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Episode 112
The Doctor's Farmacy

Why Pizza And Fries Can Be Claimed As Vegetables Through School Lunch Programs

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

View all Platforms

*For context, this episode was recorded in March 2020.

Food is political, whether we like it or not.  

From the subsidies used to grow the crops that produce our massive amounts of ultra-processed foods, to school lunches, to the meals being served on our own dinner tables and even in the White House, the state of our food system is impacted by policy on an incredible scale. 

My guest on today’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy has played a very positive role in trying to impact those policies for the better to make America healthier as a whole. Sam Kass is the former Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition in the Obama administration.

Currently, Sam is a Partner at Acre Venture Partners. Acre is a venture capital fund investing in the future of food with a mission to improve human and environmental health in the food system. The fund focuses on early-stage, highly disruptive impactful companies in the food system focused on agriculture, supply chain, and consumer. Sam is also the author of Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World.

After jumping into the food industry and being stunned by the compromise of health for flavor, Sam knew there had to be a better way. We kick off our talk with his personal experience in using food to create health instead of destroy it, and how that led him to connect with the Obama family. He shares what it was like to work with the Obamas in many wellness-focused ways—from workouts in the morning to policy meetings in the afternoon and preparing dinner in the evening.

Sam and I get into the topic of how Big Food influences school food programs and the areas that still need some drastic improvements if we want to help the next generation achieve a better relationship with food. Sam shares his ideas for the middle ground that could overcome some of the biggest hurdles, like on outdated infrastructure and tight budgets, to bring fresher, higher quality food to our kids. 

We also discuss how other government policies are continuing to fail our food system and the many ways we can get involved to change that. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, I hope you’ll tune in.

Check out Sam’s cookbook, “Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World: A Cookbook” here.

This episode is sponsored by Athletic Greens, Thrive Market, Theragun and Farmacy.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn (video / audio):

  1. Sam’s experience training as a chef in Vienna and how it led him to think about agriculture and food policy
    (4:23 / 8:34)
  2. How Sam began cooking for the Obama family and his experience working in the White House
    (7:50 / 12:24)
  3. The passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and the challenges around school lunch reform
    (13:12 / 16:05)
  4. How tomato sauce, French fries, and pizza came to be considered vegetables in schools
    (16:46 / 19:39)
  5. The impactfulness of the “Community Eligibility Program” provision in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act which allows schools to serve free breakfast to students
    (20:17 / 25:24)
  6. The current administration’s attempts to roll back standards put into place through the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act
    (26:19 / 31:26)
  7. The reason why junk food is more affordable than healthy food
    (36:00 / 41:07)
  8. Why government is not well positioned to change our food system
    (37:53 / 43:00)
  9. Innovation in the food industry
    (39:53 / 45:00)
  10. The negative feedback loop between food production and climate change
    (43:29 / 48:36)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Sam Kass

Sam Kass is the former Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition in the Obama administration. After cooking for the Obamas in Chicago for two years, Sam joined the White House kitchen staff in 2009. During his White House tenure, he took on several additional roles including Executive Director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign and Senior White House Policy Advisor for Nutrition. As one of the First Lady’s longest-serving advisors, he helped the First Lady create the first major vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden. 

Transcript

Sam Kass:
These budgets have been cut so much that schools are depending on basically selling these kids junk food to keep programs that we all care about alive. So there’s a real tense conflict there.

Producer:
Hi everyone. Just wanted to let you know that this episode contains some colorful language. So if you’re listening with kids, you might want to save this episode for later.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to the Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman and that’s Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y. A place for conversations that matter. If you care about our food system and want to know the inside scoop from Washington, and what happens, and what doesn’t happen, you’re going to love this podcast because it’s with my friend Sam Kass, who’s the former senior policy advisor for nutrition in the Obama administration, and he was also the executive director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign and the Obama family chef.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He’s currently a partner in Acre Venture Partners. Now, he fell into this, seems like he was… We had a lunch recently and he was telling me how he really never went to chef school and he fell into learning how to cook when he went to Europe. But he basically found his way into cooking for the Obamas in Chicago during the Obama run for president.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And then of course he joined them in the White House staff in 2009. He took on lots of roles including the chef in the residence, but also the executive director of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. He was the senior White House policy advisor on nutrition. He’s the first person in history of the White House to have a position in the executive office of the president and the residence, which is cool. So he’d go from obviously the office to home and cook for them.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
As one of the first lady’s longest serving advisers, he helped the first lady create the first major vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden, which is interesting because a lot of people are now talking about creating gardens, and not only is toilet paper flying off the shelves, but so are seeds and garden equipment for people who’ve never had a garden before.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sam is now a partner at Acre Venture Partners, which is a venture capital fund investing in the future of food with a mission to improve human and environmental health in the food system. What a great thing to do. The fund focuses on early stage, highly disruptive, impactful companies in the food system focused on agriculture, supply chain and consumers.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Fast Company named Sam in 2011 on their list of 100 Most creative people. He also helped create the American Chef Corp in 2012, which is dedicated to promoting diplomacy through culinary initiatives. I love that. He’s an MIT media lab fellow and the World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and he graduated the University of Chicago. Welcome Sam.

Sam Kass:
There’s nothing else to know about me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He wrote a book called Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor [crosstalk 00:02:55] Good Health and Better World-

Sam Kass:
There you go.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… which was published in 2018 about his time in the White House, which is great.

Sam Kass:
So good to be here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thanks for doing this. This is an interesting time for all of us. We’re all sequestered in our homes trying to figure out how the world’s going to look during the age of corona and after. But whatever it looks like, we’re going to have to deal with this pesky issue of food and our food system because while coronavirus is killing us in the short term, in the long term, it’s chronic disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What most people don’t realize is that those who are at most risk of dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus are those with chronic illness, whether it’s diabetes, heart disease, even being overweight. If you’re overweight, you’re about three times more likely to die, if you have heart disease, you’re 10 times more likely to die, if you’re diabetic, you’re seven times more likely to die.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And this is already burdening our healthcare system, which we can see now as being crippled under the weight of the coronavirus. So we’re going to have to deal with this. Yes, coronavirus is acute, but chronic disease is chronic and unfortunately, we don’t do well with chronic things, we push them off, and it’s like a slow moving tsunami that’s coming for us once this coronavirus is over. So we’re going to talk about that today and we’re going to start out by talking with Sam about how he is the accidental chef.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You spent your first semester in college working in one of the best restaurants abroad in Vienna. Your plan was to study a lot and cook occasionally and you actually did the opposite. So you worked super hard, 10 hours shift as a tryout and you were hooked, so how did this get you thinking about food in a different way, especially the implications of what’s on our plate, about our farmers and our land?

