Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Foodie Pen Pals Reveal

The Lean Green Bean

Yes, it's time show what I received on my virgin excursion into Foodie Pen Pals.

My name was given to Jes from Florida, a self-described "baker, inebriation pixie aka bartender, eater of almost everything and a bit of a beer geek." She sent me a VERY detailed questionnaire asking about my likes, dislikes, foodservice experience, hopes, dreams, fears, wishes, musical knowledge, you name it. But, as you know I'm a stickler for research, so I appreciated the effort. And it paid off because look what she sent me:

Truly a nerd pixie package! And reminiscent of the Florida tropics. There was guava paste, cuban coffee, orange blossom honey, Maria cookies and mango jam.

Of course, the first thing I saw sticking up from the box was of that big chunk of Cafe Bustelo, my favorite of coffees. I like it better than all the Sumatran-Hawaiian-Free Trade-Artisinal mixes out there. I admit I squealed a bit.

The jar of homemade mango jam is from her friend, Allison. I opened that up first and it barely made it through the day. Delish!

It's also good on actual bread!

The Goya Maria Cookies and the Conchita Guava Paste were both perfect snack items, in forms that were new to me. Jes wrote in her note that the cookies w/ cream cheese and guava paste side by side with a shot of espresso is "quite the happy!"

At the time I only had quark, which is sort of like cream cheese, so I did assemble a few to try:

I started eating before I remembered to take a picture....

They were perfect with my cup of Bustelo:

What? That's still a cup!

So thank you, Jes, for making my initial foodie pen pal endeavor such a tasty and sweet treat.

I was assigned to send my foodie box to a lovely young women in Ohio named Diane. You can see what she got from me at her website, LifeofDi. (and stay for the rest of her site, too!)

I am definitely signing up for this again! Hit the image at the top of the post to do so as well!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A veritable food and comic vortex

The goal of this blog is not only to share my progress and journey (and food), but also the variety of research that's out there on weight loss, weight maintenance, dieting and the food industry, I know I find it interesting, but a lot of it can be heavy going, mulling through statistics and methodology, especially as many reports contradict other ones.

So I often escape into the mundane world of news and of course, the comforting lure of comic books.

However, now both have betrayed me into coercing a new blog post. Damn you, leisure reading!

First, the NY Times. I rue the day I started checking out their Health and Wellness section, Too many reports about new research on diet and weight! And almost every one makes me think, "Dang! Now I have to write a post! Will I ever get to discussing recipes?"

For example, here's an article that sort of addresses the topic of my previous post on the cost of working out. Of course, the fellow teaching this "pay what you want" course is not certified and I'm not sure if this sort of class would address issues such as my wonky leg in a boot camp setting, but there it is...topicality. I'm almost...prescient.

But then here's another, more substantial piece on junk food addiction and food companies development of such items. Now, part of me upon reading this thought, "well, duh!" I mean, is it so hard to grasp that companies will do most anything to sell products? It wasn't as if they were being deceptive, but just rather uncaring to the health of the general population.

Perhaps I felt it wasn't a surprise because it covers almost the exact same topics as The End of Overeating by David Kessler. I had to check that it wasn't written by the same person, although the Times article is more accusatory than the book, as it tied to the industry and less to personal responsibility.

And while I personally find the marketing of food science experiments into consumer product success studies interesting, I know it's not the most comforting thing to realize that snack food has been maximized for "mouth feel" and sugar-salt content. So as interesting as food chemistry is, it makes me run back to the comforting arms of the graphic novel.

Except that good ol' comic books have probably also contributed to my Retro Ska Librarian physique. My most comforting memory from youth into adulthood is new comic day, which was usually accompanied by a snack. Back in the 80's, I remember always buying two gooey confections at the now defunct Encore Patisserie in the East Village, so I could hole up in my bedroom of my crappy tenement and enjoy a visual and taste sensation combination. 

I can tell I conditioned myself into this behavior, as I still get an incredibly strong urge to snack when I pick up my new comics each Wednesday. The sense of escape almost seems incomplete without the proper "mouth feel" of a piece of cake or a bag of cheesy somethings. Can I blame the CEOs of snack food companies? Meh, they probably got me hooked, but it was up to me escape that grasp.

