Girl, 2, defends her choice of doll to cashier

(CNN)When 2-year-old Sophia was told she could pick out a prize for finishing her potty training, she knew just what she wanted.

She and her mother, Brandi Benner, visited a Target near their South Carolina home, where Sophia spent 20 minutes looking at all the dolls in the toy aisle.
“She kept going back to the doctor doll, because in her mind, she is already a doctor,” Benner said. “She loves giving checkups, and if you come in the house, she’ll tell you that’s the first thing you need.”
    Sophia, who will be 3 in July,was so excited by her choice that she wouldn’t let go of her new doll until they reached the register to check out.
    Did we mention that the doll is black and Sophia is white?
    The issue came up right away, when a store cashier asked Sophia: Wouldn’t she rather have a doll that looked like her?
    According to her mother, Sophia had a ready answer.
    “She does (look like me)!” the toddler responded. “She’s a doctor; I’m a doctor. She is a pretty girl; I am a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? See her stethoscope?”
    Benner credits the TV cartoon “Doc McStuffins” with teaching Sophia the word “stethoscope.” But she credits Sophia for knowing what is important: The doll’s skin tone didn’t matter. To Sophia, she and the doll share the same aspirations.
    Benner was relieved she didn’t have to defend her daughter’s choice and glad that Sophia wasn’t fazed by the cashier’s question.
    “If she was another child, that could have discouraged her,” Benner said.

    Nick and I told Sophia that after 1 whole month of going poop on the potty, she could pick out a special prize at Target. She, of course, picked a new doll. The obsession is real. While we were checking out, the cashier asked Sophia if she was going to a birthday party. We both gave her a blank stare. She then pointed to the doll and asked Sophia if she picked her out for a friend. Sophia continued to stare blankly and I let the cashier know that she was a prize for Sophia being fully potty trained. The woman gave me a puzzled look and turned to Sophia and asked, "Are you sure this is the doll you want, honey?" Sophia finally found her voice and said, "Yes, please!" The cashier replied, "But she doesn't look like you. We have lots of other dolls that look more like you." I immediately became angry, but before I could say anything, Sophia responded with, "Yes, she does. She's a doctor like I'm a doctor. And I'm a pretty girl and she's a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?" Thankfully the cashier decided to drop the issue and just answer, "Oh, that's nice." This experience just confirmed my belief that we aren't born with the idea that color matters. Skin comes in different colors just like hair and eyes and every shade is beautiful. #itswhatsontheinsidethatcounts #allskinisbeautiful #teachlove #teachdiversity #thenextgenerationiswatching

    A post shared by Brandi Benner (@leilani324) on

    Benner posted an account of their experience Friday to her personal Facebook page. It’s been shared more than 140,000 times and attracted more than 19,000 comments. Most of them have been supportive messages from other mothers or people with similar experiences.
    The few negative ones don’t bother her.
    “I just want to teach my kids love, and that’s included in my own actions,” Benner said, explaining why she doesn’t engage with negative commenters.
    Research suggests that kids aren’t born with biases about race and gender.
    But Sophia doesn’t know about all that. She just knows that everywhere she goes, she wants her doctor doll to come along.

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    So Coconut Oil Is Actually Really, Really Bad For You

    Youd be hard pressed to find someone who doesnt like coconuts. They are furry spheres of deliciousness, after all. Coconut water though is pointless it doesnt have any clear health benefits and its just a saltier version of normal water.

    Then theres coconut oil. Its the latest cooking fad, and people all over the Web are claiming that its much healthier than any other oil out there. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, coco-nutcases, but according to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is just as unhealthy as butter and beef dripping.

    According to a key advisory notice published in the journal Circulation one which looks at all kinds of fats and their links to cardiovascular disease coconut oil is packed with saturated fats. In fact, 82 percent of coconut oil is comprised of saturated fats, far more than in regular butter (63), olive oil (14), peanut oil (17), and sunflower oil (10).

    Saturated fat, unlike others, can raise the amount of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, which increases your risk of contracting heart disease in the future. It can be found in butter and lard, cakes, biscuits, fatty meats, cheese, and cream, among other things including coconut oil.

    A recent survey reported that 72 percent of the American public rated coconut oil as a healthy food compared with 37 percent of nutritionists, the AHAs review notes. This disconnect between lay and expert opinion can be attributed to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press.

    A meta-analysis of a suite of experiments have conclusively shown that butter and coconut oil, in terms of raising the amount of bad cholesterol in your body, are just as bad as each other.

    Because coconut oil increases [bad] cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil, the AHA conclude. In essence, there is nothing to gain and everything to lose by using coconut oil in cooking.

    STOP. Do not do this. Africa Studio/Shutterstock

    If you already have high bad cholesterol levels, then coconut oil is potentially quite dangerous to consume or use in acts of culinary creations. Swapping it out for olive oil, according to the AHA, will reduce your cholesterol levels as much as cutting-edge, cholesterol-lowering drugs.

    So next time you see anyone claiming that coconut oil is good for you or that its pro-health and anti-everything bad! you can confidently tell them that theyre spouting bullshit.

    Its important to remember though that a little bit of fat is definitely good for you, as fatty acids are essential for proper absorption of vitamins. Unsaturated fats are generally thought to be quite good for you in this regard; you can find them in avocados, fish oil, nuts, and seeds.

    [H/T: BBC News]

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    Artist Replaces Billboards with Photos of the Landscapes Theyre Blocking

    Art Installation by Jennifer Bolande for Desert X
    Photograph by Lance Gerber Studio

    Visible Distance / Second Sight is an art installation by Jennifer Bolande for DesertX. The temporary artwork can be found along the Gene Autry Trail near Vista Chino (33°50’41.70â€N 116°30’21.02â€W), where a series of consecutive billboards have been replaced by perfectly aligned photos of the landscapes they are blocking.

    From the DesertX project page:

    Each photograph is unique to its position along this route and at a certain point as one approaches each billboard, perfect alignment with the horizon will occur thus reconnecting the space that the rectangle of the billboard has interrupted.
    In the language of billboard advertising this kind of reading is referred to as a Burma-Shave after the shaving cream company of the same name who used sequential placement to create messaging that could be read only from a moving vehicle.
    Within the desert empire of roadside signs, Bolande chooses to advertise the very thing so often overlooked. Looking up at the billboards our attention is drawn back to the landscape itself, pictured here as a stuttering kinesthetic of real and artificial horizons.

    From Feb. 25 through April 30, 2017, the Coachella Valley and its desert landscape will become the canvas for a curated exhibition of site-specific work by established and emerging artists, whose projects will amplify and articulate global and local issues that may range from climate change to starry skies, from tribal culture and immigration to tourism, gaming, and golf.

    The art works, in various indoor and outdoor locations, will be available free and will offer visitors a way to see the valley and reflect on serious and playful issues through the lens of the participating artists’ creativity and work.

    For all information visit

    [via designboom]

    Art Installation by Jennifer Bolande for Desert X
    Photograph by Lance Gerber Studio
    Art Installation by Jennifer Bolande for Desert X
    Photograph by Lance Gerber Studio
    Art Installation by Jennifer Bolande for Desert X
    Photograph by Lance Gerber Studio
    Art Installation by Jennifer Bolande for Desert X
    Photograph by Lance Gerber Studio

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    30 Reasons To Leave Your Hometown Before You Turn 25


    Moving away from home in my early 20s has helped me become stronger, more aware, and most of all, more thankful. This article is intended to help illustrate how and why I think its a good idea to leave your hometown at a young age.

    Ive made some pretty good decisions in my life. I can confidently admit that. Ive done a lot of things in my life that Im happy about. There are a lot of times I can reflect back on and genuinely be glad that I made a certain decision and it led me to where I am now.

