Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Congratulations Better Nutrition Magazine!

She's looking pret-ty spry for 75!

And by "she" I am referring to my editorial alma mater, Better Nutrition magazine, where I proudly served as editor in chief from 1995 to 2002, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary beginning with the August 2013 issue.

Better Nutrition has always stayed true to its mission and has constantly worked very hard to never let down its readers. It has a unique and trustworthy way of getting into people’s hands, too, via consumers’ favorite health-food stores.

James Gormley's "Earth Watch" column in 1995
The magazine has never been afraid to be out first on issues of great importance to its readers, whether breaking an environmental health story about the dangers of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository (‘Physicists warn: nuclear waste-site dangers exist,’ September 1995), or a commentary on nutritional genocide (‘Iodine deficiency in China --- a crucial lesson for the U.S.’, August 1996), or an editorial in total support of St. John’s wort when most media outlets were publishing unfounded hit pieces (‘St. John’s wort is safe,’ June 2000).

With its editorials and its articles, Better Nutrition also helped re-popularize integrative medicine in the U.S. and was on the vanguard of the successful fight (between 1997 and 1998) to force the USDA to propose new USDA Organic standards that adhered to the right principles. 

The magazine has also never shied away from publicly defending the science and safety behind dietary supplements, whether in testimony I had an opportunity to deliver at the New York City Council ephedra hearings in 2000 or when I had a chance to "take on" pharma industry attorneys on FOX-TV’s ‘Good Day New York.’

Better Nutrition was the first health and nutrition magazine to commit to a rigorous focus on science in all of its reporting, an approach that was later emulated by other magazines. In addition, the magazine has been part of a movement that changed the nation’s mind-set from ‘5-a-day’ and mainstream ‘healthcare’ to optimal nutrition and integrative health.

The magazine has also never been afraid of getting personal, either, whether the topics were fear, the inspiration of Patch Adams, happiness, hope or thankfulness. In fact, readers have consistently shown their appreciation for Better Nutrition articles that inspired them, encouraged them or gave them hope.

James Gormley's "Editor's Desk", 1999
In January 2000, Better Nutrition printed a letter from Ronee Groff, president of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of New Jersey, who wrote in about my December 1999 editorial, ‘Pass the squash, hold the fear: Meditations on racoons and a fear-free holiday season.’ She pointed out in her letter how fear, anxiety, worry and apprehension are a great part of the lives of people who are struggling with learning disorders. She wrote: ‘We believe it [the commentary] to be a wonderful piece, and we would love to communicate your words to those we believe would enjoy, and receive some strength from, the message.’

In July 2001, a reader from Mission Hills, Kansas, send in a card about the February 2001 commentary, which was entitled, ‘Never stop dreaming.’ His card, which I have kept on my own bulletin board for the last 12 years, reads: ‘I want to congratulate you on a most wonderful editorial, ‘Never stop dreaming.’ It is kept at my desk as a reminder to stop and look up. Thank you for putting a simple thought into words.’ ”
James Gormley's "Editor's Desk," 2001

Better Nutrition gave me the chance to learn quite a lot about nutrition: where we are, where we should be, and what can help get us there nutritionally. I’ve had such amazing opportunities, too, to learn and grow, including a press trip to China in 2001, a life-changing experince that I will never forget.

I have met so many caring and committed health-food retailers over the years, people who are truly on the front lines of health freedom. 

It’s given me the chance to learn about the regulations which support our right to high-quality, high-potency and innovative dietary supplements and about the political and economic forces which are taking aim at those rights, one of the reasons I decided to write Health at Gunpoint.

I am thankful to editor-in-chief of Better Nutrition today, Nicole Brechka, who gave a shout-out to me in the anniversary issue's editorial and to Vera Tweed in her history of the natural products industry this same issue.
Vera Tweed, Better NutritionAugust 2013

From the bottom of my heart, I wish Better Nutrition another 75 groundbreaking, conscious-raising years of commitment and service to American consumers and the health-food stores where they shop!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New York City: A Nanny State of Mind?

By James J. Gormley

If New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has his way, many more people will be passing out in 100-plus-degree stairwells, since his latest initiative promotes taking the stairs over riding elevators in New York City buildings.