But I can see I'm not alone in that idea. Long time comics editor, writer, commentator Tom Spurgeon wrote a piece back in 2000 called Comics Made Me Fat. Spurgeon was at the time nearly 400 lbs. I suggest you read the whole snarky piece. It certainly hit the nail on my own denial of my then body and actions. But here's a snippet:

"comics has an effect on food consumption by fans because of their shared model for proper kids' behavior - doe-like passivity. As better critics than I have argued, superhero comics promote such an unrealistic fantasy based on bizarre, arbitrary models of action that they don't really give anyone a model for fully socialized behavior."

This past year, Spurgeon underwent emergency surgery and now is on a major weight loss regimen. He has lost over 200 lbs. His posts about that in Comics Made Me Somewhat Less Fat. He eats regular, healthier food and exercises a good amount.

Again, I recommend the entire piece, but here's this snippet:

"It's likely that I have a biological disposition towards overeating and even more likely that I have a giant suitcase full of hangups and emotional difficulties that helped frustrate any and all earlier efforts to do anything about it. But let's not bury my responsibility in buzzwords and gentle excuses. That was my fat, and my fault. I take full responsibility for that aspect of my health, and I die a little bit inside for anyone that doesn't."

He does add that he misses a lot of the food he used to eat and, indeed, food is awesome.

And this could be me. 

A lot of food out there was created to taste better than what we could whip up on our own. A lot if it tastes incredibly good. And a lot of it...a whole lot of a lot of us in hot water, both physically and psychologically.

A lot can be blamed on the food companies...adding extra sugar and fat into food, odd chemicals and such. But we knew what was happening. We saw our bodies changing for the worse.

I can't blame them for filling my gullet beyond the recommended daily allowance. Nor can I blame comic publishers for getting me to buy their wares every week for the past several decades.

Choices are ours to make. Blame can only go so far.

Otherwise, we'd all end up in the hospital imitating Matter Eater Lad:


Kessler, David A. The end of overeating: taking control of the insatiable American appetite. Emmaus, Pa.; New York: Rodale ; Distributed to the trade by Macmillan, 2009.

Moss, Michael. “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.” The New York Times, February 20, 2013, sec. Magazine.
Rubin, Courtney. “People’s Bootcamp in New York and the Price of Fitness.” The New York Times, February 22, 2013, sec. Fashion & Style.
Spurgeon, Tom. "Comics Made Me Fat" Comics Reporter January 1, 2000. 
_______. "Comics Made Me Somewhat Less Fat" Comics Reporter July 19, 2012

Friday, February 22, 2013

What Price Beauty?


I think the argument you hear the most when someone complains about not being able to afford the cost of exercise and diets is, "Yes, but can you afford the cost of obesity and the inherent health problems?"

While there is truth in that sentiment, it's not exactly a proper answer. According to the latest Census figures, over 260 million people have some sort of health insurance, but the median household income has continually decreased since the 2008 recession. At the same time, the Consumer Price Index shows that the cost of "Recreation" has increased over 5% in the past decade. So more people most likely have access to some sort of subsidized healthcare than they do disposable income to spare on gyms and diet plans. (This is based on very quick and dirty research, but I'd be curious if someone can strongly refute this premise).

And what we do see in the research is that being proactive is what makes one successfully lose weight and maintain that loss.

So, is there really a cheap way to be successful? 

I hate to say it, but I'm not sure there is. Even if you choose to not go on any specific diet plan, the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables (again from the Consumer Price index) has steadily increased by about 50% in the past decade, which cereal and bakery products have increased by just under 30%. Those apples and greens add up against donuts and muffins.

And referring back to the above-referenced research, people do better in a  disciplined weight loss/exercise program than on their own. It's certainly true for me. I need to be pushed to exercise at a level that will help me maintain and I also need to NOT be around food that will trigger binges. That means buying the ever costlier fresh fruit & veg, while also spending money at a gym with a trainer. 

