MICHEL MARTIN, host:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Michel Martin in Washington. Neal Conan is on vacation.
Donuts may become an endangered species in the Big Apple. Yesterday, health officials in New York City announced a proposal that would require all restaurants and street vendors to virtually eliminate trans fats from their food.
To make it as simple as possible - trans fat is an artificial fat and considered a major contributor to heart disease and obesity. It's often found in pastries, fries and fast foods. The New York proposal comes after a yearlong effort to get restaurants to stop using trans fats voluntarily. Like the previous initiative to ban smoking in New York City bars and eateries, this is a similarly bold and controversial move that will be closely watched around the country.
So the question is, is this the right way to encourage healthy eating? Is it government's job to watch the way we eat? We want to hear from you on this, especially if you work in the food industry. How would such a ban affect the way you do business? If you just like to eat, will you miss your hit of trans fat when you go out to eat, or do the alternatives taste just as good? Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK. Our e-mail address is email@example.com.
Later in the program we'll talk about picky eaters, people who just won't eat certain foods or don't let the food on their plate touch. This is grown-ups we're talking about.
But first, the battle over trans fats. And joining us to talk about the New York proposal is Dr. Thomas Frieden, the health commissioner for New York City. He joins us from his office in New York. Welcome, Doctor. Thank you so much.
Dr. THOMAS FRIEDEN (Health Commissioner, New York City): Thank you, Michel.
MARTIN: Is this proposal an outright ban?
Dr. FRIEDEN: What we're saying now is we have a proposal which is out for public comment. If after public comment it goes forward and is approved, it would then be a phase-out of artificial trans fat.
And just to step back, because there's still a lot of people who don't know the differences. Artificial trans fat is a chemical. It's chemically altered vegetable oil. It was initially thought that it might be healthier, but it turns out it's even less healthy than saturated fat. It's the most dangerous type of fat. It's artificial. It's hazardous. It makes your good cholesterol worse and your bad cholesterol worse and really there's no reason to have it in our food supply.
What's happened over the past year since the Food and Drug Administration of the federal government required labeling in January of this year, there has been a real increase in the number of trans-fat-free products that are available in the supermarket. But if you're going out to dine at a restaurant, you have no way of knowing. And trans fat isn't on the menu. People don't choose trans fat. It's something that's used in food preparation, but it can be replaced.
MARTIN: And so it's not something like peanuts. If you're allergic to it, you can say just don't give me anything with peanuts in it. You're likely not to know. Or is it so ubiquitous you just can't avoid it?
Dr. FRIEDEN: Well, interestingly, we found that there are already, we estimate, more than 9,000 restaurants in New York City that either got rid of trans fat or never used it in the first place. It's not part of our traditional foods. It's an artificial ingredient that was popularized a few decades ago and continues to be used for a variety of reasons, but it can be replaced.
MARTIN: If that's the case, then why do you need a ban? Why if you've got already such broad commitment to the idea of not using trans fats, why do you need to go further?
Dr. FRIEDEN: We tried to reduce use through a voluntary campaign. A year ago we asked restaurants to voluntarily remove trans fats. We sent out several hundred thousand educational documents to the public and different groups. We sent out resources and information to every restaurant in New York City, to every food supplier in New York City, as well as to a number of other individuals. We trained close to 8,000 restaurant operators about issues relating to food safety, including how to get rid of trans fat. We provided messages individually to more than 9,000 restaurants when we visited them.
And we repeated an analysis of what proportion of restaurants were using trans fat after we had done that voluntary effort and the proportion did not change one bit. This isn't terribly surprising because people don't like change and often it requires a deadline to focus the mind.
MARTIN: Of all the public health problems in New York City, why trans fats?
Dr. FRIEDEN: Well, heart disease is the leading preventable cause of death in New York City and throughout the country. Trans fat is something that we can do something about. We're not going to change the diets of all New Yorkers or all Americans to make people become vegetarian and get rid of saturated fat, although people should voluntarily reduce their consumption of saturated fat. But artificial trans fat is different. It doesn't belong in our food supply. And I have every confidence that in a few more years it's going to be out of virtually the whole food supply. But why wait? Why should we allow people to continue to be subjected to this artificial, hazardous chemical without their information or consent?
