kind of bold action we need."

"Once again, New York City is taking the lead," said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried. "We'll show America how to take strong action to protect our planet from the catastrophic effects of global warming."

"I'm truly excited about the progress of the program OneNYC. New York City has been leading the way in the climate change initiative and the OneNYC program helps us continue that development by cutting emissions from New York's largest source of emissions and creating 27,000 well-paying jobs to implement the retrofits. I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for the OneNYC program and the chance to help ensure a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030," said Assembly Member Latrice Walker.

"Climate change is an existential threat, and I thank Mayor de Blasio for accelerating plans to reduce waste and carbon-intensive consumption," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board, of which I appoint members to, is looking forward to working with the administration to reach these important goals."

"I'm in for a Green New Deal. From grassroots advocates, who have been sounding the environmental alarm for decades, to my fellow local elected colleagues, our shared mission is to make aggressive moves that combat the climate change crisis threatening the very existence of our planet. It's about readopting the goals of the Paris Agreement to reach 100 percent clean, renewable energy &mdash including deeper exploration of generating solar, wind, and geothermal power in this region &mdash as much as it is about accepting the personal challenge to reduce our carbon footprint in what have been more unsung ways. I am particularly thrilled that this City has taken up our mantle to reduce our overconsumption of meat through the phasing out of processed meat purchasing and the reduction of beef purchasing make no mistake, addressing the carbon-intensive activity of meat production is a sustainable solution for the health of our bodies and our planet alike. This is a good next step, but is far from the full scope of what we must commit to as a society to reverse this ocean liner of bad decisions. We must be far more assertive in our investment to go green, from public transportation to building design. Nearly 50 years after the first Earth Day celebration, the clock is ticking on our ability to secure a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

"So often it has been that when we build, we kill. I'm excited that we in city government have found direction to correct a vision of the past and move forward with a vision of sustainability and set benchmarks to save our planet. I applaud the Mayor and anyone in government who stood talk to make these regulatory changes," said Council Member Andy King.

"Intro. 1253, our Clean Tower Plan, will be the largest carbon emissions reduction ever mandated by any city, anywhere," said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. "This bill represents two years of hard work to ensure affordability and sustainability weren't pitted against each other. Thanks to the partnership between the City Council, led by Speaker Corey Johnson, and the Mayor's Office of Sustainability, we have a clear, fair path to shrink the carbon footprint of large buildings 40% by 2030 -- exactly the kind of action New York City needs to reduce the effects of climate change."

"Just as the Council did last week, the Mayor is laying out a bold strategy for tackling climate change, one of the most important challenges our species has ever faced," said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. "This is more than an environmental issue. It's a human rights issue of the highest order. And the City of New York is leading the way as it always does. The new OneNYC plan is hopefully the first domino in a series of bold climate action across the country."

"While Washington D.C. continues to ignore its responsibility to combat climate change, I am proud to be a part of a collaboration with the New York City Council and de Blasio administration that is doubling down on the need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, eliminate plastic waste and improve our mass transportation system to decrease our reliance on personal vehicles," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "Preserving our planet for future generations is the most important mission we have today and I am thankful to have so many dedicated fighters in this City pushing the difficult conversations so we can continue to show the world that we are up to the challenge. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, my City Council colleagues and all of the advocates that have put in so much work to guide us on this critical path that is OneNYC 2050."

"New York City's Green New Deal is the bold vision that we need to address our climate crisis. I am a proud co-sponsor of the City Council's Climate Mobilization package which passed last week. This legislation and policies implemented by the de Blasio administration will set world-wide standards for cutting emissions while creating good-paying jobs. These efforts are critical to achieving environmental, social, and economic sustainability. I commend the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson, Environmental Committee Chair Costa Constantinides, and Mayor de Blasio for their work making New York City the leader in the fight against climate change," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

"Study after study by the scientific community has reinforced the impact humans have on climate change," stated Council Member Rafael Salamanca. "Around the globe, sea levels are rising and cities continue to register record-breaking temperatures. While others fail to act despite mountains of evidence, the New York City Council and the de Blasio administration are taking a leading role in implementing critical policy to reduce New York City's carbon footprint. The historic package of legislation approved by the City Council focusing on an array of environmental issues, including requiring large buildings to reduce their emissions, is model legislation that cities around the country are looking to emulate. The policy we implement today will have a lasting effect on the planet that we leave our children and their children. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the City Council, the administration and stakeholders across the city to further impact positive change on this very important issue."

"What better way to honor Earth Day than by standing with the Mayor and other elected officials who have worked so hard to make New York a greener, safer city? DC 37 is proud to be part of the effort to end dirty buildings, reduce carbon emissions, and create good jobs," said Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37.

"This Earth Day New Yorkers can be proud," said Bill Lipton, State Director of the NY Working Families Party. "Thanks to years of work by grassroots climate justice organizations, allies in the City Council, and Mayor de Blasio, New York City is showing that the Green New Deal isn't just an idea or a plan, it can be the reality in cities across the country."

"Climate change and inequality are two of the most pressing issues of our times. The RWDSU represents workers in retail, grocery stores, warehouses and more, all of whom are impacted by inequality and climate change. We applaud the Mayor for creating OneNYC 2050, which is a comprehensive vision for addressing these issues. Superstorm Sandy was a stark reminder of the reality of climate change and its relationship to inequality. All working people deserve to live on a healthy planet, free from poverty. If we do not follow through with the vision of OneNYC 2050, we do so at our own peril," said Stuart Appelbaum President of RWDSU.

"New York City is setting a new standard for U.S. cities by taking bold action to address the climate crisis. Buildings account for more than two-thirds of emissions in New York City and new efficiency standards will dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. We expect our state leaders to follow New York City's lead and adopt new climate mandates that strengthen our cities and towns through the passage of the Climate and Community Protection Act," said Stanley Fritz, Campaign Manager for Citizen Action of New York.

"The business community intends to be a full partner in achieving the climate, transit and social equity goals being announced today by Mayor de Blasio. New Yorkers are united in our commitment to confront these challenges," stated Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City.

"I think the intersection of equity and climate readiness is the most important challenge for improving the resilience of cities. And this plan tackles both in bold and innovative ways," said Michael Berkowitz, President, 100 Resilient Cities.

"While cities occupy only two percent of the world's landmass, they have an enormous climate footprint with more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. With 90 percent of the world's urban areas situated on coastlines, cities are also at high risk from some of the devastating impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and powerful coastal storms. For millennia, cities have helped nurture some of mankind's greatest ideas, and it is no surprise that New York City is rolling out 'OneNYC2050: Building a Strong and Fair City.' I commend and welcome this paradigm shift that will not only result in emissions reduction of 40% by 2030 from a 2005 baseline - while generating tens of thousands of green new jobs, but also offer a scale model for other cities around the world to benefit from and emulate," said Satya S. Tripathi, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Secretary of the UN Environment Management Group.

Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said "While the federal government is denying climate change, New York City is taking action to reduce our carbon footprint and make our communities more sustainable. NYLCV applauds Mayor de Blasio for advancing the OneNYC 2050 plan to make New York City greener throughout our power, transportation, and buildings sectors. The city is setting bold goals of achieving carbon neutrality and drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 that will require real actions and investments. Many of NYLCV's top priorities are included OneNYC 2050 - from cutting emissions from our buildings, to improving water and air quality, to making our streets safer, our transportation systems stronger, and our fleets greener, to expanding access to green spaces for all New Yorkers. We thank the Mayor for advancing this ambitious plan and look forward to working with the Administration to ensure we make meaningful progress to achieve these goals."

"OneNYC offers a vision for the future of New York City with climate solutions and clean air at its core," said Andy Darrell, Chief of Strategy, Global Energy & Finance at Environmental Defense Fund. "This Earth Day, New Yorkers can also be grateful for implementation underway on congestion pricing, pension fund investment in climate solutions and less pollution coming from buildings &ndash all strong, practical steps to achieve environmental goals."

"I'm pleased to stand with the Mayor today to support NYC's new building emissions law, a landmark in urban environmental policy," said John Mandyck, CEO of Urban Green Council. "We look forward to rolling up our sleeves to assist with its implementation as well as innovations to accelerate the energy retrofit market."

"By coordinating and driving critical infrastructure investments under the guiding principles of sustainability and resiliency, New York City is making life better for current residents and future generations," said Carter Strickland, New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land. "We have to address the challenges of living in cities &ndash where nearly 70% of people will live by 2050 &ndash and New York City's policies on sustainable transportation, water systems, and efficient buildings are leading the way."

"The latest update to the City's OneNYC plan clearly demonstrates that we can tackle the climate crisis head-on and make a better city for all," said Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association and OneNYC Advisory Board Member. "Whether its congestion pricing that raises funds for better mass transit, a carbon-neutral city with cleaner air or commitments to invest in our residents and their neighborhoods, OneNYC meets the urgent need to act with a comprehensive vision for success."

"OneNYC 2019 is an innovative move towards ensuring an equitable and sustainable future for New York City. I appreciate its attention to our urban environment and encourage the development of strategies that will protect the most vulnerable communities in our City. We must continue to work together to ensure that its approach remains inclusive for all New Yorkers for generations to come," said Christine Appah, NY Lawyers for the Public Interest, OneNYC Advisory Board Member.

"New York City is creating a cleaner and more equitable future for all New Yorkers with OneNYC 2050 and the new initiatives that will reduce global warming emissions from buildings and cut waste and pollution from billions of single-use carryout bags," said Eric A. Goldstein, New York City Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We look forward to working with the Mayor and his team to advance the effective implementation of these and other programs that prioritize environmental protection and make the City a national leader on sustainability."

"Cities are key sites where innovation and experimentation will have to take place to meet the rapidly advancing climate change challenge," said William Solecki, Co-Chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change and Professor of Geography at CUNY Hunter College. Actions proposed under OneNYC 2050 and associated Green New Deal for NYC will help keep New York at the cutting edge of what cities are doing by showing how transformative climate action can support the promise of climate resilience development pathways under conditions of equity."

"OneNYC 2050 showcases New York City as a global leader on climate change," said Emily Nobel Maxwell, New York City Program Director at The Nature Conservancy. "The Conservancy supports the strong commitments to carbon neutrality and 100 percent clean electricity, which will put New York City on a path to becoming stronger and more resilient. We applaud the emphasis on nature as a critical solution to pressing challenges facing our communities, including threats to public health, equity, and adapting to climate change. We look forward to working with the City to bring this vital plan to life."

"The OneNYC 2050 plan sets the vision for New York City to continue to exemplify a sustainable and resilient city for the world. With an eye on accountability and bringing the plan to life in every neighborhood, we can expect to see improvements in access to healthcare, increased participation in our democracy, and greater opportunity for our residents of all ages, to build skills for a modern workforce. We have the foundation for our children and their children to live their best lives in the best city for many years to come," said Francine Rosado-Cruz, Global Learning & Development Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Microsoft.

"Climate change isn't fair, and OneNYC 2050 lays out an equitable vision of a green new deal in action to ensure New York's world-leading climate action won't leave the city's most vulnerable behind," said David Miller, Director of International Diplomacy at C40. "Mayor de Blasio and his team boldly developed OneNYC 2050 in line with the city's ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2050, championing the objectives of the Paris Agreement and positioning New York and Mayor de Blasio as global climate leaders."

"The U.N. report on climate change, whose co-authors included a member of the PSC, showed that the planet can still be saved from the worst effects of climate change if dramatic action is taken by 2030. There is no time to lose. We applaud the Mayor for refusing to wait for action on the federal level and announcing plans to take action in New York City. The members of the PSC are eager to support an initiative that couples good jobs with reduced emissions. Both are possible - and must be achieved. It would be immensely powerful to make that happen in New York City," said Dr. Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY.

"OneNYC 2050 is a comprehensive and ambitious plan to make the biggest city in the United States the most vibrant, equitable, livable, and climate smart city in the world as well. The Science for Climate Action Network congratulates Mayor de Blasio and his administration for leading the way and offers its support in using climate science to build a clean and just energy economy," said Richard Moss, Founding Director, Science for Climate Action Network Visiting Fellow, American Meteorological Society.

"With OneNYC and a host of other initiatives, our city has provided galvanizing global leadership on climate policy and politics&mdashand climate culture too, consistently supporting work to spark the conversations we need across New York City's diverse communities. We're proud to have partnered with NYC on a citywide exhibition and more, and proud to be creating America's first climate museum right here in NYC where it belongs," said Miranda Massie, Director, The Climate Museum.

"The health of New Yorkers is vitally dependent on a wide range of physical, social, economic and environmental factors" said Dr. Anthony Shih, President of United Hospital Fund. "I commend the visionary OneNYC strategy to build a strong and fair city by addressing the critical challenges of our generation, paving the way for a better tomorrow."

Amy Davidsen, Executive Director of The Climate Group, North America said: "As one of the largest cities in the U.S, New York City is significantly upping its ambition on climate action through the introduction of its own Green New Deal. This ambitious policy will help to significantly accelerate the adoption of clean electricity and smart, efficient buildings, as well as driving more sustainable solutions for clean transport. By setting a target of going carbon neutral by 2050, we hope other cities in the US and globally are inspired to follow suit."

"A sustainable, resilient and equitable city is best achieved through partnership at all levels of government, the private sector and directly with communities. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and his staff, along with organizations like ours, for taking action to make our city a more livable, equitable and thriving place by 2050. Our parks and open spaces offer us the opportunity to mitigate against a changing climate while providing much-needed recreational amenities for residents and in the process create jobs, opportunities and a healthier city, and OneNYC 2050 is a strategy to achieve these goals," said Alex Zablocki, Executive Director, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.

"One NYC 2050 is a transformative plan to improve the lives of all New Yorkers," said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO & Executive Director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. "The strong partnerships envisioned by this new strategic plan will ensure a more equitable and fair city with improved opportunities for civic participation, healthcare, and economic stability for all."

In the absence of Federal and regulatory support to help fight climate change, it's up to cities like New York to lead the charge. By weaving economic justice and environmental sustainability issues together into one comprehensive plan, OneNYC 2050 presents a roadmap for preparing citizens for the challenges and opportunities ahead," said Christine Arena, executive producer, Let Science Speak.

"New York City is the most dynamic city in the world, and we're thrilled to see a OneNYC 2050 plan that pushes the bounds of urban climate leadership, promising carbon neutrality, climate resiliency, and thousands of well-paying jobs. We look forward to the opportunity for all New Yorkers to participate in and benefit from the City's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work toward a livable climate for generations to come," said Amy Turner, Executive Director, NYC Climate Action Alliance.

"Climate change and inequality represent an existential threat and moral crisis for our city, which is now taking action at the scale of the challenge. We are so proud of mobilizing the activism and campaign to help achieve this world-first law requiring large polluting buildings like Trump Tower to clean up their act. It's the beginning of a Green New Deal for New York," said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and New York Communities for Change.

"OneNYC 2050 is an expansive vision for NYC today and tomorrow, covering all aspects of life in the Big Apple," said Fred "Doc" Beasley, Founder and Chapter President of NYC HIP HOP Is GREEN. "Designed to keep New Yorkers healthy, the economy robust and the environment safe. The Green Deal for NYC aligns perfectly with the six fundamental pillars of HIPHOP IS GREEN: plant based eating, urban farming, food justice, animal rights, exercise, and sobriety. We stand united with Mayor de Blasio as he introduces cutting edge concepts that continue to define New York City as the global prototype in solution based leadership."

"New York City Nature Goals 2050 is a coalition of over 70 organizations that have come together around the common belief that all New Yorkers have a right to healthy nature. The coalition has developed five goals for 2050: improved biodiversity and habitat air and water quality coastal protection and resilience connectivity for plants and animals and inspiration. The coalition has also developed a Declaration of Rights to New York City Nature. Inclusion of NYC Nature Goals 2050 in OneNYC is a testament to the city's commitment to prioritizing healthy and accessible nature. Not only is this a right of all citizens, it is a critical part of our city's infrastructure &ndash as much as roadways, education and public safety. Our coalition looks forward to working with Mayor de Blasio to reach our goals," said Sarah Charlop-Powers, Executive Director of the Natural Areas Conservancy.

"We're proud to stand with the City as it announces OneNYC 2050 and the Green New Deal for NYC that promise to make our communities more resilient and sustainable in the face of climate change," said Christie Peale, CEO/Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. "We also applaud the City's recommendation for supporting retrofits in the Green New Deal for the thousands of homeowners, especially in coastal communities, who may bear the brunt of rising sea levels. Let's lay the groundwork together to ensure that residents aren't displaced by the high costs of adapting their homes."

"The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute has been a strong advocate for leveraging the power of the 'public plate' to encourage healthier and more environmentally sound diets. New York's OneNYC 2050 plan commits the City to phase out purchasing processed meat and sets an ambitious target for reducing beef purchasing by 50%. These are just the sorts of policy actions we believe are necessary for improving public health and addressing the environmental challenges of the coming decades," said Craig Willingham, Deputy Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute.