Could I have done the same with just a P90X dvd? Probably not in my apartment. And probably not on my own. And even that program has a cost to it. Just "moving more and eating less", while correct, is not always effective in itself.

And therein lies my problem. I do have a decent paying job, which is more than millions of folks do in this country. But moving into this lifestyle meant not only a sacrifice of time and sugar, it also takes a chunk of my earnings to keep up:

  • Trainer (2-3x/week)
  • Pilates (1x week)
  • 2 gym memberships (for use every day)*
  • Increased laundry and soaps from more showers and more workout sessions
  • Numerous alterations and new clothes for work because my body has changed so much over the past two years (I can't wear clown suits)
Not to mention the occasional new sweatshirt or shorts after my old ones have been worn to shreds. And new running shoes every year or so.

It adds up.  

I am fortunate that the timing was great when my trainer went independent just as my previous gym membership was expiring. My current exercise/training situation now costs less than a third of what it used to. But it still costs. 
But I know I have forgone other luxuries because I felt this was more important. Even with the large decrease in cost, the other cost of living issues keep rising, yet this is where my priorities lie. I've gone without a lot of stuff so I can be healthier and, yes, happier.

So in that sense, paying for this is also a lifestyle change. And that's the part that's not really spoken about when you hear about success stories. It rarely ever free.

Where is the research on this? Can it be that perhaps, yes, you CAN'T afford to effectively make this lifestyle change? 

I hope the answer to that is not just "you get what you pay for."

*The gyms are $20 and $19/month, respectively. They each have different equipment and different hours, which is convenient.

Akers, Jeremy D., Rachel A. Cornett, Jyoti S. Savla, Kevin P. Davy, and Brenda M. Davy. “Daily Self-Monitoring of Body Weight, Step Count, Fruit/Vegetable Intake, and Water Consumption: A Feasible and Effective Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance Approach.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 112, no. 5 (May 2012): 685–692.e2. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2012.01.022.

Curioni, C. C., and P. M. Lourenço. “Long-term Weight Loss After Diet and Exercise: a Systematic Review.” International Journal of Obesity 29, no. 10 (2005): 1168–1174. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803015.
Meule, Adrian, Esther K. Papies, and Andrea Kübler. “Differentiating Between Successful and Unsuccessful Dieters. Validity and Reliability of the Perceived Self-Regulatory Success in Dieting Scale.” Appetite 58, no. 3 (June 2012): 822–826. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2012.01.028.
“Slim Your Body, Not Your Wallet.” Money. Accessed February 20, 2013.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Post-trauma eating

I just came in from what was supposed to be a brisk 8 mile run on a sunny day. Instead, it turned into a nail biting obstacle course through gale force winds, shaking trees and flying debris. I avoided the collapsing street sign but did get face-sprayed with flying gravel.  Fun!

Actually, not fun. At all! Scary. Damn scary.

When I got home, my body was craving protein and lots of it. Maybe it was the adrenaline rush. (I did some research on it while I was cooking, but no luck...yet!)

And here's what I created to sate my appetite:

Mung bean "noodles" with kale and chicken sausage blended with curry spices

These "noodles" are marketed as "faux food" pasta, which I feel does them a great disservice. I cannot picture them serving well in a carbonara or even primavera. They are sooooo not pasta.

I like them because they taste like yuba (tofu skin), which is what they basically are, but from mung beans.

But that wasn't all I ate...

Half-size onion socca with peanut butter.

Yes one of the cravings I've developed is onions and peanut butter together. I use natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt), but I imagine "regular" peanut butter (with it's HFCS or "cane syrup") would taste odd here. But I like this combo!

And these dishes hit the spot. 

In the past, I think I might have reached for something more sweet and "comforting", but partly through conditioning and partly through clarity, I try to do better now. I will say the the previous weeks have been pretty stressful and the bingy craving were in full force. But this sort of post-fear eating brought up other ideas.

I thinking it's time to research some more psychology journals....

But now it's chill time.

Friday, February 15, 2013

You're doing it WRONG!!

