Heal Nourish Grow Podcast
Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices
Jack Bobo is a food futurist and the Author of Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices. In this episode we talk about the psychology of eating, some of the factors and habits that drive food choices and issues regarding our food system and sustainability.
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Cheryl McColgan Hey everyone, welcome back to The Heal Nourish Grow podcast. Today, I am joined by Jack Bobo, he is the author of “Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices.” I’m really excited to have him here. As you heard on his bio, he has such an interesting background with food and policy and psychology. So you know I’m interested in that because that’s my background as well. So anyway, welcome Jack, if can you tell us a little bit about your book and how you got into all this, that would be wonderful?
Obesity Epidemic in America
Jack Bobo Great, well, thank you, thank you for having me on this show. Really excited and delighted to be here. Well, the book really came out of this question that I kept asking myself, how can it be at a moment in time when we know more about health and nutrition than we ever have in the history of the planet, we’ve never been more obese? As I’m sure you talk about all the time, 42 percent of Americans are obese, 75 percent are overweight or obese, the number is going to 50 percent if we don’t change that trajectory. And so, the book was sort of my effort to look into how have things changed over time, looking at the psychology of food choices, how our brains and environment are driving the choices we have, and really what would it take to reshape our and redesign our food environment to make healthy choices the easy choice? Because I certainly don’t feel like we should be struggling as hard as we are to be healthy. I mean, our grandparents, they were cooking with lard for goodness sake, [chuckle] and yet none of them were obese, so, clearly lots of things have changed. And how do we get back to that point where we can enjoy the food we eat, not feel so stressed about it?
Cheryl McColgan And when you were doing your deep dive into that for the book, what was it that you kind of found, Was there a predominant answer, did you find it to be a number of co-factors, what has surprised you the most after looking into this a little bit more?
Jack Bobo Well, I think as all of these things, it’s complicated, and it’s not one thing, it’s a thousand things. And often when we’re looking at new diets and other things, we’re looking for something to fix the problem. And it isn’t one thing, you know, it’s each decision we make, how things are packaged, the food and the environment we’re living in, but let me just give you one example. If we went back to the 1960s, there’s a guy named David Wallerstein, who’s sort of the guy who invented super sized portions. He was working for a movie theater chain, and his job was to get people to eat more popcorn, you know, things at the concession stand. And he tried everything, two for one deals and he just couldn’t get people to go back for a second bag, and it finally struck him, Well, what if people are embarrassed to go back for a second bag? You know, our friends might think I’m gluttonous if I go back. And so he thought, Well, what if I offer a larger size? And as soon as he did it, not only did popcorn sales take off, but soda and other things, and it was so successful, he went on to work for McDonald’s, and he had this conversation with Ray Kroc, he’s like, Hey, let’s just offer larger sizes, and Ray is like, no, if they want more French fries, they’ll go back for a second bag, and it took him a long time, but he finally convinced Ray Kroc.
The Obesity Epidemic is Complex
Jack Bobo And so, in 1972, they introduced the large fry, and of course, the rest is history. But it’s surprising that it took that long for people to realize that you can unleash that inner desire just by offering larger sizes. And so, I tell some of those stories, like the story of how The Big Gulp got started, and other things, I think will help people to understand that this isn’t how things have always been. If you go back to the 1970s and earlier, obesity rates in America were lower than Europe. Like, we think of America as being sort of, you know, it’s always been this way, but it hasn’t. It’s like, within a single generation, things have changed dramatically.
Cheryl McColgan Yeah, and I can definitely… I’ve talked about this a little bit in the past. And you might find this interesting, I grew up on a farm in Louisiana, and I’m old enough that I was alive in the early ’70s, [chuckle] and I definitely remember that things were not always that way. And especially being in the south, you know, we’re about 10 years behind on [chuckle] everything.
Jack Bobo Right.