"I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Mayor de Blasio and everyone else in the NYC government for taking this important step to address climate change and economic inequality. If we want to prevent the worst from happening, then we need to act now, and in the absence of federal leadership, we need cities such as NYC to take the lead. I hope that every city will work with NYC to build a more sustainable and equitable economy, especially by reducing support for industrial animal agriculture and increasing support for food systems that are better for humans, animals, and the environment all at the same time," said Jeff Sebo, Director of the NYU Animal Studies MA Program.

"Once again Mayor de Blasio has demonstrated his vision for New York City as a national leader and role model with OneNYC 2050 and the plan's strategies designed to meet the formidable challenges facing our city and our planet. In particular, the phase-out of processed meat and significant reduction of the city's beef purchases create a triple win&mdashfor the environment, our children's health, and animal welfare," said Jane Hoffman, President, Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals.

"Mayor de Blasio's plan goes a long way to protect animals, our environment, and the well being of all New Yorkers. Eating one piece of processed meat a day increases one's chances of developing colorectal cancer and beef products are a climate catastrophe. New Yorkers can be proud their city continues to be a leader for animals and our environment," said Allie Feldman, Founder and President of Voters for Animal Rights.

"The Humane Society of the United States applauds Mayor de Blasio for tackling critical sustainability challenges in a most innovative way -- by committing to reduce the city's purchase of processed meat and beef products," said Brian Shapiro, New York State Director for the HSUS. "In addition to causing enormous suffering to animals, meat production generates a staggering amount of water and land degradation and greenhouse gas pollution. Reducing meat will dramatically shrink the city's footprint and has multiple environmental effects that will benefit communities far beyond NYC."

Amie Hamlin, Executive Director of Coalition for Healthy School Food said, "We are grateful to the Mayor for this progressive step. Eliminating processed meats and reducing all meats has been a priority of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, and this is something we have worked on tirelessly. Reducing meat is better for the planet, it will benefit children's health and it's kinder to animals. In 2012, we helped New York City create a vegetarian menu that schools can opt in to, and we will continue to help schools make the transition, furthering the healthy, planet-friendly, compassionate choices available to children and those who work in the schools."

"New York City took a historic step last week to becoming a global climate leader by passing Dirty Buildings legislation, and we are pleased that Mayor de Blasio is committing to further steps to reduce emissions across the five boroughs. With the Trump administration asleep at the wheel on the climate crisis, cities and states must continue to lead the way," said Gladys Puglla, Board Chair of Make the Road New York.

"The OneNYC 2050 plan strengthens the connection between the serious issues of equity and climate change. Connecting these two threads is a critical aspect of meeting an urgent challenge and New York City is taking the lead by addressing them together," said Adam Parris Executive Director, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN "We have a historic opportunity to protect our communities and mitigate the devastating effects of climate change, the time to act is now! We applaud Mayor de Blasio's proposal for a Green New Deal for NYC, taking an important action to target the biggest sources of emissions while creating thousands of good union jobs and fighting inequality. This is a a critical step to building a green economy and a sustainable, just future for our city and a model for the country."

"On behalf of our members and their families, I applaud Mayor de Blasio for laying out a real vision for protecting New York City&rsquos future," said Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel Trades Council. "Global climate change is real, and the Mayor&rsquos ONE NYC 2050 gives us a thoughtful and dynamic road map for driving investment into sustainable development and preserving our environment for future generations of New Yorkers. We are proud to back this plan."

OLYMPICS Still Burning To Compete, Daehlie Looks To 2002 Games

What do Paavo Nurmi of Finland, Larysa Latynina of the former Soviet Union, and Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis of the United States have in common?

Each won a record nine Olympic gold medals during remarkable careers, and each is in danger of being surpassed in February 2002.

That is because the cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie has concluded that he has not yet experienced enough burning in his muscular legs or oxygen deprivation in his voluminous lungs in a remarkable competitive career.

''I must admit that it would be quite nice to pass Carl Lewis,'' the 31-year-old Norwegian said in a telephone interview earlier this month.

Daehlie nearly passed out in his last Olympic race: the men's 50-kilometer event at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. The instant he crossed the finish line, he pitched forward as if he had been hit from behind by something blunt and heavy.

He had already set a Winter Olympic record in Nagano by winning his sixth and seventh gold medals. Now he had his eighth, and he was as spent as he had ever been.

''I'm sure that was my hardest race ever,'' Daehlie said. ''I saw the gold medal going away in the last two kilometers, and it was hard to push myself because I was already completely exhausted.''

In the months leading up to Nagano, Daehlie talked openly about his plans to retire, saying he needed to spend more time with his two young sons, Sivert and Sander, and their mother, Vilde. But when he finally felt capable of speaking after what could have been his final victory, he hedged on quitting.

After discussing the idea at length with his family, he has stopped bothering to hedge, and the truth is that 31 might be old for a running back, but not for a cross-country skier. In the 1994 Olympics, an Italian, Maurilio De Zolt, won a gold medal in the men's relay at age 43.

''The idea of retiring was quite strong in me,'' Daehlie said. 'ɻut the problem is, when you have been doing this for 10 years, it's a part of your life, part of the way you're living. You don't want to stop when you physically feel 100 percent. It might seem difficult to understand when you see what skiing requires, but I think I have a special connection with this sport. I dream about the big events and all the pressure when everyone is trying to be really fast. It's quite something to succeed when everyone has the same goal.''

Norwegians apparently agree. In a poll conducted last month by the newspaper Verdens Gang, readers were asked to name their ''Norwegian of the 20th century.'' Daehlie came in third behind the explorer and humanist Thor Heyerdahl and Norway's first female Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland. In fourth place was Fridtjof Nansen, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner and North Pole explorer. Other notables were, in sixth, Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole and, eighth, Edvard Munch, one of the century's foremost painters. Munch's most widely known work, ''The Scream,'' is a fine approximation of how Daehlie looked at the end of his 50K race in Nagano.

''In Norway, there are a lot of children right now who would like to be me they are competing and falling over the finish line,'' Daehlie said wryly.

Daehlie's professional goal is to compete until the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002. But he has personal goals as well, and so he no longer plans to train with the Norwegian national team in the off season. Until this month, he was training on his own near his home in Nannestad, and he also no longer intends to compete for the overall World Cup title. He plans to race regularly until Christmas and then peak for the world championships in Ramsau, Austria, in February.

Yesterday, in the first race of the World Cup season in Muonio, Finland, Daehlie finished second in the 10-kilometer freestyle to Per Elofsson of Sweden.

'➾ing out with the team for 200 days a year in hotels is a bit problematic for being a father,'' Daehlie said. ''So far, it has been going very well, and if it works I will keep the same program until Salt Lake.''

It was in Salt Lake City that Daehlie won his first World Cup race in December 1989, and Daehlie said that the desire to come full circle was part of his decision to ski on. So was financial security, and Daehlie, unlike many a Norwegian skikonge (ski king) of Olympiads past, is increasingly secure. He has numerous sponsors and his own clothing company, whose outfits the American Nordic team will be wearing in 2002.

What Daehlie wants is to convert Americans to his sport, which is about as popular with spectators in the United States as cricket or bullfighting and lacks a worldwide base and talent pool.

''It's a little hard for me to be famous in America I think, but it would be nice to present cross-country skiing in America like Stein Eriksen did with Alpine skiing,'' Daehlie said.

Eriksen, a fellow Norwegian, won the giant slalom at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo and three gold medals at the 1954 world championships. He then directed ski schools at numerous American resorts, playing a role in popularizing skiing with his worldly manner and good looks.

Daehlie recognizes that the pain etched on his face in mideffort and the icicles that form on his red eyebrows are not necessarily the perfect pitch, but he is not really interested in pushing weekend athletes beyond their limits.

''What I want is to get more children out of the house and out in the forest,'' he said. '�use in Europe, the people, especially the young people, are more and more sitting still and watching videos or using the Internet. It was quite different 10 or 15 years ago, and I am concerned for my sport and the way people are living right now. We are not using our bodies the way we should.

'ɼross-country is maybe the greatest way to work out for people. You know, in the United States, the Nordic Trac machine is a best seller, and it's a machine where you ski in your living room. But the best way of doing it is in the nature. You need to breathe the air, see the birds and the animals. That way the next generation knows that the meat doesn't just come from shops.''

The next generation of Daehlies already knows. Sivert, age 4, began competing in cross-country races last winter. Sander, not yet 2, was recently given his first pair of skis. There are plenty of other Norwegian children receiving the same treatment. Daehlie's records could already be in danger, and he has no one to blame but himself.

‘This Bitter Earth’ by Veronica Swift Review: Dysfunction, Danger and Dependency

Veronica Swift

I first heard Veronica Swift when, shortly after she placed second at the 2015 Thelonious Monk jazz vocal competition, she came into New York’s Iguana restaurant and dance lounge accompanied by her parents (singer Stephanie Nakasian and the now-late pianist Hod O’Brien) and sang informally with Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks. It was apparent to all of us there—and has become so to everyone who has heard her since (especially at Birdland, her current New York home base)—that this young woman was a phenomenon. She has a miraculous voice, musical ability and technique, as well as an innate gift for entertaining a crowd.

The most impressive aspect of Ms. Swift’s talent at that first hearing was her unique capacity for wordless improvisation. Most scat singing over the past 50 years has been rote exhibitionism, a cheap thrill that puts hip listeners to sleep. But Ms. Swift—who might be the best scat singer since Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Tormé—tells wordless stories that make perfect sense musically and dramatically. Her nonverbal flights of fancy have real emotional resonance and narrative thrust, with beginnings, middles and ends.

On her new studio recording, “This Bitter Earth”—out March 19 from Mack Avenue (her second album from a major jazz label)—the 26-year-old shows an awareness that scat singing is most effective in live performances (Fitzgerald and O’Day rarely employed the technique on their studio albums). So she primarily focuses on traditional lyric interpretation—and shows that her gifts for musical storytelling have also expanded exponentially over the past few years.

Each of the 13 songs here are essentially individual essays in a larger statement about the world today, often achieved by taking a look at the past through the lens of song. The opening—and title—track, introduced in 1959 by Dinah Washington, perfectly encapsulates the current pandemic moment, especially as begun by an intriguingly spare piano part from the brilliant Emmet Cohen, who’s usually more of a maximalist. The string arrangement by Steven Feifke also seems informed by the new setting for Washington’s own vocal composed by Max Richter (for the film “Shutter Island”), which transformed an already melancholy ballad into something exceedingly mournful, almost dirge-like. The other numbers, some of which go back nearly a hundred years, generally depict dysfunction, dangerous romantic obsession, unhealthily codependent relationships, and, as described in a line from the final song, “Sing,” “All the world’s history gradually dying of shock.”

In several tracks, Ms. Swift essentially re-enacts highly dated attitudes, ranging from the charming “How Lovely to Be a Woman” to the intensely pathological “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss).” Most songs here are from musical theater and benefit from the added lyrical and harmonic depth characteristic of the better showtunes.

Share All sharing options for: It’s Still the Jungle Out There

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson left the Tyson pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, in disgust. On April 10, after receiving complaints from workers and community members, he and local health officials inspected the facility, which is responsible for about 5 percent of total U.S. pork production, according to industry estimates. “We walked out of that plant tour knowing those complaints were valid,” says Thompson, who is also chair of the Black Hawk Emergency Management Commission. “They had a huge problem.”

On the factory floor, where 2,800 people slaughter, cut, and package 19,500 hogs a day, only a third of workers wore face coverings, Thompson says, some with bandanas and eye masks over their mouths instead of appropriate masks. “They thought they had three confirmed [COVID-19] cases out of that plant, but we knew they were in the double digits.”

Thompson and other elected officials urged Tyson to close the plant immediately for cleaning and test employees for COVID-19. “They didn’t take action,” he says. Now, 1,031 workers at the Waterloo plant have tested positive, and 1,703 cases total have been confirmed in Black Hawk County, including at a long-term care facility for the elderly. Twenty-six people have died. Thompson traces the outbreak to the Tyson plant, one of the county’s largest employers. “They blew a hole in our defensive line.”

For Thompson, as for many Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic is shining a bright light into one of the darkest recesses of the country’s food system: industrial meat processing, comprising slaughter and packing — an incredibly streamlined and consolidated industry controlled by a small number of companies and reliant on low-paid, immigrant labor. It’s dangerous work on a good day, with steadily increasing production speeds, injury rates twice the national average, and illness rates 15 times normal rates, according to the National Employment Law Project.

But COVID-19 has made matters much, much worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4,913 cases of COVID-19 have been reported at 115 meat and poultry processing facilities in the U.S. as of April 30, and 20 workers have died of the disease. Data collected by the Food & Environment Reporting Network through May 12 puts the number of meatpacking worker deaths at 52 and the number of infected at more than 13,000.

The problems are partly of scale: The CDC points to “difficulties with workplace physical distancing and hygiene and crowded living and transportation conditions,” or thousands of workers laboring in tight quarters and living in small, rural communities. At another Tyson plant, in Perry, Iowa, 730 workers, or 58 percent of those tested, were positive for COVID-19, health officials said. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, more than 900 COVID-19 cases stemmed from an outbreak at a single Smithfield Foods meat processing plant, according to health officials.

Some workers and union groups blame meatpacking companies for acting too slowly to address COVID-19 related safety concerns. “I felt like they didn’t start to take it seriously until we started getting cases in our town and in our plant,” said one meatpacking worker at a facility in Kansas, where masks weren’t implemented even after some workers tested positive for COVID-19, she says. Following a bout of chills and aches, the worker, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, also tested positive for COVID-19 last week. She’s now isolated, with pay, and recovering.

For longtime critics of America’s meat system, the current public scrutiny feels overdue. “The industrial meat system is about as nasty as you can get,” says Brent Young, whose Brooklyn butcher shop, the Meat Hook, was established in contrast to big meat — and is one of many small purveyors currently thriving even as major processors struggle. (Young, along with Meat Hook co-owner Ben Turley, is also the co-host of the Eater video series Prime Time). “I can’t say anything without recognizing that it’s incredibly sad that [this situation] is going to affect millions of animals and undocumented workers,” Young says. “But as for that supply chain being broken, all I can say is it’s about time.”

On April 22, Tyson finally closed its Waterloo plant, with company president Steve Stouffer saying that “protecting our team members is our top priority.” It’s just one of at least 22 U.S. meat and poultry processing plants that had closed due to COVID-19 cases by April 28, according to estimates from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

Recent plant closures highlight the meat industry’s decades of consolidation into an oligopoly of four companies: Tyson, JBS (a subsidiary of a Brazilian company), Cargill, and Smithfield Foods (a subsidiary of a Chinese company). According to Cassandra Fish, an industry analyst and former Tyson risk management executive, about 50 meat processing plants are responsible for as much as 98 percent of all U.S. meat slaughter and processing. The arrangement has driven prices downward — meat prices in the EU were twice as high as of 2017 — but created a system that’s vulnerable to disturbances like COVID-19, says Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business. “All these animals have to pass through an extremely narrow bottleneck.

“We used to think of this in terms of food-borne pathogens. We used to say, when you have these few plants, if you have a problem at one plant, it can have a cascading effect through the whole food system,” says Leonard. “Now [with COVID-19], this is triply true. If you shut down a single slaughterhouse, it knocks out a huge, measurable portion of the whole meat supply.”

A worker leaves the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo, Iowa on May 1 AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Medical workers test a local resident at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Waterloo, Iowa AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The measure of the disruption is striking: As of the first week of May, pork production capacity was down 25 percent, and beef capacity was down 10 percent, according to the food workers’ union. Slaughter of both pork and cattle was down 30 percent year-over-year, according to livestock reports from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. All in all, Fish predicts, that’s likely to translate to a 20 to 25 percent reduction in the amount of available beef during what’s typically peak sales season, between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Pork supply could be down by 18 percent during that period, she anticipates.

Meat company executives sounded the alarm, warning the public of potential shortages. On April 27, Tyson chairman John Tyson took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, addressing plant closures in dire public health terms. “The food supply chain is breaking,” Tyson wrote, warning of “meat shortages and wasted animals. … Our plants must remain operational so that we can supply food to our families in America.”

But the North American Meat Institute, which represents the companies responsible for 90 percent of U.S. red meat production, points to plenty of meat reserves in cold storage 921 million pounds of chicken and 467 million pounds of beef, according to the USDA, as of late April. Much of this meat was previously allotted to restaurants that are now closed and won’t need it. Pork reserves, originally bound for export to China, can also be released to U.S. customers.

FDA officials say they don’t anticipate serious food shortages for consumers, just temporarily low inventory at some stores as they restock. And even if supply is lower and there’s less variety, Steve Meyer, a meat industry economist with Kerns and Associates in Ames, Iowa, isn’t worried about Americans running out of meat. “From a consumer standpoint, it’s not a crisis at all, in my opinion.”