Mind you, while taking the stairs would theoretically be much better for cardiovascular health if air-conditioned or well-ventilated, well-lit, and safe, the problem is that, in New York City at least, many of them are not.

In fact, at the July 17th press conference announcing this new initiative, New York City’s own health commissioner, Thomas Farley, admitted: “In too many buildings, the stairs are hard to find, kept locked, armed with alarms, or dark and windowless–making people afraid to use them.”

Aside from this, with the average high-rise height of 12-to-40 floors and the average apartment-building height of six stories---and considering that these dark, un-ventilated passageways can reach temperatures well over 100 degrees in the summer---it doesn’t help things when we consider that they are also dangerous.

As Donnel Baird noted in a July edition of the New York Times, “If cops are on the street, crime moves into the stairwells.”

Now while Bloomberg in not forcing people to take the stairs yet, just give him time.

Look at his recent herculean efforts to impose a ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces (which doesn’t apply to some convenience stores or all supermarkets, and people can just buy extra drinks anyway).

On the website, Above the Law (, back on March 11, 2013, Elie Mystal wrote: “In case you haven’t been following along with developments inside Mike Bloomberg’s […] nanny state, last year our elected tyrant outlawed the sale of soda in sizes over 16 ounces at movie theaters and other public places. The mayor felt that nobody needed more than 16 ounces of soda in one sitting, notwithstanding the fact that nobody asked him what my mother thinks.”

Fortunately New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling overturned the ban in March, stating  that “[The city] is enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations.” He added: “[The regulations are] fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences. The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole. The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule.”

In other words, even this were not an outrageous violation of freedom of choice and consumer rights, this law would still be a complete joke.

He specifically wrote that “to accept [Mayor Bloomberg’s] interpretation of the authority granted to the Board by the New York City Charter would leave its authority to define, create, mandate and enforce limited only by its own imagination.”

The judge went on to note that the Portion Cap Rule, if upheld, “would create an administrative Leviathan and violate the separation of powers doctrine. The Rule would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it. Such evisceration has the potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages.”

As Mystal correctly opines, “I’ve been living under Bloomberg for so long I forgot that ‘so let it be written, so let it be done’ is not a sufficient state interest for the curtailing of individual liberties.”

As Mystal adds, you cannot legislate good health or portion control, and I agree with him and others that it is the height of arrogance to presume to do so.

That is not stopping Bloomberg spending millions of our-tax-dollar-paid NYC Corporation Counsel attorneys from pursuing this mad quest to the NY State appeals court.

In a June 6th, 2013 Associated Press article published on the Huffington Post, David B. Caruso wrote: “Justice David Friedman said the city appeared to be asking for unprecedented authority to regulate all sorts of portion sizes, including ‘the number of doughnuts a person could eat, the number of scoops of ice cream’ and number of servings of fried chicken.”

Unlikely as it is for me to agree with the American Beverage Association, I do in this case. According to Caruso’s article, Richard Bress, an attorney for the association, “challenged the regulation acknowledged that too much sugar can be unhealthy, but he told the court the regulation was ‘a breathtaking example of agency overreach.’ "

Bress correctly told Caruso that the city’s proposal appeared to be based more on politics than science. He pointed out, for example, that no limits would be set for calorie-gargantuan milk shakes.

Meanwhile, the appeals court has not yet set a date for its decision.

Gormley Take-Away: Whether it is the FDA saying people shouldn’t have access to raw milk (because they don’t like it, apparently), or California making almost every product or material in the state labeled with a nonsensical Prop 65 warning that “this might cause cancer,” or whether it is bureaucrats like Michael Bloomberg wagging his finger at us and telling us he will decide what’s best for us and any semblance of separation of powers or consumer rights be damned, common sense cannot be regulated and consumer choice---and citizens’ rights---must be protected at all cost. What if early American decided it didn’t like religious freedom and preferred living under the domination of oppressive rule from afar? I probably wouldn’t have the freedom to question intolerably bad policies and laws and regulations like these, and you wouldn’t have the freedom to read this blog and any other articles or books questioning them either. My suggestion: use your power at the voting booth to kick out those who would create or perpetuate Nanny State, Big Government regimes and elect those who will fight for liberty, justice and health-freedom.
The Gormley Files - Blogged