Are GreenSmoothieGirl nutrition standards too high?

The interesting controversy over my nutrition quiz prompts this post.

I supported myself in high school and college teaching piano lessons, and I taught again for about 10 years when my kids were  small.   When I quit, I had 33 students and a two-year waiting list.   My big frustration, teaching piano, was that while people brought their kids to me because I had high standards, the parents themselves, ironically, often wanted to pull standards downward.   Practicing six days a week, or three recitals a year, or a requirement to play memorized without mistakes—it’s just too much, they’d complain!

Teachers face constant pressure to lower standards.   I constantly face the exact same thing teaching at a nationally renowned business school (recently ranked #1 with recruiters by Business Week).   If you don’t believe me, I submit Exhibit A, my ratings on the no-holds-barred that every professor learns to dread because it’s so anonymous and every student reads it:

If you read that, you get the sense that I’m super intense, right?   Well, I am ranked against my colleagues once a year, and I am smack in the middle of the GPAs handed out in my department—dead average!

Consider that my nutrition quiz—while some say it’s not fair and some say people eating a  good diet get a D on it—would be considered WAY TOO LENIENT by many nutrition experts.   My bar is lower than Robert O. Young’s, Alyssa Cohen’s, Victoria Boutenko’s, Gabriel Cousins’, and Joel Furhman’s.   The raw foodists, the locavores, the alkalarians?   They’d all say I’ve sold out.

That quiz is by no means the end-all, be-all, and I will revise it based on feedback.   But imagine if I’d put points in there for whether or not you’re eating organic (that would take nearly everyone down).   I have quite a few friends (every one of them incredibly healthy and energetic raw foodists, some of whom beat cancer that way) who call the standards of GreenSmoothieGirl “transitional eating”–in other words, not basic and pure enough, just steps on that path.

So, friends, what I’m saying is that we cannot compare ourselves to averages (or even government standards) when those averages and standards have fallen so low.     I’ve been unpopular before, for holding the bar high (but my students thank me later when they’re in the work force and they realized they actually know how to write).   I’d lower the bar if I believed a lower bar was right and good or would help anybody.   If you want to feel good about your diet, the feel-good folks are the dieticians.   Look up their websites, read their recipes full of cheese and meat and processed ingredients (all they do is count calories and fat/carb grams), and see if that’s what you want to guide your growth and progress.

You’ll read more about why and how the USRDA standards are biased and false very shortly, if you’ve been subscribed to’s free e-letter for a while.   The average diet of Americans is an F, not a C.

Guess what happens to teachers when they respond by lowering standards?   You just have a whole new set of people who think your standards are too high.

I’m listening.   So don’t hold back on what you think.   Controversy is good, and it causes what Aristotle called the “dialectic”: a process of change and improvement through pressure and conflict and discussion.   I value it.

But know that the mission of, and 12 Steps to Whole Foods, is about doing something that might seem hard at the outset, one step at a time so that truly anyone can do it.