By Marika Sboros
Real Food On Trial is now available on audio from US-based Tantor Media. The sub-title speaks volumes: How The Diet Dictators Tried To Destroy A Distinguished Scientist
I’m the book’s co-author with South African scientist Prof Tim Noakes. Real Food On Trial (Columbus 2018) is an update of the original, Lore Of Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs (Penguin 2017) with new content.
That includes the resolution of a remarkable journey: One man’s victory over powerful, entrenched, vested interests in medical and dietetic establishments and food and drug industries.
It is the multi-million trial and academic mobbing in South Africa of Noakes, a University of Cape Town (UCT) emeritus professor and medical doctor.
All over his promotion of robust science for low-carbohydrate, high-healthy-fat therapies (LCHF).
Both versions of our book are long, dense reads with extensive scientific evidence, references and indexing.
The audio version allows you to sit back and hear outstanding, international voice actors narrate Noakes’s trial journey and what precipitated it. (More on them below.)
Click here to read: Academic mobbing at UCT: a shocking, neverending story?
The public quickly dubbed the case The Nutrition Trial of the 21st Century. It dragged on for more than four years. Noakes’s legal team called it “a world-first prosecution and persecution of a distinguished scientist simply for his opinion on nutrition”.
What Real Food On Trial is REALLY all about
Real Food On Trial highlights its basic premise backed up by evidence on public record. That medical doctors and dietitians conspired to destroy and discredit Noakes by putting him on trial. And for daring to challenge their orthodoxy and the interests of drug and food companies they supported.
Whether they all acted as proxies of behind-the-scenes vested interests is not always clear. Uncontested evidence on public record, however, suggests strongly that many did just that.
The case arose after heavily conflicted Johannesburg dietitian Claire Julsing Strydom reported Noakes to his regulatory body, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). That was for a single tweet in February 2014.
The case only ended in June 2018. That was after a second HPCSA committee confirmed its first committee ruling in 2017 exonerating Noakes’s completely of any wrongdoing.
In the tweet, Noakes opined that good first foods for infants are LCHF. That meant meat, fish, chicken, eggs and dairy. His opinion aligned perfectly at the time with international and South African paediatric guidelines. It still aligns with those guidelines.
His lawyers described Strydom as a “disgruntled dietitian with a business to protect”. They presented evidence that she and the organisation she headed at the time, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), had a grudge against Noakes.
Strydom, ADSA and all the HPSCA’s “expert witnesses” against Noakes denied any grudge. All objected to Noakes’s promotion of LCHF because it contradicted the official, industry-led advice they dished out to the public. And still dish out.
In evidence against him, they couldn’t help but confirm their many well-documented links to food and soft-drinks industries.
Click here to read: One year on: Noakes celebrates victory over diet mobsters
Real Food On Trial also covers the unprecedented extent of academic bullying (also known as academic mobbing and mostly by UCT academics) of Noakes. That mobbing set the toxic groundwork for the trial to take root.
Mountain of uncontested, public evidence
In the audio, the voice actors narrate the many trial hearings sessions in detail. They also narrate the mountain of uncontested scientific evidence Noakes presented in his defence for LCHF.
His evidence focused on LCHF to treat and prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes. Doctors now call these conditions “diabesity” because of the twin, related occurrences.
Real Food On Trial audio also covers the evidence for LCHF to treat and prevent related diabesity conditions. These include heart disease, certain cancers and dementia diseases. Doctors now call dementia type 3 diabetes because of the documented link with diet.
The audio throws up many synchronicities in Noakes victories against establishment forces ranged against him. Among those synchronicities: connections between Noakes, South Africa and the voice actors that Tantor chose.
Dennis Kleinman narrates Tim Noakes
Tantor’s choice of US voice actor Dennis Kleinman to read Noakes’s chapters is inspired on many levels.
Kleinman was born in Cape Town where Noakes lives and works. Like Noakes, he is a UCT graduate, as were his parents and an uncle who was a medical doctor.
And like Noakes, Kleinman has a natural antipathy towards injustice, prejudice, bigotry, bullying and discrimination.
He is the son of Jewish-South African artist Ilse Kleinman. She emigrated to South Africa with her parents from Germany in 1933, aged eight. They were among the lucky ones who escaped the Holocaust.
However, they lost extended family members to Hitler’s genocidal “final solution” for Jews.
Against that horrifying background, Kleinman grew up in a liberal family in South Africa actively opposed to the apartheid regime. They were staunch supporters of the then Progressive Party, now the country’s main opposition Democratic Party.
Kleinman counts himself lucky to have grown up without TV – that only arrived in SA in 1976. Until then, radio was the only available form of public broadcast entertainment.
Radio developed his fertile imagination, he says. It translated into natural talents for acting, creating “skits” and using his voice to mimic accents and dialects to delight and entertain family and friends.
Gravitating naturally towards voice acting
From a young age, Kleinman wanted to be in entertainment. His parents were always supportive – and concerned about his prospects.