When I first started going to the gym on a regular basis, all I could think of was this....

I'm a child of my time. Sue me.

I've talked before about Social Physique Anxiety and our fear of exercising in public. But even when you overcome that hurdle of imagined judgement and criticism, it doesn't mean you're free from ACTUAL judgement and criticism.

No matter what you might be doing in the gym or out on the track or path, it seems somebody has concerns that it's not correct. But, as you can see from those forum links, it's not that many people actually offer real help. What's worse, no one can seem to agree on what the correct help should be.

"Shouldn't there be a trainer wandering around?"

Now that's not to say there aren't some very good resources out there on how to lift better, how to use cardio more effectively, or how to prevent injuries while running, etc. But those aren't the ones we always see. We often get cornered by "experts" who have to tell us how it must be done. And because they do it in a popular way, people seem to believe them. As one study put it:

"[Novice weight trainers] often acquire information through commercial magazines, from personal trainers with inadequate training backgrounds, or through the gymnasium grapevine."

Yes, nothing like a men's journal to tell me how to get 6-packs in 10 minutes a day while hypnotizing supermodels with my steak-cooking ability. 

But it's that second part of that sentence that really gets me. I have been very lucky to have some good trainers (and I continue to give props to my current one) but I've seen LOTS of mediocre trainers out there as well as some outright bad ones.

The problem as I see it, is that like any service-based  profession, trainers have to market themselves to stand out in the crowd. You need a gimmick. And that gimmick can be a special nutrition packet, odd equipment or a trademark named version of exercise.

"Librarianpilates! Work the core collection!"

This doesn't necessarily mean that gimmicky is better. In fact, some of these workouts are nauseatingly funny.

But I think the bigger issue is also touched upon in that article. We the users don't know what we don't know. Are we not getting a good training session because the trainer is bad, or is it because we don't know what to ask for in our specific situation? Is it a bad connection or are we fooled into thinking it's our fault?

Can I be part of an unhappy couple workout? Wouldn't that burn more energy?

Once we get past that hurdle of Social Physique Anxiety (or even before that) we need to be prepared. Make the trainers and gym staff and employees at the running store do their job. Make them show you how to use things properly. And if it doesn't look right or hurts you, ask again. Look and see how other trainers act. Are they engaged with the client? Are they actually showing how to do stuff? Or are they sitting there chatting away? Flirting? Giving you just basic advice that may not fit your situation? After a few sessions, are you noticing a better sense of doing exercise? Or are you just being handed platitudes and attitudes?

As another study says:

"Do not always believe what you read or hear. Marketing firms know what buttons to push to turn us into brain-dead impulse buyers. To become an educated exercise consumer, you must adopt the mindset that nothing works unless it is proven to you, it is documented by peer-reviewed research, and it stands the test of time."

Hmmmm.....peer-reviewed research. That's MY kind of workout! 

(I need also to give a shout out to Jeremy, my Pilates instructor. In my book, he's aces above so many others. Shop around!)


Downing, John H., and Jeffrey E. Lander. “Performance errors in weight training and their correction.” JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 73, no. 9 (December 2002): 44+.

Quindry, John C., and David Q. Thomas. “Exercise consumerism: let the buyer beware!” JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 68, no. 3 (March 1997): 56+.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What to eat in a blizzard

Maybe it was the recent memory of Superstorm Sandy here in NYC, but when they announced that Blizzard Nemo was headed our way, there was another rush on supplies. So when I cam late to the party at the market in the neighborhood, there wasn't a whole lot left to buy for food. 

I really wanted to roast something to counter the snowy outside. Something that would make me feel good about not getting to go running without the emotional binge-iness of cookies. And yet the pickings were slim.

So what could I do?

Rub ras el hanout on some turkey wings and roast them up with onions, turnips and rutabagas with some port wine and stock.

Served up with a little watercress, lemon juice and Parmesan and we have blizzard dinner.

Stay warm, everyone!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wait, what are we supposed to do now?


Spaghetti Squash in a sauce of tomatoes, olives, preserved lemons and chilies.