MARTIN: Let's go to a caller. Let's go to Bend, Oregon, and Tara.
TARA (Caller): Hi.
TARA: I - hello - I would like to say that, you know, in some ways I completely agree with getting rid of those type of fats. I wish it was illegal to have all kinds of artificial preservatives and food colorings and whatnot in food. But the truth of the matter is is that as long as people continue to make those poor choices at the supermarket and in their homes, I mean the health situation will never improve. So it seems to me kind of a - like it would be a nice thing to do, but it needs to come from individuals and that's what's not happening.
Dr. FRIEDEN: Well, interestingly, the way public health works best is by changing the default value, changing the context so that people don't have to think twice to drink water that's fluoridated or chlorinated or use paint that doesn't have lead in it. In the same way, we want to make the environment such that the healthy choice is the default value.
And, Michel, you said earlier that donuts would be an endangered species. Not really. Absolutely any item can be made without trans fats and a lot of the leading stores, including some of the leading donut stores, make them completely without trans fats.
MARTIN: I'm greatly relieved. I don't want to admit what a big part of my diet donuts are, but we'll just move on.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: Well, Tara, what are you saying? You really think it's pointless. I guess, where are you? You just think at the end - what did you think of Dr. Frieden's argument. You're saying - he's saying, look, it's the government's job to establish the boundaries of healthy choices so you can make better choices. You're not persuaded by that.
TARA: No. I mean, I - in some ways I definitely am. I'm just not sure what it's going to take to reach people as far as, you know, the - I listen to shows sometimes like SCIENCE FRIDAY, for example, and they always have doctors on there talking about, you know, the research they're doing to fight disease and all this, when really that just comes from leading a very healthy lifestyle, and it can be very simple. And all that information is out there for people, so it's really their choice to go ahead and reach for that and to make those type of lifestyle decisions.
MARTIN: Okay, Tara, thank you so much for calling.
TARA: Yeah, well, good luck. I hope it - I do hope it works, and I think it's a - I do think it's a good idea.
Dr. FRIEDEN: Thank you, and one of the things that we think going public with this will do is really increase awareness of trans fats. So not only, once all is said and done, will people not have to worry about eating trans fat in any restaurant anywhere in New York City but they'll also think about it more and so be making perhaps healthier choices in the supermarket.
MARTIN: What's the process on this? Is there - there's a comment period...
Dr. FRIEDEN: Yes.
MARTIN: ...and people get a chance to offer alternate views. And what's the time frame?
Dr. FRIEDEN: There's a public comment period now until the end of October, and we listen seriously to all comments we receive. We look at them. We think, well, does that mean we should change something or some detail or go ahead as planned? The department then recommends to the Board of Health whether or not to adopt the proposal as published for public comment, to amend it in some way, or to do something else, and that decision would take place in December.
MARTIN: Do you have a sense of whether there's a public support for you on this? I remember when you - you also pioneered the smoking ban in New York City restaurants, terribly controversial as I recall, so - and yet you succeeded and the ban came through and people, as far as I can see, are still eating in New York restaurants and going there and so forth. So what is your sense so far -and I know it's early because the proposal just became public, was just published yesterday - but what's your sense to this point of where the public is on this?
Dr. FRIEDEN: I think most people would rather not have an artificial, hazardous chemical added to their food without their knowledge or consent, particularly when you can remove it with no increase in cost and no change in taste and no change in the wonderful variety and diversity of food that we have in New York City.
What we do find in public health in this issue, as with the smoking issue, is that generally the majority of people, most people, agree with what we're trying to do but perhaps don't feel that strongly about it.
A minority, a strong group of people, may have very strongly held opinions disagreeing with what we're doing, and often that makes for good news stories. But the fact is I think people want to know that anything they order - and they can order anything they want without trans fat - anything they order is not going to have a hazardous chemical in it.
MARTIN: Let's bring another voice in now. And joining us is NPR senior health policy correspondent Patricia Neighmond. She's been reporting on this story for us today, and she comes to us from her home office in Los Angeles.
PATRICIA NEIGHMOND: Thank you, Michel.
MARTIN: Could you help us. Dr. Frieden started with us, but could you just help us - for those who really aren't familiar with the issue, you know, what are trans fats? Why are they so bad?