Still, some chains like McDonald’s report that they’re bracing for diminished meat supplies. Hundreds of locations of Wendy’s, which relies on fresh beef, rather than more abundant frozen beef, reported running out of burgers at some locations by early May, with shortages expected to last a “couple of weeks.” In grocery stores, fresh meat prices were up 8.1 percent for the week ending April 25 over the same week last year, per Nielsen data. But prices weren’t up across the board, according to USDA data: Ground beef was more expensive, but the price of typically more costly cuts, like rib-eye, went down. And while retailers like Costco and Kroger are placing per-person limits on meat purchases, that’s in part to curtail panic shopping, which could perpetuate shortage fears and panic-buying cycles.

Critics of the meat industry even characterize its claims of a shortage as tactical hyperbole: a calculated campaign intended to gain federal support. On April 28, just two days after the Tyson ad appeared, President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring meat production essential infrastructure. Meat industry executives cheered, but workers’ rights advocates howled. “It’s putting profits ahead of public health,” says Tony Corbo, a lobbyist for the watchdog group Food and Water Watch.

“The return on investment for Tyson’s public relations ad was enormous,” says Leonard.

For customers, there may be no immediate meat crisis. But for processing workers, the danger is real. “A lot of us are scared,” says the Kansas meat processing worker who tested positive for COVID-19. “It feels like we’re putting our health at risk, but at what cost?”

Rather than precise OSHA and CDC requirements, the executive order points to looser temporary guidance. “To keep their doors open safely, meatpacking plants — and all essential workplaces — must operate under clear, enforceable OSHA standards — not voluntary ‘guidance,’” says Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. Alarmingly, federal officials seem to downplay the risk: In a May 7 call with lawmakers, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar emphasized the need to keep plants open, and suggested “home and social” aspects of workers’ lives contributed to high infection rates at meatpacking plants.

Debbie Berkowitz, a former senior OSHA official and expert on meat processing who is now director for worker safety and health at the National Employment Law Project, thinks the federal government is less worried about keeping workers safe and more concerned with keeping businesses safe from liability. “Instead of requiring meatpacking companies to implement safe practices, the president prefers to attempt to shield these corporations from responsibility for putting workers’ lives in danger,” Berkowitz wrote in a statement to Eater.

The industry is already under-regulated, says author Christopher Leonard, with processors consistently permitted to push operating speeds faster. “The USDA is controlled almost entirely by the big meat companies, it’s just a categorical fact,” he says. “The meat industry is setting the terms of regulation.”

Even with added safety measures now in place at her factory — plexiglass screens, staggered breaks, and limits on seating capacity at the cafeteria — social distancing is nearly impossible, according to the Kansas meatpacking employee. “It’s very loud, and so a lot of people just pull their mask down to speak to you,” she says. Before she began isolating last week, absenteeism was high: She was forced to pack meat from two conveyor belts instead of one to fill in for a missing colleague. To encourage workers to come in, the plant offered $2-per-hour raises — from $15.90 to $17.90 for her. But if workers miss even one day of work per week, they lose the whole week’s bonus. “It doesn’t even feel worth it,” she says.

Legal experts have questioned the enforceability of Trump’s executive order. It’s “a paper-thin proclamation with limited legal effect,” Daniel Hemel, an assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago, argued in a Washington Post op-ed. But the order at least provides some justification and legal framework for big meat companies to push their workers to keep coming in. “The industry is already trying to use this argument,” says Tony Corbo, who suspects companies will invoke the order in an attempt to avoid liability.

But maybe it doesn’t matter: Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa, plant, for example, remained closed for weeks despite the executive order, in part because of absenteeism: Workers simply wouldn’t show up, and realistically, Tyson can’t force them to. “I think it’s a well-intended [order], but it doesn’t address the real problem, which is getting workers to work, and keeping them safe when they’re there,” said Meyer of Kerns and Associates.

Processing closures are also creating a logjam effect, leading to problems that echo up the supply chain. “The crisis is at the hog farm,” says Jen Sorenson of Iowa Select Farm, the state’s largest pork producer. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the country was experiencing record pork and beef production. Now hog prices are spiraling downward, costing famers dearly. Many animals will be “depopulated,” an industry euphemism for being killed without being processed and sent to market.

Commercial pigs like Sorenson’s are raised inside barns their whole lives, and grow about two and a half pounds a day. If they’re not sent off to slaughter, they get too large for their quarters — roughly 7.2 to 8.7 square feet per animal, according to an industry publication’s recommendation. Slaughterhouses won’t accept animals if they get too big, and they can even become too heavy for their own legs. There’s nothing to do but euthanize them. In Minnesota, 10,000 hogs are being euthanized per day, Department of Agriculture officials tell the Star Tribune. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced it will establish a National Incident Coordination Center “to provide direct support to producers whose animals cannot move to market as a result of processing plant closures due to COVID-19,” including depopulation and disposal methods.

Hogs at Illinois’s fifth generation Old Elm Farms Scott Olson/Getty Images

For now, Iowa Select Farms has changed its hog feed to slow growth, holding its pigs at market weight for as long as possible. “This is why we need to keep our packing plants open,” says Sorenson, who is also communications director and president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. “We need to keep that food chain moving.”

The mass closure of restaurants has also temporarily disrupted the meat supply chain: About 30 percent of pork, for example, is typically shipped to food-service establishments, per council estimates. The meat industry has scrambled to reroute those supplies to retail instead — which is good news for grocery store customers.

Looking out at her farm, Sorenson doesn’t see the makings of a long-term pork shortage. “There are plenty of hogs and we’re not running out of pork or bacon,” she says. “We’ve got a glitch between the farm and packer that’s got to get fixed ASAP. The supply two months down the road, it’s there — we’ve bred those animals, and we are birthing those piglets, and they’re moving through our farms.”

But if losses for farmers continue to mount, a real shortage could be coming in the long run. “The medium- to long-term effect is we could potentially lose more farms, more family farmers, who are not able to withstand these markets and this situation, and go out of business,” Sorenson predicts.

Meyer concurs. “Producers are losing so much money that some of them are going to go out of business. A year or two from now, we’re going to have lower pork supplies, and then you will see higher prices at the retail level, that’s almost certain.”

While the industrial meat system faces public scrutiny and backlash, America’s network of small butchers, farmers, and microprocessors are experiencing new attention of their own. “There’s a kind of validation,” says Ben Turley of the temporarily closed restaurant the Meat Hook, where business is up thanks to retail and delivery.

When Turley saw Tyson’s full-page ad, he called bullshit. “The food supply chain isn’t breaking that’s just false. It’s Tyson’s food supply chain that’s breaking. Not ours. They want to make it seem like the end of the world to you. But Tyson is not all of food.”

The Meat Hook is supplied by Gibson Family Farms in Valley Falls, New York, and a small slaughterhouse nearby, Eagle Bridge Custom Meats. “If you take an outfit like the Meat Hook, you take us, and you take the people that slaughter the animals for us, and that’s three businesses currently thriving,” says Gibson Family Farms owner Dustin Gibson, who raises his hogs outdoors and grazes his cows on grass. “It’s awesome to see that they’re being rewarded.”

Kate Kavanaugh, owner of Western Daughters, a butcher shop in Denver focused on grass-fed meat raised according to regenerative farm practices, is encouraged by a recent uptick in sales. “The volume that we are seeing now as a business is the volume that could actually sustain us and our farmers and ranchers in the long term,” she says. It offers “a fighting chance.”

News stories about the meat industry are finally reaching consumers in a meaningful way, says Anya Fernald, CEO of California meat company Belcampo. “In America, we celebrate the high availability of so many different types of foods at such affordable prices. That’s an American privilege.” It’s no accident that cheap meat goes unexamined, she says. “There’s a willful disbelief.”

Belcampo’s meat — grass-fed, organic, and slaughtered at its own processing plant — is much more expensive than commodity meat. Fernald would argue that it’s also much tastier and healthier. But due to its price, meat from small purveyors won’t replace all the cheap protein Americans consume daily. It doesn’t have to, advocates say. “We need less meat in our diet,” says Turley of the Meat Hook. He just hopes consumers choose a little grass-fed meat over a lot of commodity meat. “We need to be eating more vegetables anyway.”

Cheap meat also comes at a high hidden cost, Fernald warns, and we don’t know when it will come due. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned the public for years that most emerging infectious disease comes from animals, and industrialized animal farming can increase risk. “When we’re creating cheap meat, we’re actually creating a vast pathogen resource, a potential viral breeding ground, and making ourselves resistant to the most effective antibiotics that we have,” says Fernald.

“Propping up the meat industry is the last thing we need right now,” agrees Dr. Michael Greger, a critic of industrialized meat who runs the website “Not only because meat overconsumption worsens risk factors like heart disease. but because Big Ag may be brewing up Big Flu, a slew of new swine and bird flu viruses poised to potentially trigger the next pandemic.”

It’s a poignant lesson, says Fernald. “COVID is a broader story about meat, because it came fundamentally, it sounds like, from a wet market where animals are trafficked. … The whole story of COVID is a story of human boundaries with the animal kingdom, extractive mentalities about animals, and short-term thinking about animals and the planet.”

As the nation’s largest slaughterhouses and packing plants struggle and close, smaller slaughter and packing operations, on which independent butchers and small farmers depend, have been able to pick up some of the slack. “This has been just an absolute zoo,” says Christopher Young, executive director of the American Association of Meat Processors, which represents about 1,500 facilities with fewer than 500 workers. “I’ve had some of my members describe it as the week before Christmas on steroids.” Young attributes the boom to customers cooking more at home, avoiding crowds at grocery stores, and anticipating possible industrial meat shortages based on news reports.

Workers at small slaughter operations have stayed healthy compared to their counterparts at big plants. That’s by virtue of their size, says Debbie Farrara of Eagle Bridge Custom Meats, which slaughters for Gibson Family Farms. “I do believe it is ‘easier’ for us to make an attempt to keep our staff healthy and to social distance and still get our work done.” Her team of 20 is now spaced out more widely, and she’s also cut back on staff on some days, so that they can have less exposure to one another.

“We’re small enough that with a bit of creativity and effort we can make this work,” says Farrara. “We are grateful that our team has stayed healthy thus far.”

A customer wearing gloves reaches for a package of pork AP Photo/Paul Sancya

These fewer COVID cases at small plants might be due to little more than simple math, says Mike Lorentz, owner of Lorentz Meats in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and co-owner of Vermont Packinghouse in North Springfield, Vermont. “These large plants in rural areas have to draw employees from a very large circle, and then they take that large draw, and they cram them into a small place. That feels like a formula to amplify a socially transmitted disease… it’s exponential.” But there is a cultural element that stems from size, too: Lorentz has established trust and community with his employees. It’s a family business.

In terms of size, Lorentz is a “big little guy.” Still, “there’s such a chasm between little plants and big plants,” he says. “I used to joke that the first day of the year, by about noon, a big plant has done more than what we’ll do that entire year. Now I think we’ve caught up a little bit — we’d be two or three days into January now.”

As a second-generation processor, Lorentz has watched consolidation shape his industry for decades. The total number of slaughtering plants in the country has gone down 70 percent since 1967, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There just aren’t many meat processing plants in the U.S. at all. Fewer than 6,500 federally inspected facilities, according to the USDA just 617 slaughtering beef, and 612 slaughtering pork. In response to recent news reports about the industry, two senators, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have reportedly asked the Fair Trade Commission to investigate the practices of Smithfield, Cargill, JBS, and Tyson.

Putting aside the potential effects of consolidation on animal welfare and environmental health, there’s a major human toll. Initially, higher wages lured workers from small to big meat plants, but pay eventually slumped. According to a USDA study, declining unionization coincided with changes in worker demographics as more immigrants entered the meat labor force. Conditions worsened in response, historian Roger Horowitz writes in his book Negro and White, Unite and Fight! A Social History of Industrial Unionism in Meatpacking, 1930-90. “Almost a century after Upton Sinclair’s pioneering expose of meatpacking, packinghouse workers in the United States have tragically returned to the jungle,” Horowitz writes.

By contrast, Lorentz Meats is guided by a quote from the agrarian writer Wendell Berry. It’s inscribed on the walls, and Lorentz recites it from memory like a mantra. “We cannot live harmlessly at our own expense we depend on other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. The point is, when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament when we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration.”

“I grew up in a family that processed meat,” Lorentz recalls. “My brother was the one that was in charge of the kill floor until 1997, when we bought my mom and dad out, and I worked on the kill floor, and I knew what it meant. Something is going to die to keep moving us forward, and once you start to realize that, you start doing that in a thoughtful way, and it changes the way you look at things.”

Slaughter on the whole has become a much more humane business, says Lorentz, even among the industry’s largest players. For that, he credits the industry-changing work of professor Temple Grandin, whose techniques have been adopted as USDA best practices. But there’s still work to be done on the farm and the factory floor. “Now the question is, ‘How do we treat the people?’ Are we giving them benefits, satisfying work?” Are our “essential” workers protected as such?

For Americans, our consolidated, industrial processing system has made it easy to consume meat without much thought. Cheap and plentiful, it becomes less a choice or privilege and more a right and convenience. But can it really be? With so much of our daily lives in question and our food system straining into visibility, we can’t help but ask ourselves: When we sit down to eat, are we partaking of a sacrament, or participating in a desecration?

Thinking back to the plant in Waterloo, Iowa, Sheriff Thompson says he’s not just angry at Tyson — he’s ashamed of himself. “I walked out of that plant as an elected official feeling like I’d let [those workers] down, too. So many of them are immigrants they’re easy to take advantage of. These are hardworking people who do their shift and go home, and we never engage them… I didn’t protect them the way maybe we should have.”

Last Thursday, the Waterloo Tyson plant reopened after more than two weeks idle. Face masks and shields will be required, among other safety measures, and all workers will be tested for COVID-19 before returning to the job, Tyson executives said. To see that they actually do return, the company is distributing a $500 “thank you” bonus to workers in early May. It’s conditional upon their attendance.

What caused my change of heart in promoting the ketogenic diet for cancer patients?

It started with several long phone conversations and email exchanges I had with a friend who runs a clinic in Mexico who was adamant that the ketogenic diet did not work in healing cancer long term. This coincided with the recurrence of cancer in someone I knew who was promoting the ketogenic diet (as effective).

It appeared to have some positive short term results for some people (shrinking or slowing down tumors), but I was beginning to have some doubts about it working long term. This uneasiness persisted for many months and I could not shake it. So I finally made the decision to take down my very popular post and youtube video about it.

Then came the coup de grace from Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez MD in October 2013.
(Addendum: Dr. Gonzalez passed away suddenly and mysteriously in 2015.)

Dr. Gonzalez and his colleague Dr. Linda Isaacs MD have had remarkable success treating cancer patients with a non-toxic nutritional protocol that incorporates some of the principles of the late Dr. Max Gerson MD along with the late Dr. William Donald Kelley’s protocol which includes high doses of pancreatic enzymes and individualized diets depending on body type and cancer type. I have huge respect for them, not because of their theories, but because they are getting RESULTS, including reversing “incurable” stage four cancers. Two volumes documenting 112 of their successful case studies can be found here.

Dr. Gonzalez wrote an eight part article series for Natural Health 365 on the history and failure of the ketogenic diet for cancer. Dr. Gonzalez’s nutritional cancer treatment expertise is much deeper than ANYONE currently promoting the ketogenic diet for cancer, because unlike anyone else promoting it, he actually treats cancer patients with nutrition every day.

There are thousands of people out there who have healed cancer naturally. I meet natural survivors constantly and even share their stories on this site. Most natural cancer healing protocols involve a radical change of diet and lifestyle that includes “overdosing on nutrition” with juicing, lots of raw plant food, little to no animal food, supplements, and herbal cleanses along with detox protocols. Those are all time-tested methods validated by a large body of long-term survivors.

I know a lot of long-term natural survivors, but I don’t know of any long-term survivors who have used a ketogenic diet to heal.

And then there’s the science…

There are several studies where researchers implanted human gliomas into the bodies of rats (a completely unrealistic scenario) and reported that the rats put on a ketogenic diet lived longer. In one study, rats with human brain cancer implanted in their bodies lived 56% longer on a ketogenic diet combined with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 󈬨% longer” sounds huge until you learn that the mean keto/oxygen therapy survival was 55 days compared to the control rats who lived 31 days. And all the rats still died of cancer.

In another study, rats with human brain cancer implanted in their bodies achieved complete remission when fed a keto meal replacement shake called KetoCal and treated with radiation. Rats treated with a ketogenic diet (KetoCal) without radiation only lived 5 days longer than standard diet rats.

In this pilot study, 16 patients with advanced cancer reported that the ketogenic diet had some improvements in their quality of life, but were not cured.

This 2012 study showed that tumors can use ketones for fuel. Hello!

A 2017 study published in Cell found that a genetic mutation called BRAF V600E allows cancer cells to use ketones to grow faster. This mutation is present in 50% of melanomas, 10% of colon cancers, 100% of hairy cell leukemias, and 5% of multiple myelomas.

This 2014 study found that a keto diet helped anti-angiogenic drug bevacizumab work a little better for glioblastoma in humans, but had no effect alone.