This bowl of leftovers was breakfast this morning, along with a piece of whole grain toast. Once in a while I crave something VERY savory after a morning workout (and I was out of oatmeal).

The workout has shifted, too. My trainer has mixed it up to promote muscle growth on some of my more stubborn areas. The next month's schedule is:

  • Monday: (Morning) Boxing, Cardio (Evening) Back and Shoulders
  • Tuesday: Chest and Quads, Cardio
  • Wednesday: Boxing, Hamstrings and Calves, Cardio
  • Thursday: (Morning) HIIT, Cardio (Evening) Arms
  • Friday: Boxing, Chest and Shoulders, Cardio
  • Saturday: Running 10-12K, Back and Arms
  • Sunday: Running 8-10K, Pilates

Running has sort of been cut back due to the freezing weather. I'm hoping the chance of 10-18" of snow this weekend is only that... a chance. I miss being able to run outside. Treadmills and cardio machines are pretty boring, which may explain why so many people's plans to exercise never reach long-term goals. But I'm working hard at it as I like that I am finally maintaining my weight and health, even if it means some boring times on an elliptical after weight training.

And then another article in the NY Times appears about obesity and weight loss. Maybe I should really go and become a dietitian...there must be a lot funding for research nowadays!  

 But I think that's the point of the paper on which this article is based. A lot of what we keep hearing about healthy eating and lifestyles are referred to in the report as "myths" and "presumptions" which have been based on research that's not necessarily thorough (or with a diverse enough clinical group) and the results are often, as one doctor mentions, "reasonableness bias.” Things sound like they should make sense and therefore we believe them a fact. And yet more and more of these studies are done. I studied information theory and social epistemology in grad school, and this idea of the group developing what is considered common and accepted knowledge is very similar to that concept. We hear stuff that sounds right and therefore we all believe it, even if it's not realistic. As the report states:  

"Confirmation bias may prevent us from seeking data that might refute propositions we have already intuitively accepted as true because they seem obvious (e.g., the value of realistic weight-loss goals). Moreover, we may be swayed by persuasive yet fallacious arguments...unless we are prepared to identify them as spurious...Moreover, we often settle for data generated with the use of inadequate methods in situations in which inferentially stronger study designs, including quasi-experiments and true randomized experiments, are possible...In addition, eliminating the distortions of scientific information that sometimes occur with public health advocacy would reduce the propagation of misinformation."

(Ooooh, snap on Public Health! You've been burned, obesity informatics!)

What they also point out is that the (my term here) coddling of people looking to lose weight doesn't quite help. By "coddling" I mean the "if you just move a little more and eat a little less, it can make a huge difference when your obese." Evidently it can't. Neither does merely providing opportunities for weight loss, such as free exercise places or new bike paths or enforced gym classes. Not only do you need to do it for yourself, you need to actually do more than you initially think.

I look back on this journey and realize that I haven't been doing this as "gradually" as I originally thought I was. Just eating a light lunch and walking home made me feel better about myself, but it didn't actually start me down the right path. What worked was pushing myself beyond my comfort zones. Losing a pound a week may seems gradual, but
it took a lot more work than "reasonable bias" would imagine. 

And that's where my trainer comes in. After all, his website says it best: "Just Shut Up and Lift." 

Maybe that should be the conclusion reached by funded research!


Casazza, Krista, Kevin R. Fontaine, Arne Astrup, Leann L. Birch, Andrew W. Brown, Michelle M. Bohan Brown, Nefertiti Durant, et al. “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts About Obesity.” New England Journal of Medicine 368, no. 5 (2013): 446–454. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa1208051.

“Myths of Weight Loss Are Plentiful, Researcher Says.” Well. Accessed January 30, 2013.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Some of my favorite things....

The New York Rangers

My cat, Scungilli

Running in new places
The right kind of music

Watching my body change for the better

The Lean Green Bean
Getting Free Food in the mail!