Cheryl McColgan And living on a farm, like everything, we still ate whole foods. My grandma had the, as you mentioned, the lard on the counter that we would save from the bacon and they would cook with that, and everybody also, at least in my scope, I had a fair amount of people that did a lot of regular labor on the farm and that stuff, and the people that worked in office jobs, but nobody was really obese, maybe as we got a little older, maybe there were some family members that were a little fluffy, but there was nobody that was kind of like the epidemic that we have now. So, you’re definitely on to that with it. It wasn’t always this way, and it’s probably a combination. So that was maybe the psychology of it, the marketing of it, what else did you find? Are there ingredients that they’re using that are causing this kind of epidemic?
Super Size Me, How Portions Have Changed
Jack Bobo Well, I’m less focused on the individual ingredients and more on the system, because most people don’t even know what an adult serving size of food looks like today. And just to give you an example, in 1955, if you had gone to McDonald’s, you would have gotten a hamburger, which is about the size of the kids’ meal hamburger. Your fry would have been smaller than a small fry. A small fry today is a large fry from 1972, so you don’t even know what a fry looks like. And your soda would have been six or seven ounces. Think of it, 50 percent of a child serving of soda was an adult serving in 1955. And so, there is no restaurant in America that you could go into and get what would be considered an adult serving of food. So, it can be surprising, you know, if we’re eating 20 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent more food at every sitting, who cares about the ingredients, you eat twice as much of something and you’re probably gonna gain weight.
Cheryl McColgan Yeah, there’s still an energy balance, there’s always this argument over calories in, calories out, but at the end of the day, it does still matter, especially as you said, if you’re eating 50 percent more than what your body needs, then eventually, you probably are going to put on some weight.
Jack Bobo Yeah. And a lot changed as well, sort of into the ’70s, in the beginning of the ’80s with the dietary guidelines, which of course, the whole purpose of that was to help Americans be healthier. But every story has to have a villain, and the villain they chose was dietary fat. And because of that, companies kind of did what you would hope they would do, they started re-formulating products and providing low fat versions of mayonnaise and salad dressing and all sorts of things. But what they didn’t count on was human psychology, because as soon as you put low fat on a cookie or a box of cookies, people think, Well, if one low fat cookie is good for me, the whole box must be great.
Cheryl McColgan Right.
Do Calories Matter?
Jack Bobo And so, it actually, you know, it allowed them to over-indulge. And so, all of these things that we’ve been doing in terms of dietary guidance has actually allowed us to eat more, because low fat doesn’t mean low calorie, [chuckle] and low calorie doesn’t mean low fat, and doesn’t mean low sodium and all of these things.
Cheryl McColgan Since you’re talking kind of that same time frame going into the ’70s and the food pyramid, was there anything going on with policy at the time, for example, new subsidies or different things like that, that you feel might have affected the climate as well?
Jack Bobo Yeah, I’m not convinced that the subsidies had as much of an impact, I think as many do. So certainly, we subsidize agriculture, and we have about $20 billion in global subsidies, but that’s $20 billion on a trillion dollar industry, which is pretty darn small. And you know, subsidies may have encouraged more corn production and maybe that led to more use of high fructose corn syrup, but the reason we use high fructose corn syrup in the United States is because we have very high tariffs on imported sugar. America has the highest sugar prices in the world, not the lowest, and so, the reason we’re using that is because our prices are high. And so, it doesn’t necessarily have exactly that impact. The cost of the corn in a box of corn flakes is maybe 25 cents of the $4 box, and so subsidies are maybe impacting a penny at most in the cost of that, so it doesn’t really get… It matters to the farmer, it matters to the processor, by the time it gets to the consumer, it doesn’t really have that much impact.
Cheryl McColgan That’s interesting, I never heard it in that perspective before as far as the cost, because people kinda throw that around occasionally, but you’re right, if you look at it in terms of… You’re probably really paying more for the marketing of the box [chuckle] than you are for the ingredients, anyway.
Cost of Food
Jack Bobo Way more. Way more. And you know, we often hear that soda taxes would encourage people to drink less soda and they certainly might, but soda consumption in America is at a 30-year low, so how could soda be causing a problem when we’re at our lowest level of soda consumption ever? It doesn’t mean that we don’t over-consume soda and many people do, but it can’t be the problem if it’s at a 30-year low.