NEIGHMOND: Well, Dr. Frieden is right. It's artificial. I mean these are literally vegetable oils that have undergone an industrial process that's called hydrogenation - did I say that correctly, hydrogenation - where hydrogen is literally pumped into vats of oil and it creates a more solid base.
The oil is more solid, and this is in fact what makes it last longer in baked products like donuts and cookies and cakes, and it's also what enables restaurants to use their oil that they fry their chicken and french fries in, they can use it for a longer period of time. And supposedly it adds to the taste of the product, but that is up for debate. And as Dr. Frieden said, they're found everywhere. And it's sort of like a liquid shortening; I guess you could think of it that way.
And just let me tell you one extra thing, which is that trans - there is a naturally occurring amount of trans fats and they're found in milk and butter and certain meats like lamb and beef. But they're miniscule levels compared to the amounts that are found in these other foods that have an artificial process.
Dr. FRIEDEN: In terms of the taste, virtually any food - any food, really - can be made without artificial trans fat. And if you go to the supermarket, you can find that many of the foods that used to have a lot of trans fat now don't have any. So it's gradually being worked out of our food supply. And we've talked with restaurants that have been quite supportive of this, ranging from Sylvia's, which is a very famous Southern or soul food restaurant in New York, to high-end places, places from all different ethnicities, really saying this is not necessary to make food that tastes just as great.
MARTIN: We're talking to Dr. Thomas Frieden. He's the New York City health commissioner. He's joining us from his office in New York. And we're also talking with Patty Neighmond about the new proposal to ban trans fats after the break in an argument that the government should stay out the kitchen.
If you want to weigh in, give us a call at 800-989-TALK. You can send us e-mail. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Michel Martin. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
MARTIN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Michel Martin in Washington.
We're talking about the new plan in New York City to ban most of the trans fats in restaurant food. Is it the start of a bigger trend? Do diners want a ban? You can go to our Web site to learn more about trans fats, what they are and how to figure out if they are in the food you eat. We've posted more information at npr.org/yourhealth.
Our guests are Dr. Thomas Frieden. He's the New York City health commissioner. He's joining us from his office in New York. And Patty Neighmond, NPR's senior health policy correspondent. And you're invited to join the discussion. If you work in the restaurant industry, will a ban on trans fats affect your business? Should government be the one to enforce healthy eating? Or if you just like to eat out, will you notice if trans fats aren't used? Give us a call at 800-989-TALK. Our e-mail address is email@example.com.
And, Dr. Frieden, I know you have to go soon, but I think we need to deal with a very important question, which is taste. Now both you and Patty have been saying that there are alternatives which are supposed to offer similar tastes. And I have before me - and I'm sorry that you aren't here with me or I would share because I was raised properly - I have two plates of cookies. One - and I'm supposed to see whether they taste the same. They're identical wafer things with some cream in it. Okay, and forgive me for crunching, but...
(Soundbite of crunching)
MARTIN: Okay, that's one. Mmm, okay. And here's another one, kind of a grayish - let me see.
(Soundbite of crunching)
Hmm. And I must say - hmm, I must say one tastes kind of livelier than the other. Let me see. Oh, the trans fat one was the - now this is very interesting. The trans fat cookie was kind of the less appealing looking one, but it had a kind of a punchier taste. And the fresher looking one was the one with no trans fat - they marked them on the bottom - but it tasted a little flat. And I wonder, Dr. Frieden, is that - am I just - is it me, or is that a common feeling that when you first kind of do without the trans fats you notice a difference in taste?
Dr. FRIEDEN: No, food made without trans fat can taste exactly the same. The alternatives are things like replacing a margarine with a butter, which would generally give you a richer taste, or replacing one oil with another oil, which can be a better-tasting oil or a worse tasting oil. It really doesn't affect the taste. Remember trans fats are taste-free. They're tasteless.
There is an issue for some products with consistency, and some of the people who bake say it does take some work to get rid of the trans fats, particularly in things like pie crusts. But that with the reformulation, you may have to add a little bit more of this or less of that, you can get a product that is exactly the same in terms of both the feel and the taste.
MARTIN: Let's try this - let's try to quickly go to another caller. And let's go to eastern Okalahoma and Bob.