Sam Kass:
It was actually a very specific moment for me. While I was training in Vienna, I ended up staying there after my final semester of school was done and worked there illegally for about a year, but very early on in that process… I got run out of time, but that’s very [crosstalk 00:05:06]. Very early on in the process, the sous-chef asked me to make a rhubarb dish sauce to go with the dish we were making and I’ll clean this story up for the [crosstalk 00:05:19]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay.

Sam Kass:
… at home, but he basically told me, he called me Yankee and he said, “Yankee, cook the rhubarb down, pureed and then in the butter.” And I was like, “Okay, all right, I’ll put a ton of butter.” So I go and I do that and I put this huge amount of butter and he said, “No, no, no, Yankee, I said, ‘[inaudible 00:05:35] in the butter.'” And I was like, “Wow, that’s crazy.”

Sam Kass:
And so I put another huge thing in and he came up to me pissed and he said, “I said, ‘[inaudible 00:05:44] in the butter.'” He said, “If a guest walked out of the restaurant and drops dead of a heart attack, that’s not my problem. The guest asked me to make food that tastes good to them, not that’s good for them.”

Sam Kass:
And it just totally rocked me mostly because he was right and that was true for the whole food system that we’ve been demanding food that tastes good, but we’re not really that concerned with the well being of the food that we were eating.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
And so I went back to my station and I looked out, I could see out into the dining room, and I looked out and I just started thinking about what he said to me and realizing that everybody in that dining room looked terrible. They looked completely overweight and unhealthy, and I asked myself, “Well, what is the implication to what I was preparing for them to eat on their lives and their wellbeing?”

Sam Kass:
And then just as I was in this middle of asking myself these questions after getting chewed out by the chef… By the way, is the most wonderful human. I love that man. He taught me the basic-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But he loved butter.

Sam Kass:
Yeah. Well, he was doing what he thought the guests wanted. And right then, the purveyor of all our ducks, and chickens, and eggs came in through this door onto my left and I immediately just asked, “I wonder what the implications of what I’m serving has on the land that’s producing it and farmer that are growing and the environment that it comes from.”

Sam Kass:
And that was very early on, it was just like the first few months of my [inaudible 00:07:16] training. And that sent me down a path of obscure history of agriculture books to weird policy, taxation books. I stopped reading cookbooks and just started… I can now start to say this, it’s crazy, but there wasn’t Kindles or things, so I normally packed my bag and my travels through the next five years or so mostly with books.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So you basically spent backpacking around with a backpack full of policy, and food, and ag books, not cookbooks.

Sam Kass:
Yeah, and not cook books. Yeah, so that was a multi-year journey and ended up coming back to Chicago just a few months after then Senator Obama launched his campaign to organize chefs around food policy. I didn’t know what I wanted to do much beyond that sentence, but I knew that chefs had a big role to play and that we weren’t raising our voices at all, and that was my intent.

Sam Kass:
So the week I got back, I reconnected with Michelle, who was a single mom with not much… I mean, not a single mom, a working mom with a husband who wasn’t there, so I’m sure at times she felt like a single mom, and started helping her a few times a week as the campaign really got going and the rest was history.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And then you just went right from the Obama’s house in Chicago to the White House.

Sam Kass:
Basically. There was a lot in between. Obviously, I did a lot to overhaul their kitchen and how they ate, and she saw the impact not only on herself but on the wellbeing of the girls. We started talking a lot just the toll that what we were eating was taking on the health of the nation, on the economy of the nation. And as she started to see the power of what can be done with not that huge change, but some real change and how much she had been struggling with that.

Sam Kass:
Being her nutrition head, she talked about this a lot when we were in the White House, but I had sort of tapped on her shoulder and said, “Hey, they’re okay, but their numbers have started moving in a direction that is concerning and you should just start taking a little bit more precaution about what they’re eating.” Even though she thought she was feeding them really good food. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
And she realized for somebody who as well educated as her, as a woman who had plenty of resources, she was struggling with that, God, how hard is this for parents around the country? And so that’s really how we got started down the path that we did.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s pretty amazing. And what was it like working in the White House? That would have been just like a mind blowing experience, I imagine.

Sam Kass:
Yeah, it was pretty intense. I had pretty crazy days. My days, I start in the morning, I get a workout in with the president and the first lady, and then from there, so every day it was pretty good way to start the day. And then would change into a suit and go work on policy issues and working on Let’s Move. So that would be anything from like child nutrition to antibiotics, to food safety, to working with businesses and trying to get them to change their practices, to MyPlate or all the different things we did. It was a really broad range of issues around food systems.

Sam Kass:
And then oftentimes I be caught in some big meeting that would run over and I’d realized like, oh shit, damn-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Got to make dinner.

Sam Kass:
… I got 20 minutes to get dinner on the table inside, run, sprint to the kitchen, tear off my tie and cook as fast as I can. I will say that I now have two young kids, I have two boys under three, so my time in the White House really has prepared me well for this because my skills went down over those years, but I got really fast, so I could get dinner on the table in-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
20 minutes.

Sam Kass:
… light speed, no problem. And so it served me well.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And wait, you can make delicious, good food-

Sam Kass:
Absolutely.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… that tastes good and is good for you, and isn’t going to break the bank in 20 minutes.

Sam Kass:
Absolutely.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
See that is the myth that the food industry propagates on us, that is very difficult, it takes so much time, it’s expensive to eat well, and I think that myth is keeping a lot of American families down. And it’s an interesting moment today in America because everybody has to be home cooking. Restaurants are closed-

Sam Kass:
That’s really the moment right now.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
.. and I think people are starting to cook and figure out what to do, but it’s not the time to start making a lot of cakes and cookies because they’re going to suppress your immune system.