According to a 2015 review of the literature on the ketogenic diet for human glioma patients (32 case studies), “Prolonged remissions ranging from more than 5 years to 4 months were reported in the case reports. Only one of these patients was treated using KD as monotherapy. The best responses reported in the more recent patient series were stable disease for approximately 6 weeks.”

A 2018 study found that the ketogenic diet combined with PI3K-inhibiting drugs slowed tumor growth in mice better than the drug alone, but the mice given the ketogenic diet alone had accelerated progression of acute myeloid leukemia.

When asked, “Does the ketogenic diet beat chemo for all cancers?” on the Tim Ferris podcast episode #188, Dominic D’Agostino, PhD, one of the most recognized ketogenic diet researchers in the world, said the following:

‘”Absolutely not… A number of situations where the ketogenic diet may not be the preferred therapy for most cancers, I would say, leukemia, lymphomas, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thyroid cancer, testicular cancer, if caught early prostate cancer, melanoma, breast cancer. All these cancers can be effectively treated with chemotherapy or radiation in some cases, and also brain tumors if it’s grade 1 or 2 tumor that’s not very metastsatic and is more localized then surgery, radiation, and chemo can be very effective.”

Notice he used the word “effective” twice. The word “effective” does not mean cure. It typically only means temporarily slowed growth or temporary tumor shrinkage. To put it in perspective, over 580,000 “effectively treated” cancer patients die in the U.S. each year. The sobering truth is the cancer industry has only improved the overall cancer death rate by 5% in the last 60+ years. “Ineffectively treated” is a more accurate and appropriate way to describe the current state of affairs, but I digress.

The ketogenic diet has repeatedly been shown NOT to heal cancer as a monotherapy in rodents or humans, which has prompted researchers including D’Agostino to continue tacking on more protocols in an attempt to make it more “effective”, like fasting, calorie restriction, ketone supplements, hyperbaric oxygen, IV therapies, hyperthermia, nutraceuticals and chemo and/or radiotherapy.

It is my opinion that patients undergoing all of the therapies described above would do far better on a mostly raw, organic, whole foods plant-based diet, than on a ketogenic diet. Why? Because I know lots of survivors, myself included, who have healed cancer with that exact dietary strategy. I’ve interviewed 60+ of them here.

In the absence of clinical evidence, the next best thing is anecdotal evidence.

Survivors are the true test. And until there is a substantial list of long-term survivors, I cannot in good conscience support the ketogenic diet as a viable diet for healing cancer.

I am perfectly ok with being proven wrong, and if so, will freely admit it, but it will be at least 10 years before we know if the keto diet really works for any type of cancer, long-term.

Having said all that, there is tremendous value in short-term ketosis. The natural process of ketosis induced by a 3-5 day water fast or the 5-day ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet has powerful benefits in the body including autophagy, as well as stem cell activation and regeneration. Learn more about that in my interview with world-renowned scientist and longevity expert Dr Valter Longo here.

Addendum: Dr. Charles Majors, DC was an avid promoter of the ketogenic diet for cancer. He spoke right after me at a conference a few years ago and argued against my plant-based dietary approach from the stage. Sadly, the ketogenic diet he insisted cancer patients adopt did not work for him and he died of brain cancer in late 2016.

Here is a short interview with Jonathan Landsman of Natural Health 365, in which the late Dr. Nicolas Gonzalez MD explains why a ketogenic diet doesn’t work for cancer.

If you want to take a deep dive, Dr. Gonzalez masterfully dismantles the ketogenic diet for cancer in the lengthy article below. This is not a scientific rebuttal, quibbling over theories about Warburg, glycosis, cell respiration, and ATP, rather it is a thoughtful, well-reasoned reflection from a medical doctor who was in the trenches of nutritional cancer treatment for nearly three decades. His real world experience with patients, insider knowledge, historical perspective and common sense put him head and shoulders above the lab-rat researchers and theorizers, no offense guys/gals.

The following article, which first appeared on Natural Health 365, is highly recommended for anyone who wants perspective on the ketogenic diet vs. carbohydrate-rich therapies that involve lots of fruits and vegetables, juicing, etc.

Enter Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez.

In this initial article, I’d like to begin by making the point that the world of cancer research and cancer medicine is littered with the discarded theories and rejected therapies thought at one time to be the next promising miracle, the final answer to this perplexing and deadly disease. In my own professional lifetime, I have witnessed a number of cancer miracles come and go, sometimes in quite dizzying succession and at times with extraordinarily dazzling hysteria.

I remember one of the first, from 1980 when I was a first year medical student at Cornell in this case, it was, according to the press and the journals, the magic of interferon, an immune stimulant destined to bring cancer to its knees. Not too long afterward, interferon would turn out to be a bust, with its promise and fame rising and falling in roller coaster-like style.

I lived through a far more extraordinary situation just five years later. I had graduated medical school by that point and was living in Florida, finishing my immunology fellowship under Robert A. Good, MD, PhD, the famed “father of modern immunology” as he had been called.

It was late 1985 when the media broke the story about the next cancer miracle. I was sitting in my apartment overlooking beautiful Tampa Bay, when I read the initial front-page newspaper reports. Dr. Steven Rosenberg, already well-known as Ronald Reagan’s surgeon (the President had a malignant polyp), and a highly regarded basic science researcher running a section at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, had just revealed to the world – at a press conference, as I remember – his preliminary pilot study results with a new immune modulator, interleukin-2, that would provoke an extraordinary media frenzy.

The initial pronouncements, released with such glowing enthusiasm, indicated that finally, yes finally, after so many disappointments we might actually be looking at a real, universal cancer cure. In both laboratory and preliminary human trials, interleukin-2 – like interferon before it, a natural product secreted by lymphocytes that stimulates other cancer-fighting immune cells into action – had performed almost magically against even the most aggressive of cancers, such as metastatic melanoma and metastatic kidney cancer.

News of Dr. Rosenberg’s “miracle” was everywhere, in the print media, on the local and national news, and in an extended Newsweek story appearing December 16, 1985, with white-coated Dr. Rosenberg on the cover peering intently at the world. The article, titled “Search for A Cure” in large bold print went on for six pages, accompanied by photos of Dr. Rosenberg, one with a patient, another as the serious scientist in the lab. Elaborate, colorful artwork illustrated the narrative, showing the intricate mechanisms of the immune system, and pinpointing interleukin-2’s ability, under the guiding hand of Dr. Rosenberg, to fight malignant disease.

A separate subsection headlined “The Rise of a Superstar, From Reagan’s surgery to the frontiers of research” chronicled the compelling life story of Dr. Rosenberg. You couldn’t buy better publicity than this.

At the end of this piece, the writers did include a brief section titled “Interferon: A Cautionary Tale,“ reminding readers of the hoopla five years earlier over that other immune modulator, which too had been all the rage in the cancer research world. The essay, following the main laudatory articles, began:

To some ears, last week’s exultation over interleukin-2 has a familiar but discordant ring. Something similar happened about five years ago with a substance called interferon, the “magic bullet” of cancer research, featured on magazine covers and in articles with titles like “To Save Her Life – And Yours.” … But by 1984 the magic bullet had misfired now the articles were called “The Myth of Interferon.”

Over the years, I had become particularly familiar with the interferon story since my boss, Dr. Good, had done much of the original research linking it to a possible anti-cancer effect.

By that point, I knew Dr. Good quite well: during my second year of medical school, Dr. Good, at the time a professor at Cornell and Director of the Sloan-Kettering Institute, had begun guiding my fledgling research career. In 1982, during my third year of medical school, to my dismay the powers that be at Sloan pushed him out rather unceremoniously.

Subsequently, he spent some time at the University of Oklahoma, where he was hired to set up a cancer research division, before moving to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, where again he established a cancer research-bone marrow transplant unit.

When the news of interleukin-2 first hit the press, I discussed this new “miracle” with Dr. Good, who had grown quite cautious after years of experience and having witnessed many similar announcements followed by the inevitable letdown in the research community.

“Look at the data, always look at the data,” he said, “not the media reports.” I followed his advice, tracked down and studied the actual clinical data, which I found surprisingly unimpressive. As I recall, in the first uncontrolled trial, of more than 100 patients entered only three seemed to have experienced any significant or lasting response.

In subsequent months, reports of enormous toxicity, even patient deaths began to filter through the research community, serving to temper the initial hysteria. And it wasn’t cheap, as miracles go – the very toxic drug was so potentially dangerous it had to be administered in a hospital setting under very close supervision, with costs running in excess of $100,000 for a several-week course of treatment.

Despite the initial warning signs, the media continued its relentless promotion of interleukin-2 for a number of years. In 1992, perhaps due to political pressure more than scientific evidence, the FDA approved the drug for use against cancer, despite the lack of comprehensive controlled trials. Then in the late 1998 a clinical study – completed some 13 years after the initial reporting – showed that interleukin-2, at least with advanced kidney cancer, worked no better than placebo.

It’s still being used, though increasingly rarely, and no one I know talks about it with much enthusiasm.

By the 1990s, just as practicing oncologist were giving up on interleukin-2, bone marrow transplant (BMT) as a solution to poor prognosis or metastatic breast cancer started grabbing the headlines, touted as a cure for this most invidious of diseases striking so many women in the prime of life. Despite the lack of any compelling evidence it worked for this indication, bone marrow transplant was being pushed as a solution to deadly forms of breast malignancy. However, initially insurance companies refused to pay for this unproven and very expensive treatment, which could cost in those days up to $500,000 or more.

Nonetheless, enthusiastic oncologists joined with the media, portraying insurance companies as heartless, greedy bullies depriving women with breast cancer of a curative treatment. Not too long after, the trial lawyers got involved, orchestrating a series of lawsuits against various insurance companies on behalf of women wanting a BMT. In a particularly notable and telling case, Fox vs. HealthNet, the jury awarded the plaintiff, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer whose insurance carrier refused to cover the procedure, $89 million, including $77 million in punitive damages.

Under such threat, the insurance industry relented, finding it cheaper to pay the $100,000 or $200,000 or $500,000 per procedure then risk such catastrophic financial harm.

After some 40,000 women underwent the procedure – at a time when 10-30% of patients died from the treatment itself – it was eventually proven to be worthless. The one glowing positive study from 1995, the infamous South African study of Dr. Bezwoda, turned out on closer examination to be a complete fraud, with the creative researcher simply making up the data. The wonderful and frightening book False Hope describes the bone marrow transplant-breast cancer fiasco in great detail, for those with an interest.

As these battles waged in the early 1990s, I had long left Dr. Good’s group, having returned to New York and private practice. Nonetheless, this story had a personal ring to it, as had the interferon story, since Dr. Good had completed the first bone marrow transplant in history, in 1969, and long hoped this technology would be, yes, an answer to cancer.

Under his direction, during my fellowship years I learned how to do this very tricky and often deadly procedure.

But no fear, there’s always a new miracle around the corner, and in 1998 the newspaper reporters and TV newscasters, having effortlessly drifted away from interferon and interleukin-2 and the bone marrow transplant craze, were all in a tizzy over the newest “final” solution to cancer, anti-angiogenesis, based on the pioneering work of the late Dr. Judah Folkman of Harvard. Dr. Folkman had spent decades studying the process of angiogenesis in cancer tissues, the formation of new blood vessels that allow tumors to grow quickly and invade through normal tissues and organs with deadly effect.

Without a rich blood supply, cancerous tumors cannot grow beyond a cubic centimeter.

Dr. Folkman had developed two drugs, angiostatin and endostatin, that in animal experiments reversed tumor growth by blocking new blood vessel formation, essentially starving out the cancer cells. In a November 1998, presentation of his work at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Folkman announced to the world that at least in mice, “we have not seen a tumor we cannot regress.”

Though Dr. Folkman’s research was all based on laboratory experiments and animal studies, the powerful NCI publicity machine took up the cause, with the smell of “miracle” again in the air, despite the lack of any evidence that Folkman’s anti-angiogenesis drugs worked against human cancer. Nonetheless, with the NCI and NIH on board, the media, large and small, local and national, seemed transported into a state of frenzy.

I recall so well, this time sitting in my mid-Manhattan office, reading that famous May 3, 1998 front page lead New York Times article (in the upper left of the page reserved for wars, revolutions, and, yes, miracles) by reporter Gina Kolata, announcing Folkman’s preliminary findings to the world, extolling anti-angiogenesis in a tone that one more skeptical writer, Jack Breibart, described as “breathless.”

Kolata quoted no less an authority than Dr. James Watson, the Nobel Laureate in 1962 for his discovery, with his colleague Frances Crick, of the structure of DNA, the basic genetic material. “Judah is going to cure cancer in two years,” Watson told Kolata. You couldn’t ask for a better source, making a more definitive claim.

Kolata’s unrestrained reporting continued: “Dr. Watson said Dr. Folkman would be remembered along with scientists like Charles Darwin as someone who permanently altered civilization.”

The writer also quoted an enthusiastic Richard Klausner, MD, at the time Director of the National Cancer Institute, who assured the world, “I am putting nothing on higher priority that getting this into clinical trials.”

The glowing TV stories followed, including a memorable prime time, one-hour special about the subject on ABC hosted by the late Peter Jennings. The other networks, in quick succession, picked up the cause. However, not too long after, word broke that Times’ reporter Kolata had been, through her agent, hawking to publishers an idea for a book about anti-angiogenesis and cancer.

Her agent, according to reports at the time, began circulating a book proposal the day after the Times story ran, asking for a $2 million dollar advance! The whole episode raised some eyebrows over a reporter seeking to benefit personally from a subject she was promoting in the news section of the Times. After a fair amount of criticism, Kolata withdrew her book proposal.

As Dr. Klausner promised, the National Cancer Institute, probably swept up in the national and international explosion of hope and enthusiasm, “fast tracked” a preliminary study of endostatin in human patients, intending to enroll, as I recall, 70 subjects very quickly.

But what surprised me – and what began to concern others I knew in the medical community – was some time later the deafening silence about the trial’s outcome, and what seemed to be a blackout about the actual data. Eventually, the study results were published indicating that 42 subjects had been ultimately recruited for the trial, not the planned 70, and not a single one of these had responded to the drug.

Ironically Jennings himself, who had promoted the therapy with unabashed enthusiasm, would die of lung cancer, only months after his diagnosis in 2005. Folkman too, has passed on, never to realize his hope of an anti-angiogenesis, cancer-free world.

Nevertheless, anti-angiogenesis as the answer to cancer remains a big driving force in “biotech” companies, who have developed a whole slew of angiostatin and endostatin offspring, including the drug Avastin, costing up to $10,000 a month, though it doesn’t work particularly well. The clinical studies aren’t impressive, usually reporting several months of improved survival in patients diagnosed with a variety of advanced cancers.

In a further ironic turn, in December 2010, after approving the drug for treatment of women diagnosed with breast cancer, the FDA rescinded its blessing of Avastin for this indication when clinical trials failed to show any significant benefit.

The anti-angiogenesis love affair not only affected conventional researchers and oncologists, but infiltrated deeply into the “alternative” cancer world. During the late 1990s, I read numerous articles lauding the anti-angiogenic effect of various herbs. Some ten years ago or more, a number of alternative physicians began promoting artemesinin, an herb from Africa long used as a treatment for malaria, as a “natural” anti-angiogenesis supplement.

But ten years after the initial burst of enthusiasm, few of my colleagues even mention it.

And so it goes. We as a culture, as a nation, as a world, are forever looking for miracles from our scientific and medical gurus, miracles that might finally bring cancer to its knees. And there will forever be miracles ripe for the picking.

In 2012, Dr. Thomas Seyfried, a PhD basic science researcher, published the book, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, announcing to the world that a high-fat, no carbohydrate ketogenic diet represents the solution to cancer prevention as well as to cancer treatment. His monograph has been greeted with much acclaim, though not yet at the level reached at the height of the interleukin-2 hysteria in 1985.

Dr. Seyfried, whom I do not personally know, is hardly an “alternative” medical scientist, since judging by his credentials listed on the back cover of the book his pedigree seems conventionally academic:

THOMAS N. SEYFRIED, PHD, has taught and conducted research in the fields of neurogenetics, neurochemistry, and cancer for more than twenty-five years at Yale University and Boston College. He has published more than 150 scientific articles and book chapters …

A closer look at Dr. Thomas Seyfried and his work

Certainly Dr. Seyfried has put together a most impressive achievement, chronicling in great detail his belief that cancer does not develop from genetic alterations – as is generally believed – but as a result of changes in fundamental cell physiology, specifically changes in energy production, that in turn lead to the cancer phenotype. In essence, the genes remain intact, but metabolism goes awry.

The book summarizes, then enlarges upon, the concepts of Otto Warburg, MD, the great German scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1931 for his work on cellular oxidation and energy production. No scientist has ever been nominated more frequently for the cherished Prize than Dr. Warburg, but he lost his chance for a second win, according to some sources, in 1944 after Hitler ordered that no German scientist could accept the award.

