His dangerous beliefs are fuelled by Channel 7’s promotion of him.
Would you feed your babies a replacement ‘formula’ made of chicken feet broth and liver?
That’s what the new cookbook from My Kitchen Rules judge Pete Evans recommends doing. And it’s for that reason – amongst others – that the cookbook might never make the shelves of your local bookshop.
Yesterday it was reported that the publishers have delayed the release of the book ‘Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way’ due to claims that some of the recipes in the book might not just be unsafe for children, but deadly.
“In my view, there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead.” That’s the view of Professor Heather Yeatman, president of the Public Health Association of Australia.This from a man who is being watched on TV every night by almost two million Australians; a man who has almost almost 800,000 dedicated Facebook fans.
A man who’s happy to put his name to a recipe that, even he admits, could have negative health effects. On babies.
It’s time to ask: Does Channel Seven, like publisher Pan Macmillan, need to reconsider their association with this man?
Evans has co-written the book, Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way, with actress and blogger, Charlotte Carr and naturopath, Helen Padarin.
There are recipes for babies aged 0-6 months (which is the age that the Baby Building Broth is pitched for on Bubba Yum Yum). Promotional material for the book says Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way is “guaranteed to put you and your little one on the path to optimum health”
Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton says that boiling bones in the way they advise could result in lead levels that are too high for babies.
The Federal Department of Health is “concerned about the inadequate nutritional values of some of the foods, in particular for infants, and is investigating further.”
As much as Evans’ devotees don’t like to admit it, the scientific jury is out on paleo. Nutritionists have said there’s no evidence that it’s good for you to remove entire food groups from your diet if you don’t have an allergy.
Scientists have also shown that the so-called paleo diet isn’t even what early humans actually ate.
But that’s all really by-the-by. Because if you’re eating paleo, you know that the science is not with you. It’s a belief, rather than an evidence-based diet.
You’re an adult. So you know that. And if you want to start experimenting on yourself, then that is up to you. It might make you feel good. It might not. It’s your body. Go for it.
But Pete Evans’ new book isn’t about adults. It’s not even about children. It’s about babies.
But there is an important disclaimer on the back of the book itself that says: “Although we in good faith believe that the information provided will help you live a healthier life, relying on the information contained in this publication may not give you the results you desire or may cause negative health consequences.”
Yes. This is a baby food book that “guarantees” optimum health on one hand, and on the other hand says it “may cause negative health consequences”.
That one sentence alone should make you want to fling this book as far as possible away from your family and burn the whole Evans’ paleo empire to the ground.
But if it doesn’t, consider this: This book encourages parents to impose a strict diet on their babies. A diet that says you should boil up a bag of chicken necks, feet and livers, mix it with some vinegar and feed it to your newborn as a substitute for infant formula.
Even writing that down feels like a joke. This book encourages you to make a soup out of dog food, pate and salad dressing and you give it to a baby. A newborn baby.
Let’s be very clear about your responsibilities as a parent. You don’t get to experiment on your children. You don’t get to play with their health. They are not guinea pigs for your ego-driven diet trends. You have a responsibility to care for them. If you actively choose to ignore the advice of health authorities and withhold from your children with the food that they need to thrive (or if you knowingly provide them with food that might harm them), then there’s a word for that: neglect.
You’ve got to be asking some questions about anyone would think it was a good idea to write a book about children’s nutrition and then off-handedly including a proviso to the effect: “oh hey, yeah, so this might cause negative health consequences. Soz. Bye”.
You’ve got to be asking some big questions of anyone who purports to be an advocate for the health of children and then writes in the foreword to their cook book that says that this diet prevents autism, birth defects and various behavioural disorders.
You’ve got to be asking some questions of anyone who promotes a book that experts say could kill or damage babies.
Parents need to ask questions. Readers need to ask questions. Devotees need to ask questions.
But the people who really need to be asking these questions are Evans’ employer: Channel Seven. Evans is the star of a hugely popular show in prime time on the Seven Network, My Kitchen Rules.
While the show does not promote the paleo diet, it does promote Pete Evans.
On that show, Evans’ judges food made by home cooks. He is presented as an authority. He is trusted to judge other people’s cooking. And he is beamed into the homes of millions of Australians being portrayed as trustworthy and authoritative.
Like it or not, people trust Pete Evans because he is on MKR. They trust him because he is on Channel Seven. MKR and Channel Seven are intimately associated with Evans’ brand.
Channel Seven have made Pete Evans a household name. And it’s that brand that Evans is using to now market a dangerous diet to parents of babies. A diet that authorities say can kill or damage infants.
Until now, Evans has only directly pushed his paleo plan onto adults. And that’s fine. Celebrities and athletes endorse things all the time. But this time Evans is actively endorsing something that experts regard as dangerous. And not just dangerous to adults, dangerous to vulnerable children, who are not in a position to protect themselves.
Channel Seven need to ask whether, in light of this new bent to Pete Evans’ agenda, they are happy to continue to continue to promote him as a trustworthy authority on food and endorse him as part of their stable of stars.
While little can be done to stop the Evans juggernaut, responsible brands can choose to distance themselves from his increasingly dangerous agenda.
Channel Seven need to ask themselves how responsible they will be if they keep Evans on their network and on our screens.
What do you think about Pete Evans’ book being pulled?