I believe in opening myself up to new opportunities. One of the main reasons I've been in book clubs for the past 23 years is not because I'm a librarian, but rather because it forced me to read books I would have never chosen for myself; that is to say, fiction. I tend to gravitate towards history, so reading what other people choose is eye opening. It's through book clubs that I've discovered such disparate now-favorite authors as Junot Diaz, Edith Wharton, Russell Banks and Dawn Powell

It's the same with food. I love cooking and discovering new things. Living in NYC, I am surrounded by a plethora of cuisines. But what better way to see things outside your own food box than to have someone else send you a box?

I came across Lindsay's blog during my perusal of dietitian sites.  She started this foodie pen pals program and how could I resist? So, at the end of this month, I'll be posting about I was sent in the mail by some other participant. And the person who gets my box will post about what I sent. (No hints, because this person now knows about my site!)

It also gives me an opportunity to think about interesting food things around me, so I can send something appropriate. I think "typical" NY food won't work. I can just imagine filling a box with items from Yonah Shimmel and Ess-A-Bagel and pizza from childhood haunt, Joe & Pats would not win me any friends. (Mmmmmmm, stale, moldy bread and potato products in a flat rate box!)

So I'll be thinking of something different. And I'm thankful I get the chance to do so. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Massive Bodyness Redux

A recent article from the BBC caught my eye, especially after writing down my previous thoughts on the never quite solid Body Mass Index (BMI). An Oxford mathematician calculated a new version of the BMI which actually lowers the dreaded number for taller people and raises it for shorter people. Yay for us tall people! 

But while this means all of a sudden I'm smack dab in "normal" weight territory as opposed to just balancing on the cusp, it doesn't mean we should all be jumping onto this new design.

To quote the report:

"Are these numbers "right"? No! -- for human beings are complicated, and any BMI formula will deliver just one number. No single number can be right, and indeed, the extreme reliance of today's medical and insurance establishments on a simple formula worries me a great deal."

And then the final sentences:

"Obesity will be one of the biggest health issues worldwide of the 21st century. If great reliance is going to be placed on a single formula for assessing it, the justification of that formula deserves careful discussion."

It's true. We've spend a worrisome amount of time on our whole health, appearance and daily maintenance regimes all because of a a single number. 

So even me, who would now be out of the "danger zone", is not gleeful. In fact I almost feel like I've been grade-grubbing for a few years, only to finally receive the better grade and now I don't really care any more.

That's not to say that you shouldn't be concerned if your BMI is placed in the Obese/Very Obese area of the scale. There's no way you can claim that it's "all muscle and not fat". And the same goes for the Underweight part of the scale. But the majority of people who hover around the middle areas and are still considered overweight are being fed a very vague message, based on an old and inexact scientific method. I didn't need that new number to tell me I was doing good. And I feel sorry for my "height-challenged" friends who now have been told they're NOT doing as well.

I'll just stick to being healthy instead of "suddenly normal."


“Does the BMI Need Correcting?” BBC, January 29, 2013, sec. Magazine.

“New BMI (New Body Mass Index).” Accessed February 4, 2013.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dietitians and Librarians: Separated at Birth?

I apologize the delay in posting. Jury duty raised its ugly head for me, and if you've never had jury duty in NYC....well, this was my 8th time in 20 years, so let's just say not much has changed. If there is a stereotype of administrative red tape, it certainly exists in that scenario.

I barely had any energy to cook after it all, and usually ate "picnic" dinners:
Soba with ponzu, raw peppers, cukes in mirin, some tuna with pickles, egg white cooked with mustard greens.....quick!

I did have a small window of opportunity to catch up on some web research while I was milling about in the courthouses. As you know, I like my posts to have references to various studies, reports and papers as I conduct my own research on weight loss, maintenance, health and food. And a lot of the work I'm finding and enjoying has been coming from dietitians. Or to be more specific, Registered Dietitians (RDs).

But not only was I reading about their research, I was fascinated by their personal blogs. A lot of what they said struck me as very familiar. In fact it was eerily like librarianship in many ways.

So speaking of stereotypes:

Who is the fairest of them all?