Cheryl McColgan Yeah, and I was kind of surprised by that too, because some of the statistics I read, and it’s one of the government websites, but it’s something like 150 years ago we were eating about two pounds of sugar per person a year, and now it’s up to 153 pounds a year per person. So, it might not be the sodas, but maybe it’s a combination of it being just a little bit in every single thing that we eat, you know?
Sugar Consumption in America
Jack Bobo Right. Well, that’s certainly true, but we’re also eating about 30 pounds less sugar than we did like in 1990s, you know? So, we’re actually still doing less. And so, that’s why it’s a combination of things. We’re not gonna find that one thing that’s the silver bullet, and we need to look more at our entire lifestyle. We snack a lot more than we ever have. We don’t leave the house without our bottle of water or a juice or soda or something. We’re constantly eating throughout the day, and I think some of it comes down to, we often eat because we’re bored, I mean, how many times have I gotten up and sort of wandered around the house, ended up in the kitchen and gotten a snack, and it’s probably not because I was hungry, it’s because I was bored and I didn’t know what was sort of why I was bored or what I should do about it. So instead of reading a book or going for a walk, I grabbed a cookie. And so, those are behaviors that we need to, change our habits. So it’s not so much about the food that we chose, it’s about the habits that led to that food.
Cheryl McColgan Yeah, and I think you can see some good proof for that, because there is much more of a trend now towards both intermittent fasting and longer fasting and eating things in a way that you don’t have that constant hunger…because some people really do have that constant hunger, hormonal or kind of bored hunger, like you’re talking about.
Jack Bobo Right.
Cheryl McColgan But when they switch to this pattern of intermittent fasting, people can do that and they still eat maybe more carbs or more sugar or those things, but it’s more the timing of their eating and then they’re not snacking all day anymore, that they can still have a lot of success with that.
Jack Bobo Yeah, I think one, it disrupts the normal patterns, and so that’s good. And two, even if you are allowed to eat as much as you want, we reach a point when we don’t wanna eat anymore. And so, you’re not a bear who’s gonna add an extra 50 pounds so I can get through this next 12 hours.
Cheryl McColgan Right. Well, I think you mentioned that you are speaking or just spoke to the pork industry, because you were talking about some climate change-related stuff and other things in the industry that might be changing or that might be problematic. Can you talk about some of that stuff to the audience?
Meat Farming and Sustainability
Jack Bobo Yeah, so I was speaking to the national pork industry conference in July, and I think there’s a lot of concern that the livestock industry feels under attack in terms of climate change impacts and things like that. And part of what I was helping them to understand is that we need as a society 50-60 percent more food by 2050 to feed a growing planet. Not just more people, but more wealthy people, and the first thing people ask for, as incomes rise in many parts of the world is more protein and generally more animal protein. So there’s this huge demand and as much as 100 percent in terms of protein, and so, the concerns that the livestock industry is gonna go out of business, just isn’t realistic. The Global livestock industry is a $2 trillion industry, and it will grow to be $3 or $4 trillion by 2050. The thought that the alternative protein industry is gonna grow so much that it actually erodes some of that is just very unrealistic. So, they don’t really have to worry in that sense, but also people enjoy these products, and so, there’s a cultural and social aspect to it, you know?
Jack Bobo People have been told to eat less meat or to go vegan for decades, and it doesn’t happen, because there’s a reason for it. But it is important that we improve the sustainability of our planet, and what I think many consumers miss is that agriculture today is wildly more sustainable than it was in the past, and it will be wildly more sustainable than it is, in the future. Just as one example, the resources needed to produce a bushel of corn, and of course, most corn goes to animal feed, it produces 35 percent fewer greenhouse gases today than would have been produced in 1980, to produce that bushel, you need 50 percent less water to produce that bushel. You use 40 percent less land to produce that bushel, and there is 60 percent less erosion on the land that produced that bushel. So it’s like, by every measure things are wildly better, and this is true of soy and cotton and canola and all the other crops. And so, for consumers they feel like things are bad and getting worse.