BOB (Caller): Yes.
BOB: Yes, I have a comment and then a kind of a two-fold question. My comment is nothing beats butter.
(Soundbite of laughter)
BOB: Nothing beats butter for taste. And in moderation it's just simply not unhealthy. My question is this. If the science indicates that this is unhealthy for people to eat, why create more or less what I would call an artificial debate over the merits of one argument or another? Why doesn't the health department take action based on science?
And on the other hand you've got a situation where the healthiest vegetable oil, hemp oil, isn't even talked about or legal for farmers to grow. Can you make a comment about that, please?
Dr. FRIEDEN: I can't comment on hemp oil. I'm not familiar with that debate, but absolutely there are healthy alternatives. And absolutely what we're doing is saying the scientific evidence is clear that trans fat is dangerous, and that's exactly what we're doing. We're moving to remove it from the area where we have purview, which is all restaurants in New York City. New York City has about 24,000 restaurants.
BOB: Why not remove it nationwide immediately and make hemp oil legal for farmers to grow?
Dr. FRIEDEN: In terms of removing it nationwide, that would be up to Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I'm just in charge of health for New York City. So where I can have purview I'm taking action. But I do think that doing it here will encourage lots of alternatives and grow the market for healthy alternatives to trans fat products.
MARTIN: Bob, thank you so much. Thank you for joining us, Dr. Frieden. I know you have to go. Dr. Thomas Frieden is the New York City health commissioner. He joined us from his office in New York City. Thank you.
Dr. FRIEDEN: Thank you very much. All the best.
MARTIN: And Patty Neighmond is still with us. Patty, what do you...
NEIGHMOND: I am. Can I add something?
MARTIN: Mm-hmm, sure.
NEIGHMOND: May I jump in here and just say, you know, of course whenever government gets into some kind of regulation with private companies it's always highly controversial. But let me just mention that the FDA, and I think in large part, began a lot of this debate when it required that trans fat labeling be on all food products, which began in January this year. And as a result a lot of the big food companies - Kraft, PepsiCo, Nestle - are all working right now to get trans fats out of a lot of their foods, and in fact many of them are gone.
I'm surprised you didn't try an Oreo, because that's probably one of the most famous cookies that had trans fat - and Oreos no longer contain trans fats. Crisco sells a trans-fat-free shortening. Frito-Lay took trans fats out of Doritos and Cheetos, so it can be done. And one of the large companies that actually makes the shortening that's sold to the big food companies now offers a trans-fat-free shortening, so...
MARTIN: How long has it - Patty, excuse me. How long has the research indicated that trans fats are as harmful as they are?
NEIGHMOND: I think about - I would say about 10, 15 years. Since the early '90s there's been numerous studies that have looked at literally thousands of people and found those who ate diets that were high in trans fats - and this means lots of fried foods and pastry-type things - these people had significantly higher cholesterol, more rigid blood vessels, which means less ability to dilate properly and that can increase blood pressure. These people had more heart disease and in some cases more insulin resistance and diabetes.
MARTIN: Not everyone is in favor of banning trans fats from restaurant cooking. For more on that side of the discussion we turn to Walter Olson. He's senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Rule of Lawyers. He joins us from his office in New York. Welcome, thank you so much.
Mr. WALTER OLSON (Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute): Thanks for having me on.
MARTIN: Well, what bothers you about this proposal to ban trans fat? It seems like the research is pretty clear: It's bad stuff.
Mr. OLSON: Well, question number one is who gets to decide? And I think it should be up to the people ordering the meals and the chefs. I don't think it should be up to Mr. Frieden. Speaking for myself, I try to listen to the ever-changing advice of the nutritionists, but I'd like to decide for myself and I think a lot of other people feel that way, too.
MARTIN: Do you feel the same way about smoking? I mean the argument about smoking is this is a legal product if used correctly and it will kill you...
Mr. OLSON: Well (unintelligible).
MARTIN: ...and that trans fats are the same thing.
Mr. OLSON: The difference...
MARTIN: Legal product, used correctly, still kill you.
Mr. OLSON: The difference is in order of - in risk is of an order of magnitude. One of the differences, for example, is that very few people manage to work the occasional cigarette into an otherwise healthy diet of air, whereas lots of us would like to reserve a chance to buy some potato chips every so often even if we are virtuous 99 times out of a 100.