    For example, Im genuinely glad that I worked hard in school and that I was receptive to my parents when they were telling me education was important. Even though I didnt make straight As and often got into arguments with my parents about my grades (I thought a B was good enough), my good GPA allowed me to get into a good college and actually made me one of the first in my family to graduate with a four-year degree.

    Along with that, Im happy about the college I chose and made the friends that I did. I dont know where I would be without a lot of the people in my life, and I owe a lot of that to my 4 years spent at Duquesne University.

    However, up to this point, there is nothing I can be more thankful for than the fact that I moved 1,100 miles away right after college. This arguably has taught me more about life, myself, and others than anything else ever has. I wanted to share some of the things Ive learned along the way, which again is the intention of this article.

    I am writing this with two people in mind.

    Person 1

    The person who is currently living in their hometown without a real reason to stay there. Maybe you have considered moving away from home before, but something keeps holding you back. Youre not sure what it is. Maybe its the fear of the unknown, maybe you dont want to be lonely, maybe youre trying to be smart with money (I get it), or maybe its just the simple fact that you like where you are and dont want to leave.

    Person 2

    The person who actually has moved from home, has had a great experience, and can relate to some of the incredible things that happen as a result of trying something new.

    So, coming from somebody who was once Person 1 and now happily can consider himself in the Person 2 category, Ive come up with 30 reasons to illustrate why moving away from home was the best decision of my life to date.

    (Disclaimer: Before 25 years old was not meant to be exact. This list is true for many other ages. The main overarching point is that moving somewhere new at a relatively young age is really helpful starting out.)

    Here is the list, based on my personal experiences…

    1. You will learn what it means to be truly independent.

    You will learn what it takes to not rely on others for assistance with every little thing. Youll figure out what to do if your tire pops, when your air conditioner breaks, when you dont know what to cook for yourself without immediately relying on family and people you know. It feels good to figure things out on your own.

    2. Conversations are easy and interesting.

    People in your new city will find you interesting and ask about where youre from. Youll do the same for them and it will be fun to talk about similarities, differences, and past experiences.

    3. You arent tied down with commitments.

    If youre going to uproot your life and do something entirely different or risky, you might as well do it before having kids, a family, and multiple established reasons to stick around. When else will you get to do it?

    4. You can start completely fresh.

    If youre unhappy with your life at home, need a change, or made some mistakes, it can be hard to move forward. If you want to re-brand or re-invent yourself, moving away allows you to start over with a clean slate.

    5. Drake was wrong new friends.

    There is no such thing as not making new friends. Well there is, but its boring. There are plenty of ways to make new friends in a new city. After moving to Florida and seeing others do the same, I reflect back on how everybodys group of friends is now completely different from what it once was. And nobody has lost their original friends just gained new, great ones. Its always fun when your hometown friends come together with your new friends too, so it helps you look forward to those kinds of meetings as well. On top of that, I met a great girl who I likely wouldnt have met had I not come to Florida.

    6. Networking opportunities effortlessly happen.

    You will meet people that will change your life from a professional or personal standpoint. Ive met so many people in Florida that have helped me move up professionally as well as helped me develop spiritually. This will effortlessly happen when you move.

    7. New skills that wouldnt happen otherwise.

    Youll learn new skills by moving away from home. I got golf lessons in Florida, which is something I likely never would have done in my hometown. Also, I now know a ton about data analytics and all sorts of paid media, which may not have happened had I not made the leap.

    8. You hear different perspectives.

    Gaining new perspectives is a huge part of moving away from home. At home, you only know the perspective of people who had a very similar experience to yours. You all went to the same high school, knew the same people, went to the same places, and had the same favorite teams. You will meet people whose mindsets and backgrounds will inspire you and maybe even teach you something about yourself that you never unlocked before.

    9. Different weather.

    Moving from Pittsburgh to Tampa was shocking because I had never gotten so much Vitamin D in my life. Whether its moving from cloudy to sunny, rainy to dry, sunny to cold, you will find new weather which will lead to new things to do, and possibly even an appreciation for what you had experienced before.

    10. Different things to do.

    I used to always hang out with my same couple of friends, go to the same couple of bars, hang out at the same houses afterward, on the same days of the week, at the same times. And its always the same people at those bars, every time. I do such a variety of things now and its so much more interesting. Moving away from home may freak you out because your mind is trained that there are only a limited number of things to do. But when you leave, you realize that it is all dependent on your location, your friends, the weather, your job, and many other factors that will likely give you so many more options.

    11. Your parents already did their part.

    Not to be overly harsh, but if youre still living at your actual house, realize that your parents already did their job in raising you, and that you need to not only give yourself some freedom, but give them some as well. I understand easing into real life, but still living at home long after college is pretty drastic, even if it allows you to stack up money. Moving away from home will be good for you and your parents.

    12. Learning to survive with insecurities.

    There are times youll feel insecure. Walking into a social situation alone. Walking into a new job. Presenting at a business meeting to people older than you. Barely affording rent. Seeing people in better shape than you. But the beauty of it is that you learn to handle this and use it as motivation to get better. If you never experience being insecure and getting through it, youll have a harder time handling situations later in life.

    13. Greater confidence.

    From learning to deal with insecurities, you gain confidence. You start to realize after a while that youll get in a groove, start learning more, things will start clicking, and youll get better at things. You will have way more confidence knowing you made it there yourself. One day youll look around and realize wow, I have a nice place, a car I paid for by myself, and a whole group of friends in a new state. Its amazing to look back and realize how much youve grown.

    14. You discover new interests.

    You dont know what you dont know. Moving to a new place might introduce you to something you didnt know existed. I know people who have experienced moving away from home to different states and ended up going down paths they originally hadnt planned because they found something they were passionate about. Some are pursuing their dream jobs now. What is more fun than that?

    15. You learn to trust yourself.

    When youre in a new place, you often have no one else to rely on except yourself. Yes, there are people you can ask at work, you can phone a friend or family member at home, but sometimes you have to make big decisions on your own. One thing Ive learned is that I trust myself and my gut decisions more. That gut feeling is something I have a lot more faith in now and I usually know that the decision Im making will make sense.

    16. Growing closer to your family.

    I appreciate my family so much more when I look at my situation now and realize that I wouldnt have gotten here without them. They instilled me with a mindset that made me confident enough to move 1,100 miles away at age 22. They provided me with enough support to get me started. They helped get me through college. When you realize these things, and you dont see them as often, you make it a point to call them, see them, and get closer to them. It just happens.

    17. Youll view your hometown more positively.

    Sometimes I go over a year without going back home. But when I do go back home, I really appreciate the little things I thought were awful and boring before. For example, Florida (although beautiful) is very flat, and there are just palm trees and similar views everywhere. Now I go home and I really appreciate the basic things like the hills and different views I dont get here. My girlfriend, who grew up in Florida, has encouraged me to appreciate landscapes and views other than palm trees. When she came back to Pennsylvania with me for the first time, I was shocked as to why she thought it was all so beautiful, but now I understand. Its also nice to keep close with hometown friends and of course, family.

    18. More career opportunities.

    There are only so many jobs within reasonable traveling distance from you. Lets say you have a marketing degree and you live in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. There may be 300 jobs available, with 45 of them being in your experience range, with the maximum salary being $45K for the ones you qualify for. You could move to a different city and there could be 800 jobs available, with 160 of them in your experience range, with the maximum pay being $70K for one you could actually get. You could just be missing out on potentially great career opportunities and more money just because of your location and unwillingness to leave.

    19. You reflect more.

    Moving away from home teaches you to reflect and be alone with your thoughts, in a positive way. When youre in your hometown and youre constantly surrounded by people you grew up with and family members, you may not get a lot of time alone. Especially at home when your parents are asking you questions left and right. When you move away, you can get a one bedroom place and literally be alone for an entire day if you choose to be. With distractions being everywhere these days, it can be comforting and helpful to just get away and reflect.