Jack Bobo But the reality is, they’re good and getting better, but not fast enough, and so, that’s part of the story that I think that needs to be told. Yes, we need to make sure that whether we’re eating pork or beef or anything that we do it in appropriate portions that are right for us, that we encourage those sectors to be more sustainable tomorrow than they were yesterday. And if we can do that, then we will be able to create a more sustainable and nutritious future, and one that’s not about giving up the things that make life worth living.
Cheryl McColgan And, well you have probably more focus in this than others, because number one, again, in your bio I read that you’ve been involved with governmental policy in the past and your company now Futurity kind of acts as a consultant for maybe people in the pork industry, or whatever it is. All these facets of our food system to try to figure out how to best move forward, I guess, is that an accurate statement?
Jack Bobo It is, it is. Yeah.
Cheryl McColgan That’s great intel by the way.
Jack Bobo Well, I tell people my personal mission is to de-escalate the tension in our food system so that we can all get about our business of saving the planet in our own way.
Cheryl McColgan That’s lovely, I love that. [chuckle] In some of your work in the research that you’ve done on all this part of the policy thing, there is sort of… I guess, being in the health space, I probably hear about this more than your average person, ’cause it’s not like… All we hear in the media is the green house gases and oh my gosh, all the cow farts are gonna kill us all, right? [laughter] So, it’s kind of on an extreme end sometimes in the media, but then there’s this also this push, at least in our little sector of the health industry to more sustainable farming, to get away from monocropping, to really do things that bring back the soil, make the food more nutritious again, because there is also this theory of obesity or of overeating, because people are trying to get more nutrients and their body is not being satisfied by nutrients because of the lack of the nutrients in our food. Do you think there’s anything to that? And have you heard farmers or ranchers talk more about this, more sustainable model and is that realistic even?
Farming and Regenerative Agriculture
Jack Bobo Yeah, so certainly I’ve heard, read a lot about regenerative agriculture, have talked to producers and others, have read about the fact that some crops today are not as nutrient-dense as they were in the past, and there are a lot of reasons why that might be the case. Probably the most prominent is simply that we get more yield out of a crop today, and so, if your apple is twice the volume of the apple in the past, it’s grown more quickly. And so, it may have the same amount of nutrition or nutrients in the whole apple as that smaller apple did in the past, but it’s not as nutrient-dense. And so, part of the problem is that in order to make our fruits and vegetables more nutrient-dense, they have to basically struggle more [chuckle] as they’re growing, and that means maybe less fertilizer, less water, but it also just means less production. And so, we have this inevitable tension between quantity of food and quality of food. And for 50 years, we focused on productivity, quantity, and that’s probably the right thing to do. We’ve gone from a third of all the people on the planet going to bed hungry, 50 or 60 years ago, to less than 10 percent of the global population going to bed hungry today, so that’s a huge benefit.
Jack Bobo But we’re at sort of that one unique moment in all of human history, for 10,000 years farmers have been asked to produce more, where they’re now being asked for not produce not just more, but better, and so we do need that better food, but we just need to recognize there’s this tension. So I often describe it this way, that for consumers, we think of sustainability as local sustainability, less water, less fertilizer, less pesticides equals sustainable. But that’s true on that farm, but if you do that, you’re gonna produce less food, and if you produce less food, somebody else needs to make up for it, which generally means more deforestation. And so, if somebody does things intensively, well, that might lead to nutrient run-off and depleted soils and all sorts of bad things on the farm, but it also ends up producing more food, so you need less land some place else. So, sustainability is a continuum from global sustainability to local sustainability, and there will always be trade-offs between those two approaches. And so, our food system is generally better because we’re balancing those two things. If we only focused on production, then we would be depleting our soil even faster.
Jack Bobo If we only focused on regenerative, well, then we wouldn’t be able to produce as much food and we’d need to de-forest even more. And so it’s hard to keep in mind that those two things are in tension all the time, and so I wouldn’t stress about it on an individual level. If you can eat better quality food and fresher food, absolutely go for it, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re doing harm to your family or to the planet if you’re also eating the commodity intensively produced mono-crop because mono-cropping is higher yielding and more productive and so those trade-offs just inevitably exist.