This is how society sees librarians and dietitians, respectively, but I think these may be fairer representations:

There's nothing wrong with being Velma! She's smart, adventurous and isn't afraid to show some leg!
So, I'm doing a little comparison in this post. As a researcher, I have to warn that my results will be skewed. After all, not only am I a librarian, but I obviously know a lot of librarians in a variety of places. And though I've recently been following a lot of dietitians on their blogs, as far as I know I've never met one. Although in my corporate days I often was on e-mail discussion lists with the librarian at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the ADA), but she wasn't an RD. alike are we?

No one knows exactly what we do: This is where the stereotypes really kick in. Every librarian I know gets the "you must really love books" statement or a shushing sound. And I did hear someone say about a local dietetics program, "that's where they train those girls to bring in trays in the hospital."

In reality both professions are incredibly varied with a lot of different subfields. Librarians can work on trading floors, with cattle ranchers, in the midst of an orchestra (I've done all three). One of my old job had me tracking STDs in porpoises! On the other side, dietitians work in clinical settings, manage industrial foodservice, handle counseling and get to be media spokespeople. 

And in both professions, our self-perceptions seem a little skewed.

Everyone thinks they could do our jobs: Because no one is sure of what we do, everyone believes our jobs require no training. After all, we all love books and food, right?

But there is more to both. Librarians require a Masters Degree in Library Science and, depending on their job and location, state certification. Dietitians require national licensing and usually state licensing. They don't have to have a graduate degree, but they do need an education in biochemistry, microbiology, physiology and, of course, nutrition. Librarians may be more able to delve into a variety of subjects (I myself went from music to insurance to agriculture to environmental science), but all dietitians have the science chops.

They're both "Girl Professions". Both fields are considered service professions and are more heavily populated by women. But dietitians definitely skew more towards women. In 2009, The Academy listed a 3% male membership. The American Library Association from that year lists about a 17% male membership (although not all librarians are members of ALA).

But unlike dietetics, modern librarianship literally has "founding fathers": Dewey, Winsor, Cutter...later on Shera...the list goes on. It was Dewey who promoted women into library education back in the late 19th century, causing a commotion. The ADA was founded decades later by women. But today they seem about evenly viewed as a job for women, which means the salaries are reflected as such. Feh on that.

We both have issues with our professional organizations: Now again, I'm speaking more from my own experience and there's a LOT of librarian organizations, but the bigger ones I belong to, ALA and SLA, seems to always have dissatisfaction and dissent among the greater professional population, on a variety of subjects.

From some of the blogs I've read , the biggest issue among many dietitians is that AND allows corporate sponsorship by food and foodservice companies that don't necessarily have nutrition in mind. A recent report confirms that on a larger scale and it got some nice press in the NY Times, something that national library associations rarely make.

So....bad public perception, issues with self-perception, "unmanly" salaries and a non-cohesive group presence. We might as well be the same profession. What is the difference?

Hmmmm.....well, dietitians have the health education and backgrounds. They certainly work hard at what they do.

Here are a few dietitian blogs that I read on a regular basis:

Balance Variety and Moderation RD
Death of the Diet
Drop It and Eat
Kath Eats Real Food
The Fat Nutritionist (who is not an RD, but she explains why)

Some librarians have similar backgrounds, but we're probably a more disparate group of subject specialists. However, I think we librarians may be a little bit better, because we can claim Batgirl as one of our own. Yup, she started out as a librarian. 

Batgirl trumps microbiology every time!

OK, I kid, I kid....I think what RDs do is pretty cool. What I'd like to see is more work between us. I find it sad that I spent several years in food and agribusiness research and never got to work with any RDs. 

I'm half-considering combining the two and becoming the world's first MLS/RD! (Although refreshers on science from over 20 years ago would be pretty time consuming).

But even I don't achieve that goal, I think we should be working together on a regular basis. Not only can we both offer unique perspectives to research and progress, we also share so many commonalities.

And we'd bring Batgirl.


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Strom, Stephanie. “Report Questions Nutrition Group’s Use of Corporate Sponsors.” The New York Times, January 22, 2013, sec. Business Day.
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