Who is Dr. Otto Warburg?

To sum up decades of Warburg briefly, mammalian cells create and store usable energy in the form of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule. Production of ATP is a complex affair involving three distinct and sequential series of cellular reactions that begin with the breakdown of the six-carbon sugar glucose. The first of these processes, glycolysis, does not require oxygen and occurs in the cytoplasm the second, the citric acid cycle, occurs within the mitochondria, the oval shaped organelles dispersed within the cytoplasm, and requires oxygen and the third, and most productive in terms of ATP generation, electron transport, proceeds in the membranes of mitochondria and also needs oxygen.

In normal mammalian cells, glycolysis represents the starting point of energy synthesis. Its end product, pyruvic acid, is in turn shunted first into the citric acid cycle, then ultimately into the electron transport chain. Along the way, a complex series of step-wise reactions releases multiple energy-rich ATP molecules.

Based on his years studying cellular metabolism, Dr. Warburg proposed that cancer cells, unlike normal cells, rely exclusively on anaerobic glycolysis for energy. Such cells do fine in the absence of oxygen, since the metabolic machinery of glycolysis doesn’t require it.

Warburg claimed that in these abnormal cells glycolysis actually uncouples from the citric acid cycle and electron transport, leaving the cells dependent solely on this rather inefficient mechanism for survival. Bacteria also synthesize their ATP energy exclusively from glycolysis, in the process we know as fermentation.

This uncoupling of glycolysis from the citric acid cycle and electron transport, and the supposed fundamental dependency of cancer cells on anaerobic metabolism, has been studied extensively since Warburg’s day, with many scientists around the world claiming to confirm, then adding to, Warburg’s hypothesis. As Dr. Seyfried correctly points out, in more recent times, cancer researchers have begun drifting away from the study of disordered cellular physiology, enamored as they are of genetic abnormality as the primary and only driving force in cancer formation and growth.

Warburg’s ideas about faulty metabolism seem to have been overshadowed by the elegance of, and fascination for, the “genetic cause of cancer.”

I agree Dr. Seyfried has done us all a great service by redefining, re-emphasizing and refining Dr. Warburg’s remarkable research from 80 years ago. He makes the case, using the contemporary basic science data, to support Warburg’s belief that cancer cells depend solely on glycolysis for survival, with his claim regarding the uncoupling of this sugar-fueled, oxygen-independent process from the citric acid cycle and the electron transport chain. But he goes a major step further, stating as fact that since cancer cells depend on anaerobic glucose metabolism for energy, they can be stopped in their tracks by depriving them of blood glucose.

Our normal healthy cells, be they situated in the brain or the skin of our feet, do prefer glucose as their primary energy source, obtained from the sugar circulating in the blood. That “blood sugar” comes from a variety of sources, including dietary carbohydrates occurring in fruits, starchy vegetables like potatoes, and grains. The complex carbohydrates in such foods are broken down into glucose during the digestive process, catalyzed by a variety of carb-specific enzymes like amylase.

We also maintain a certain amount of stored sugar as glycogen, found in the liver and muscle and formed when glucose molecules link up to one another in complex chains. In times of need and if deprived of dietary carbohydrates, our liver and muscle cells can break down glycogen into glucose for release into the bloodstream. Our liver cells can also, when necessary, convert certain amino acids such as alanine into glucose.

However, our glycogen supplies in the liver and muscle are quite limited, providing only an 8-12 hour emergency supply. So during a fast, or starvation, or on a diet providing no carbohydrates in any form, we quickly run out of glycogen. In this situation, through a variety of neural and hormonal signaling, our fat cells, or adipocytes, begin releasing free fatty acids into the blood stream. These fatty acids can in turn be used by our cells in the alternate ATP producing process of beta oxidation.

The end result of this series of reactions, acetyl coenzyme A, can then be shunted into the citric acid cycle and the electron transport chain, to produce maximum amounts of energy-rich ATP.

Though most of our cells can utilize fatty acids of all stripes via beta oxidation to create ATP energy, our central nervous system is at somewhat of a disadvantage. In fact, long chain fatty acids with 14 or more carbons, which can yield the most ATP from beta oxidation, do not cross the blood-brain barrier. However, in a state of prolonged dietary carbohydrate depletion, the liver begins converting acetyl coenzyme A into various ketone bodies, such as acetoacetate and beta hydroxy butyric acid, which easily penetrate into the brain and which can, like acetyl coenzyme A, be shunted into the citric acid cycle and then the electron transport chain, providing the brain with ATP.

On a low carb or no carb diet, our billions of cells in all our tissues and organs switch their energy mechanics from a process driven by glucose to one propelled by fatty acids and ketone bodies. The term “ketosis” simply means the state in which, in the absence of sufficient glucose, our liver synthesizes ketones from acetyl coenzyme A.

However, even on a no carb, all meat, high-fat diet, we will still be consuming some glucose in the form of glycogen stored in muscle and organ meats, and our livers will continue to convert some dietary amino acids into glucose, so blood sugar levels never hit zero on such a diet. But in such cases, the amounts produced will be minimal.

Though our normal cells do just fine in the absence of carbohydrates, cancer cells, Dr. Seyfried claims, do not. These cells, he says, can never use fatty acids or ketone bodies for any significant energy production, since the citric acid cycle and electron transport in them remain basically inactive. So, he proposes, as the culmination of his exegesis, that on a high fat, moderate protein, no carb diet, a cancer patient will deprive his or her deadly abnormal cells of their only useful source of energy, blood glucose, leading to apoptosis, or cell death.

It’s that simple. No dietary sugar, no cancer.

The science is impressive, the conclusion, to many it seems, extraordinarily promising. But, is this ketogenic diet really a “new” idea or simply an old one, repackaged for the 21st century? And, can history teach us anything about its efficacy against cancer, or any other disease?

During the first half of the 20th century, physicians and researchers studying the traditional Eskimo (Inuit) culture were amazed by the health of these people subsisting on a very peculiar – at least to the Western academic mind – high fat ketogenic diet. The famed Arctic explorer Stefansson first documented the traditional Eskimo diet, which was later studied in some detail in the early 1930s by a research team from McGill University in Montreal.

To the surprise of these investigators – at the time no Western scientist believed any human could survive on nothing but meat – this Eskimo diet consisted of virtually 100% animal products, 80% in the form of fat, with much of it saturated, 20% protein, but essentially no carbohydrates. From cradle to grave these traditional Eskimos lived in a state of ketosis.

In retrospect, it makes sense that in the Arctic the Eskimos, in order to survive, would have adjusted to their high fat, moderate protein, no carb diet. With its brief summer and lacking soils suitable for crops, the region provides insufficient plant foods suitable for human consumption but does offer an abundance of fatty animal food both on land and in the sea. If the Eskimos hadn’t adapted to such food, living as they did in such a difficult, extreme part of the world, they simply would have died off.

Interestingly, as Stefansson pointed out, the Eskimos he studied and lived with for ten years knew that their exclusive animal food diet must be high fat, with moderately low protein. They warned a diet lacking sufficient fat (or as a corollary in Western scientific terms, high protein), would lead to sickness and eventually death.

As Stefansson and later scientists learned, the Eskimos living on their high fat, ketogenic diet seemed free from the typical degenerative diseases including cancer and heart disease, already becoming rampant in the Western world during the early decades of the 20th century. In 1960, the elderly Stefansson – was quite a celebrity by that time for his adventures to far away places – wrote a book entitled Cancer: Disease of Civilization?, in which he made the case that the typical Eskimo diet offered complete protection from this frightening malady.

In a number of his best-selling books, Stefansson argued strongly that we should all be living like Eskimos, indulging in high fat, moderate protein, no carb diets – that is, if we wanted superb, enduring good health.

Blake Donaldson, MD, who ran a general practice for decades on Long Island, New York, began prescribing a ketogenic diet in the 1920s. Donaldson, who was quite familiar with Stefansson’s reports on the Eskimo diet, began recommending an all-meat, high-fat regimen for his patients diagnosed with a variety of complaints such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, though he doesn’t appear to have treated cancer specifically. In his 1961 book, Strong Medicine, Dr. Donaldson summarized his findings and his many years of experience recommending a high fat diet.

More recently, the famed New York diet doctor, Robert Atkins, MD, popularized the ketogenic diet, not for cancer, but as the ultimate weight loss plan with his books over the decades selling in the tens of millions of copies. The original version of the Diet Revolution published in 1972 sold at one point more than 100,000 hard copies a week, in those days the fastest selling book in the history of United States publishing.

As the years passed, Dr. Atkins, a cardiologist by training, began to see in the ketogenic diet the answer to many of the problems of Western civilization beyond obesity, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension – and yes, even cancer.

The traditional Atkins’ Diet was certainly high fat, in the range of 70% or more, nearly all from animal sources, and with minimal dietary carbs, less than 10%. Dr. Atkins, famed for his all-encompassing emphasis on ketosis during his early years as a diet doctor, insisted his patients routinely check the levels of ketone bodies in their urine several times a day, using special “ketone strips.”

In his books and in his office working with his own patients, Dr. Atkins warned that to reap the benefits of his diet, one must reach and stay in a state of ketosis, much like the traditional Eskimos. Even a slight deviation from the diet, some ill-advised cheating with a cookie or candy, could stop ketosis in its tracks, and with it, the value of the diet.

I knew Bob quite well, and considered him a friend. We first met when I interviewed him for a nutrition story during my journalism days, and later on while I was a medical student, we kept in close contact. During my freshman year at Cornell Medical School – from which Bob had received his own medical degree – I arranged for him to speak as part of a lecture series I had set up on alternative approaches to disease.

After I finished my conventional immunology training under Dr. Good, in 1987 Bob graciously offered me a job in his clinic, not to work with patients seeking dietary or general nutritional advice, but to help supervise a cancer unit he was then in the process of establishing. Though I was grateful for the proposal, I turned him down, determined to set up my own practice.

Bob had achieved great success as a diet doctor, with an estimated wealth at the time of his death in 2003 in the range of $350 million. He was also a very driven and very smart physician, who clearly saw in cancer, and not in obesity, the ultimate challenge in medicine.

Bob, who knew Stefansson’s work well, told me during more than one dinner together in the late 1980s that the ketogenic diet might represent the ultimate solution to cancer. He thought, as Donaldson and Stefansson had claimed before him, that all humans should be following a ketogenic diet to achieve ultimate ideal health. But were they right? Or was there another, perhaps more accurate way, to look at the human dietary condition?

Nathan Pritikin believed, and fanatically so, that all humans were genetically and metabolically programmed to follow a high carb, very low fat, exclusively plant-based diet, which if applied diligently would protect us from all the major degenerative disease killers, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension – and perhaps, even cancer.

The traditional Pritikin diet was literally a mirror image of the Atkins’ Diet, with about 70-75% of all calories derived from carbohydrates, 15-20% from protein, all from plant sources, and 8% or less from fat, again all plant-derived.

After Pritikin’s death in 1985, Dr. Dean Ornish of San Francisco would pick up the Pritikin mantle, eventually testing a similar diet in patients diagnosed with heart disease as well as in patients with prostate cancer.

The nutritional world then, as it is today, was surely confusing, with various scientists, physicians, and lay authors promoting one diet or another, often – as in the case of Atkins and Pritikin – offering completely contradictory dietary recommendations. Fortunately, when in 1987 Dr. Atkins offered me a job, I had already found what I thought represented a solution to the dilemma of dueling dietary dogma.

By the time I began medical school in 1979 I had read the pioneering work of Weston A. Price, DDS, the American dentist and researcher. Beginning in the late 1920s, Dr. Price, accompanied by his wife, spent seven years traveling the world evaluating isolated groups of people living and eating according to long-standing tradition. Today such a study would be impossible, since just about everyone everywhere has adopted the “Western” way of living and eating, down to jeans and junk food.

But in Dr. Price’s day, many groups living in many different locations still lived according to tradition largely untouched by modern Western influence. Price’s travels took him from the Eskimos of the Arctic, to the descendents of the Incas living in the high Andes, to the Masai on the plains of Kenya, to isolated Swiss herders in the Alpine mountain valleys, to Polynesians living on pristine tropical islands.

The variety of diets around the world

Each of these groups Dr. Price studied seemed well adapted to the available food supply. The Eskimos, as Stefansson earlier had reported and as Price confirmed, thrived on their high fat, no carb, animal-based diet. The Inca descendents, on the other hand, had done quite well consuming grains like quinoa, along with tubers, fruits, and some animal protein and dairy. The Masai flourished on a rather extreme diet consisting, for an adult warrior, of a gallon of raw milk a day with some blood and occasional meat, but no fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, or grains.

The Swiss herders did just fine living on raw pastured cow milk and cheese accompanied by a nutrient-dense, whole grain bread. The Polynesian diet centered around coconut in all its incarnations, the milk, meat, and cream, creatively used in a variety of ways, along with fish, some wild animal meat, and fruits. These diets could not be more different an Eskimo never drank milk or ate a coconut, the Inca descendents never saw a coconut or whale blubber, a Masai never ate coconut or grains, the Polynesians never consumed grains, never drank milk, and never ate cheese.

However different these diets might be, each of these groups, and the many other traditional peoples Price studied, enjoyed excellent enduring health, free from the diseases of civilization – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. In his extraordinary and very detailed 1945 book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Price documented his thesis that we humans over the millennium adapted to and thrived on not one, as the experts usually claim, but a variety of different diets.

There were some commonalities among the diets, of course all these traditional people ate some animal products, and all consumed a fair amount of fat, whether from plant or animal sources. All the food was, of course, locally grown, locally harvested, or locally hunted, since these isolated groups lacked access to the industrialized food of modern “civilization.”

The food had to be local. And all these groups ate some food in its raw, uncooked form, which they believed possessed special nutritional value.

Having first read Dr. Price’s book during my journalism days, I knew that according to his exhaustive work, humans were a varied species, in the past living in and adapting to all ecological niches excepting the Antarctic, offering a variety of food sources. To me, his work offered a solution to the conflicting dietary advice even then being offered to the world. It didn’t make sense as Nathan Pritikin insisted or as Bob Atkins argued, that all humans should follow one specific type of diet: It just didn’t seem reasonable, to me at least.

I would receive further support for my thinking during the summer of 1981, after completing my second year of medical school. That July, through one of my journalism contacts from my previous life, I had the opportunity to meet the controversial alternative cancer practitioner, the dentist Dr. William Donald Kelley. Over a 20 year period beginning in the early 1960s, Kelley had developed a very intensive nutritional approach to cancer that came under harsh public scrutiny and media attention when he agreed to treat Steve McQueen.

Steve McQueen was diagnosed with advanced mesothelioma, a particularly deadly form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure, sought out Kelley after the conventional approaches, radiation and immunotherapy, failed to halt the progression of his disease. Though he seemed to rally initially, McQueen, according to accounts of those involved with his care, was not particularly compliant, and appeared at the time he first consulted Kelley too sick for any therapy to work. He would eventually die at a Mexican clinic under the condemning gaze of the media for his choice of an alternative method.

My writer friend had been in touch with Dr. Kelley, thinking that with all the attention around him he might make a good subject for a successful book. But she wanted me to meet in person with Kelley, who happened to be in New York to discuss her book project. Frankly, as she explained to me, she needed my take on the man, whom she really couldn’t decipher – was he truly onto something useful and extraordinary with his odd therapy, or was he simply a huckster, taking advantage of vulnerable cancer patients, as the media had been insisting.

Though initially reluctant, I agreed to meet with Kelley, who turned out to be far different from what I expected. I found him to be very shy, very thoughtful, and clearly very smart. And, I could see that he was passionately devoted to his nutritional approach to cancer.

During that first meeting, Kelley described in some detail the tenets of his therapy. In summary, it involved three basic components: individualized diet, individualized supplement programs with large doses of pancreatic enzymes Kelley believed had an anti-cancer effect, and detoxification routines such as the coffee enemas. He fervently believed that each patient required a protocol designed for his or her particular metabolic, physiologic, and biochemical needs, and that one diet would never be suitable for all.

As I was to learn, the diets Dr. Kelley prescribed ranged from largely plant-based high-carb to an Atkins-like diet, with patients prescribed fatty meat several times daily. In general Kelley believed patients diagnosed with the typical solid tumors – cancers of the breast, lung, stomach, pancreas, colon, liver, uterus, ovary, prostate – did best adhering to a plant-based, high carb type diet, low in animal protein and animal fat.

Patients diagnosed with the immune based “blood cancers” like leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as the sarcomas, a type of connective tissue malignancy, required a lower carb, high animal fat, moderate animal protein diet. Other patients, usually with problems other than cancer, thrived on a more “balanced” diet, incorporating a variety of plant and animal foods.

But all his patients ate some carbs in the form of fruit and carrot juice, the amounts allowed varying according to the underlying metabolic makeup. All this resonated with me, having studied the work of Weston Price so intently.