Sam Kass:
Absolutely. Definitely. So yeah, that’s how happened.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Amazing.
Speaker 2:
Hi everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the episode. Before we continue, we have a quick message from Dr. Mark Hyman about his new company Farmacy and their first product, the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey, it’s Dr. Hyman. Do you have FLC? What’s FLC? Is when you feel like crap. Is a problem that so many people suffer from and often have no idea that it’s not normal or that you can fix it. You know the feeling, it’s when you’re super sluggish, your digestion’s off, you can’t think clearly, or you have brain fog, or you just feel run down. Can you relate? I know most people can.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But the real question is, what the heck do we do about it? Well, I hate to break the news, but there’s no magic bullet. FLC isn’t caused by one single thing, so there’s not one single solution. However, there is a systems-based approach, a way to tackle the multiple root factors that contribute to FLC and I call that system the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The 10 Day Reset combines food, key lifestyle habits and targeted supplements to address FLC straight on. It’s a protocol that I’ve used with thousands of my community members to help them get their health back on track. It’s not a magic bullet, it’s not a quick fix, it’s a system that works.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you want to learn more and get your health back on track, click on the button below or visit getfarmacy.com, that’s get farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y.com.
Speaker 2:
Now back to this week’s episode.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
One of the things you really worked on was school nutrition and the obese. Two out of 10 kids now are obese. Not just overweight, four out of 10 are overweight. We’re seeing this affect their cognitive behavior and academic performance. What’s most striking in the study that really shocked me was that the kids were the most obese are also the most nutrient deficient.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When you look at their vitamin and mineral levels, they are among the lowest because they’re eating crap and it’s affecting their cognitive function, their metabolism, and setting them up for really bad, bad outcomes in lives, lower life expectancy, lower ability to earn higher incomes. And in schools it’s cesspool there, sugar, salt, processed carbs, industrial refined fats.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I went to the school, they had McDonald’s Monday, Taco Bell Tuesday, Wendy’s Wednesday. They had advertising all over the gymnasiums and bathroom stalls. And you guys really went to work on this with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was signed into law in 2010. Can you tell us about that and what were the challenges you found that you faced in addressing changes to the school lunch program from the food industry and from the Congress? What was that like?

Sam Kass:
There are lots of them. When we got there, there was no rules at all about what you could sell in schools. So in vending machines and the a la carte lines in the lunchrooms, there was literally zero standards. You could sell anything you want. And the guidelines hadn’t been updated in terms of the new gym standards for the school lunch meal itself. In 20 years, there haven’t been new resource for the program in 30.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Sam Kass:
Part of the challenge, there’s lots of different challenges. One, we were trying to do it in the middle of an economics collapsed not too different from what’s happening right now.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s right. That was 2008, right?

Sam Kass:
Yeah. We were working on this through 2009, so pretty intense time trying to get a bill like that done. But for us and the administration, and by the way, it took president Obama intervening and helping a push with the first lady to get that done as we think it was the bedrock of the future of the nation and so that’s why it was such a priority for us.

Sam Kass:
I think there was a lot of challenges. One, like on the vending machines, they are huge sources of revenue for things that we care about in schools like art class, the music class, the school’s budgets-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sports.

Sam Kass:
Yeah, for sports, so these budgets have been cut so much that schools are depending on basically selling these kids junk food to keep programs that we all care about alive. So there’s a real tense conflict there, but obviously, killing them prematurely over the term. That’s not a solution for art. So-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They can write great poems as they’re dying and great songs [crosstalk 00:16:27]-

Sam Kass:
… we just had to work, we had to work this out. There was huge raging and sometimes the debates in Washington just leave you scratching your head, but huge debates on whether you had to just offer the vegetable to the kid or actually had to serve them the vegetable.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, they talk about competitive foods in schools, which makes me crazy. A competitive food is a doughnut versus an apple, so if you put them side by side, guess which one that kid’s going to pick.

Sam Kass:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not exactly competitive.

Sam Kass:
Big fights there. Then there was a pretty infamous effort by the Frozen Food Institute, which is basically the pizza and franchises.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
[inaudible 00:17:13] that made the tomato sauce on the pizza to be counted as a vegetable. And French fries, we proposed limitations on the amount of fries that could be served in a given week and-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which was also a vegetable.

Sam Kass:
Right, exactly. You didn’t know?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Ketchup is also is a vegetable.

Sam Kass:
Yeah. Yeah. And so they got Congress to intervene and they attached that onto another bill and got that through. So we were able to then increase the serving of vegetables so you could serve rice, but you still also have to serve like broccoli or something like that, so it really defeated the purpose of serving the fries, so we’re able to constrain that significantly at the time in a way. And so-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I remember a story that Schwan’s pizza, which is a big pizza company in Minnesota, is the largest supplier of pizza to schools.

Sam Kass:
Yeah, they are.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And Amy Klobuchar, who’s the Senator from Minnesota, a Democrat was instrumental in getting, pizza being included as a vegetable, which just goes to show you the ways in which the food industry is so influential in driving our policies, which have nothing to do with science.

Sam Kass:
Yeah. That is true. We had big fights on potatoes in many arenas, similar to school lunch as well as with [WIC 00:18:42]. But I got to say, so there was real fights. I did think there’s this… I have gotten over the outrage that industry is going to pursue their interests. I’m just like, “We got to get over it and just win and just beat them at this game. Need to be smarter and more strategic, run for office, get in power and win.” [crosstalk 00:19:08]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So you think the congressmen and senators would be your allies? Did you find that? Clearly the food entry pushback.

Sam Kass:
Yes. Sometimes, well, we got it all passed and the bill was actually quite good. Outside of those things that I mentioned, the whole grain provision, the sodium provisions, the amount of vegetables we had to serve, all those things were actually quite very, very strong. There wasn’t enough money for the program.

Sam Kass:
Could it be improved? Of course. Could it be significantly improved? Absolutely, but was it just a transformational bill compared to what was there before? Absolutely. And it took a Herculean effort to get it done, be given everything else that was going on in Washington. So look, That was like just a huge win and-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Was there any followup data on how kids did in terms of their weight, their academic performance, the impact of the new school lunch guidelines?

Sam Kass:
I haven’t seen a robust analysis for the whole program in its entirety. The other part of the bill that we buried and didn’t really talk much about because it didn’t [inaudible 00:20:21], but mainly the most impactful thing in this bill, I don’t know, one, you could debate it was provision that basically said, it’s called the Community Eligibility Program and it allowed schools that had 40% free reduced, basically where almost the majority of their kids were low income kids.