The idea that Mr. Frieden is going to snatch away our occasional treat, which, believe me, you know, okay, doing this as an occasional treat is probably not going to kill you. And it is again the audacity of a government that believes that it should be living our lives for ourselves. You know, I'm not going to argue the science, although I do observe that they keep changing their conclusions. I well remember when we were all told to switch from butter to margarine, and I'm glad they weren't able to make that mandatory...
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. OLSON: ...or else they would have done our health a lot of damage. I do think that the public listens also, which is one reason the food industry has been trying to change.
I don't agree with Mr. Frieden when he says that everything can be duplicated and you won't even notice the difference and every recipe can be made to come out the same way. I don't think people who make food agree with him on that.
MARTIN: Isn't it the role of a city's health department to look out for people's health in this way? I mean I don't think anyone would argue at this point that it's not the government's role to pursue this E. coli contamination outbreak, so...
Mr. OLSON: Well, traditionally, the place the line was drawn was between communicable diseases, and those were the ones which, like cholera and E. coli, you couldn't get out of the way of by ordinary decision-making. You know, you and I can decide not to smoke. That's one indication of where the government's authority lies. We can't necessarily get out of the way of bacterial contamination, but it's easiest of all to get out of the way of trans fats if we are watching our diet. And I'd rather have the government stick to the things that are inflicted on us, like contagious disease, and not try to second-guess our self-improvement regimens.
MARTIN: Let's go to a caller in Portland, Oregon, and Cullin(ph).
CULLIN (Caller): Hi, yeah. I just - I've worked in the kitchen both as a server and as a cook. And I think it's interesting that if somebody comes in and is drinking too much, I have to stop them and let them know that you're not supposed to drink that much. But if somebody comes in and orders pretty unhealthy food when they obviously are in poor health, I'm not allowed to tell them that maybe there's a better alternative for them or at least advise them of the risks of the food they are ordering.
MARTIN: Would you like to?
CULLIN: I would personally like to. I think a lot of our customers don't necessarily understand what goes into a lot of the meals they eat, especially when they eat out, when they don't have a chance to see how the food is prepared. There's a kind of a screen of mystery.
You really don't know what goes on in the back of the house. I think there should be at least some form of disclaimer - not necessarily on the menu, but available for the consumer to understand what they are putting into their body.
MARTIN: This was an interesting point. Mr. Olson, what about that, that folks cannot possibly know everything and so that this is that - those who have that kind of knowledge like Cullin should utilize it for our benefit? What do you think?
Mr. OLSON: I think it would be fun to see someone try to set up a restaurant where the servers begin lecturing you about bad food choices. It would (unintelligible)…
MARTIN: They do. It's called France. I'm sorry.
Mr. OLSON: It would probably find its own niche, but I don't think most people would be patrons. And I also don't think that most of the servers necessarily know better about people's health situations. I think a lot of the customers are very well informed and not all of the servers are well informed.
The questioner asked about why you've got to cut off the drunk and not cut off the glutton, and I think the answer legally on that is that the drunk is an immediate menace to others once they go back to their car, whereas the glutton is not.
MARTIN: Cullin, thanks for the call.
CULLIN: Thank you.
MARTIN: Let's go to Wisconsin. Let's go to Steve in Wisconsin. Steve.
STEVE (CALLER): Hello?
STEVE: Hi. I was calling to make a comment about the - I guess it's kind of similar to the previous callers.
MARTIN: Go ahead.
STEVE: Yeah. In the respect that unfortunately a lot of consumers are unaware of the fact that this can potentially pose such a health risk, and without that knowledge I feel that possibly the government's role could be to help make that informed decision for the mass of people.
You know, like I said, unfortunately a lot of people aren't educated enough about making healthy diet choices in their life, and if it takes the government - I'm not proposing that the government step in and make all our decisions, but clearly there's a health risk here. And the mass of the population seems to be unaware of the problems that this oil has.
MARTIN: Okay. Steve thanks for the call.