Cheryl McColgan And then the thought leaders that you talk with, and I’m really glad that we have smart people like you working on this because it just seems like an un-answerable problem, quite honestly, because of just what you said. On the one end, we have to produce enough food to feed people and on the other side, we wanna protect the planet. So are there any insights or trends in that area or any progress being made towards kinda what might be the answer to some of that?
Jack Bobo Well, I think that what we need to do is we need to, one, stop talking about farming is the problem that needs to be solved. It is true that, had a big impact in terms of land and water and climate, but things are not bad and getting worse, they’re good and getting better, but not fast enough. And so that’s a very different story. And if you want farmers to work with us to do better, telling them that they’re evil and they’re destroying the planet is probably not the best way to get them to engage, and so how we talk about these things matters. For people who aren’t in farming to tell farmers how they should be farming is not likely to be very productive. On the other hand, if you tell farmers how they could do a better job, well, I think most of us want to do better and they’re already doing better than they were 10 years ago. And so that’s a conversation I think most would want to be involved in and so that’s what I think is important. It’s how we talk about these issues. But we are trending in a good direction that if we were farming today with 1960s technology, we would need one billion additional hectares of land to produce the food we do and that’s nearly a quarter of all the forest on the planet.
Deforestation and Agriculture
Jack Bobo So it’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that agriculture is the single biggest driver of deforestation, but it’s also the single biggest savior of forests. And so they’re complicated issues, but hopefully people over the last year have recognized how important these topics are and so they are willing to spend a little more time to get a little smarter, so they can participate in the conversation because the choices we make do have an impact.
Cheryl McColgan Yeah. I think that is what everybody wants as an individual because I think it was a nice point that you had about worrying about or fretting about such things on an individual level is quite different than maybe worrying about it from a level of a company or a producer or a farm or a government. It’s a whole different way of looking at it really.
Jack Bobo Yeah. We often want to buy local, but just because something’s produced local doesn’t mean it has a smaller footprint because often transportation is not the most expensive part of food production, but there are lots of benefits of buying local. You’re supporting your local economy, there are social aspects of it, being closer to the land and learning about food production, so sustainability is not just environmental sustainability, it’s economic sustainability. It has to be viable to the farmers producing it and there are social and cultural sustainability. If people don’t like what they’re eating or what you’re advocating, they’re probably not gonna do it. And so people expect a certain type of food in different places and we need to work within…meet people where they are.
What Americans are Eating
Cheryl McColgan Yeah. That’s a great point, because back to the obesity thing, if people can’t stick to it, it’s gonna be very hard to make any progress. And I think that’s the one thing I really do… It would be sad to me if we… And this is coming from somebody who’s a vegetarian for seven years by the way, but it would be sad to me if we went to a place where we were really highly restricting meat or doing that beause I do think for some people. Everybody’s very individual, everybody thrives on different kinds of diets and likes different kinds of foods and so if we start restricting that from a policy level, that would be more concerning to me because I just think it will create less health, not more.
Jack Bobo Yeah. Nobody has told Americans, “Eat less beef,” but we do eat dramatically less beef than we did back in the 1970s or ’90s, and we eat a lot more poultry. So diets do shift, but nobody was telling the consumer to do that, that things change in our environment, the cost of it, people’s taste. And so I think we need to work within that context, then if we were helping people to eat healthier, then we would probably end up with also a more sustainable diet as well.
Cheryl McColgan Well, and yes because ause obviously the larger you are too, the more calories you need to eat on a daily basis to maintain that. So if everybody works more… I’m gonna put this in air quotes for those of you that aren’t watching the video, but normal weight, whatever that means, if we had people that were at a healthy reasonable weight, then maybe everybody would be eating less as well. So maybe there’s something there to that part of it.
Jack Bobo Yeah. And the title of the book, Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices, it’s not about my feeling about whether or not people are making smart decisions, the point of the book is that we make decisions that we feel are not smart. So if we know we should be eating four or five servings of fruits and vegetables, but 90 percent of us are not and we know we shouldn’t go back for that extra serving, but we do, it’s like we know all of these things. And so the book is about, “Well, how can I help me to be my better self?” [chuckle]
Cheryl McColgan And what kind of conclusions did you come to on that realm? I mean, obviously, people should go read the book, but [laughter] if you had to give one of your best tips, because that is one of the goals of this podcast, is I often talk with people, definitely thought leaders and experts in various things, such as yourself, but also just kinda people who have struggled with their health or lost weight and have been maintained it for a long time, and people kind of giving their own personal tips on the best ways to stay healthy and to make better choices and create better habits. Do you have a number one or top free or something like that?