Sam Kass:
You could serve breakfast to every kid in the school for free and every kid got lunch for free. And so-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s amazing.

Sam Kass:
… what’s very powerful about that is not as much at lunch but at breakfast because at lunch everybody’s eating together and you don’t know who’s who, but breakfast was only in the cafeteria for the poor kids. And so what would happen is those kids would have lunch at school, they’d go home, most of them don’t get food at home when they get there, maybe a lot a bag of chips or something.

Sam Kass:
And then they come back to school, but they were so ashamed of being identified as poor that they would skip breakfast even though they hadn’t eaten since lunch the day [crosstalk 00:21:24].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Sam Kass:
And so by serving breakfast in the classroom and serving it to everybody, millions of poor kids are getting food now that otherwise-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Sam Kass:
… wouldn’t. And so you saw their increased participation, significantly improved attendance and significantly improved reading and math scores because those kids… Can you remember when you were like 12 or 13, how hungry you were all the time-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
… and imagine you hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before and it’s now 9:00 and you’re asked to focus on-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Focus.

Sam Kass:
… a math test.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I get it.

Sam Kass:
Forget that. I could barely do that if I was full, let alone if I was starving. So it was a transformational piece of legislation in that regard and for the district that have done, they’ve seen just incredible results. There’s been challenges to implement it, but those resources remain and more and more districts each year are signing up for it.

Sam Kass:
I think we have to be careful, things are messy and politics is messy, and you’re going to have people lobbying for their own interest of their businesses, sometimes in ways that I can understand, sometimes that I find disgusting and just are poor, but either way-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Can you share the stories of what you’ve experienced that reveal the underbelly of what you’re fighting against?

Sam Kass:
Look, it cut both ways. We banned trans fats, which there was an attempt to try to figure out from the industry side if they could still because of a few people who wanted, and various icing and other couple of products where it was harder to replace. They wanted to go fight to try to allow a certain level right in under the ban.

Sam Kass:
Am I allowed to swear on this podcast?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You can.

Sam Kass:
And I told the [inaudible 00:23:25] that it had a lot of issues guys like, “If you want to have that fucking fight lag, let’s go because I cannot wait to take it to you on this. If you want to make sure that you’re pumping trans fats, that is a known killer, let’s go at it.” That’s clearly something that was killing everybody, a very specific thing that would have had ample evidence.

Sam Kass:
And sometimes you’re just like ready for a nasty fight, but I will also say, and it’s important for everybody to understand, there’s a lot of nuance and a lot of gray. So there’s some issues like pizza as a vegetable or a trans fats, which is a black and white issue. But there’s a lot of other companies that have done tremendous work to try to make it easier and more affordable for families to get decent food, that are working with real constraints from Wall Street.

Sam Kass:
Like if CEOs try to change too much too fast and lose some revenue in a three or six month period, they’re going to get fired. So those efforts would be undone in a minute, so if you’re trying to get somebody to change, there’s a pragmatism that has to be taken from them as well. And by the way, a lot of people talk about wanting to eat better and how we need better food, but consumers tend to eat what they eat and tend to like pretty unhealthy foods.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s because that food likes them. It’s addictive and it sets up the biology of hunger, and craving, and addiction, which is very hard to fight with willpower. And that’s part of the problem.

Sam Kass:
That’s absolutely right, but it’s also a real problem for the industry. So they box themselves into a problem of creating highly craveable food and now people want it and they like it, and they identify themselves with eating it. So it’s becomes the whole, what we eat is really how we understand who we are. And so when you start to change, you’re saying you want to change me as a human.

Sam Kass:
And so it gets super complicated and people aren’t changing as fast as we think they are. And so for a CEO who’s like, “I get it. My portfolio is not good. I’ve got to make some real change.” It’s not like they’re in the position to say, “I get these products are terrible. I’m just going to get rid of them.” It doesn’t work [crosstalk 00:25:39]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Or they’re innovating, these companies are innovating. They’re giving the crap out, they’re formulating their products or-

Sam Kass:
They’re getting there. They getting it, [crosstalk 00:25:45] so I just think we have to be careful to see the monolith, evil food industry-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I agree.

Sam Kass:
… versus everybody because it just actually doesn’t capture the reality, nor is it going to go away. And so I think we have to work to figure out who’s a good actor trying to do the right thing, who’s not and just needs to get called out and pressured, and fought, and won. And then work strategically to make progress to work collaboratively when you can and fight when you have to.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, it’s hard to have the sniff to test on for the greenwashing, what’s true, [crosstalk 00:26:16] what’s not, and a lot of people are saying the right things, are they doing the right things? One of the things that’s challenging in all the hard work you did with the Obama’s to get the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed in 2010, the current administration is trying to roll that back and their arguments are that, “Oh, kids are throwing out the food. It doesn’t taste good. People won’t eat it, so we have to fix those guidelines, quote, “fix the guidelines,” which means roll them back so that more junk can in the schools.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I think there’s a real challenge in the culinary world in school lunches, and as a chef, I’d love your opinion about this because like we were talking about before, you’ve learned how to make delicious, yummy meals in a short order from ingredients that aren’t going to break the bank, and that can be done. And I think there are models of this.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
My friend Jill Shah, I think I might’ve talked to about her-

Sam Kass:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… who’s going to be on the podcast, talking about My Way Cafe, where she got top chefs to create delicious meals within the school nutrition guidelines within the school budget for school lunches, which is not very much, and kids love it, and they’re not throwing it out, and they’re eating it. And I’ve seen this happen over and over throughout the country, so can you speak to the rollbacks that are happening, why they’re happening and what we can do to fight those?

Sam Kass:
Yeah. Well, the main reason they’re happening is because of the School Nutrition Association. And that is an organization whose name it does not deserve.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You mean the School Malnutrition Association?

Sam Kass:
Yeah. Basically. Basically what’s happened with them is they represent the school chefs as I call them and they’d been under a lot of pressure for many years. I will say that the school chefs around this country have for the most part, they go into these cafeterias with very little resource, with almost no support. They love those kids and they’re really trying to do right for them.