Mr. OLSON: But you are asking them to step in and make one of the most intimate, personal bodily decisions. I remember back in the ‘60s the button, Keep Your Laws Off My Body. It's so easy to forget how hard it was to keep the government out of making personal decisions. And we invite - you know, we kick them out of the bedroom and we invite them back into the kitchen.
I think that the implicit message about how smart the general public is is not all that well justified. I see - when I look at popular magazines, when I look at daytime TV - I see people constantly discussing new findings about what's healthy and unhealthy.
I think people do pick up on it, and I think people eat these foods even though it's not lost on them that there are risks. They eat them anyway. It's not that they're totally ignorant of the risks.
MARTIN: Let me just pause here to say, you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
Mr. Olson, what about the point - and Patty, I do want to bring you back into the discussion - but Mr. Olson, what about the point that the government already plays a significant role in paying for healthcare - huge sums of money, a huge part of the GDP, and that therefore there is a communitywide interest in assuring optimal health.
Mr. OLSON: I've always been scared of the idea that whoever pays for the health insurance gets to run the lives of the insured, because you see this a bit with employers saying that they're going to fire obese employees or not hire smokers because they don't want to pay the higher premiums. If that is the price of having the government insure everyone, then maybe we're going to need to reexamine whether that was a good idea.
MARTIN: Patty, you'd mentioned earlier that we're already seeing many trans fat-free products on the grocery shelves. What do you think motivated the food industry to respond? Do you think that they looked at what was going on with the smoking ban and decided to get ahead of the argument, or was it responding to consumer demand?
NEIGHMOND: Well, I think it was probably in part consumer demand, but, again, I think it was the FDA requirement that trans fat labeling be on all food products. And actually, when you talk about what consumers know, at least when it comes to buying food you can now - and I have a label right in front of me, nutrition facts. And it says: total fat, 13 grams - saturated fat, five - trans fat, 2.
Now, interestingly the American Heart Association, the FDA, the Institute of Medicine, all say that the average American should consume - or the average person should consume two or less grams of trans fat a day. So this is information that is at this point out there for individuals to read, and if they do look at the labels of the food they buy they can see that.
MARTIN: Let's go to Shannon in Kansas.
SHANNON (CALLER): Hi, how are you?
SHANNON: I'm a research and development chef for a large chain, and my concern is that small mom and pop restaurants won't have the wherewithal and the resources to source ingredients that will enable them to make this change rapidly.
We're surrounded in our corporation by food scientists, and I work with food scientists everyday and we have that resource. But small restaurants won't have that resource. And it's very difficult for them to buy ingredients that are trans fat free in the, you know, wholesale food environment.
MARTIN: Okay. Shannon, thank you so much for the call. Mr. Olson, what do you think?
Mr. OLSON: Yeah. And sometimes you hear that this kind of regulation is going to bear more heavily on big restaurant chains. And I agree with the caller that it is the individual restaurants - the mom and pops - that will have the hardest time with it. The other half of the New York regulation - I don't know if you discussed it - is mandatory labeling of how many per slice or per serving.
Again, if you are a national chain and you've got very standardized serving slices, you may be able to get them a number on that and know that it's not going to deviate very much. If you've got different people slicing the pie and cake every night and, you know, they're whipping it up by hand, you may be off 25-30 percent on how many calories are in it. Are you going to be liable for that?
MARTIN: Interesting point. Patty, just very briefly - we're down to our last couple of our seconds - you are in California, which is sort of considered the capital of healthy eating and also innovative cooking in America. Is this, the ban trans fat movement, very important there and are you likely to see similar initiatives out there?
NEIGHMOND: Well, there already is one in northern California. The small town of Tiburon, which is near San Francisco, has banned trans fats in its 18 restaurants. But no, we haven't seen any large scale similar to New York type of proposals here. Interestingly, in Chicago there was one. That's been set aside for now.
MARTIN: Thank you, Patty. I'd like to thank both of my guests. Patty Neighmond is NPR's senior health policy correspondent. She joined us from her office in Los Angeles. Thank you.
NEIGHMOND: Thank you, Michel.
MARTIN: And Walter Olson. He's a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Rule of Lawyers. He joined us from his office in New York. And thank you.
Mr. OLSON: Thank you.
MARTIN: And when we come back from a short break: what's eating picky eaters? I'm Michel Martin. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.