How to Make Better Food Choices
Jack Bobo Yeah, well, the first thing is that people shouldn’t blame themselves. You said it, that diet shouldn’t be that hard to stick with, if nobody can stick with the diet, then it’s not the person’s fault, it’s the diet’s fault. And so, I wanted to teach my kids about portion sizes, so I took them to the Cheesecake Factory or they took me for Father’s day a few years ago. And so, I ordered the steak and mashed potatoes and green beans, and I wanted this huge portion to come out, it was like, so big that they would understand, you know, portion sizes. But when it arrived, I was a little surprised, almost disappointed that I was like, Wow, I can totally eat all of that. [chuckle] And unlike most people though, then I took a nine-inch plate out of my wife’s purse and I re-plated the food, you can imagine how my kids felt about this.
Cheryl McColgan Right.
Jack Bobo And when I did, it was clear that it was actually two servings of food, it completely filled the nine-inch plate and there was an equal amounts still left on the original plate. So then I took a tape measure out of my wife’s purse and then I’m measuring this plate, and it was 15 inches wide and 12 inches deep.
Cheryl McColgan Wow!
Jack Bobo And the point is that two adult servings of food looked like it was perfectly feasible to eat, and we know that it takes a while for you to know, so I could have eaten all of that and started eating my cheesecake before I even realized that I was just stuffed, you know, like I had just eaten two… And so, part of the challenge is that we need to be aware, and I’m somebody who knows about this, and I was tricked by the visual cues of the plate. And so, it’s really hard. And so, one trick is simply to re-plate your food before you eat. Or if the restaurants, in the future, I would love it if they would allow you to buy a half portion or they would give you the to-go bag before you ever take a bite. Because if you don’t see the food, you’re not gonna think, Oh, I only finished half my meal, because that’s how the brain works, it’s like, if you cut your meal in half and you leave half of it aside, two hours later, your brain’s thinking, Hey, you didn’t finish eating, and so it actually makes you hungry sooner.
Tips for Better Food Choices
Jack Bobo So some of the things that my family does, my wife and my two kids, when we go out to eat, we generally just order three meals and somehow I’m always the person who doesn’t order a meal. But in the four years we’ve been doing this, not once have we said, I really regret not having bought a fourth meal. And we generally will get one or two desserts for the family, and every time we have taken some food home. So it’s like, there’s never been an occasion in which we cleaned our plates and we’re like, Ah, we need more food. [chuckle] And it just doesn’t happen. And so, if people can find the habits that work for them, then it just becomes part of what you do, and so, we’re all eating a third fewer calories that we would have, and nobody’s suffering. We can eat dessert that we might not have even had otherwise, or we might have denied ourselves that luxury, but instead we get to enjoy it even more. And so, that’s what this is all about, how can we maximize our enjoyment and end up in a better place?
Cheryl McColgan Now, that’s a great one. And that is something that I have heard of. And I think some… I mean, it would depend on what restaurant you’re going to, but I think someone will actually do that now, if you just request, can you put half of it in a to-go box, so I don’t even have to look at it and just bring the other half out. I think some restaurants are willing to do that now. They’ve gotten so used to a lot of weird dietary requests, I think between the gluten-free and keto and vegetarian and everything else, I do think a lot of places will try to accommodate you if they can.
Jack Bobo Especially right now, I’m sure.
Cheryl McColgan Well, yeah, that’s a whole of different conversation.
Jack Bobo Yeah.
Cheryl McColgan Well, before we move on to anything else, I guess, or is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet that you’re super passionate about and what you would like to relate to an audience of people that are all interested in what’s happening with our food system and what the future of food is?