After my original lengthy conversation with Dr. Kelley, my research mentor Dr. Good suggested that during my summer break I begin an informal review of Kelley’s patient charts located in his Dallas office. From my first day in Dallas, I found among Kelley’s records patient after patient with appropriately diagnosed poor prognosis or what would be considered terminal disease such as metastatic pancreatic and metastatic breast cancer, who had done well under his care for many years, often with documented regression of his disease.

These preliminary findings spurred Dr. Good to encourage a more thorough investigation of Kelley’s methods and results. As the project grew in scope, I continued my “Kelley Study” in my spare time during the last two years of medical school, and ultimately brought it to completion while pursuing my immunology fellowship training under Dr. Good at All Childrens’ Hospital in St. Petersburg.

For the study I reviewed thousands of Kelley’s charts, interviewed over a thousand of his patients, and evaluated 455 of them in some detail. I eventually put my information into monograph form under Dr. Good’s direction, including 50 lengthy case reports of patients with 26 different types of appropriately diagnosed, poor-prognosis cancer who had responded to Kelley’s nutritional regimen.

One of these patients, a woman from Appleton, Wisconsin, had been diagnosed in the summer of 1982 with stage IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the most aggressive form of this most aggressive disease. A liver biopsy during exploratory surgery confirmed the diagnosis of metastatic cancer, which the Mayo Clinic would later confirm. When the Mayo oncologist on the case said there was nothing that could be done, the patient being looking into alternative approaches, learned about Kelley’s work, and began his therapy.

Thirty-one years later, she is alive and well, having seen her children – and now her grandchildren – graduate college. To put this case in perspective, I know of no patient in the history of medicine with stage IV pancreatic cancer and biopsy proven liver metastases who has lived this long.

Another memorable patient written up for the book had been diagnosed with what was thought to be localized endometrial cancer in 1969. After a course of radiation to shrink her large tumor, she underwent hysterectomy, and was told they “got it all.” Over the next few years, however, her health began to deteriorate: she experienced persistent fatigue, malaise, pelvic pain, and weight loss.

Though she returned to her primary care physician repeatedly, he dismissed her complaints as “nerves,” suggesting only a tranquilizer. Eventually, in 1975 she developed a palpable mass the size of a grapefruit in her pelvis, thought by her doctors – finally taking her seriously – to be an indication of obvious recurrent disease. A chest x-ray at the time revealed multiple nodules in both lungs, consistent with widely metastatic cancer.

Though told her situation was dire and her cancer incurable, she underwent surgery to remove the large pelvic tumor, to avoid an impending intestinal obstruction. Shortly afterwards she began a synthetic progesterone used at the time as a treatment for metastatic uterine cancer.

Her doctors admitted the drug would not be curative, but hopefully might extend her life a few months. However, she stopped the medication after a few weeks because of serious side effects, and with no other conventional options in sight she began looking into alternative approaches.

She learned about Kelley’s work, began the program, regained her health, and avoided all conventional doctors for many years. In 1984, nine years after coming under Kelley’s care, she returned to her primary care physician who was quite perplexed she was still alive after all this time. A chest x-ray showed total resolution of her once widespread lung metastases.

This patient eventually lived until 2009 when she died at age 95, having survived 34 years from her diagnosis of recurrent metastatic uterine cancer.

Although Kelley did prescribe a variety of diets for his cancer patients, these two exemplary patients followed a plant-based eating plan, high in carbohydrates with a minimum each day of four glasses of carrot juice, dense in nutrients but also dense in natural sugar. Each of these diets allowed considerable fruit and whole grain products, foods again loaded with carbs. According to Seyfried’s hypothesis, both should have died quick miserable deaths.

At the time I finished my monograph in 1986, I hoped that with its publication, fair-minded researchers might begin taking Dr. Kelley and his nutritional therapy seriously. As I was to learn, I completely and rather naively misjudged the animus of the scientific community toward unconventional cancer treatment approaches that didn’t fit the “accepted” model. Even with Dr. Good’s support, after two years of trying I could not get the book published, either in its entirety, or in the form of individual case reports appropriate for the conventional medical journals.

Editors responded with disbelief, claiming the results couldn’t be real since a non-toxic nutritional therapy could never be useful against advanced cancer. I found the logic, “it couldn’t be true because it couldn’t be true” perplexing, for editors of scientific journals. In any event, the book would finally be published, in a rewritten and updated form, in 2010.

Discouraged by our failure to get the results of my five-year effort into the world, in 1987 Kelley closed down his practice and more or less went off the deep end, disappearing from sight for a number of years. After we parted in 1987, he and I would never speak again.

In 2005, he would eventually die with his dream of academic acceptance unrealized. But my colleague Dr. Linda Isaacs and I have worked diligently over the past 26 years, keeping the Kelley idea alive, that different people may require completely different diets. In the next installment, I will address my own experience treating patients diagnosed with advanced cancer with a Kelley based approach. Our therapy involves, oftentimes, diets high in carbohydrates, which proponents of the ketogenic diet would predict should fuel, not stop, cancer.

After Kelly closed down his practice, in late 1987 I returned to New York and began treating patients with advanced cancer, using a Kelley-based enzyme approach, with immediate good results. One of the first patients who consulted me had been diagnosed two years earlier, after a series of mishaps, with inflammatory breast cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease.

This patient had a very unfortunate story: by the time of her original diagnosis in 1985, her breast tumor was too large to allow for surgery, so her doctors recommended a course of radiation to the chest, hoping to shrink the tumor and allow for mastectomy.

She proceeded with the planned radiation, but at surgery the tumor was still quite large at 8 cm, with 18 of 18 lymph nodes involved with cancer.

Her doctors informed her that her disease would inevitably prove fatal, but suggested aggressive chemotherapy to hold off the cancer as long as possible. She again followed her doctor’s advice, beginning multi-agent chemo.

In the fall of 1987, two years into treatment, she developed evidence of new metastatic disease in the bone. At that point, she began looking into alternative approaches, learned about our work from a social worker she knew, and came under my care only a couple of months after I had begun in private practice.

To summarize her nearly 26 years of treatment with me, she has been disease-free for years as per bone scan studies, continues on her nutritional program, and continues leading a normal, cancer-free life.

By the standards of conventional oncology, this patient’s complete regression of metastatic disease and very long-term survival must be considered remarkable.

One of my favorite patients, whom I have discussed at times in my lectures, was diagnosed in August 1991 with stage IV pancreatic cancer, with multiple metastases into the liver, into the lung, into both adrenals, and into the bone. After a lung biopsy confirmed adenocarcinoma, his doctors discouraged chemotherapy, telling him and his wife conventional treatments would only ruin his quality of life while offering no benefit.

He was given, as he would later tell me, two months to live.

The patient’s wife, a former college professor with an interest in nutritional medicine, learned about our approach from an article she read in an alternative health journal, and in the fall of 1991 he began treatment with me. Some fifteen months later, repeat CT scans showed stabilization of disease. Since he felt fine at the time, following his program religiously, he decided against any further conventional testing until 1998, seven years after he had started with me, when a series of CT scans confirmed total resolution of his once extensive cancer.

This patient would eventually die at age 85 in 2006, 15 years after his diagnosis, from the residual effects of a serious automobile accident.

To put his case in perspective, I know of no similar case with documented stage IV pancreatic cancer that had spread at the time of diagnosis into multiple organs who survived 15 years after diagnosis with confirmed total resolution of his disease.

For both these patients, in the traditions of the Kelley system I prescribed a plant-based, high carb diet, including multiple servings of fruit, with its content of natural sugar, along with four glasses of carrot juice daily. By Seyfried’s hypothesis, both of these patients should have died quick, miserable deaths under my care.

Currently, after more than 25 years in practice, I am writing a two-volume set consisting of detailed case histories of our own patients, like the two mentioned above, to make the point that the therapy works in practice. For those diagnosed with poor-prognosis solid tumors, many now alive in excess of 10 years, I have prescribed a high carbohydrate diet, in total contradiction to what Dr. Seyfried proposes as the ideal anti-cancer approach.

Just this week as I write this, one of my newer patients, a wonderful, creative inventor and computer whiz from the Washington, DC area, came into my office for his regularly scheduled six month re-evaluation appointment. When he started with me in January 2010, three and a half years ago, he had been diagnosed with stage IV metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the lung, with multiple tumors in both lungs and with evidence of metastases in his ribs. His local doctors in DC had explained he had terminal disease, for which chemotherapy would be useless.

His rib lesions were causing him so much misery his doctors did suggest a course of radiation for palliative pain control. However, he had learned about my work from a mutual friend who recommended he dispense with all conventional treatments and instead pursue my regimen.

He followed her advice, refused radiation, came to see me, and over the years he has proven to be a very vigilant, determined and compliant patient. Within a year on his nutritional program, which includes a high carb diet, his pain had resolved, his energy, stamina, and concentration had improved, and scans confirmed total resolution of all his original extensive disease – in complete contradiction to what Dr. Seyfried would predict or claim possible.

When I saw the patient in my office during this recent visit, he remarked that over the preceding months, he had been craving more carbs than ever before, so in response he had significantly increased his daily intake of carrot juice, fruits, and starchy vegetables, foods allowed on his diet with no limitation.

With this increased carb intake, he has actually lost 16 pounds of excess weight, and his energy is better than it has been in 30 years. And, he remains cancer free. According to Dr. Seyfried, on this high-carb regimen his cancer, thriving as he claims on sugars, should long ago have exploded with deadly results.

Despite Kelley’s and my own positive experience treating cancer patients with non-ketogenic, often high-carb diets, can I muster any data, past or present to support what Seyfried claims? What does past experience and current data show, about the miracle of the ketogenic diet for cancer?

In my previous articles, I discussed my friend, the late Dr. Robert Atkins, the famed diet doctor, who long before Dr. Seyfried appeared on the scene hoped his “ketogenic” diet might be an answer to cancer. During the late 1980s and right through most of the 1990s, Dr. Atkins treated hundreds of cancer patients, many, though not all, with a ketogenic diet, along with a variety of supplements and intravenous vitamin C.

It was 1992, when his chief IV nurse, who had been with him for years, called me, wishing to take me to lunch. I knew him through my friendship with Dr. Atkins, and in fact he had been quietly referring a number of patients to me from the clinic, patients who were not responding to the Atkins’ treatment.

We did meet for lunch several days later, and I was surprised that after some general chatter, he asked me point blank if there was any chance he could work for me! He seemed quite serious, but I explained that my colleague Dr. Linda Isaacs and I didn’t use IV treatments so I would have no use for his particular skills.

Now intrigued, I asked why he would want to change jobs, since our practice was by design slower paced, whereas Bob ran a very busy clinic and active IV unit which would seem perfectly suited for this nurse’s expertise. He then explained, with obvious disappointment, that none of the hundreds of cancer patients they had treated or had been treating had responded to any significant degree, with the exception of those he had referred to me.

The failures had taken an emotional toll on the nurse, who was ready for a change.

Though I would see Bob occasionally at conferences, I never mentioned any of this to him. Some years later we met for lunch in Washington, DC, at a conference where we were both scheduled to speak. To my astonishment, he told me he was closing down his cancer unit completely, to concentrate on his traditional area of expertise – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypoglycemia, the metabolic syndrome – problems for which he knew his nutritional approach with the ketogenic diet worked quite effectively.

In terms of cancer, after more than ten years of trying on hundreds of patients, his treatment had been a disappointment. I certainly appreciated his honesty, and was gratified when he expressed his admiration for what he had been hearing about my successes.

I think it was still hard for him to accept that many cancer patients, and many humans without cancer, did best on a plant-based, high carb diet, so foreign to his way of thinking. Though he had heard me expound on the Kelley approach many times over the years, it was to him implausible that humans as a species had adopted to a variety of diets, some high fat, some high carb, some more balanced, and that in medical practice, we as physicians had to be aware that different patients might require completely different diets for optimal health.

To his grave, as far as I know, he believed that all humans should be on a high fat diet with minimal carbs.

In my opinion, Bob Atkins knew more about the theory and practice of the ketogenic diet, its benefits and limitations, including as applied to cancer patients, than anyone in the history of medicine. For him, the concept was hardly the musings of a PhD laboratory scientist, but the practical observations of a physician who treated thousands of patients over decades. And for cancer, the ketogenic diet just did not seem to work.

Bob wasn’t the only physician, his clinic not the only place, where the ketogenic diet has been applied in modern times. At the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, for many years a group of researchers and neurologists have prescribed a very strict ketogenic diet for children with intractable seizures, that is, seizures unresponsive to currently available medications. For this particular indication, in adults as well as children, the diet works quite well.

So, what evidence does Dr. Seyfried himself provide to prove his point that the best diet for all cancer patients, whatever the type, is the ketogenic, high fat, no carb diet? Well, very little. Certainly the 400 plus pages of elaborate biochemistry and theory are impressive and informative. But in terms of practicalities, that is, results with actual human patients diagnosed with cancer, there is next to no evidence.

Dr. Seyfried does include a chapter toward the book’s end entitled “Case Studies and Personal Experiences in using the Ketogenic Diet for Cancer Management.” Here, Dr. Seyfried provides a description of a pilot study, written by the investigators themselves, discussing the use of the ketogenic diet in children with inoperable brain cancer. However, the authors admit the study was intended only to evaluate the diet’s tolerability and effect on glucose metabolism as determined by PET scanning, not treatment benefit or survival.

As the authors write, “the protocol was not designed to reverse tumor growth or treat specific types of cancer.” The researchers also acknowledge the patient numbers were too small to allow for meaningful statistical evaluation, even for the avowed purposes. Overall, the discussion centers on the practicalities of implementing the diet and the results of the PET scans.

Interesting information, but hardly useful in terms of treatment effect.

In this same chapter, there are also two case reports, neither very impressive. The first, written by the mother, tells the story of a four-year old child diagnosed in 2004 with a low-grade (less aggressive) but quite large and inoperable brain tumor. The parents, as the mother writes, entrusted their child into the hands of the experts, who prescribed the usual “gold standard” treatments, which are not clearly described initially but presumably mean chemotherapy and perhaps radiation.

In subsequent years, the boy continued on aggressive conventional therapeutics, when in 2007, the parents learned of the preliminary research of Dr. Seyfried. While continuing low-dose chemotherapy combined with the ketogenic diet, the patient experienced a “15%” reduction in tumor size. The chemo was eventually discontinued while the parents maintained their son on the ketogenic diet, and the child, sadly, eventually died.

In my monograph One Man Alone, I included a case report of a patient treated by Kelley, diagnosed with an inoperable and very aggressive form of brain cancer that had spread into the spinal canal. After failing radiation, the patient began treatment with Dr. Kelley in 1981. At the time, the patient’s wife actually had to administer the treatment, even the coffee enemas, since the patient himself was largely incoherent and wheelchair bound.

As I wrote in my book, “Nevertheless on the therapy [Kelley’s] he slowly began to improve, to the point his mental status normalized and over a period of a year, he progressed from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane.” When I completed my study in 1987, he had survived 5 years and was in excellent health, with no evidence of cancer in his brain or spinal canal.

A second brief report in Seyfried’s “Case Studies” chapter, this time written by the patient himself, describes a physician who had been diagnosed in 2009 with multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting the bone and bone marrow. The diagnosis came about when the physician fractured his arm while lifting weights.

After scouring the literature, he became quite attracted to the “good science” behind the ketogenic hypothesis, so under Dr. Seyfried’s direct supervision, he began the diet. Though the patient seems quite enthusiastic about his response, he admits in his note that with the diet there has been “no progression,” presumably in terms of x-ray studies, and some improvement in the blood studies. He still considers his disease as “incurable.”

First of all, myeloma patients, even when diagnosed with an aggressive form, often linger for years before the disease advances. I would never have included such a two-year survivor in One Man Alone, or in any other book I have written or plan to write – unless, possibly, there has been documented significant regression of disease, not apparent in this case. I do include a case of multiple myeloma treated by Dr. Kelley in my monograph, a woman diagnosed with extensive cancer throughout her skeleton with evidence of multiple fractures.

When she first consulted with Dr. Kelley in 1977 she was in a near terminal state after having failed intensive chemotherapy. Nonetheless, despite her dire situation within a year she had experienced complete regression of her extensive bony lesions, as documented by x-ray studies. Though in subsequent years her compliance with her nutritional regimen would waver and her disease would in turn recur, invariably when she resumed Kelley’s treatment the myeloma would go into remission.

At the time I finished the monograph in 1987, she had survived 11 years. I found this case acceptable for my Kelley report, but a two-year survivor with no evidence of disease regression but lots of enthusiasm, I would never had included.

I might add that for myeloma patients, Dr. Kelley prescribed, and I prescribe, a high fat diet – but never ketogenic.

Why, one wonders, if Dr. Seyfried’s actual data is so thin, have so many physicians, scientists, and writers jumped on the ketogenic bandwagon?