Sam Kass:
Unfortunately, the organization that represents them is one that is just dominated by some of the worst players in the food system. Those same pizza and French fries guys, Conagra and a few others are the most influential companies on their board, and they were very supportive of the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act and the work that we were doing, and we were real allies, theirs, and then they realized that standards were going too far, and in the middle of the whole thing, they fire the CEO, brought in a bunch of hacks for big food.

Sam Kass:
And have then since started fighting us and now have been lobbying the Trump administration to roll back the standards. And so if they’re listening, haven’t talked to you guys in a while, but shame, shame on you. It’s just an abomination of your role in our society to be safe guarding the wellbeing of the kids that are eating in our schools, and representing, and supporting the people, mostly women who are working so hard with so little support day in and day out to do the best they can with these resources.

Sam Kass:
And I just am so disappointed in how that has played out. Their argument that it’s just good enough to have some green beans on the line, that’s like a serious point argument for a 10 year old to say they want it. It’s just a joke. The reality is all the evidence shows that… The evidence shows two things; one, kids have been throwing out school lunch since the day it was invented. And that is nothing new and there’s zero evidence that our new standards led to an any increased food waste.

Sam Kass:
Secondly, the evidence shows that there’s a substantial increase in consumption if you actually serve the food to the child, [crosstalk 00:30:12]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you put it on their plate.

Sam Kass:
If it’s on their plate, they’re more likely to eat it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What do you know.

Sam Kass:
In fact, we had a research that… But it’s true, it turns out that’s how it goes. So that’s where these things really get [inaudible 00:30:25] in position to do that, which is really troubling, especially given the fact that while we made a tremendous amount of progress, this is a generational effort and we have a long way to go. And so we should be tripling down on our efforts, not rolling them back.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
As a chef, you believe that if we somehow figured out how to get food service providers to recalibrate what they’re doing and get cooks, getting the ladies and the guys who are in the kitchens in schools actually cooking, that is doable.

Sam Kass:
I think it’s doable if there was a tremendous increase in funding. But right now most of these schools don’t… A lot of them don’t have real kitchens. Infrastructure is lagging, schools haven’t been upgraded in years. Schools have way bigger… A big part of the problem for school lunch is that these school cafeterias were designed for like 300 students, now they’re 700 in school.

Sam Kass:
And a big part of the problem that nobody really talks about is like a lot of kids are getting lunch during 10:00, and then they have like 20 minutes eat-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
… and they just don’t have enough time to eat. So there’s a lot of really just structural problems, and so I think there’s a middle ground where if we could bring some capacity of cooking back into kitchens or have better hub and spoke models where food is being preferred more fresh, and integrating that with high quality pre-made foods, which I think that’s a likely scenario.

Sam Kass:
But you’re talking about billions, and billions, and billions of dollars of infrastructural needs, hundreds of billions of dollars.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You mean kitchens? Is that what you mean?

Sam Kass:
Yeah, kitchens and staff. Like now all of a sudden you need a lot more people to cook.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I was looking on Jill Shah that you actually don’t increase costs at all. That you can do it if you put the kitchens in and then teach the staff how to do it, and create the right recipes with food that’s low cost but delicious and nutritious, that it’s doable.

Sam Kass:
I’m not saying it’s not doable, I’m just saying that it’s definitely doable-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s hard.

Sam Kass:
… and there’s some people that do it. I’m just saying it takes increased resources. The food cost is [inaudible 00:32:41] I agree with her, but there’s no way she’s… And I love her, but I don’t want to disagree with her about anything. Each school is different, so it’s hard to speak on just complete generalities. But if you have a staff that’s all they’re doing is taking frozen things and heating them up, you have a pretty lean team.

Sam Kass:
If you’re going to prepare everything and chop all the vegetable, then you just was going to need more hands most likely. There could be some things, they have a big staff and you can do that, but for the most part, I think there’s some increased costs there most likely.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s a more decentralized, right? It’s not a federal program. It’s all based on local school districts and everybody decides themselves. That’s a harder thing to nationalize. Right?

Sam Kass:
Much harder. Yeah, that part is hard. And look, what we’ve found in the… sorry. What we found in these schools is that for the school chefs who really were excited about serving better food, passionate about it, really wanted to do right for their kids, they figured out how to make really delicious food within the budget and meeting the standards and sometimes dramatically exceeding the standards.

Sam Kass:
And we found that in districts where they didn’t believe in it, they didn’t care about health, they thought that these Democrats in the White House were trying to tell them what to eat.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Nanny state.

Sam Kass:
Nanny state. They serve food that tastes terrible-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
… and so a lot of it is just about your will and your commitment to doing-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, we need to do it because we are destroying our children and the future generation. A friend of mine said, was a doctor, was a pediatrician. “If a foreign nation was doing to our children what we’re doing to them, we’d go to war to fight it.”

Sam Kass:
[crosstalk 00:34:24].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All right. Well, you’re doing all this work on the front lines of food and politics, you came to a revelation about how to make real progress on the challenges facing our health and the planet. Can you talk about what that was?

Sam Kass:
A few of them, which one?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I think you had some insights about working on the front lines that made you realize how to make progress on certain challenges that were, I think an insight that you got during that work.

Sam Kass:
Oh God, what would… so many.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You told me you had a lot of them.

Sam Kass:
Yeah, a lot of them. Well, I think for me, change, there’s sort of a roadmap for it, but most of it is rooted in our culture. And I think a lot of times we like to blame government and we like to think that… There’s a very convenient narrative that government subsidies are the reason why junk food is cheap, and if only we could change those subsidies, everything will be fine, and we would fix it, and healthy food will be more affordable. And I just came to realize one, that’s unfortunately just utterly not true. There’s no basis in fact of that.

Sam Kass:
The subsidies are stupid policy, and we actually changed a lot of the ones that people have heard a lot about, but there is… It’s just such a developed market that they’re just really a drop in the bucket. The reason why we are eating… Junk food is much more affordable than healthier food often is because we’ve figured out how to make junk food in a very efficient manner and grow the two crops that are really the foundation of unhealthy food, namely corn and soy in a hyper efficient manner.

