Melvin Reginald Bartlett, better known as Mad Mel to his friends and family, passed away in his home Monday evening. The cause of death? Starvation. Mel, a graduate in Nutrition Studies from the University of Michigan spent the better part of his 47 years of life trying to create the perfect diet. According to friends, Mel would spend hours each day pouring over food safety studies and examining ingredients in the items found on grocery store shelves. His clients ranged from professional athletes to obese individuals searching for a path to healthiness. Cynthia Briggs, his long time assistant praised his dedication to his clients and to his field. “He fervently believed in the power of education and particularly in the science of food.” Unfortunately, it was that belief that ultimately cost him his life.
Six months ago, Mel announced that we was taking an extended hiatus from his practice. According to Briggs, “He began to have a difficult time advising his clients on a healthy diet. He had legitimate questions about his customary recommended diet of vegetables, fruits and lean meats. He even began to question the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.” Mel decided to take the leave of absence to refresh his knowledge of the ever-changing food industry. The following excerpts from Mel’s journals tell the story of the dietary path that ultimately led to his starvation:
Day 1– For years I have advised my clients to avoid overly processed foods. They are high in sodium and full of chemical additives. I have advised that they stick to lean meats as well a generous amount of fruits and vegetables. A reevaluation of the state of food safety in the Unites States has made me rethink this strategy. Over the following weeks I will create and follow a new and healthier diet.
Dangers of Red Meat – In addition to fat and cholesterol, red meat can harden your arteries and lead to cardiovascular disease. This is not to mention the horrifying conditions that the animals live in and the numerous drugs pumped into their bodies. This category is easy, if it’s red, you’ll end up dead.
Dangers of Fish– While fish has been generally accepted to be good for you, human contamination had led to increased amounts of mercury and PCBs. One study suggests that 84% of the world’s fish is too dangerous to consume while the other 16% have consumption limits. The FDA suggests limiting “healthy” fish intake to twice per week because of contamination. I believe it is unwise to eat something that is so poisonous to your system that eating it more than twice a week can do serious harm. From now on, when I seafood, I’ll walk the other way.
Dangers of Chicken– I have serious ethical and health issues with chicken. Chickens are thrown into massive enclosures by the thousands. The chickens become so big they are often crippled by their own weight. Even if I didn’t care about the ethical ramifications, grocery store chicken contains arsenic, antibiotics and other drugs. Additionally, a recent study showed that only 34% of chicken purchased from stores was free of disease-causing bacteria. When it comes to chicken I am getting the cluck out of here.
Dangers of Pork– Pigs are also kept in horrendous factory farms. Living in their own excrement, pigs are deprived of sunlight and dosed with numerous drugs. Pigs are intelligent, sensitive creatures and like the other meat producing animals, do not deserved to be treated this way. On the nutrition side, a recent study by Consumer Reports tested 200 samples of pork chops and ground pork. They discovered that more than 2/3 contained yersinia enterocolitica which can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and cramps. Taken together, I see no choice but to abandon pork in my diet. If the only “safe” way to consume any meat it is to cook it to a high enough temperature to kill all of the nasty organisms, well that doesn’t sound appetizing. I am now officially a vegetarian.
Dangers of Fruits and Vegetables– Fruits and vegetables have always been a staple to a good diet…until now. One of the key areas of concern is the use of pesticides. These cancer causing contaminates are able to absorb directly into the food. While most scientists say that the benefits to consumption outweigh the risks, I am not sure it is wise to take that kind of chance on your health. Further, the E.P.A. just raised the minimum allowable amounts of glyphosate (an active ingredient in Roundup) in our food supply. Even though the E.P.A. claims it is only “minimally toxic”, studies have shown that it can lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The other issue I have is with genetically modified food. The long-term effect of GM food has yet to be adequately determined. While the U.S. stance is that GM food has not proven to be dangerous, many European nations respond that GM food has not proven to be safe. The U.S. government also refuses to force producers to disclose if their food contains GM ingredients, making it difficult to avoid. The good news is that organic produce, while more expensive, generally has lower levels of pesticides and often are GMO free. The bad news is that strains of GM food have been popping up in areas they have never been planted. Thus, it is possible that an organic farm may be unknowingly selling genetically modified food. I’ll need to take great care in finding healthy fruits and vegetables.
The Final Entry– I have to believe I can find some non-contaminated fruits and vegetables. I better, because I’m really hungry. Lysteria in lettuce, cantaloupe and onions, E. coli in organic lettuce and spinach. Organic berries linked to Hepatitis A. Salmonella in peppers, mangoes, nuts…. Too weak to work anymore today, need to rest. Hopefully I can find something to eat tomorrow.
Mel never had another bite food. Services will be held on Friday at 2pm at the Church of Divine Indulgences, followed by a reception at Pizza Hut. Briggs plans on publishing her mentor’s journals in hopes of continuing his lifelong goal of educating consumers on their food choices.
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