Kleinman chose to do a BA in psychology, sociology and social anthropology at UCT. He considered becoming a clinical psychologist courtesy of an “intuitive nature” that draws him to working with people.
He also had no intention of serving in South Africa’s apartheid army. After university, therefore, he emigrated to the US in 1980.
Click here to read: Noakes trial: Who REALLY dishes up dangerous advice?
Kleinman worked initially in sales and the construction industry before “gravitating naturally towards” voice acting. He recalled a comment someone once made that he had a “marvellous voice and should consider voice acting”.
Nature has endowed Kleinman with a rich, resonant voice, full of depth and substance.
He considered acting on camera but found voice acting more challenging. It is arguably “more difficult” than on-camera acting because of the range of demands, he says.
It also doesn’t come easily. You need the talent, and of course a “good voice”, Kleinman says.
What Real Food On Trial taught Kleinman
But it’s one thing to have a good voice and another to be a good voice actor. That requires knowing how to “use your voice”, to listen, emote, understand and know intuitively what a client wants. And how to take direction and turn all that into delivery that attracts listeners.
When Tantor offered Kleinman the commission to narrate Real Food On Trial, he accepted without hesitation.
“I learn from non-fiction books but being a Capetonian and a UCT graduate, I was particularly excited.”
Kleinman found it “fascinating to read how we evolved as humans to eat meat. And that a high-fat diet is actually a perfectly natural aspect of our lives – or should be.”
He also recalls a growing sense of shock at so many prominent UCT academics involved in mobbing Noakes.
“I could hardly believe what I was reading,” Kleinman says.
“My family has a long history with UCT. I remember as a child, driving along the motorway, looking up and seeing the majesty of the campus. As a UCT student, I had a sense of the importance and gravitas of the institution.
“Real Food On Trial shattered all my illusions.”
Why did UCT allow the mobbing of Noakes?
Just as disturbing for him was to realise that academic mobbing is not restricted to UCT, once the jewel in South Africa’s research crown. Real Food On Trial has opened up a “Pandora’s box” for scientific and medical fraternities worldwide, Kleinman says.
It highlights the poisonous influence of Big Pharma on academia. And it shows that academic mobbing is likely to infect universities globally, including Ivy League US institutions.
“It was clear to me that Professor Noakes was looking at the medical and scientific facts on nutrition. He was debating unemotionally as a scientist. The vitriol that UCT and other doctors and scientists aimed at him was unprofessional, personal and emotional.
“I found it deeply disappointing that UCT allowed the mobbing. UCT did nothing to stop it – and still does nothing.”
Corrie James reads Marika Sboros in Real Food On Trial
Tantor’s choice of British-born Corrie James to narrate my chapters in Real Food On Trial is similarly inspired.
James grew up mostly in the North-east of England, in Newcastle on Tyne, and has always loved theatre.
Television “didn’t happen” in her house – until someone gave them “a tiny set on which to watch the coronation of Elizabeth II (in 1953)”.
Radio plays, quiz shows, discussions, music request programmes were part of her daily soundscape. That status quo remains and whenever James is in the UK, the radio is on.
And yes, it’s on Radio4, which she says probably makes her a “luvvie”. In the US, James listens to BBC programmes on Tune In.
From teaching to narrating
James trained as a teacher specializing in drama and, not surprisingly, worked in radio in the UK. After marrying US ophthalmologist Dr Alden James and moving to Detroit, she had a brief spell as a DJ on an AM radio station.
The couple moved to Maryland and started a family. James began recording audiobooks for the Library of Congress Program for the Blind at a studio in Bethesda. Later, she later installed a studio at home and began recording books in different genres.
James accepted the commission to read Real Food On Trial because the subject immediately interested her. Her daughter Clementine lives in Johannesburg. And when James told her that the next book she was narrating was on LCHF, Clementine replied: “Oh yes, Banting!” (LCHF is popularly known as Banting in South Africa).
James says that Real Food On Trial promotes “very different dietary advice” from the advice a paediatrician gave when her children were little. The paediatrician also told her to feed her children 2% (low-fat) milk. And no more than one egg a week.
Upending the US ‘Food Pyramid’
And when all three of her children competed in regattas, their coaches urged them to fill up on “friendly carbs”. That was to “give them energy”.
James has always considered her family’s diet as “pretty healthy. They have always eaten chicken, fish, not much red meat, veggies, and not too much sugar”.
Narrating Real Food On Trial made her look at the official US Food Pyramid dietary guidelines in “a very different light”. Noakes gives “compelling scientific reasons for doubting the Pyramid’s construction”, she says.
James is now “consciously reducing wheat” in the family’s diet. She and her husband also now eat more steak. He was “delighted” when she bought full-fat milk “instead of the 2% that he complained about for years”.
On Noakes’s trial, James declares herself “appalled at the hounding of this man by his academic peers”. She describes my chapters on the HPCSA hearings as “a detailed and compelling account of this tale of injustice and the arduous journey to clear Professor Noakes name and give credit to his research and findings”.
James hopes that her and Kleinman’s voices will “make this story more easily accessible to those who quail at the number of pages”.