Sam Kass:
We can have fields of a hundreds of thousands acres of corn that nobody ever touches that are planted, grown and harvested without a single person on the land. The corn used to be many feet apart, now it’s grown 18 inches next to each other. It’s just an amazing amount of energy and resources that have innovated on the system. And we’ve invested statistically insignificant, like seriously $0 million in figuring out how to grow nutrient-dense fruit, vegetables and whole grains-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Sam Kass:
… in that manner. And so we have just a gaping hole on our innovation of how we do that and I think that’s really where we need to put our attention and that’s where the solutions are going to really lie.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, that brings me to my next question, which is, you worked a lot inside government and I think you came to the conclusion that governments may not be the whole answer to solving these problems, that businesses have to innovate, and that you have now moved on to working with an organization that focuses on accelerating businesses that are innovating around solutions.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So rather than talking about all the things that go bad and I know it’s terrible, how about we talk about what people are actually doing in the innovation space around food, and ag, and consumer solutions that are addressing chronic disease, that are addressing climate change, that are addressing the food system.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s so exciting, man, and we’ve had these conversations before, but it’d be really great to hear how actually you’re seeing this happen.

Sam Kass:
Yeah. What I did realize it’s just worth a minute to touch on. I think government has a really important role to play in our food system, so it’s not just to say that it has a critical role, but it’s not that well positioned to change it. There’s some key areas like school food of course, or the military, which we did a bunch of work on and the food that the military purchases and they’re huge obviously.

Sam Kass:
And some other areas where rules and regulations are quite leadership matters, but for the most part, food is a private sector endeavor and it’s farmers that are growing it and companies that are processing it, and distributors that are selling it, and so if we don’t affect that change, then we’re not going to make much progress.

Sam Kass:
And so I think what we’re seeing, we have a food system that’s basically been built on a few things, a few key elements. One, we’ve had the most stable climate in the recorded history of the last 100 or so years.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, 91.

Sam Kass:
Right. But the climate has been completely stable. We’ve had unlimited natural resources namely; soil and water, just plentiful, and we’ve had cheap energy. And it’s that formulation that has allowed this system that we have currently to be built, and all of those things are done. And so you’re seeing a tremendous amount of pressure on the supply chain from all the way upstream down and you’re seeing a transformation in consumer preferences, attitudes and behaviors being driven around climate and health.

Sam Kass:
And so you’re getting a really powerful ecosystem of the potential for real change because we’ve seen really no innovation in food systems outside of some things growing corn and soy really for that last like 60, 70 years. Think about your kitchen as a good way to think about it in a way that we can touch. The only innovation in the kitchen has been in the microwave over the last like 75 years, 50 years or something like that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
Once we have a refrigerator, that was a big deal. We’ve had ovens, they’ve gotten better, but they’re basically [crosstalk 00:40:07]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Instant pot.

Sam Kass:
Instant pot, yeah. I got crush points, I’ve dropped my cookbook and there’s like two instant pot cookbooks and it’s like I got buried by instant pot. [crosstalk 00:40:16] what is this instant pot thing? [inaudible 00:40:19] I was like living in the dark. Yeah, instant pot and the microwave. This is the part, I’m like, “Hats off. That’s great.”

Sam Kass:
But the microwave, if you stop and think about it was the only real innovation that we’ve seen. The rest of our world is being transformed by our phones and everything is changing-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s true.

Sam Kass:
… [inaudible 00:40:40], and that’s true throughout the whole supply chain. And so the time is ripe. You have all these young entrepreneurs who are founding businesses, try to solve the issues of food and climate, to try to solve the issues around our health and our wellbeing. And this goes all the way up from genetics of plants to different ways of bringing nutrients to the soil, the microbiome of the soil, all the way to how do we trace and provide transparency in food, the supply chain, alternative proteins, alternative ingredients, and then down into the conversion of the health care system and the food system.

Sam Kass:
Finally, there’s a major part of the economy that is waking up to the realization that if they don’t help make a healthier country, they’re going to go out of business. The tidal wave of just diabetes alone, 34 million diabetics and over 80 million pre-diabetics. It’s just a tidal wave of a health healthcare crisis coming out at the industry.

Sam Kass:
And so there’s just all this innovation coming, but how do we deliver more nutrient-dense foods in a price point that people can afford? And I think there’s… It gives me a lot of hope. Now the clock is ticking, we’re running out of time. The problems are particularly on the climate side are happening faster than I think anybody could I realize.

Sam Kass:
I didn’t know if I told you this, I would do these dinners called the last supper where I would cook… I still do sometimes where you take ingredients that basically experts are predicting that our kids or grandkids aren’t going to have because of climate. So these are things like coffee, and wine, and chocolate. Let me just repeat that. Coffee, wine, chocolate.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So we’re not going to be able to eat those.

Sam Kass:
Not everybody’s got a stake in solving climate change if they didn’t realize it before, but it’s also like shellfish, crustaceans and crabs, so crabs, and lobsters, real food, bedrocks of the ocean, nuts all kinds of different things foods. And then a couple of weeks ago, I got a little push alert around basically Dungeness crabs, the populations have collapsed because the acidification of the ocean, which we thought was going to happen in 20 or 30, 40 years-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now happening.

Sam Kass:
… is increasing so fast that the babies can’t form shells. And so they’re starting to get wiped out. The things that I had been talking about up until like a couple of months ago that were like way off in the future, but in like our kids and grandkids-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Keeps accelerating.

Sam Kass:
… are happening now. So I think the sense of urgency to change how we’re eating and to innovate is growing ever evermore dyer.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What’s really interesting is that you talk about how the way we grow food is going to be threatened by climate change. So the way we’re growing food contributes to climate change and the food that we’re trying to grow is going to be impacted by climate change. Can you talk about that and what innovations are happening in technology that’s going to be necessary to actually make progress on both those aspects?

Sam Kass:
Yeah. It’s a pretty negative feedback loop that we’re under right now. Food and ag is the number two driver of emissions globally and give or take a decade, the next 20 or 30 years, it’s going to be the number one driver because unlike energy where we can see a future where our footprint is coming down, food and ag is going straight up.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Some estimate that even now when you add it all in, it’s the first.

Sam Kass:
Yeah. Depending on how you cut the numbers, yeah, I think you can make a good argument, but either way, it’s a huge part of the footprint. And it’s a wildly inefficient system. We’re wasting a third of what we produce, which is a huge emitter in and of itself and we’re getting these terrible health outcomes. So the system that is wildly inefficient.

