Letters to the Editor


I was delighted, amused, and fascinated by the wonderfully medieval undertones redolent in Leslie Turk's "Raising a Glass," (July 4), which quotes Lafayette area dietician's delicious Gramscian resistance to "study after study" extolling the health benefits of red wine.

In it I detect a strong antagonism to social drinking from a philosophical perspective, regardless of "compelling" health benefits. Each and every dogmatic "complaint" the experts make seems to be contradicted in text. For example, the "experts" take for granted that benefits would accrue from "grape juice . . . and a diet that includes exercise, fruits and vegetables . .." Why should we "trust" research, methodologically subject to the same error, for exercise or, grape juice, or vegetables but not for wine? Is there "magic" research that shows exercise extends life? (Exercise is supposed to increase "quality of the life we have.')

As a scientist, I especially found the quote from Lafayette General's Nutrition Services Supervisor Rosalind Allen offensive because it's so wrongheaded: "People tend to take it at face value, but for every study that says yes, there is another one that says no." She overstates the data set. Evidence perhaps that Bushian antiscience has permeated the 'burbs?

"There haven't been any studies to positively correlate it," she continues her apparent agenda, "but they also can't say it doesn't" (contribute to health). First, there are surprisingly few studies. Second, those few are indeed quite uniform in suggesting the salubrious results of moderate wine consumption. Last, the idea that legitimate research is likely to be paced, as Rosalind claims, is pretty much impossible.

I reviewed a social history of drink some years back in the academic press. American Protestants took up eschewing drink in the late 1800s after a practical pasteurization process was invented by a food scientist ' prior to that the microbes which initiate fermentation were universal and omnipresent. It had been impossible for stored fruit juice not to be alcoholic. From then on, it became fashionable to forgo alcohol as a marker of religious conviction (or, as Vitter might say, at least in public). From all appearances, as portrayed by Turk, some "experts" in "Raising a Glass" are allowing personal opinion or religious belief to dictate professional behavior ' raising profound ethical questions. Thanks to The Independent, and Leslie Turk, once again, for casting an inquiring eye.