Jack Bobo Well, I think focusing on the food choices that we make do matter, not trying to look for silver bullet solutions. There are different ways of getting to that sustainable nutritious future, and so, instead of spending our time trying to shoot down other people’s ideas, I think we should spend our time building up the ideas we think are the ones that are worth supporting.
Cheryl McColgan That’s great advice as well. So, what’s next on your horizon? What are you working on right now?
Jack Bobo Well, just all sorts of things going on all the time. I think tomorrow I’m moderating a panel on alternative proteins, and it’s important to not just focus on one solution. I mean, for me, there are different ways of achieving that sustainable future, but I also think that some of these alternative proteins, it raises questions about ultra processed foods and on one hand, it may have a lower environmental impact, but if it makes people less healthy, then that’s a problem too. And so, we’ve got all of these different things that we have to keep balanced at the same time, and so, I’m always spending my time trying to figure out, how do we achieve that balance?
Cheryl McColgan And that is a tough one. I’ve heard a lot of people, again, being in a community that’s focused very on Whole Foods and one ingredient proteins like beef, they’ll say that’s all the that’s all that’s in there as opposed to the impossible burger that’s got about 30 ingredients and most of them you can’t even pronounce. So aside from that, ’cause I think that’s kind of a separate one, another alternative protein thing that’s come up recently is lab produced protein. Do you have any thoughts or interesting little insights on that part?
Jack Bobo Yeah. Yeah, a few years ago, they were calling it clean meat, and so one of my claims to fame is I’m the guy who killed the term clean meat. So I actually worked with all of the companies in the space, and over the course of about 10 months, got them all to agree not to use that term anymore. And because it implied if their meat is clean, that the other meat is dirty and unethical, and the people who eat it are evil and all sorts of issues with that. I think that overcoming some of the science is gonna be challenging, because it’s not that easy, but we do need to increase protein production by 60-100 percent in just 30 years, and that’s an enormous problem. And so, I think we should all be happy that there are new approaches that are coming along. We don’t know which of them are gonna scale, but we do need as many opportunities, we really don’t need twice as many animals on the planet in terms of livestock in 2050. So, we need to make our footprint smaller, not bigger, and some of these may turn out to be successful.
Jack Bobo Just one example, I was working with the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Vision prize finalist about a year ago, and two of the companies had as one of their objectives to reduce animal production by 30 percent by 2030. And when I told them, I said, if you have that as your goal, obviously livestock producers are not gonna support your vision, because nobody wants to go out of business, but the alternative protein companies that you think will replace them, they don’t yet exist. So they can’t advocate for your vision. And so wouldn’t it be better instead to say that your vision is that we will have a protein sector that has a 30 percent lower environmental impact? Maybe that will be achieved by the livestock industry, maybe it will be achieved by growth of alternative proteins, but we need to articulate visions for the future in which people can see themselves and not as suffering, but as thriving. And so, I think it’s really important when we’re thinking about the future, that we think about a positive future in which people can belong.
Cheryl McColgan Yeah, we can all use a little more positivity these days, couldn’t we?
Jack Bobo We could indeed.
Cheryl McColgan Well, Jack, I can’t thank you enough for sharing all of your knowledge and being here today with all of us. Can you just for some final words, can you share with everybody where they can best find you, your website, or are you active on any social channels, anything like that, where they can find more from Jack Bobo?
Jack Bobo Sure. So they can find my book, Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices on Amazon, Barns & Noble, wherever you buy books. You can find me on LinkedIn, feel free to reach out, connect to me, but I’m also very active on Twitter, on Instagram as well, and would love to carry on these conversations with people in other ways. And if you want to put my email into the show notes or something like that, feel free to do that as well. I hope people will reach out.
Cheryl McColgan Yeah, awesome. No, I will link all of that for you, and yeah, I hope that people, especially if they have any brilliant ideas on any of this, [chuckle] how they can contribute or make them probably be part of the solution, not just a bunch of complainers, [laughter] like sometimes it happens, right?
Jack Bobo Right.
Cheryl McColgan Well, thanks…
Jack Bobo Thanks so much.
Cheryl McColgan Alright, thank you, have a good day.
Jack Bobo Alright. Bye.