Let me say out front I have no problem with scientists who propose a theory, in short papers or in the case of Dr. Seyfried, in long, detailed books. I do have a problem when scientists go a step further, insisting in the absence of any significant human data or even impressive case histories they have unraveled the mystery of cancer. I am also quite surprised, in the case of Dr. Seyfried, that both alternative and conventional practitioners have risen up in a loud chorus of enthusiasm, as if indeed Dr. Seyfried’s theories are correct, and that he has solved the cancer riddle.

I found a typical response to Seyfried’s book in a review on Amazon, written by the esteemed conventional oncologist Dr. Stephen Strum:

I am a board-certified medical oncologist with 30 years experience in caring for cancer patients and another 20 years of research in cancer medicine dating back to 1963. Seyfried’s “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease” is the most significant book I have read in my 50 years in this field. It should be required reading of all cancer specialists, physicians in general, scientific researchers in the field of cancer and for medical students. I cannot overstate what a valuable contribution Thomas Seyfried has made in writing this masterpiece.

From the alternative front, on his website read literally by millions, Dr. Joseph Mercola has been an enthusiastic supporter of Dr. Seyfried and his ketogenic thesis. In two lengthy articles Dr. Mercola proposes that the ketogenic is an answer to cancer.

In the first posting appearing on his site June 16, 2013, based on an interview with Dr. Seyfried, Dr. Mercola writes in his introductory paragraph:

Could a ketogenic diet eventually be a “standard of care” drug-free treatment for cancer? Personally, I believe it’s absolutely crucial, for whatever type of cancer you’re trying to address, and hopefully someday it will be adopted as a first line of treatment.

In a second article from June 30, 2013, entitled “The Ketogenic Diet – An Excellent Approach to Cancer Prevention and Treatment,” Dr. Mercola discusses the work of Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, PhD, another basic scientist, this time from Florida, who enthusiastically reports his animal and laboratory work with the ketogenic diet.

As I ponder this enthusiasm, I have to think that perhaps I am just a little slower, or more cautious, than most. The day after I first met Dr. Kelley in New York in July 1981, I was on a plane to Dallas to begin my review of Kelley’s charts. As previously discussed, I quickly found among Kelley’s records case after case of appropriately diagnosed poor-prognosis and/or terminal cancer, patients alive five, ten, even 15 years later, with no possible explanation for such survival other than Kelley’s odd nutritional treatment.

After I returned to New York some three weeks later carrying with me copies of dozens of patient records, and after reviewing my findings with Dr. Good, I knew Kelley was on to something. One thing for sure, at the time I didn’t, as I easily could have with my journalism contacts, think about “explosive” news stories, or a book contract.

Quite the contrary, as I discussed in a previous article, I met Kelley through a journalist friend who thought he might make an excellent subject for a potboiler, a wealth-generating best seller. After only a few days in Kelley’s Dallas office, I quickly realized that he, as odd as he may have seemed to some, as peculiar as his therapy might be to conventional researchers, had put together a potentially useful, non-toxic, nutritional cancer treatment.

I also quickly understood that for his approach to gain academic acceptance, Kelley must back off completely from involvement with popular controversial books and media hysteria. When I expressed my opinion about such things to him, he accepted the wisdom of my position unconditionally. When he then told my writer friend in a rather difficult phone call that he had no interest in pursuing the book she had suggested, she was, to say the least, livid with me – especially since she had brought Kelley and me together in the first place, seeking my opinion about his authenticity.

Ironically, because I thought him to be possibly legitimate, I had instructed him to avoid involvement with any popular book including hers. My writer friend would not speak to me for 16 years, until we met at a conference in New York. We hugged, after all those years, and made up.

Only after interviewing 1,000 of Dr. Kelley’s patients, and evaluating 455 of them at length over a five-year period, did I even begin to think about the book that would be written – not a popular potboiler, not a tome expounding his elaborate theories, but a serious academic monograph about our findings. It is just not in my makeup to put out a book with lovely theory and two case reports, however inspiring they might be.

I do have a challenge, a gentlemanly academic challenge of course, to Dr. Seyfried.
In this article, I have presented a number of cases, seven to be exact, four from Kelley’s files and three from my own practice. The four Kelley cases include the 31-year survivor of metastatic pancreatic cancer confirmed at Mayo, the 34-year survivor of stage IV endometrial cancer, the five-year survivor of aggressive brain cancer, and the 11-year survivor of advanced, aggressive multiple myeloma.

The three from my practice include the stage IV 25-year survivor of metastatic inflammatory breast cancer, my 15 year survivor of stage IV pancreatic cancer, and my three and a half year survivor of stage IV lung cancer that has totally regressed on my therapy.

With the exception of the myeloma patient, all the other six patients, both Kelley’s and mine, followed a high carb, plant-based diet, replete with frequent servings of fruit and multiple glasses daily of sugar-rich carrot juice. I challenge, for the benefit of science, Dr. Seyfried to match these seven simple straightforward cases. In my experience, no one else has been able to meet the challenge, so I question whether Dr. Seyfried can either.

The point I’m trying to make is simple.

  • In science, as in most walks of life, a little caution certainly goes a long way.
  • Within my practice, I am already receiving letters and faxes and calls from prospective patients diagnosed with advanced cancer of a variety of types, who with great enthusiasm jumped on the ketogenic diet bandwagon – with poor results.

In my next and final article in this series on the ketogenic diet as a cancer treatment, I will offer my suggestions as to why the diet most likely won’t work for most people, based on past epidemiological research and current biochemical thinking.

First, as Weston Price proved 70 years ago in his exhaustive epidemiological study, over the millennia different groups of humans adjusted to different types of diets, depending on the locale in which they lived and the available food therein, ranging from high carb to virtual no carb. Though Dr. Price was not evaluating dietary treatments as such for disease, his point should nonetheless be well taken – different humans (for optimal health) need different diets.

In terms of our specific discussion, diet as cancer treatment, Dr. Kelley demonstrated more recently in his Dallas, Texas, and Winthrop, Washington offices, no one diet suits all patients diagnosed with the disease, quite the contrary. Over a 20 year period working in the trenches treating many thousands of people, Dr. Kelley came to learn that each patient who walked into his office required a diet designed specifically for his or her metabolic needs, and these dietary requirements could vary enormously from patient to patient.

Unknown to most, even within the alternative world, my friend Bob Atkins tried the ketogenic diet for some 12 years on many of his cancer patients, with no significant success as he reported to me. As a telling point, under the name “Dr. Robert Atkins” on Amazon, one will find dozens of books he authored including his original diet book, its many incarnations and editions, along with books on vitamins, minerals – but glaringly absent, no book on cancer. Yes, the ketogenic diet has been tried before, with cancer patients, and without success.

I also might offer a thought as to why, from a more esoteric, more biochemical perspective, for most people diagnosed with cancer the ketogenic diet might not work. For the past 150 years, researchers have approached cancer as a disease in which perfectly happy, normal mature cells sitting in some tissue somewhere suddenly go awry, lose their normal regulatory restraint, develop a primitive, undifferentiated appearance or phenotype, begin proliferating without restraint, begin invading through tissues and organs, begin migrating, spreading, creating new blood vessels along the way to feed the rapacious appetite of cancer. But over the past 15 years, gradually, a new, more productive, and I believe more truthful hypothesis has emerged, spearheaded particularly by Dr. Max Wicha at the University of Michigan. Scientists such as Dr. Wicha have discovered that cancer may be a little more complicated than we have thought these long decades.

In recent years stem cells have been a hot topic in the research world, and a hot topic, for better or worse, in the media. These headline-grabbing stem cells are primitive undifferentiated cells, located as nests in every tissue and organ in the body, that serve as a reserve supply to replace cells in the tissue or organ lost due to normal turnover (as in the bone marrow or along the intestinal lining), disease, injury, or cell death.

In this way, stem cells allow complex life to exist and continue, providing tissue replacements as needed, appropriate for the tissue in which they live. That is, liver stem cells will create new liver cells as needed, bone marrow stem cells will create new bone marrow clones as required, intestinal stem cells will form, as necessary, intestinal lining cells. In this way, the developmental capacity of stem cells seems to be governed by the local environment.

After stem cells were discovered in the 1960s, scientists initially thought that they had a limited repertoire, that is, liver stem cells can only create more liver cells, but not bone marrow or intestinal cells, bone marrow stem cells can only create more bone marrow cells, but not liver cells, and so on. But we now know that isn’t the case.

Stem cells, wherever they may be found, can adapt quite nicely, and are far more flexible than originally believed. In laboratory animals, a liver stem cell placed into the bone marrow starts creating not liver, but bone marrow cells, a bone marrow stem cell transplanted into the liver begins to generate not bone marrow, but liver cells. The environment appears to be the key, ultimately determining the direction of stem cell development.

In terms of cancer specifically, many scientists believe that the disease does not develop from normal healthy cells that for some reason go molecularly berserk, but from stem cells that have lost their normal regulatory controls, creating in turn the disease we know as cancer.

Like any normal tissue or organ, in a tumor these cancer stem cells generate a variety of cell types that can mature to some extent, but the stem cells remain always primitive, undifferentiated, capable of replicating endlessly, capable of killing eventually. Most standard therapies fail, Dr. Wicha and his associates believe, because they attack the more mature tumor line, not the essential tumor stem cells, the actual engines of cancer creation.

Dr. Seyfried makes the case that normal stem cells, like cancer cells, are obligatory glucose consumers, relying solely on anaerobic glycolysis for the energy needed for survival. I agree, to a point. But I will also make the case that as with normal stem cells, cancer stem cells are very flexible, capable of adjusting to the local environment.

If deprived of oxygen, stem cells happily will turn to glycolysis as the main source of ATP energy. In an oxygen rich environment, I believe these stem cells can adapt accordingly, recoupling at least to some extent glycolysis to the citric acid cycle and electron transport, with great efficiency, and in terms of cancer, with deadly results.

Some years ago, a patient of mine, a professor at a well-known university, became interested in oxygenation therapies for cancer, used widely in the Mexican Clinics. These “oxygen” treatments were an offshoot of Dr. Warburg’s work, i.e., that cancer cells as obligatory anaerobes can synthesize needed energy supplies only via glycolysis. Therefore, the theory goes, in the presence of oxygen, particularly ozone, a form of hyped up oxygen, cancers cells, unlike normal cells, will be poisoned.

My professor patient seemed quite taken by the ozone approach, which he thought I should start implementing in my practice. However, I become somewhat doubtful about the theory, and the use of ozone as a treatment for cancer. At the time I had already taken care of dozens of patients who prior to consulting with me had been to the Mexican Clinics to receive ozone along with other treatments.

All seemed to have initial good responses followed by explosive return of their malignancy. I explained to my professor patient that I believed cancer stem cells could quickly adapt to oxygen, despite what the Warburgians might claim.

At about this time, ironically, this professor’s dog developed a very aggressive sarcoma, for which standard treatments were of no avail. Enchanted by oxygenation therapies, he actually bought an ozone generating machine meant for rectal installation, which he began, against my advice, using on his most patient dog.

After two weeks, the large tumors, quite evident to the naked eye, regressed substantially, to the professor’s great joy. He called me with the good news, and in a collegial sense, suggested he might be teaching me, the cancer expert, something new. I told him to wait before we came to a conclusion.

Unfortunately, some four weeks later, the professor called me again, reporting sadly that after the initial miraculous response, the tumors had recurred with a vengeance, and the dog had quickly succumbed.

It’s an interesting story but of course just that, a story that I fully acknowledge proves nothing, though in my mind it does illustrate how adaptable cancer cells, specifically cancer stem cells can be. It is a good lesson, for all of us, before we tout the next great cancer miracle.

This article originally appeared on Natural Health 365.

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Harvest Home Meats, LLC. is a family-operated, grass-based farm located outside of Bangor, Pennsylvania on the pastoral northeastern edge of the Lehigh Valley. Our cattle are dependent on grass farms that have been in the DiFebo and Ott families for the last hundred years. The farms are found in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Lower Mount Bethel Township, and Washington Township, Pennsylvania and are located within visible range of the gateway to the Poconos—the Delaware Water Gap, the Delaware River Valley, and western New Jersey. The farms are also in close driving proximity to New York City, Philadelphia, and their neighboring suburbs.

Initially, Harvest Home Meats’ farms were not entirely a grass-based agricultural pursuit. This status was achieved over the twenty-year period between 1994 and present, through the efforts of Richard DiFebo. DiFebo, a town-boy and lawn care specialist from Martins Creek, Pennsylvania, had married into the historic Ott farming family that resided off Upper Mount Bethel Township’s Riverton Road at Sunny Hillside Farms in 1978. There DiFebo had witnessed the retirement of his father-in-law Budd E. Ott, the sale of Mr. Ott’s milking herd, the conversion of Sunny Hillside Farms into a row-crop only farm, as well as the collapse of similar neighboring farm operations. The small farms purchased and owned by the Ott family, resembled the family-owned dairy farms and row-crop operations of the mid-twentieth century. The family farm that had been laid out by Budd Ott and his father Elton was located on land that neighbored the farms of other Ott relatives. The Otts, as a large farm family, had farmed in the northern reaches of Northampton County since the early 1800s and in neighboring Bucks and Philadelphia Counties since the early 1700s. Families that had married into the Otts had been farming in Northampton County even longer.

Starting with ten dairy cows, remnants of the old Holstein milking herd, Richard DiFebo took on a small experimental agricultural pursuit. As a hobby, he planned to raise these cows in the large, grass exercise paddock beneath Mr. Ott’s milking barn. These cows would receive a diet of entirely grass in the growing season and hay in the dormant months. This model consists of small grass plots, where cattle can gain access to water, and are moved to ensure that pastures are grazed evenly. The plots divided by interior fencing consisting of one-strand of electric fence. The cows were given time to graze off plots before moving on to the next, thus allowing pastures time for resting and recouping to improve more lush stands of beneficial grass and to weed out undesirable grasses.

Initially, the DiFebos and Otts consumed their own beef, which they had processed at a local butcher. However, Richard DiFebo saw potential to develop his hobby into a farm-based business that could provide quality grassfed beef directly to the consumer. Eventually, the land used for grazing was increased when DiFebo convinced Ott that he had a passion for grass-based farming. The hilliness of Sunny Hillside Farms also provided a safety hazard to individuals involved in taking off row crops, a danger that could be avoided and minimized through converting land back to pasture.

DiFebo began cross-breeding the few cattle in his possession, which were valued for high milk production and output, with animals bought off of nearby farmers that representing breeds with a proven track record of being raised as beef. These animals would be described at Herefords and Angus and crosses. Starting in 2003, DiFebo looked into and purchased cattle of the Red Devon breed, which had a proven and historic track-record of performing well on the grasses of the American northeast and Mid-Atlantic. He began selling quarters, halves, and whole sides of beef directly to the consumer in 2002 and after a USDA license was obtained in 2008 DiFebo had permission to sell beef by the cut to neighboring health food stores.

Today, Richard DiFebo, his wife Lynn, and sons Dane and Dohl are involved in the everyday operation of Harvest Home Meats, LLC. You can also occasionally see Richard DiFebo and his family peddling his beef to local stores by refrigerated truck. Coincidentally, DiFebo’s own great-grandfather Herbert Fosbinder also peddled meat, processed in his family-owned butcher shop in Martins Creek, Pennsylvania, by horse and carriage in the early 1900s.

Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation Literature Review and Critical Preservation Points

Concern for food safety has arisen over: (1) the public’s desire for variety and healthfulness that leads them to both non-traditional foods and non-traditional processes that may lack research into their safety and (2) the emergence of new foodborne diseases that challenge the safety of traditional food preservation methods. Bacteria, yeasts and molds find meat a suitable substrate for growth, resulting in meat quality and safety deterioration. Foodborne diseases are mostly of bacterial origin and meat has been implicated in roughly one third of the foodborne outbreaks in North America (Saucier 1999). The pathogenic microorganisms representing the greatest risk with meat and poultry borne diseases are Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., verotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Toxoplasma gondii (Saucier 1999). Consumers and home food preservers should be warned that microorganisms are ubiquitous in the environment and that pathogens may survive traditional and non-traditional food preservation techniques if they are improperly processed (Bruhn 1997).

5.1.1. Non-traditional foods and non-traditional processes

Today, consumers demand foods that are minimally processed, as "natural" as possible, and yet are convenient to use. Complicating these factors is a consumer preference toward cured and smoked foods that are processed with lower salt, lower nitrate and higher moisture levels. These parameters have a tremendous impact on the safety of a given cured/smoked food or process. Preferences for low fat and low sugar have less impact on the safety, but these factors can change the traditional curing and smoking process. It will be difficult to completely eliminate the use of nitrite, as there is no known substitute for it as a curing agent for meat. Nonetheless, the demand for fewer chemicals added to foods has put pressure on the industry and the scientific community to seek new alternatives.