Sam Kass:
And as the climate gets worse, and food security is on the front lines. It’s one of the places where we’re going to feel the impacts of climate first and we already are. And what you’re starting to see is-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Because with climate instability, then the agricultural environments change and you can’t grow the food that you used to be able to grow where you used to grow it.

Sam Kass:
Yeah. So what we’re starting to see actually… You beat me to the punch with your incredible book, but I’m writing say a different version, but the same issues that we’ve got to talk about it. You’re just faster than me, unfortunately.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’ve been busy, you’ve been busy. You have with the babies and all that.

Sam Kass:
Yeah, I got two babies [crosstalk 00:45:21]. What I’m working on right now is you actually, what you’re seeing is a massive migration North of plants and animals North and South trying to [crosstalk 00:45:38] more temperate climates because the volatility and increasing temperatures are making the areas where we grew food inhospitable. Now there’s some areas for a time being that will benefit, but-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Polar soils are different in the North, if you’re growing food in North Dakota and you want to go grow it in Northern Saskatchewan, it might not be the same.

Sam Kass:
And we’re going to run out of room. So you’re seeing there’s just real disruption. And there’s some plants that can move, they’re planted year over year so they can move as the climate moves and farmers realize, oh, I can plant corn now. They’ll plant it for a while because they can make some real money, but there’s other crops like anything that grows on a tree, that’s not as easily moved.

Sam Kass:
For fishermen who’ve been fishing in certain areas or generations, when the fish are gone, there’s nothing to catch.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I remember going to North Newfoundland, which was one of the biggest Cod fisheries in the world. And we went to this remote little day. We had to literally take a boat around to this town that was isolated. And there was this incredible fish hatchery, giant fish processing plant.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And there were a couple of fishermen on the dock and they brought in these really puny little Cod. And it was just so sad, and the whole town was going out of business sale, everything was shutting down. It firsthand experience on what actually is going on.

Sam Kass:
Yeah, it’s pretty devastating. And so we’re just at the very beginnings of this. So look, I think we’re going to have to innovate in meaningful ways and sometimes in uncomfortable ways. We don’t really like the idea of high tech things in our food and we shouldn’t. I think that sense of tradition and that sense of this is how we’ve always done it, there’s a healthy aspect to that.

Sam Kass:
But given what’s happening and how bad I think it’s going to get and how bad I think it’s going to get in a relatively short amount of time, that I think we’re going to have to keep an open mind about looking at different tools that can help us solve these challenges in a way that we-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And what are you seeing coming up in these businesses that you’re looking at? Your sort of sitting-

Sam Kass:
I think the biggest one that both has the biggest potential to help us manage the crisis that we’re entering as well as has potential to be used in all kinds of ways that could not be beneficial is gene editing. Just like you hear a lot about it right now around human health, and designer babies and all those sorts of things. That same technology can be used to basically express or silence genetic material in the genome of a plant, not foreign DNA, but what’s currently resides in-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
This is not literally genetically modified organisms in the sense of inserting like a bacterial gene in a plant or-

Sam Kass:
Right. GMO is as it exists now and as you hear it is about foreign DNA being inserted into the genome of a plant. CRISPR, what it does is it allows you to both silence genes that are being expressed or express genes more importantly that have been silent and have lost over hundreds of years if not a thousand years of breeding. And to do multiple expressions or silencing in one plant, it has transformational potential in terms of-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Give me just an example of how that would be used in agriculture.

Sam Kass:
You could use it to improve… Like wheat has a lot of fungus problems, you could use it to help target the genes that could be resistant to fungus while increasing the fiber in the plant and improving nutrient density potentially, or allowing it to be more drought tolerant. You can do things [crosstalk 00:49:42]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You can breed it for more nutrient density and flavor, which would always be clever.

Sam Kass:
And flavor. Absolutely. Their ability to basically sequence the genome of a plant, target the characteristics of that plant you want or silence the ones you don’t is just much cheaper now and much, much more efficient. Now, the question is, what are the values that we’re going to deploy these tools on?

Sam Kass:
They’re very powerful and I think instead of saying like, “Genetics bad,” which is not really not been the case. We’ve been tinkering with genetics of plants since the beginning.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Gregor Mendel.

Sam Kass:
Well, and far beforehand for him.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Before him for sure.

Sam Kass:
It’s the foundation of civilization was our ability to take plants and breed them over time. This is able to do that in a much more dramatic and efficient manner. And the question is, are we going to use these tools for the benefit of a few big companies so they get to spray more chemicals and extract more profit? Are we going to use this in a way that’s going to help lighten our footprint on the agricultural system and improve the health outcomes of eaters?

Sam Kass:
So where I’ve come to after grappling, and there’s going to be a lot of gray, and it’s going to be I think complicated, but I’m going to judge these new innovations based on that. So I don’t think tools are inherently good or bad. I think it’s how you use them. And so that’s how I think we need to see this.

Sam Kass:
So if it’s helping us meet these goals of a much more sustainable and healthier food system, then I support it. And if not, then I don’t.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Amazing. That’s a simple metric to look at. Is it helping or hurting?

Sam Kass:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s a lot of things that are hurting.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So as individuals, what can we do to shift our patterns? And is that even relevant? Do we have to wait for business and governments to act or can we as individuals actually make a difference to live a way that’s more helpful and more climate smart?

Sam Kass:
Oh, there’s no question about it. You’ve written about it in many of your books, I took my stab at in my cookbook, hybrid book. I think there’s no question that… Here’s the thing that people don’t realize, and this is true, both politicians and businesses, they’re scared to death of us. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to figure out what we’re thinking, what do we want? And just figuring out how they can somehow deliver it in some way, shape, or form.

Sam Kass:
They feel powerful and they are, and they’ll fight for things when their interests are threatened, but they’re scared and-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s true.

Sam Kass:
… they’re listening intently to everything. Every micro-trends, they’re like, “Oh my God, I think they may be going this way. We got to figure out how to move that way.” And we’re driving so much of their behavior in were more powerful than we realize. And I [crosstalk 00:52:36]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… CBD, Coca-Cola. I’m sure.

Sam Kass:
Of course, that’s right. I guarantee it. I can guarantee that. And think about that. So I think we have to… The key for us and the way I always try to put this out there is I think we need to set ourselves up for success. We need to make it as easy on ourselves as we can to make the best choice because a lot of times when we’re buying food that’s pretty unhealthy, and then just trying to rely on willpower to just not eat it in our home.