    20. You learn to manage money.

    You have to. Ive lived in one bedroom apartments most of my time in Tampa and believe me it gets expensive. New situations means more things you want to do/try, which means more spending. Not to mention Im a caffeine freak (but trying to get better) so I spend at least $3 per day. Anyway, you learn to manage your money. You even learn how to get in a little bit of debt then get out of it which is always fun.

    21. You experience the feeling of accomplishment.

    This is similar to number 13 (gaining confidence), but with a heavy focus on reflection. It is so nice to look back on your situation, where you came from, and realize how far youve gotten. After 4 years I finally feel established in a new city/state and it is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and thankfulness. You will also get new jobs, reach new milestones, and achieve different things.

    22. Phones exist.

    You can easily call people, see what people are up to on social media, and text. Snapchat is basically real-time. You literally can be 1,100 miles away and know exactly what happened all weekend in your hometown. More often than not, your weekend ends up being more interesting.

    23. Traveling exists.

    When you move, if you really miss home that bad, or youre just going through a time where you are extra lonely for whatever reason, you can travel. Its never impossible to see people after moving away from home. Depending on where you move to, long weekends can even make sense. Its important to make the most of a long weekend every once in a while. I know people in Florida who travel home for almost every long weekend when theres a holiday on a Monday or Friday.

    24. Holidays become more exciting.

    Naturally, as you get older, holidays just arent the same as they were when you were younger. However, when you move away to a different city or state, they do get a lot more exciting when you finally get the chance to come home. Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter become times you look forward to more than ever before. They become reunions. They become so much more special because you havent seen people in so long. Similar to number 2 above, you have so much more to talk abut when you do go home.

    25. You will inspire others.

    One thing Ive found to be rewarding is that other people get inspired by your own experiences. Ive had friends move to Florida because of a visit with me. My brother saw me succeeding by moving away from home and ended up doing the same. I talk to people at home who say theyd love to try something new. Its good to set an example and inspire others.

    26. You have the ultimate freedom.

    I dont want to get this one confused with having personal independence. What I mean here is that you can make literally whatever decision you want. You can buy a car. You can get a dog. You can pursue a different field of work. You can make huge life decisions without dealing with the pressure of people around you. While typing this, I realized that a dog and a car were my two biggest purchases to date and Ive told my parents after the fact in both cases.

    27. You can make huge mistakes.

    Along with number 26, you can make massive mistakes and mess up your life temporarily. You can handle getting fired from a job, you can ruin a friendship, you can make a mistake in a social situation, or you can wreck your car. Making huge mistakes is fine because they will always work out and youll come out stronger on the other side. Moving away from home and having the ultimate freedom allows you to make bigger mistakes that allow you to learn bigger and more important lessons.

    28. Feel comfortable making drastic changes.

    You can shave your head. You can grow a long beard. You can start dressing a little differently. You can paint stripes on your car, or buy a car in a bright flashy color. You can start rooting for Florida State football (youre welcome Kelly). The point is moving from home allows you to feel comfortable reinventing yourself and just trying things out for fun. You may not even do anything drastic, but there is something cool about knowing you can, and you can feel comfortable. When less people know you, this is easier to do without feeling too weird.

    29. Your comfort zone will limit you.

    Comfort zones are nice to an extent, but they are restricting. If you train yourself to be too comfortable in your 20s, you may try to be too comfortable in your 30s. You might always lean towards whats easier for your entire life. The same way you make coffee or go for a run to set the tone early in the morning, set the tone early in your life by trying something new when youre young and hungry. That pattern just might follow you for your whole life.

    30. Your faith will grow.

    Ive naturally had faith in higher powers just from being raised in the church and reading the Bible. However, until you actually experience it in a real life way, you have no idea how much your faith can grow. After moving away, I had to figure a lot of things out, and HAD to have faith. Faith grows when you go through difficult experiences that challenge you. All in all, I would consider myself a work in progress from a spiritual standpoint, but after moving away I am exponentially more aware and more appreciative of Gods workings in my life.

    30 things? Thats it?

    I could keep going Im sure, but Im sure a small percentage of you even made it this far down the page. If you have, and youre somebody who is debating moving away from home for the first time, I hope this has helped you understand from an insider perspective that there are some great things in store for you if you take the leap.

    For people who have already made a move, I hope you were able to relate to some of these points and I hope your experience has been as rewarding as mine. Feel free to comment with which ones in my list of 30 resonate the most with you, or if you have any others you would add about moving away from home.

    If you dont fit into either one of these categories, maybe you know somebody who is struggling with the idea of moving away from home, or somebody who has done it recently and is having issues. Feel free to share this with them too!

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    The remarkable history in your cereal bowl

    (CNN)This morning, more than 350 million people devoured a bowl of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. All told, more than 128 billion bowls of Corn Flakes are consumed each year. While perusing the cereal box, peering over the bowl and gripping a spoonful of the stuff, few of these sleepy diners know that two men created those famously crispy, golden flakes of corn. John Harvey Kellogg, one of America’s most famous physicians, and Will Keith Kellogg, John’s longtime lackey and whipping boy, were brothers from the Michigan hamlet of Battle Creek. Together, they introduced and mass-marketed the concept of “wellness.”

    And in so doing, they transfigured breakfast.
    In early 1906, at the advanced age of 46, Will Keith Kellogg acrimoniously left his brother John’s employ at the famed Battle Creek Sanitarium, a medical center and grand hotel — a “university of health” that treated the wealthy ill and the worried well and promoted wellness or, as the doctor called it, “biologic living.”
      Will marched across the street and founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, the original name of the Kellogg Company, which today enjoys more than $14 billion a year in net sales of breakfast cereals, snacks and other manufactured foods in 180 nations around the globe.
      Flaked cereals were initially developed by the Kellogg brothers as a health food for “invalids with poor digestion.” Dr. Kellogg specialized in treating people with chronic flatulence, constipation, indigestion, all from consuming of the then-typical American diet of greasy fried foods, salted or cured meats, creamed vegetables, spicy pickles and condiments, and too much caffeine and alcohol. No wonder Walt Whitman once called stomachaches “the great American evil.”
      Will’s genius was to recognize that there were far many more people looking for a nutritious and convenient breakfast, so he substituted tasty corn for the bland wheat originally used, added some salt and sugar against the doctor’s prescription, and came up with Corn Flakes.

      The dawn of ‘processed food’

