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freedom of speech limited about food

Does Free Speech About Beef Only Apply To Oprah?

When Oprah Winfrey defiantly stood on Amarillo’s courthouse steps and declared “Free speech rocks!” many in the industry quietly wondered if that applied to everyone. Now it appears a court in North Carolina will answer that question.

Nutritionists and dietitians in North Carolina are suing a blogger over his claims that beef is a health food. More on that later. First, let’s look at the facts.

Let’s start with the 29 lean cuts of beef. According to beefitswhatsfordinner.com, “All lean beef cuts have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5-oz. cooked serving.”

Next, let’s talk nutrients. Beef offers 10 essential nutrients such as iron, choline, protein, selenium, B vitamins, zinc, phosphorous, niacin and riboflavin. A 3-oz. serving of lean beef provides 25 g (about half) of the daily value for protein. How about a study proving that beef is good [3] for the heart?

“In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from Penn State University found that people who participated in the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) study, consuming lean beef daily [4] as part of a heart-healthy diet, experienced a 10% decline in LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol,” cites the beefitswhatsfordinner.com website.

What about healthy fats? According to Men’s Health [5], “Most people consider turkey, chicken, and fish healthy, yet think they should avoid red meat – or only choose very lean cuts – since they've always been told that it's high in saturated fat.

“But there are two problems in that thinking. The first problem is that almost half of the fat in beef is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid – the same heart-healthy fat [6]that's found in olive oil. Second, most of the saturated fat in beef actually decreases your heart-disease risk – either by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, or by reducing your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol.

“And besides being one of the most available sources of high-quality protein, beef also provides many important nutrients such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins. So the idea that beef [7] is bad for you couldn't be further from the truth.”

Finally, beef tastes good! Plus beef is a filling protein that helps keep us full and fueled to take part in active lifestyles. Just look at all of the Team Beef members competing in athletic events across the country. They are all powered by beef!

Beef is a health food [8], and I’m not afraid to say it. As a blogger, it’s understood that I provide my opinions. I don’t have any qualifications to write about nutrition. I’m not a doctor, nurse, nutritionist or dietician. I can only share my experiences with how eating beef has helped me compete in Team Beef races and lose weight. Other than that, I’m just another average Joe writing about beef, something I love.

Let me repeat: Beef is a health food, and I’m not afraid to say it. But perhaps I should be.

An ongoing lawsuit in North Carolina squares a nutrition blogger, Steve Cooksey, against the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. When Cooksey started blogging about losing weight and curing his diabetes with the Paleo Diet, and encouraging others to follow suit, the board took legal action against the blogger.

 

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Cooksey responded by including disclaimers on his blog that he wasn’t a doctor or nutritionist. The advice he offered was simply based from his own personal dietary success. The case has gone from the board wanting individuals to respect registered dieticians and to follow standard government dietary guidelines, to the counter argument of free speech.

It’s a troubling case for anyone in the cattle industry who wishes to promote the beef we produce. Men’s Health magazine asks the question, “Should giving diet advice be against the law?” You can read the play-by-play of the case here. [10]

Depending on how the case is resolved, we have to ask ourselves a few questions: Is it okay for a National Beef Ambassador to serve jerky samples at the Boston Marathon and talk about the healthfulness of beef [11]? Is it okay for a Team Beef runner [12] to promote beef as a part of their healthy diet? Is it okay for me, or other bloggers, to write about the health benefits of beef? Is it okay for someone to post on Facebook or Twitter about how they lost weight on a protein-based (beef) diet?

The answer could be no to all these questions if the courts decide it’s not okay to talk about diet, as it could be perceived as advice. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I need to rely on the government to tell me how to eat. With more people struggling from obesity, obviously the quest for health [13] is still elusive, so who is to say who is right and who is wrong? I believe individuals should be entitled to choose freely and discuss those choices freely as well, without fear of prosecution. Then again, that’s how I feel about the ranching business, too. Let me do my own thing. We’ll take care of ourselves.

How do you feel on this topic? Is this a free speech case or an infringement on government and medical rights? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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