Sam Kass:
And no matter who you are, if that cookie’s in front of you, eventually you’re going to eat it. You can hold off for a while, but there’s nobody, myself included who is not eventually going to eat a cookie if it’s there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
And a lot of times, and this is how marketing works and I know [crosstalk 00:53:21]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now you made me want to cook chocolate chip cookies tonight after dinner. I’m like, “Oh my God.”

Sam Kass:
Exactly. That’s exactly how it works. That’s exactly how marketing works. And you’ve talked a lot about this, but it’s [crosstalk 00:53:30]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Such a bad [crosstalk 00:53:31]-

Sam Kass:
… a picture of a burger or you hear somebody say chocolate chip cookie and then you’re like, “Oh, I love a cookie.” It’s you didn’t want to cook, you just saw a picture of a cookie and that made you want the cookie.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Sam Kass:
And so my hope especially, I think we have to do a much better job at fighting the fight in the grocery store, being really conscious about making good choices there, and then relaxing when we get home because we have ourselves surrounded by things that are good for us. And if we continue to do that and focus on just more plants, nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, we’re going to continue to drive the market and make that known.

Sam Kass:
Make that known to your friends, make that known to your family, make that known on social media. That has a huge impact on our culture, and as that becomes our norm, you’re going to see both policy and politics and food companies starting to try to increasingly respond to what we’re saying we want, and what we’re saying we need, and what we’re saying we’re going to do and doing it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, that’s very helpful [crosstalk 00:54:30]-

Sam Kass:
Yeah. That for me is actually the main job. That’s the hard work, but that’s the work that actually allows both the industry and our policy and politics to act as they should because they’re supposed to follow us. These people aren’t leaders. Business people are not leaders.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No.

Sam Kass:
Politicians are not leaders. They’re not-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s true.

Sam Kass:
… they’re designed, they’re supposed to follow. Democracy is about following the will of the people, that’s what they’re supposed to do. And so really we have more power in this than we realize. And so I think the more we activate on that, the better we’re going to be.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think that’s true. I think that the take home message is make your home a safe zone. Don’t introduce foods in there that are not good for your family, and introduce foods that taste good and are amazing. My son, when he was I think 15 or 14, he invited a bunch of friends over for dinner and he goes, “There’s nothing to eat in the house.” I’m like, “All right.” I said, “Let’s go to the grocery store and there’s only one rule. You can’t buy anything with trans fat, period. Nothing.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He couldn’t find a single thing to buy pizza, whatever he wanted to buy, all had trans fat.

Sam Kass:
Yeah. Totally.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It was a good lesson and I think-

Sam Kass:
Yeah. Look, I think a real rule on that is too, when you get into your home, it’s true in society, you eat what you see.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s right.

Sam Kass:
That’s what you’re going to eat. Even in your home, it’s not to say that you shouldn’t have like… You want a couple of cookies, or you really want to-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I got chocolate.

Sam Kass:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And Curvie, and wine.

Sam Kass:
Just put it out of sight. I got plenty of wines, especially right now. Let me tell you. But just put it out of sight. Put on the top shelf behind something, so you’re only going to eat it when you like no, you really, really want it. And this is honestly what happened, this is how it all started with the Obamas is that instinctually, and I didn’t even know the research that had been done at that time, but I took the fruit that was in the bottom shelf, which we… Everything goes to waste on there. Why? Because we don’t see it.

Sam Kass:
So we open the fridge, we don’t open it, we don’t see what’s down there, and then you remember, oh man, I should looked down there and it’s like [crosstalk 00:56:33]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, we got green beans tonight because over found them in the bottom of our drawer.

Sam Kass:
[inaudible 00:56:36]. But I’d put the fruit out on the counter, so when the girls would run by, if I had a bowl of chips there, they would have grabbed a bowl of chips, a handful of chips. But I had some grapes there, so they grab grapes. It’s just because that’s what was easy and that’s what they saw.

Sam Kass:
And so the more you can surround yourself with those things so you’re not having to think about it and you’re just eating whatever’s around you, the more successful we’re going to be because we’re going to eat what we see. So just think about that like about setting up what you’re going to make eye contact with as you move through the day. It’s going to have a huge impact on ultimately what you eat even in our homes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And I love what Michael Pollan says, “If you want to eat something, just eat it, but make it yourself.” If you want French fries, make them yourself, if you want a cookie, make yourself from real ingredients, then-

Sam Kass:
That’s true mostly because we would never put as much of the junk in there as these guys would right? Because they’re trying to maximize the profit margins on every product. If you’re going to cook something, you’re not going to throw like 10 times the amount of sugar and some [inaudible 00:57:44] and some salt just to amp the whole thing up and not have any real good other ingredients that actually carry the flavor.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay. Well, I’m going to go [crosstalk 00:57:53]-

Sam Kass:
… great Solve for all of that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay. Well, this week I’m going to make French fries from scratch with some beef tallow, just like the old McDonald’s French fries. And I might make some chocolate chip cookies.

Sam Kass:
I’m so into that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m trying to eat healthy and I think all of us should keep our home safe from industrial food. If we did that, it would be a game changer.

Sam Kass:
It would be, it would be.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I did this when my kids were growing up, there were two things on the menu, take it or leave it. That was it. And they did fine. And then my son’s now a chef, my daughter cooks and they eat delicious food, and they understand. They went off the wagon for a little bit, but they had it embedded in their consciousness when they were growing up and that’s what they loved doing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I think we can all do that for our families, and that’s the place to start. And what that does like you said, Sam, drives the marketplace, it drives innovation, it drives policy. So that’s what we can all do and I really applied your efforts both in the political front and fighting the good fight, which was not easy. I’m sure you got a lot of battle wounds and now thinking about how do we stimulate business and innovation in food and agriculture to actually solve some of these big problems.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So my hat’s off to you, Sam. Thank you for joining us on the Doctor’s Farmacy.

Sam Kass:
Oh such a pleasure being here and thank you for all your incredible leadership, and obviously over the years you were here like a one man army with a much bigger army behind you. And so you’ve had such an impact and just an honor to be here with you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, thanks Sam. If you’ve been listening to the Doctor’s Farmacy and you love this podcast, please share it with your friends and family. Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and we’ll see you next week on the Doctor’s Farmacy.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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