      Will was a serious student of the “science” of business, whether he was publishing his brother’s books and magazines, selling the foods and health products John invented, running the Battle Creek Sanitarium or manufacturing cereal. He methodically analyzed, applied and adopted efficiency techniques and business systems espoused by the best commercial gurus of the day.
      For nearly a quarter of a century, while John enacted one scene after another of fraternal dominance, the quiet, stolid Will was doing far more than merely taking orders. He was preparing to become a renowned captain of industry. Just as Henry Ford was figuring out the economies of scale to sell the millions of automobiles rolling off his vaunted assembly line, Will Kellogg revolutionized the administration of the modern medical center and, later, the mass production and marketing of “processed food.”
      Will tirelessly persuaded American grocers to carry his products and consumers to relish his cereals. Heralding breakfast as “the most important meal of the day,” Will made the hectic mornings of beleaguered mothers and fathers so much easier by providing a quick, convenient, healthy, nutritious breakfast they could simply pour out of a box and into a bowl. He was an early adopter of the newly created field of mass advertising and invested millions of dollars in a neverending barrage of colorful and attractive ads, slogans and jingles, cartoon characters and, when radio and later television took the nation by storm, entertaining shows and commercials. He was quick to recognize and target youngsters as the demographic group most likely to hunger for his products, as they hunted for the prizes he cleverly placed in his cereal boxes.
      Will Kellogg, of course, benefited by creating his business at the dawn of the 20th century, when huge corporations and nationally known brands began to dominate the American landscape. He became the “Corn Flake King” during the synchronous rise of urban populations, better living and nutritional conditions, and a national system of transportation, first by rail and later by highways, which allowed for the rapid delivery of raw grain into his factories and cases of cereal out of them. He capitalized on the widespread distribution of his food products, thanks to the development and rise of self-serve grocery stores, supermarkets and, perhaps most important, clean, safe, fresh pasteurized milk — the essential accoutrement of any bowl of cereal.
      Yet there was far more to Will Kellogg’s genius than mere timing or the willingness to adopt new business methods. As he labored to process whole grains into ready-to-eat cereals, he refused to be satisfied with the status quo. The boss’ charge was to always improve on what the company produced. He developed ever-more-sophisticated means of packaging to keep his cereals fresh and toasty, whether on the grocery shelf or in the kitchen cabinet.
      From the start of his manufacturing career, Will announced himself to the American public with a facsimile of his signature on every box of the “original” Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. It was initially devised as a means of thwarting the dozens of copycat companies stealing ideas and sales from his cereal business.
      Above Will’s signature was the solemn promise that the box’s contents were tasty, crisp, nutritious and, most important, genuine. This pledge, backed by better and better means of quality control, was essential to building a longstanding, trustworthy and profitable relationship with the American public. Today, an artist’s rendition of Will’s signature — the familiar red script “Kellogg’s” — appears on virtually every product his company manufactures. It is a scribble almost as famous as another iconic American scrawl, “Walt Disney.”

      The most-consumed breakfasts in history

      In essence, Will Kellogg inaugurated an entirely new industry centered on the transformation of foods from their natural state into cooked, shaped, chemically manipulated, mass-manufactured products. During his lifetime, his name appeared on billions of boxes of Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, All-Bran, Bran Krumbles, Pep, Corn-Soya Shreds and similar products. After his death in 1951, his company pushed glucose-loaded concoctions such as Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes, Sugar Smacks, Froot Loops, Cocoa Krispies, Pop Tarts and a long list of other processed foods.
      Many of these products are nutritious and convenient; others may have played a significant role in fueling the current obesity epidemic among children and adults. Regardless of the precise ingredients filling the Kellogg Company’s horn of plenty, Will’s crunchy concoctions make up the most-consumed breakfasts in the history of humankind.
      John, the once-famous doctor, built his kingdom upon the foundation of his personality and theories on wellness and vitality. It was a realm he dreamed would last forever but one that effectively ended with his funeral. Will died a little more than eight years later, and despite their differences, he is buried only a few dozen feet away from his older brother in Battle Creek’s Oak Hill cemetery.

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      The company he founded remains a multinational behemoth of food production. The charitable foundation he endowed with the mountain of money he made on Corn Flakes is one of the largest in the world and continues to work for the welfare of children, families and communities. When uttering the name “Kellogg” today, it is, undoubtedly, Will’s industry we recall. As Bing Crosby crooned in the opening refrain of a song he recorded in 1968, “What’s more American than Corn Flakes?”

      Read more:

      One billion and counting: Why the scissors in your kitchen are a work of genius

      (CNN)You probably recognize designer Olof Bckstrm’s classic orange-handled scissors.

      But you may not know this: In Bckstrm’s homeland of Finland, the scissors are so iconic that their 50th birthday is being celebrated with a special exhibition at the Helsinki Design Museum.
        These simple household tools have become a source of national pride in a country that takes design seriously, according to Pekka Korvenmaa, a professor of design and culture at Finland’s Aalto University.
        “They’re the most widely-spread Finnish design product,” said Korvenmaa in a phone interview.
        “In Finland, when we say ‘scissors’ we mean Fiskars. There are no other scissors — more or less — so it’s taken for granted.”

        Game-changing design

        Everyday users may give little thought to the design of scissors, but Korvenmaa heralds it as ground-breaking.
        “Its success comes from the ergonomic performance — the shape and grip of the handle. You take the scissors into your hand and feel the fit,” he said.
        However, the real game-changer wasn’t the shape but the materials. Most of the scissors available in 1967 — when Bckstrm made his design breakthrough — were the heavy iron variety used by tailors.
        “Tailors’ scissors were horrendously expensive, so Fiskars took the shape and cast it in a cheap material — plastic,” said Korvenmaa.
        “Rather than being forged from iron, the blades were made from pressed steel which was held together by a single piece of metal in the middle. The whole production process became quite simple and inexpensive.”
        Although Fiskars calls the design an “amazing leap in cutting performance,” its success was as much a matter of affordability.
        “Scissors became much more accessible,” explained on the phone Marika Orkamo, Fiskars’ Vice President of branding and marketing.
        “Not every household had them, even in the 1960s. But eventually they became part of the mass market.”

        A happy accident

        Fiskars has flirted with different colors over the years. Red handles, for instance, are used to differentiate left-handed models.
        But the company’s brand remains tied to the distinctive orange of its best-selling product — ‘Fiskars Orange’ even became a registered trademark in Finland in 2003.
        The choice of this particular hue, however, came about by accident, according to Orkamo.
        “When the first samples were being produced, there were supposed to be three options — black, green and red,” she said. “But the guy who mixed the plastic had just made an orange-colored juicer, and he had some leftovers in the machine.
        “He wanted to use orange first so that they didn’t waste any plastic. When [Fiskars’ employees] were presented with the four final choices, they had a vote, and orange beat black by nine votes to seven.”
        While the original color stuck, changes have been made to the design first proposed by Bckstrm, who died in 1998 aged 75. The cutting angle has been altered to improve performance, and a more durable plastic has been in use since the 1980s.

        Not just for the home

        Next month, the Design Museum Helsinki will host an exhibition of work by artists and designers who use — or are inspired by — the simple orange scissors.
        “It’s such an everyday object that we were worried it could be quite boring,” said Orkamo, who curated the exhibition. “But then we started thinking about the different ways the scissors are used, and all the industries that use them.”
        The result is a varied collection of contributions from fashion designers, paper-cutters and food artists. The exhibition also features a playlist by a Finnish musician who goes by the name “DJ Fiskars.”
        Some of the participants play explicitly on the scissors’ color and design. But others, like artist and designer Martin Bergstrm, simply used them as a tool. Hailing from Sweden, Bergstrm will present two pieces: a long flowing dress and collages made from dried flowers.
        “I’ve had these scissors around since I was a child,” he said on the phone. “I’ve used them in my work for a long, long time.
        “Fiskars’ scissors are very well-known in Sweden too — but I don’t think everyone knows they’re Finnish. Most people probably think they’re from Sweden!”

        Read more:

        Why we fell for clean eating

        The long read: The oh-so-Instagrammable food movement has been thoroughly debunked but it shows no signs of going away. The real question is why we were so desperate to believe it

        In the spring of 2014, Jordan Younger noticed that her hair was falling out in clumps. Not cool was her reaction. At the time, Younger, 23, believed herself to be eating the healthiest of all possible diets. She was a gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, grain-free, legume-free, plant-based raw vegan. As The Blonde Vegan, Younger was a wellness blogger in New York City, one of thousands on Instagram (where she had 70,000 followers) rallying under the hashtag #eatclean. Although she had no qualifications as a nutritionist, Younger had sold more than 40,000 copies of her own $25, five-day cleanse programme a formula for an all-raw, plant-based diet majoring on green juice.