In-home vacuum packaging machines have become popular in recent years. It is important to realize that in-home vacuum packaging is not a substitution for cooking or any form of food preservation, e.g., refrigeration, freezing, or curing (Andress 2001). In-home vacuum packaging can reduce the quality deterioration of foods catalyzed by oxygen, such as rancidity. Many food spoilage and food poisoning organisms require oxygen for growth and would also be inhibited by this process. However, the most deadly food poisoning organism, Clostridium botulinum requires a low oxygen atmosphere and therefore, vacuum packaging favors its growth (Andress 2001). In cured meats, careful attention must be paid to proper use of nitrates/nitrites that inhibit Clostridium botulinum prior to use of in-home vacuum packagers. To further reduce the risk of botulism after vacuum packaging, properly refrigerate the cured/smoked meats. Under normal processing, freezing of salt-cured meats is not recommended, due to oxidative rancidity that affects the quality and flavor of the product.

5.1.2. Emergence of new foodborne diseases

More than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food (Mead et al. 2000). The causes include viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Many of the pathogens causing foodborne illness were not recognized 20 years ago (Mead et al. 2000). Major emerging pathogens include Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Many emerging foodborne diseases can cause chronic and serious health problems (Mead et al. 2000).

5.2. Food Poisoning Organisms

Microorganisms are ubiquitous in foods. Some can be present and harmless. Others can be present and produce chemicals that alter the acceptability of the food, hence food spoilage. Lastly, microorganisms can be present where they themselves or the products they produce can cause food poisoning. Details on pathogenic organisms mentioned below can be found in the FDA Bad Bug Book (US FDA 1992).

5.2.1. Botulism

The majority (65%) of botulism cases are a result of inadequate home food processing or preservation (CDC 1998). Botulism results from ingestion of a toxin produced by the bacterium C. botulinum. This bacterium requires a moist, oxygen-free environment, low acidity (pH greater than 4.6) and temperatures in the danger zone (38-140°F) to grow and produce toxin. C. botulinum forms heat resistant spores that can become dangerous if allowed to germinate, grow, and produce toxin. Sufficient heat can be used to inactivate the toxin (180°F for 4 min., Kendall 1999). C. botulinum thrives in moist foods that are low in salt (less than 10%), particularly when they are stored at temperatures above 38°F. These organisms will not grow in an aerobic environment, but other aerobic organisms in a closed system can rapidly convert an aerobic environment to an anaerobic environment by using the oxygen for their own growth, permitting growth of C. botulinum.

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Botulism in the United States , 1899 - 1996 (CDC 1998).
  2. Potential Hazards in Cold Smoked Fish: Clostridium botulinum type E . (US FDA 2001c).
  3. Botulism (Kendall 1999).

5.2.2. Clostridium perfringens

Spores of some strains of Clostridium perfringens are so heat resistant that they survive boiling for four or more hours. Furthermore, cooking drives off oxygen, kills competitive organisms, and heat-shocks the spores, all of which promote germination to vegetative or growing cells. Once the spores have germinated, a warm, moist, protein-rich environment with little or no oxygen is necessary for growth. If such conditions exist (i.e., incorrectly holding meats at warm room temperature for smoking), sufficient numbers of vegetative cells may be produced to cause illness upon ingestion of the contaminated meat product.

5.2.3. Listeria monocytogenes

L. monocytogenes has been found in fermented raw-meat sausages, raw and cooked poultry, raw meats (all types), and raw and smoked fish. Its ability to grow at temperatures as low as 3°C, permits multiplication in refrigerated foods. The organism grows in the pH range of 5.0 to 9.5 and is resistant to freezing. It is salt tolerant and relatively resistant to drying, but easily destroyed by heat. (It grows between 34 - 113°F).

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Potential Hazards in Cold Smoked Fish: Listeria monocytogenes (US FDA 2001c).

5.2.4. E. coli O157:H7

Ground beef is the food most associated with E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks, but smoked and cured foods also have been implicated, including dry-cured salami, game meat, and homemade venison jerky. Studies have shown that E. coli O157:H7 can survive the typical dry fermentation processing conditions (Tilden and others 1996) E. coli O157:H7's tolerance of acidic conditions has also been reported in the processing of other foods such as apple cider and mayonnaise. These findings led to significant changes in the food industry and in the manufacturing of dry fermented sausage in the U.S. In August 1995, USDA/FSIS recommended using a heat process (145°F for 4 minutes) to inhibit E. coli O157:H7 growth in sausage (USDA FSIS 1995).

5.2.5. Trichinosis

Details on trichinosis can be found in a publication by the National Pork Producers Council (Gamble) and on trichinosis statistics in the USA (CDC 1988). Trichinosis is an infestation of trichinae, or Trichinella spiralis or other Trichinella spp. The parasites invade the muscles causing severe pain and edema. It can be avoided by ensuring that cooked pork or certain wild game meat reaches an internal temperature of 150°F or more. Freezing the pork according to the following chart also can kill trichinae:

Table 5.1. Freezing Pork to Kill Trichinae
Freezer Temperature Group 1 Days Group 2 Days
5°F 20 30
-10°F 10 20
-20°F 6 12
Group 1 comprises product in separate pieces not exceeding 6" in thickness or arranged on separate racks with the layers not exceeding 6" in depth. Group 2 comprises product in pieces, layers or within containers the thickness of which exceeds 6" but not 27" (US FDA 1999).

Although the incidence of trichinosis has decreased markedly from 300 to 400 cases annually in the 1940's to less than 90 cases per year in the early 1980's, this disease remains a problem in the United States. According to USDA recommendations, T. spiralis in pork is rendered non-viable if held at 5°F, a temperature achievable in noncommercial freezers, for 20 days. However, meat from wild game, such as polar bear or walrus meat that has been infected with T. spiralis, remains infective even after 24 months of storage at 0°F. The difference in susceptibility may be caused by different strains of T. spiralis found in domestic versus wild animals. Adequate cooking (170°F. internally), well above the thermal death point of the organism (137°F), remains the best safeguard against trichinosis in game meats (CDC 1985).

5.2.6. Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus is more salt-tolerant than most other bacteria. It is naturally present on human skin. Some species of Staphylococcus produce toxins that cause food poisoning. So, handling of cured meats with unwashed hands, followed by holding the food at warm temperatures (>40°F), can result in bacterial growth and toxin formation. While temperatures of 120ºF can kill the bacterium itself, its toxin is heat resistant therefore, it is important to keep the Staphylococcus organism from growing in foods. Use proper food handling practices to avoid contact with potentially contaminated surfaces and materials. Keep food either hot (above 140°F) or cold (below 40°F) during serving time, and as quickly as possible, refrigerate or freeze leftovers and foods to be served later. Staphylococcus aureus is destroyed by cooking and other thermal processing, but can be reintroduced via mishandling the bacteria can then produce a toxin that is not destroyed by further cooking. Dry curing may or may not destroy S. aureus, but the high salt content on the exterior of dry cured meats inhibits these bacteria. When the dry cured meat is sliced, the moist, lower salt interior will permit staphylococcal multiplication.

5.2.7. Salmonella

Salmonella outbreaks have been recorded for raw meats, poultry, and fish and beef jerky. Salmonella bacteria thrive at temperatures between 40-140°F. They are readily destroyed by cooking to 165°F and do not grow at refrigerator or freezer temperatures. They do survive refrigeration and freezing, however, and will begin to grow again once warmed to room temperature.

5.2.8. Campylobacter

Raw chicken is a primary source of this organism, which grows best in a reduced oxygen environment. It is easily killed by heat (120°F), is inhibited by acid, salt and drying, and will not multiply at temperatures below 85°F. Campylobacter is the leading bacterial cause of diarrhea in the U.S.

5.2.9. Vibrio

Infections with this organism have been associated with the consumption of raw, improperly cooked, or cooked and recontaminated fish and shellfish. A correlation exists between the probability of infection and warmer months of the year. Improper refrigeration of seafood contaminated with this organism will allow its proliferation, increasing the possibility of infection. People with liver disease are particularly at risk for infection caused by undercooked seafood containing V. vulnificus (US FDA CFSAN 1998).

5.2.10. Parasites (other than Trichinella)

Anisakis simplex parasites are known to occur frequently in the flesh of cod, haddock, fluke, pacific salmon, herring, flounder, and monkfish. However, only 10 reported cases annually in the U.S. are attributed to them. Diphyllobothrium latum and Nanophyetus spp. parasites are known to occur frequently in the flesh of fish. Foodborne illnesses attributed to them are few in number. Sufficient cooking of foods would destroy the parasites.

In the Great Lakes region of the U. S., the Broad Fish Tapeworm has resulted in food poisoning outbreaks related to pickled pike. The larvae pass through small fish until they hatch as small worms in larger fish. If consumed at this stage by humans the worms can grow in the intestines (Schafer 1990). Sufficient cooking of foods would destroy the parasites.

5.2.11. Viruses

Shellfish are the food most often implicated foods in outbreaks of viruses such as Norwalk and Hepatitis A. Ingestion of raw or insufficiently steamed clams and oysters poses a high risk for infection with viruses. Sufficient cooking of foods would destroy the viruses.

5.3. Inhibition of Pathogens in Cured Meats

Salt and nitrates or nitrites are the primary chemicals that are responsible for the inhibition of pathogen growth when curing meats. Adding to that, pH and temperature (below 40°F or above 140°F), these factors can act in concert to prohibit the growth of pathogens in these foods. Table 5.3. indicates some extreme parameters for growth of pathogens.

Table 5.3. Critical Parameters for growth of some Pathogens (Corlett Jr 1998).
Organism min. pH max. % salt min. temp. oxygen req.
Campylobacter 4.9 2 86°F MA 1
Clostridium 4.7 10 38°F AN 2
E. coli 3.6 8 33°F FA 3
Listeria 4.8 12 32°F FA
Salmonella 4.0 8 41°F FA
Staphylococcus 4.0 20 41°F FA
Vibrio 3.6 10 41°F FA
1 MA=microaerophilic requires limited levels of oxygen 2 AN=anaerobic, requires the absence of oxygen and 3 FA=facultative anaerobic, can grow either with or without oxygen.

5.4. Cured / Smoked Food Poisoning

5.4.1. Ham

Trichinella, Staphylococcus, and molds are the microorganisms most associated with ham. All ham should be processed to specifically kill trichinae (USDA FSIS 1995c). Staphylococcus aureus, which is salt tolerant, can survive the high salt levels of the ham surface. Once the ham is sliced, S. aureus can grow on the interior tissues where there is a lower salt concentration. Therefore, the USDA-FSIS recommends that all sliced ham be refrigerated (USDA FSIS 1995c). Molds can grow on the ham surface, especially on country-cured hams. The USDA-FSIS recommends that you wash the ham free of the mold with a stiff vegetable brush and that consumption of the ham is safe (USDA FSIS 1995c). We were unable to find any studies of aflatoxin formation with molds associated with hams.

    For more information:
  1. Outbreak of Type E Botulism associated with home-cured Ham Consumption (Rosetti et al. 1999).
  2. Tainted ham suspected in deadly bacteria outbreak (Associated Press 1997).
  3. Outbreak of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning Associated with Precooked Ham -- Florida, 1997 (CDC 1997b).

5.4.1. Bacon

Like other cured products, Listeria monocytogenes has been responsible for a number of recalls of ready-to-eat bacon, e.g., State of Ohio Department of Agriculture Recall Announcement (ODA/ODH) 99 05a. Packages stored at room temperature sampled positive for the pathogen.

5.4.2. Beef

Pastrami made in a small Idaho commercial firm tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes in July 2000. No reports of food poisonings were recorded, but the products were recalled (USDA FSIS 2000a). Corned beef samples also tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes from a Michigan commercial firm (USDA FSIS 2000b). Corned beef was cooked and temperature abused at a deli in Ohio resulting in an outbreak of C. perfringens food poisoning (CDC 1994).

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Clostridium perfringens Gastroenteritis Associated with Corned Beef Served at St. Patrick's Day Meals -- Ohio and Virginia, 1993 (CDC 1994).

5.4.3. Poultry

Much of the reports of food poisoning and recalls of poultry products for have been with commercial ready to eat products, such as chicken or turkey lunchmeats.

5.4.4. Fish

Listeria monocytogenes has been found in commercial samples of cold smoked fish leading to product recalls in New York (Cold smoked sea bass FDA Recall No.F-313-1) and Seattle, WA (Cold smoked salmon FDA Recall #F-265-1). These recalls demonstrate that even with HACCP and careful plant sanitation, commercial processors have contamination incidences in their cold smoked fish processes. In New York, fish sausage was recalled because laboratory analysis found pH (acidity), salt and water activity levels in the product were such that they could potentially permit Clostridium botulinum to develop and produce the toxin (NY State Agriculture Commissioner 2000).

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Uneviscerated Fish Products that are Salt cured, Dried, or Smoked (US FDA 2000).
  2. International Outbreak of Type E Botulism Associated With Ungutted, Salted Whitefish (CDC 1987).
  3. Vibrio parahaemolyticus Infections Associated with Eating Raw Oysters -- Pacific Northwest, 1997 (C.D.C. 1997c).
  4. Vibrio vulnificans (US FDA CFSAN 1998).
  5. Processing Parameters Needed to Control Pathogens in Cold Smoked Fish (US FDA 2001c).

5.4.5. Sausage

Recent concern about the safety of sausages has been in the semi-dry fermented sausages, such as summer sausage. E. coli O157:H7 has been found to survive the acidity of these products (Corlett 1998). Some commercial, ready-to-eat sausages and luncheon meats have been implicated in Listeria monocytogenes growth and outbreaks. Additional concerns with trichinae may occur in any pork sausage.

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Pennsylvania Firm Recalls Lebanon Bologna Nationwide (Lombardi and Redding 1995).
  2. Illness outbreak associated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Genoa salami (William and others 2000).
  3. A new route of transmission for Escherichia coli: infection from dry fermented salami (Tilden and others 1996).
  4. Interim Guidelines for the Control of Verotoxinogenic Escherichia coli Including E. coli O157:H7 in Ready to Eat Fermented Sausages Containing Beef or a Beef Product as an Ingredient: Guideline no. 12 (Health Products and Food Branch - Canada 2000).
  5. Escherichia coli O157:H7 Outbreak Linked to Commercially Distributed Dry-Cured Salami -- Washington and California, 1994 (CDC 1994).

5.4.6. Game

Precaution should be used since venison, bear, elk, wild boar, wild turkey, rabbit and other game animals are usually field dressed in unknown sanitary conditions or kept from immediate refrigeration. Two areas of special interest should be noted: (1) E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in game sausage and jerky, and (2) Trichinosis in game meats from northern U.S. areas (Zarnke and others 1997). Several outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 have occurred in venison jerky (USDA FSIS 1998).

T. nativa is an Alaskan, Canadian, and Arctic strain of Trichinella that is freeze-resistant. Unlike pork, freezing arctic meat will not kill larval cysts. Wild game, e.g., bear or walrus meat, is safe once the entire piece is completely cooked. USDA recommends attaining an internal temperature of at least 170°F (CDC 1985). Since cooking may be uneven, microwaving of game meats is not recommended, (Zarnke and others 1997).

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Five Cases of Trichinosis - Why Bear Meat Must Be Thoroughly Cooked (State of Alaska Epidemiology 2000).
  2. E. coli Cases Associated with Wild Game Pepperoni (Idaho Central District Health Department 1999).
  3. An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections traced to jerky made from deer meat (Oregon Health Division 1997).

5.5. Cured/Smoked Food Spoilage

Not all microbial growth leads to food poisoning. Indeed, many organisms simply spoil cured and smoked foods making them unpalatable. Keep in mind that it is a general rule that if conditions exist to allow growth of spoilage organisms, these same conditions can allow for the growth of food poisoning organisms. Good judgment should prevail.

5.5.1. Lactic Acid Bacteria

Lactic acid bacteria are frequent spoilage organisms on cured/smoked meats. They are tolerant of some of the conditions in the curing/smoking process or are contaminates after processing. They grow slowly, but eventually spoil the food by producing organic acids.

5.5.2. Mold and Cured Meats

Moldy cured or smoked meat is a controversial topic. Very often country hams will have a moldy surface. Currently the USDA FSIS recommends cleaning the mold and soaking the ham in water to refresh it is a safe procedure (USDA FSIS 1995c). Other suggestions are to wash the ham in acetic acid (acetic acid [email protected] 10% in water Marriott and Graham 2000).

5.5.3. Greening of Cured/Smoked Meats

Lactobacillus viridescens, or similar bacteria that produce hydrogen peroxide may cause greening in meats. The H2O2 reacts with myoglobin to produce a green sheen pigment. The meat, while less appealing, is not dangerous to consume.

5.5.4. Slime Producers

Some Micrococcus spp. and other bacteria are capable of producing slime on the surface of hams, bacon, and sausages.

5.5.5. Gas Producers

Some organisms can produce gas pockets inside cured and/or smoked meats.

5.5.6. Rancid Flavors in Home Cured Pork

Salt increases oxidation during long cures and can lead to a rancid flavor. Prolonged frozen storage may also contribute to oxidation leading to rancid flavors. Many consumers prefer these flavors. For those that do not, shorter curing and aging times should be considered (Marriott and Graham 2000).


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