        But the clean diet that Younger was selling as the route to health was making its creator sick. Far from being super-healthy, she was suffering from a serious eating disorder: orthorexia, an obsession with consuming only foods that are pure and perfect. Youngers raw vegan diet had caused her periods to stop and given her skin an orange tinge from all the sweet potato and carrots she consumed (the only carbohydrates she permitted herself). Eventually, she sought psychological help, and began to slowly widen the repertoire of foods she would allow herself to eat, starting with fish. She recognised that the problem was not her veganism, per se, but the particularly rigid and restrictive diet regime she had imposed on herself.

        As Younger slowly recovered from her eating disorder, she faced a new dilemma. What would people think, she agonised, if they knew the Blonde Vegan was eating fish? She levelled with her followers in a blogpost entitled Why Im Transitioning Away from Veganism. Within hours of announcing her new diet, Younger was receiving irate messages from vegans demanding money back from the cleanse programmes and T-shirts they had bought from her site (featuring slogans such as OH KALE YES).

        She lost followers by the thousands and received a daily raft of angry messages, including death threats. Some responded to her confession that she was suffering from an eating disorder by accusing her of being a fat piece of lard who didnt have the discipline to be truly clean.

        For as long as people have eaten food, there have been diets and quack cures. But previously, these existed, like conspiracy theories, on the fringes of food culture. Clean eating was different, because it established itself as a challenge to mainstream ways of eating, and its wild popularity over the past five years has enabled it to move far beyond the fringes. Powered by social media, it has been more absolutist in its claims and more popular in its reach than any previous school of modern nutrition advice.

        At its simplest, clean eating is about ingesting nothing but whole or unprocessed foods (whatever is meant by these deeply ambiguous terms). Some versions of clean eating have been vegan, while others espouse various meats (preferably wild) and something mysteriously called bone broth (stock, to you and me). At first, clean eating sounded modest and even homespun: rather than counting calories, you would eat as many nutritious home-cooked substances as possible.

        But it quickly became clear that clean eating was more than a diet; it was a belief system, which propagated the idea that the way most people eat is not simply fattening, but impure. Seemingly out of nowhere, a whole universe of coconut oil, dubious promises and spiralised courgettes has emerged. Back in the distant mists of 2009, James Duigan, owner of The Bodyism gym in London and sometime personal trainer to the model Elle MacPherson, published his first Clean and Lean book. As an early adopter of #eatclean, Duigan notes that he battled with his publisher to include ingredients like kale and quinoa, because no one had ever heard of them. Now quinoa is in every supermarket and kale has become as normal as lettuce. I long for the days when clean eating meant not getting too much down your front, the novelist Susie Boyt joked recently.

        Jordan Younger, AKA The Balanced Blonde, formerly The Blonde Vegan. Photograph: Whitford/BFA/Rex/Shutterstock

        Almost as soon as it became ubiquitous, clean eating sparked a backlash. By 2015, Nigella Lawson was speaking for many when she expressed disgust at clean eating as a judgmental form of body fascism. Food is not dirty, Lawson wrote. Clean eating has been attacked by critics such as the baker and cookbook author Ruby Tandoh (who wrote a much-shared article on the subject in Vice magazine in May 2016) for being an incitement to eating disorders.

        Others have pointed out that, as a method of healthy eating, its founded on bad science. In June, the American Heart Association suggested that the coconut oil beloved as a panacea by clean eaters actually had no known offsetting favourable effects, and that consuming it could result in higher LDL cholesterol. A few weeks later, Anthony Warner a food consultant with a background in science who blogs as The Angry Chef published a book-length assault on the science of clean eating, calling it a world of quinoa bowls and nutribollocks fuelled by the modern information age.

        When Dr Giles Yeo, a geneticist at the University of Cambridge, presented an episode of the BBCs Horizon this year that examined the scientific evidence for different schools of clean eating, he found everything from innocuous recipes to serious malpractice.

        He reported on the alkaline diet of Dr Robert O Young, who peddled the idea that disease is caused by eating acidic foods. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer in her 20s, Naima Houder-Mohammed, an officer in the British army, paid Young more than $77,000 for treatment (including meals of avocado, which Young calls Gods butter) at his pH miracle ranch in the US in 2012. She died later that year. Separately, Young was jailed in June this year after being convicted of charges including practising medicine without a licence. While he may represent an extreme case, it is clear that many wellness gurus, as Yeos programme concluded, tell a troubling narrative founded on falsehoods.

        As the negative press for clean eating has intensified over the past year, many of the early goddesses of #eatclean have tried to rebrand declaring they no longer use the word clean to describe the recipes that have sold them millions of books. Ella Mills AKA Deliciously Ella, the food writer and entrepreneur whose coconut-and-oat energy balls sell for 1.79 apiece in British supermarkets said on Yeos Horizon programme that she felt that the word clean as applied to eating originally meant nothing but natural, real, unprocessed food. Now, it means diet, it means fad, she complained.

        But however much the concept of clean eating has been logically refuted and publicly reviled, the thing itself shows few signs of dying. Step into the cookbook section of any book shop and you will see how many recipe writers continue to promise us inner purity and outer beauty. Even if you have never knowingly tried to eat clean, its impossible to avoid the trend altogether, because it changed the foods available to all of us, and the way they are spoken of.

        Avocados now outsell oranges in the UK. Susi Richards, head of product development at Sainsburys supermarkets, told me earlier this year that she had been taken aback by the pace at which demand for products fitting with the clean eating lifestyle have grown in the UK. Families who would once have eaten potato waffles are now experimenting with lower carb butternut squaffles (slices of butternut squash cut to resemble a waffle). Nutribullets a brand of compact blenders designed for making supposedly radiance-bestowing juices and smoothies are now mentioned in some circles as casually as wooden spoons.

        Why has clean eating proved so difficult to kill off? Hadley Freeman, in this paper, identified clean eating as part of a post-truth culture, whose adherents are impervious, or even hostile, to facts and experts. But to understand how clean eating took hold with such tenacity, its necessary first to consider just what a terrifying thing food has become for millions of people in the modern world. The interesting question is not whether clean eating is nonsense, but why so many intelligent people decided to put their faith in it.

        We are not the only generation to have looked in disgust at an unhealthy food environment and wished that we could replace it with nutrients that were perfectly safe to eat. In the 1850s, a British chemist called Arthur Hill Hassall became convinced that the whole food supply of London was riddled with toxins and fakery. Whats more, he was right. Hassall had done a series of investigations for the medical journal the Lancet, and found that much of what was for sale as food and drink was not what it seemed: coffee made from burnt sugar and chicory; pickles dyed green with poisonous copper colourings.

        Years of exposing the toxic deceptions all around him seems to have driven Hassall to a state of paranoia. He started to see poison everywhere, and decided that the answer was to create a set of totally uncontaminated food products. In 1881, he set up his own firm, The Pure Food Company, which would only use ingredients of unimpeachable quality. Hassall took water that was softened and purified and combined it with the finest Smithfield beef to make the purest beef jelly and disgusting-sounding fibrinous meat lozenges the energy balls of Victorian England. The Pure Food Company of 1881 sounds just like a hundred wellness food businesses today except for the fact that it collapsed within a year due to lack of sales.

        We are once again living in an environment where ordinary food, which should be something reliable and sustaining, has come to feel noxious. Unlike the Victorians, we do not fear that our coffee is fake so much as that our entire pattern of eating may be bad for us, in ways that we cant fully identify. One of the things that makes the new wave of wellness cookbooks so appealing is that they assure the reader that they offer a new way of eating that comes without any fear or guilt.

        The founding principle of these modern wellness regimes is that our current way of eating is slowly poisoning us. Much of the food on offer to us today is nutritionally substandard, write the Hemsley sisters, best-selling champions of nutrient-dense food. Its hard to disagree with the proposition that modern diets are generally substandard, even if you dont share the Hemsleys solution of going grain-free. All of these diets have a kernel of truth that is spun out into some bigger fantasy, Giles Yeo says hence their huge appeal.

        Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley. Photograph: Nick Hopper

        Clean eating whether it is called that or not is perhaps best seen as a dysfunctional response to a still more dysfunctional food supply: a dream of purity in a toxic world. To walk into a modern western supermarket is to be assailed by aisle upon aisle of salty, oily snacks and sugary cereals, of bread that has been neither proved nor fermented, of cheap, sweetened drinks and meat from animals kept in inhumane conditions.

        In the postwar decades, most countries in the world underwent what the professor of nutrition Barry Popkin calls a nutrition transition to a westernised diet high in sugar, meat, fat, salt, refined oils and ultra-processed concoctions, and low in vegetables. Affluence and multi-national food companies replaced the hunger of earlier generations with an unwholesome banquet of sweet drinks and convenience foods that teach us from a young age to crave more of the same. Wherever this pattern of eating travelled, it brought with it dramatic rises in ill health, from allergies to cancer.

        In prosperous countries, large numbers of people whether they wanted to lose weight or not became understandably scared of the modern food supply and what it was doing to our bodies: type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, not to mention a host of other complaints that are influenced by diet, ranging from Alzheimers to gout. When mainstream diets start to sicken people, it is unsurprising that many of us should seek other ways of eating to keep ourselves safe from harm. Our collective anxiety around diet was exacerbated by a general impression that mainstream scientific advice on diet inflated by newspaper headlines could not be trusted. First these so-called experts tell us to avoid fat, then sugar, and all the while people get less and less healthy. What will these experts say next, and why should we believe them?

        Into this atmosphere of anxiety and confusion stepped a series of gurus offering messages of wonderful simplicity and reassurance: eat this way and I will make you fresh and healthy again. It is very hard to pinpoint the exact moment when clean eating started, because it is not so much as a single diet as a portmanteau term that has borrowed ideas from numerous pre-existing diets: a bit of Paleo here, some Atkins there, with a few remnants of 1960s macrobiotics thrown in for good measure.

        But some time in the early 2000s, two distinct but interrelated versions of clean eating became popular in the US one based on the creed of real food, and the other on the idea of detox. Once the concept of cleanliness had entered the realm of eating, it was only a matter of time before the basic idea spread contagiously across Instagram, where fans of #eatclean could share their artfully photographed green juices and rainbow salad bowls.

        The first and more moderate version of clean food started in 2007, when Tosca Reno, a Canadian fitness model, published a book called The Eat-Clean Diet. In it, Reno described how she lost 34kg (75lb) and transformed her health by avoiding all over-refined and processed foods, particularly white flour and sugar. A typical Reno eat-clean meal might be stir-fried chicken and vegetables over brown rice; or almond-date biscotti with a cup of tea. In many ways The Eat-Clean Diet was like any number of diet books that had come before, advising plenty of vegetables and modestly portioned, home-cooked meals. The difference, which Anthony Warner calls a piece of genius on Renos part, was that she did not call it a diet at all, but a holistic way of living.

        Meanwhile, a second version of clean eating was spearheaded by a former cardiologist from Uruguay called Alejandro Junger, the author of Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Bodys Natural Ability to Heal Itself, which was published in 2009 after Jungers clean detox system had been praised by Gwyneth Paltrow on her Goop website. Jungers system was far stricter than Renos, requiring, for a few weeks, a radical elimination diet based on liquid meals and a total exclusion of caffeine, alcohol, dairy and eggs, sugar, all vegetables in the nightshade family (tomatoes, aubergines and so on), red meat (which, according to Junger, creates an acidic inner environment), among other foods. During this phase, Junger advised a largely liquid diet either composed of home-made juices and soups, or of his own special powdered shakes. After the detox period, Junger advised very cautiously reintroducing toxic triggers such as wheat (a classic trigger of allergic responses) and dairy (an acid-forming food).

        Photograph: Alexandra Iakovleva/Getty

        To read Jungers book is to feel that everything edible in our world is potentially toxic. Yet, as with Arthur Hassall, many of Jungers fears may be justified. Junger writes as a doctor with first-hand knowledge of diet-related epidemics of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and autoimmune disease. The book is full of case studies of individuals who follow Jungers detox and emerge lighter, leaner and happier. Who is the candidate for using this program? Junger asks, replying: Everyone who lives a modern life, eats a modern diet and inhabits the modern world.

        To my surprise, I found myself compelled by the messianic tone of Jungers Clean though not quite compelled enough to pay $475 for his 21-day programme (which, in any case, doesnt ship outside of North America), or to give up my daily breakfast of inflammatory coffee, gut-irritating sourdough toast and acid-forming butter, on which I feel surprisingly well. When I told Giles Yeo how seductive I found Jungers words, almost despite myself, he said: This is their magic! They are all charismatic human beings. I do think the clean-eating gurus believe in it themselves. They drink the Koolaid.

        Over the past 50 years, mainstream healthcare in the west has been inexplicably blind to the role that diet plays in preventing and alleviating ill health. When it started, #eatclean spoke to growing numbers of people who felt that their existing way of eating was causing them problems, from weight gain to headaches to stress, and that conventional medicine could not help. In the absence of nutrition guidance from doctors, it was a natural step for individuals to start experimenting with cutting out this food or that.

        From 2009 to 2014, the number of Americans who actively avoided gluten, despite not suffering from coeliac disease, more than tripled. It also became fashionable to drink a whole pantheon of non-dairy milks, ranging from oat milk to almond milk. I have lactose-intolerant and vegan friends who say that #eatclean has made it far easier for them to buy ingredients that they once had to go to specialist health-food stores to find. What isnt so easy now is to find reliable information on special diets in the sea of half-truths and bunkum.

        Someone who observed how quickly and radically #eatclean changed the market for health-food books is Anne Dolamore, a publisher at the independent food publishers Grub Street, based in London. Dolamore has been publishing health-related food books since 1995, a time when free-from cooking was a tiny subculture. In the days before Google, Dolamore who has long believed that food is medicine felt that books on special diets by authors with proper credentials could serve a useful purpose. In 1995, Grub Street published The Everyday Diabetic Cookbook, which has since sold over 100,000 copies in the UK. Other successful books followed, including The Everyday Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free Cookbook by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, published in 1998.

        In 2012, the market for wellness cookbooks in the UK suddenly changed, starting with the surprise success of Honestly Healthy by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson, which sold around 80,000 copies. Louise Haines, a publisher at 4th Estate, recalls that the previous big trend in British food publishing had been baking, but the baking boom died overnight, virtually, and a number of sugar-free books came through.

        At Grub Street, Anne Dolamore watched aghast as bestselling cookbooks piled up from a never-ending stream of blonde, willowy authorities, many of whom seemed to be devising diets based on little but their own limited experience. If Junger and Reno laid the groundwork for eat clean to become a vast global trend, it was social media and the internet that did the rest. Almost all of the authors of the British clean eating bestsellers started off as bloggers or Instagrammers, many of them beautiful women in their early 20s who were genuinely convinced that the diets they had invented had cured them of various chronic ailments.

        Every wellness guru worth her Himalayan pink salt has a story of how changing what you eat can change your life. Food has the power to make or break you, wrote Amelia Freer in her 2014 bestseller Eat. Nourish. Glow. (which has sold more than 200,000 copies). Freer was leading a busy life as a personal assistant to the Prince of Wales when she realised that her tummy looked and felt as if it had a football in it from too many snatched dinners of cheese on toast or factory-made food. By giving up processed and convenience foods (margarine, yuck!) along with gluten and sugar, Freer claimed to have found the secrets to looking younger and feeling healthier.

        Perhaps the best-known diet-transformation story of all is that of Ella Mills possessor of more than a million Instagram followers. In 2011, Mills was diagnosed with postural tachycardia syndrome, a condition characterised by dizziness and extreme fatigue. Mills began blogging about food after discovering that her symptoms radically improved when she swapped her sugar-laden diet for plant-based, natural foods. Mills who used to be a model made following a free-from diet seem not drab or deprived, but deeply aspirational. By the time her first book appeared in January 2015, her vast following on social media helped her to sell 32,000 copies in the first week alone.

        Amelia Freer. Photograph: S Meddle/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

        There was something paradoxical about the way these books were marketed. What they were selling purported to be an alternative to a sordidly commercial food industry. If its got a barcode or a promise, dont buy it, wrote Freer. Yet clean eating is itself a wildly profitable commercial enterprise, promoted using photogenic young bloggers on a multi-billion-dollar tech platform. Literary agent Zoe Ross tells me that around 2015 she began to notice that the market was scouring Instagram for copycat acts specifically very pretty, very young girls pushing curated food and lifestyle.

        After years on the margins, health-based cooking was finally getting a mass audience. In 2016, 18 out the 20 top sellers in Amazon UKs food and drink book category had a focus on healthy eating and dieting. The irony, however, was that the kind of well-researched books Dolamore and others once published no longer tended to sell so well, because health publishing was now dominated by social media celebrities. Bookshops were heaving with so many of these clean books that even the authors themselves started to feel that there were too many of them. Alice Liveing, a 23-year-old personal trainer who writes as Clean Eating Alice, argued in her 2016 book Eat Well Every Day that she was championing what I feel is a much-needed breath of fresh air in what I think is an incredibly saturated market. To my untrained eye, browsing through her book, Alices fresh approach to diet looked very similar to countless others: date and almond energy balls, kale chips, beetroot and feta burgers.

        Then again, shouldnt we give clean eating due credit for achieving the miracle of turning beetroot and kale into objects of desire? Data from analysts Kantar Worldpanel show that UK sales of fresh beetroot have risen dramatically from 42.8m in 2013 to 50.5m in 2015. Some would argue that, in developed nations where most people eat shockingly poor diets, low in greens and high in sugar, this new union of health and food has done a modicum of good. Giles Yeo who spent some time cooking a spicy sweet-potato dish with Ella Mills for his BBC programme agrees that many of the clean eating recipes he tried are actually a tasty and cool way to cook vegetables. But why, Yeo asks, do these authors not simply say I am publishing a very good vegetarian cookbook and stop there, instead of making larger claims about the power of vegetables to beautify or prevent disease? The poison comes from the fact that they are wrapping the whole thing up in pseudoscience, Yeo says. If you base something on falsehoods, it empowers people to take extreme actions, and this is where the harm begins.

        You cant found a new faith system with the words I am publishing a very good vegetarian cookbook. For this, you need something stronger. You need the assurance of make-believe, whispered sweetly. Grind this cauliflower into tiny pieces and you can make a special kind of no-carb rice! Avoid all sugar and your skin will shimmer! Among other things, clean eating confirms how vulnerable and lost millions of us feel about diet which really means how lost we feel about our own bodies. We are so unmoored that we will put our faith in any master who promises us that we, too, can become pure and good.

        I can pinpoint the exact moment that my own feelings about clean eating changed from ambivalence to outright dislike. I was on stage at the Cheltenham literary festival with dietician Renee McGregor (who works both with Olympic athletes and eating disorder sufferers) when a crowd of around 300 clean-eating fans started jeering and shouting at us. We were supposedly taking part in a clean-eating debate with nutritionist Madeleine Shaw, author of Get the Glow and Ready Steady Glow.

        Before that week, I had never read any of Shaws work. As I flicked through Ready Steady Glow, I was fairly endeared by the upbeat tone (stop depriving yourself and start living) and bright photos of a beaming Shaw. I often surprise myself by finding new things to spiralise she writes, introducing a sweet potato noodle salad. Cauliflower pizza, in her view, is quite simply: the best invention ever.

        But underneath the brightness there were notes of restriction that I found both worrying and confused. As ever, all my recipes are sugar-and-wheat free, Shaw announces, only to give a recipe for gluten-free brownies that contains 200g of coconut sugar, a substance that costs a lot more than your average white granulated sugar, but is metabolised by the body in the same way. I was still more alarmed by step four in Shaws nine-point food philosophy, which says that all bread and pasta should be avoided: they are beige foods, which are full of chemicals, preservatives and genetically modified wheat, and not whole foods. Shaws book makes no distinction between a loaf of, say, bleached sliced white, and a homemade wholemeal sourdough.

        When we met on stage in Cheltenham, I asked Shaw why she told people to cut out all bread, and was startled when she denied she had said any such thing (rye bread was her favourite, she added). McGregor asked Shaw what she meant when she wrote that people should try to eat only clean proteins; meat that was not deep-fried was her rather baffling reply. McGregors main concern about clean eating, she added, was that as a professional treating young people with eating disorders, she had seen first-hand how the rules and restrictions of clean eating often segued into debilitating anorexia or orthorexia.

        Madeleine Shaw promoting her book Get the Glow. Photograph: Joe Pepler/REX/Shutterstock

        But I only see the positive, said Shaw, now wiping away tears. It was at this point that the audience, who were already restless whenever McGregor or I spoke, descended into outright hostility, shouting and hissing for us to get off stage. In a book shop after the event, as fans came up to Shaw to thank her for giving them the glow, I too burst into tears when one person jabbed her fingers at me and said I should be ashamed, as an older women (I am 43), to have criticised a younger one. On Twitter that night, some Shaw fans made derogatory comments about how McGregor and I looked, under the hashtag #youarewhatyoueat. The implication was that, if we were less photogenic than Shaw, we clearly had nothing of any value to say about food (never mind the fact that McGregor has degrees in biochemistry and nutrition).

        Thinking about the event on the train home, I realised that the crowd were angry with us not because they disagreed with the details (its pretty clear that you cant have sugar in sugar-free recipes), but because they disliked the fact that we were arguing at all. To insist on the facts made us come across as cruelly negative. We had punctured the happy belief-bubble of glowiness that they had come to imbibe from Shaw. Its striking that in many of the wellness cookbooks, mainstream scientific evidence on diet is seen as more or less irrelevant, not least because the gurus see the complacency of science as part of what made our diets so bad in the first place.

        Amelia Freer, in Eat. Nourish. Glow, admits that we cant prove that dairy is the cause of ailments ranging from IBS to joint pain, but concludes that its surely worth cutting dairy out anyway, just as a precaution. In another context, Freer writes that Im told it takes 17 years for scientific knowledge to filter down to become general knowledge, while advising that gluten should be avoided. Once we enter the territory where all authority and expertise are automatically suspect, you can start to claim almost anything and many #eatclean authorities do.

        That night in Cheltenham, I saw that clean eating or whatever name it now goes under had elements of a post-truth cult. As with any cult, it could be something dark and divisive if you got on the wrong side of it. After Giles Yeos BBC programme was aired, he told me he was startled to find himself subjected to relentless online trolling. They said I was funded by big pharma, and therefore obviously wouldnt see the benefits of a healthy diet over medicine. These were outright lies. (Yeo is employed by the University of Cambridge, and funded by the Medical Research Council.)

        Its increasingly clear that clean eating, for all its good intentions, can cause real harm, both to truth and to human beings. Over the past 18 months, McGregor says, every single client with an eating disorder who walks into my clinic doors is either following or wants to follow a clean way of eating.

        In her new book, Orthorexia, McGregor observes that while eating disorders long predate the #eatclean trend, food rules (such as eating no dairy or avoiding all grains) easily become a guise for restricting food intake. Moreover, they are not even good rules, based as they are on unsubstantiated, unscientific claims. Take almond milk, which is widely touted as a superior alternative to cows milk. McGregor sees it as little better than expensive water, containing just 0.1g protein per 100ml, compared with 3.2g per 100ml in cows milk. But she often finds it very difficult to convince her clients that restricting themselves to these clean foods is in the long run worse for their health than what she calls unrestrained eating balanced and varied meals, but no panic about the odd ice cream or chocolate bar.

        Clearly, not everyone who bought a clean-eating book has developed an eating disorder. But a movement whose premise is that normal food is unhealthy has now muddied the waters of healthy eating for everyone else, by planting the idea that a good diet is one founded on absolutes.

        The true calamity of clean eating is not that it is entirely false. It is that it contains a kernel of truth, as Giles Yeo puts it. When you strip down all the pseudo babble, they are absolutely right to say that we should eat more vegetables, less refined sugar and less meat, Yeo said, sipping a black coffee in his office at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge, where he spends his days researching the causes of obesity. Yeo agrees with the clean eaters that our environment of cheap, plentiful, sugary, fatty food is a recipe for widespread obesity and ill health. The problem is its near impossible to pick out the sensible bits of clean eating and ignore the rest. #Eatclean made healthy eating seem like something expensive, exclusive and difficult to achieve, as Anthony Warner writes. Whether the term clean is used or not, there is a new puritanism about food that has taken root very widely.

        A few weeks ago, I overheard a fit, middle-aged man at the gym berating a friend for not eating a better diet a conversation that would once have been unimaginable among men. The first man was telling the second that the skinny burgers he preferred were nothing but shitty mince and marketing and arguing that he could get almost everything he needed from a diet of vegetables, cooked with no oil. Fat is fat, at the end of the day, he concluded, before bemoaning the idiots who tried to eat something wholesome like a salad, then ruined it by adding salt. If you have one bad diet day a week, you undo all your good work.

        The real question is how to fight this kind of diet absolutism without bouncing back to a mindless celebration of the modern food environment that is demonstrably making so many people sick. In 2016, more than 600 children in the UK were registered as living with type 2 diabetes; before 2002, there were no reported cases of children suffering from the condition, whose causes are diet-related.

        Our food system is in desperate need of reform. Theres a danger that, in fighting the nonsense of clean eating, we end up looking like apologists for a commercial food supply that is failing in its basic task of nourishing us. Former orthorexia sufferer Edward L Yuen has argued in his 2014 book, Beating Orthorexia that the old advice of everything in moderation no longer works in a food environment where eating in the middle ground may still leave you with chronic diseases. When portions are supersized and Snickers bars are sold by the metre (something I saw in my local Tesco recently), eating normally is not necessarily a balanced option. The answer isnt yet another perfect diet, but a shift in our idea of what constitutes normal food.

        Sales of courgettes in the UK soared 20% from 2014 to 2015, fuelled by the rise of the spiraliser. But overall consumption of vegetables, both in the UK and worldwide, is still vanishingly small (with 74% of the adult UK population not managing to eat five a day). That is much lower than it was in the 1950s, when freshly cooked daily meals were still something that most people took for granted.

        Among the affluent classes who already ate a healthier-than-average diet, the Instagram goddesses created a new model of dietary perfection to aim for. For the rest of the population, however, it simply placed the ideal of healthy food ever further out of reach. Behind the shiny covers of the clean-eating books, there is a harsh form of economic exclusion that says that someone who cant afford wheatgrass or spirulina can never be truly well.

        As the conversation I overheard in the gym illustrates, this way of thinking is especially dangerous because it obscures the message that, in fact, small changes in diet can have a large beneficial impact. If you think you cant be healthy unless you eat nothing but vegetables, you might miss the fact that (as a recent overview of the evidence by epidemiologists showed) there are substantial benefits from raising your fruit-and-veg intake from zero portions a day to just two.

        Among its many other offences, clean eating was a series of claims about food that were all or nothing which only serves to underline the fact that most people, as usual, are stuck with nothing.

        Main photograph: Alamy

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        Drivers avoid pay-by-phone parking bays, says the AA – BBC News

        Image copyright Alamy

        Drivers are avoiding parking spots that require payment by phone as cash remains a more popular way to pay, according to the AA.

        The motoring organisation’s survey of 16,000 members suggests seven out of 10 would look for parking elsewhere rather than use the “pay by phone” meters.

        The AA says people are put off by administration fees and voice-controlled phone payment systems.

        But councils said that paying by phone was a quick and convenient option.

        ‘Talking to a robot’

        Nearly eight in 10 pensioners who responded to the AA survey said they would drive on rather than use them, the same proportion as drivers on low incomes.

        Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “Not only can it be a struggle to find a space but now, when you do find one, you may be required to talk to an automated system to pay the charge – not ideal if you have an appointment or just want to get in and get out quickly.

        “All providers should make it easier to pay for parking. Not everyone has a smartphone to pay via an app and not everyone is keen to talk to a robot to pay for an hour’s stay. For the elderly and low-income drivers, pay-by-phone feels almost discriminatory.”

        It argued that, while many drivers prefer to pay in cash, there was disgruntlement that some parking machines did not accept the new 12-sided 1 coin and others did not give change.

        Mixed messages?

        A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said: “Councils offer a variety of ways to pay for parking, and paying by phone can be a quick and convenient way to do so.

        “As the AA’s own research shows, 76% of councils in England have already converted the parking machines they are responsible for to accept the new 1 coin. Others are well on the way towards doing so.

        “Having a range of options to pay for parking, for residents and visitors, is the best way for councils to serve the needs of their local communities.”

        The AA has also left itself open to accusations of mixed messages by criticising phone payment parking spaces on the same day as it unveils its own card payment system for small businesses.

        In the marketing for its new Card Pay project, it says that “cash is a thing of the past for 62% of UK small businesses”.

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        Hackers demand millions for stolen HBO data

        Hackers using the name “Mr. Smith” posted a fresh cache of stolen HBO files online Monday, and demanded that HBO pay a ransom of several million dollars in bitcoin to prevent further such releases.

        The data dump included what appear to be scripts from five “Game of Thrones” episodes, including one upcoming episode, and a month’s worth of email from the account of Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice president for film programming. There were also internal documents, including a report of legal claims against the network and job offer letters to top executives.

        The latest leak is a half-gigabyte sample of the 1.5 terabytes of data the hackers have claimed to steal, according to Wired. All of the leaked “Game of Thrones” scripts include a watermark with the hackers motto, HBO is falling. The data dump also includes internal documents like emails, financial balance sheets, employment agreements, and marketing strategy.

        HBO, which previously acknowledged the theft of “proprietary information,” said it’s continuing to investigate and is working with police and cybersecurity experts. The network said Monday that it still doesn’t believe that its email system as a whole has been compromised.

        This is the second data dump from the purported hacker. So far the HBO leaks have been limited, falling well short of the chaos inflicted on Sony in 2014. In that attack, hackers unearthed thousands of embarrassing emails and released personal information, including salaries and social security numbers, of nearly 50,000 current and former Sony employees.

        Those behind the HBO hack claim to have more data, including scripts, upcoming episodes of HBO shows and movies, and information damaging to HBO.

        In a video directed to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, “Mr. Smith” used white text on a black background to threaten further disclosures if HBO doesn’t pay up. To stop the leaks, the purported hackers demanded “our 6 month salary in bitcoin,” which they implied is at least $6 million.

        “Our demand is clear and Non-Negotiable: We want XXXX dollars to stop leaking your Data,” the letter reads. “HBO spends 12 million for Market Research and 5 million for GOT7 advertisements. So consider us another budget for your advertisements!”

        The note adds that the deadline for payment is three days from when the letter was sent, but doesn’t include a date, according to Wired.

        “Leakage will be your worst nightmare,” the note continues. “So make a wise decision!”

        The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.

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